So where we left off I had decided I wanted to get out of Costa Rica and into Nicaragua. I hopped on a morning bus and 5 hours later we were dumped off at the border. I joined up with an Aussie girl and two other Americans as we were all pretty unsure what we were doing and where we were supposed to go. We found customs and waited in line to get to the counter. I went first as I spoke the best Spanish of the group (a very sad fact indeed). I put my passport and my filled out form on the ledge. Oh crap. The lady at the counter is now speaking a million miles per hour in Spanish. No entiendo! She’s making motions with her fingers… we need a rectangle...?
Finally she pointed to a machine in the back, which had a nice big line, that we apparently needed use. It’s the type of machine that you swipe your passport, and then use your credit card to pay $10, and get the receipt. Of course the scanner thingy was being a pain in the ass, and there’s no directions in English, so people had to keep calling over someone to help. After who knows how long we finally all got up the counter again, got stamped out, and we were out of Costa Rican customs. Step 1 complete!
So now they told us to walk on down the street to the Nicaraguan side. Some random dude approached us asking if we needed any help, which we did, as there are no directions posted anywhere. He ended up showing us to a new line, and said we needed to fill out some forms, which coincidentally he had in his pocket. This was apparently the medical line. A nurse type woman came up to us with out saying anything and pointed some little white gun at each of our foreheads, which I assume was to take our temperature, and then scurried off. It was a little unnerving. Then we got to the doctor who took our forms and passports, gave us a thorough stare, and asked how long we were staying before giving us another slip of paper. That was step 2.
After that we were herded off to another line, which was the Nicaraguan immigration. There’s a little desk that you have to give the lady a dollar for some reason or another, then it’s off to the main line. Just outside the line is a woman sitting with a guy in a wheelchair who obviously has some sort of severe disease and he just kind of makes lots of noises and shakes a cucaracha and you’re supposed to give him some money too. Anyway I guess I just thought that allowing this kind of thing at the immigration line was kind of strange. But whatever, we got to the desk, paid our money, and we were stamped in!
Not done yet though. We had to get our luggage searched. Our faithful guide showed us to man in uniform at a desk where we plopped down our stuff. There was also a guy in plainclothes telling us it was $5 a person for the luggage check, which was clearly bogus. I suppose the immigration officers are all in on this silly scam. But seasoned pros like us saw right through it! The guy in the uniform searched the very uppermost part of one bag before resorting to pat downs on all the other ones. A few seconds later we were okay’ed and out the door, err gate, err flap of corrugated metal, where our guide quickly ushered us to a taxi. We agreed on $8 a person, which was surely a great deal for our driver, but none of us really felt like haggling at this point. Plus we gave our guide a dollar each, which was actually well worth it, as that border crossing was probably the most disorganized and confusing border that I’ve encountered. 30 minutes later we were in the little beach town of San Juan Del Sur!