Nicaragua/Costa Rica: Granada to Liberia

Leaving Granada behind, chased by rain. The twice-weekly ferry to San Carlos starts in the early afternoon, stops off at Altagracia on Isla Ometepe just before dark, then carries on overnight to get to San Carlos and the outlet of Lago Nicaragua at dawn the next morning. We're getting into regular evening rain now, with some afternoon additions.
On Isla Ometepe all is lush and verdant. Many tourists come to climb the twin volcanos that together with a low-lying isthmus make up the island. Unfortunately, the peaks are usually wreathed in cloud, so we contented ourselves with looping-the-loop using the San Domingo beaches as a base. Sarah made the full circuit, with me having to do some 'work' to prevent me doing the full southern part.
Apart from the paved sections between Altagracia, Moyogalpa and Santa Cruz, the rest of the Isla is rocky dirt. There are buses that doggedly work their way all round these sections. Mario, Anita and Sarah make the most of their unloaded bikes to get some speed up
The manufacturer of a certain drug sponsors a sign suggesting that local men don't resort to Turtle eggs to produce the same effect...
After missing each other by less than a day a bit further north in Nicaragua, we've met up with Anita and Mario again. Anita is the proud owner of Sarah's (now) bright orange trailer. Anita and Sarah both love horses, but it was saddeningly difficult to find a pair without ribs sticking out.
Sarah enjoying a change of saddle. She reckons that months of several hours a day would be much easier on a horse than on a bicycle. I think I might have to learn to ride a horse for the next trip!
After an overnight ferry from Altagracia we arrived in San Carlos at dawn. Then came the wait for the onward lancha (river boat) to Los Chiles and the Costa Rican border.
After repeatedly asking what we needed to pay to put the bikes on the river boat from San Carlos to Los Chiles when we were buying our tickets and being told there wasn't a charge; the man in blue waited until we'd unloaded the bikes before he started hassling us for money. More power to Anita - he didn't get anywhere. We felt even less charitable to him when it turned out he'd not given us the immigration and customs forms we needed to get into Costa Rica... Crossing the border by boat was fun, though not nearly as hassle-free as the others we've done.
We get rained on at 4-5pm every evening. The last couple of days while working out way westward across the north of Costa Rica towards the Nicoya peninsula we've done pretty well for being in the right place to ask for a sheltered campsite when the first drops are threatening. The last one saw us extremely happily camped in an ultra-dry haybarn. After making sure we didn't do anything to set light to his haybales, the elderly farmer left us to it. The place even had electric lighting!

Nicaragua has a couple of big lakes, and the largest has an island in the middle of it. Given that there’s a ferry that goes the length of this lake and that it stops off at the island, our navigational decision seemed obvious. This was helped indeed by a nice quiet border crossing into Costa Rica involving getting our bikes onto a river boat. A much better prospect than the extremely busy road-based crossing that the Panamerican Highway takes.

In the end things weren’t quite as smooth as we’d have hoped, but it was still a nice quirky way of getting from A to B (the Los Chiles border crossing that is). Ometepe’s a nice self-enclosed place to loop the loop, with some nicely rocky roads that challenge the resident buses almost to the limit. It can feel a bit pointless as there’s no forward progress though. We very much enjoyed meeting up with Anita and Mario, a german couple who we’d first met in Chiapas (México), then again at Mayapedal where they bought Sarah’s trailer.

Rain in various forms is a feature of our lives now. Depending on elevation it varies from predictable mid or late-afternoon tropical downpours to more persistant, but lighter british style wetness. Mostly we get plenty of riding time in around it, and because it’s warm, usually ride on through the lighter stuff. Despite its manageability, this and the insects it encourages in abundance are beginning to get us down, so our sights are increasingly set on the mighty mountains of south america.


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