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Thread: Upping for another 90 days

  1. #1
    Viejo del Foro Daddy-YO's Avatar
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    Aug 2007
    Philly - León
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    Default Upping for another 90 days

    Though married to a Nica I'm here only half the year, on a tourist visa which allows me a 90 day visit. (I'm not interested in Permanent Resident status here, or anywhere for that matter.) I realize I could pay for extensions here but eventually I'd have to leave the country (the CA-4 group actually), stay in CR (or Mexico, Belize, USA, etc.) a couple days and re-enter Nicaragua for another 90 day permit. With the kids starting school Feb 1-3, I ducked out a little early.

    From León, jodido, an 'inter-local' (a 15-passenger van) took me to la UCA ('station' across from the Universidad de Centro America) in Managua for 40 cords. (The current exchange rate (direct, i.e. ATMs) is 20.9 cords per U$ dollar.) We flew by Momotombo on lago Xolótlan and by every tractor-trailer on the simple two-lane road to arrive in an hour & a half. I took a taxi to Huembes. He asked 50 cords fare and I said OK cause I was expecting to be charge 70, but he took a woman & her child with us to Huembes from UCA and only charged her 30 (maybe since he'd already collected his nut). In Huembes I wanted to take a bus direct to Peñas Blancas, the CR border town, and all the customer hustlers on the platform told me I was boarding an express to there. No fellow passenger was going to the border, nor did anyone know if it went that far. I began to get off, but the anxious 'crew' hustled me back on, saying, yes, this was the correct bus to the border. I came to understand that no transport in Huembes went all the way. It was an express to Rivas, a newly-imported yellow US school bus that still had regular student seats with leg room, and all windows except one worked. And it was a fast express, rarely stopping, and high enough to get a decent view of la laguna de Masaya, and the mountainous environs north of Mombacho. From León to Rivas my travel took 4 hours and cost 150 cords total. I could have waited with others in the shade for the bus to Peñas Blancas (told it cost 15 cords), but I opted to ride colectivo (with several others) in a taxi for 40 cords each the 35 km past the wind turbines of the isthmus of Rivas. The town's municipal tax was $1 or 20 cords, paid at the gate into the border zone.

    The Nicaraguan side is a near treeless dustbowl (mostly a major parking lot for transport trucks). The two lane approach road had only one passable lane for the last 2 km because of the continuous line of tractor-trailers parked awaiting approval to pass forward. (Free trade, sure. IMO these tiny countries are fiefdoms, enslaving their own and trying to extract the maximum tariff from the world passing through.) I got there at 2PM and the intense, tropical solar rays made me feel I was crossing a desert. The "line" (kind of like McDonald's hungry mob counter style, except for the homestretch railing) at Nica emigration wasn't long and took me only 30 minutes to get stamped & pay $2 to exit. Forms are free at the windows (ask in advance) and can be filled out in a jiff, but for Nicas who can't write (or read) there are gals milling about who fill them out for 5 cords (they were kept busy). The long walk to the CR side passed along a road shaded by tall trees -- it was a cool breathe of heaven. A big sign on one tree said "No orinar aqui". Then I saw the line: into the parking lot, around the building, with several double-backs, order maintained by a Tico cop. I waited for an hour, along with the multitude of Nicas seeking a living wage in an industrialized country. No charge for a visa on my US passport in CR. On leaving at 3:30PM I noticed there was no line at all. (Had half the agents been out to lunch at 2:30?) (Note to self: arrive after 3:30 next time.)

    Outside the building I hopped on a bus to La Cruz (cost 300 colones; I got 550 colones per dollar from a moneychanger while I waited in line; ATM rates were 555 & 559 the two times I milked the machine). For less than 60 cents the bus was a luxury treat, with curtains, comfortably upholstered individual seats, plenty of head room. This introduction to CR is a beautiful windy road through verdant forest rising to a windswept view of mountains. These Ticos got something nice going here, I thought. La Cruz is only some 35 km from the border and it has 3 ATMs, 2 supers, 2 fried chicken joints, and a few somewhat hidden hotels. Plus a spectacular cliff top view of a cozy ocean bay and peninsula. I stayed at Hotel BellaVista, with that view and a well-kept, clean swimming pool. My first night cost me 5K colones (less than $10) but toilet & shower were separate (the room had a sink & mirror, table & chair, color TV on cable and a full bed (foam) - all clean). Late at night after a liter or so of Imperial (what's with the German eagle & colors?) I mistook the sink for a urinal (could have happened to any male of the proper height, half asleep). The next couple days I stayed in a room with full, clean bathroom, costing 8K colones, say $15. The place is owned by a Dutchman, Cornelius, married to a Tica, but he was visiting Nicaragua when I was there. There's a nice restaurant attached to the hotel that serves fresh fish, but can sell no beer since it's across the street from a grade school, so I ate elsewhere.

    One drawback to La Cruz is wind, a strong, near constant wind leaving flags horizontal, that sweeps down from the mountains on its way out to sea. I was never bothered by dust, so all the small particle stuff must have long ago blown into the ocean. As I lounged in the shade of small palm trees by the pool I timed clouds as they appeared over the edge of the hotel's 3-story roof; a big cumulous puff would transit my sky view in only 90 seconds. Some of the smaller gatherings of airborne droplets would be pulled apart, disappearing in wispy, curling threads. Thus I occupied myself. (I also brought a good book, and got sucked into several movies on TV ("La Vie en Rose" was my favorite). Never missed a sunset, though all were disappointing visual ker-plops. The cyber (internet) half a block from the hotel cost 400 colones per hour; one at the north end of town was 300, and they had Skype already installed.

    There are beautiful white sand beaches nearby. A bus circuits the peninsula some four times a day, costs 700 colones one-way, to Coyotero. There is some very costly resort at one of those stops. I'd met one European couple who didn't like the quality of the place much, poor food, poor service, unclean, without so much as a word about the some $200+ price per night. I had camped out once in a grove on the beach near Jobe; the hammock was perfect during the day, but it got too cold at night, even in a sleeping bag, so I moved into my camper vehicle. I had the place to myself in the evening, a gorgeous little cove. Brought in plenty to drink & eat for there's nobody selling anything nearby, and left the place as clean as I found it, albeit a tad richer in plant food. CR has many well-maintained camping areas by the beach, with showers, etc., for a modest fee. Few foreigners seem to know about these places, but plenty of Ticos do. But this time I didn't visit their beaches.

    Sitting on some hero's tomb by the cliff's edge to watch the sunset, I surprised a young high school couple who came by for the same purpose. We got chatting, joking, but it became clear they were insulting each by calling the other a Nica. So I quickly cleared the air by sticking out my finger to show my wedding ring (and my attitude), and told them I'm married to a Nica and she's a good woman. CR has made it easier for Nicas with a passport to enter. Nicas do the common, hard or tedious labor that few Ticos care to do. Pay & opportunities for Nicas are much better in CR than in Nicaragua. The situation is not unlike the US with Mexican labor on farms or in slaughterhouses, except where many Latino workers that did such jobs were undocumented (or illegal, depending on your politics), CR seems to be opening the gates to all Nicas with passports -- an interesting experiment. Ticos are better educated, better housed, and have better health care than Nicas; they're richer. When I've heard Nicas complain about Ticos, they say Ticos are cold and are only concerned about money. Many Nicas working long hours in CR wire money back to family in Nicaragua; some manage to save and come home to start a business of their own, but most spend all, living high today with little thought to the future.

    I went to La Cruz on a Thursday and returned to León on a Sunday. That was a mistake. I had to wait in lines more than 4 hours at the border. My early start was for naught. Sunday must be homecoming day. It was agonizing. If I had been use to hard labor for six days a week, perhaps I'd have been in proper border-crossing condition, but alas, I'm the soft product of a desk job. So I thought to streamline the rest of my trip. I approached a TicaBus driver, and paid 200 cords to go direct to Managua from the border. Luxury seating was offset by having the air-conditioning cranked up to the point of giving a penguin discomfort, and being locked in with semi-religious, family-oriented, soapy-romance movies running continuously, it still took us twice as long as it did me going from Huembes to the border. In Nandaime someone didn't get off who should have so we waited while those Ticos found a cop to come on the bus to get him. There was a hipica/Gueguense festival going on in Diriamba, that I could barely see and could not hear, that stopped traffic for a while. At the TicaBus station in Managua, it was already dark, there were plenty of taxi vultures waiting. Apparently those who ride TicaBus are rich. I told the first driver I saw I wanted to go to UCA, but I had to ask him repeatedly, then refuse to enter as he held the door open, what he would charge me. Five dollars. I know that area, UCA isn't far, and taxis ordinarily charge 30 cords. So I turned to the gathering and asked who would take me there for 30. Nobody. It cost me 50 cords, fair enough at night, but you should have heard the sob story the driver gave me about the high price of gas. Going above 23/L, he told me. We passed by a gas station and noticed the price had dropped below 21/L for super for the first time, so I said, I guess this means you're giving me a discount. After that we both just silently enjoyed the lights of Managua.

    I caught the last inter-local out of UCA to León, which was fortunate considering it was after 8PM on a Sunday. The driver wasn't going unless at least 8 passengers showed up, and they did, but he still managed to snag a few more along the highway, with his helper hanging out the window asking those looking stranded. Back home, extension accomplished, I'm welcome to stay here until the end of April, which is OK since we'll likely fly north a week after Easter.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Upping for another 90 days

    you were just 5 blocks from my house and didn´t stop by for a beer! maybe next time.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Upping for another 90 days

    I enjoyed that, especially your attention to detail: costs, time, etc. Thank you Daddy-Yo.
    Soy el chele mono.

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