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Thread: Liberia Pitstop

  1. #1

    Default Liberia Pitstop

    I finally escaped Ometepe yesterday around 10:00am. There were so many people trying to get onto the ferry that I felt like I was a groundling at a rock concert. The pushiest person was a short Nicaraguan woman with a small boy in one hand, but no matter how handsy she got or how hard she pushed, she couldn't move me with all of my packs on in a thick crowd. I locked down at her once with a, "are you serious?" expression.

    Most of the trip between Moyogalpa and San Jorge wasn't bad at all, but right around the San Jorge port the waves were the strongest, and I started getting motion sick. They had told me that the day before--that the real problem with the crossing was right around San Jorge.

    I watched a line of ants carry peanuts and pieces of chips up the wall on the inside of the lower cabin with the long benches. They had to team up 7 or 8 ants around the peanuts and some of the larger chips, but they worked in perfect harmony and stored all of the goodies somewhere up above the wooden slat roofing.

    Several people seated around me were coughing. Whatever cold virus is going around Nicaragua seems to have hit me and a lot of other people on Ometepe all around the same time. For me it started as a sore throat and then progressed to sinus pressure and a runny nose--clear liquid dripping that is seriously annoying if I ever lean forward. At first, I tried to fight the runny nose as I always do--with copious amounts of toilet paper. However, the second morning that I woke up to a runny nose, it hit me in the shower, and I just used the running water to clean myself out. I marveled as all of my mucus wash magically washed away, and I was left with the pressure relief of having blown my nose without the chaffing of using paper. From then on, anytime I felt the need, I'd run water in the sink and clean myself out there. I was reminded of the scene in 13th Warrior where the Northmen share a bowl of water for the same purpose. I don't advise sharing the same water, but using water instead of paper is my new favorite life-hack. Right now, the drainage is almost completely gone, but I have been left with a bit of a dry cough.

    I walked towards Rivas with all of my gear, and a line of taxis offered me their services. I asked one of them, "Cuanto?" And he answered, "3 dolores." I grimaced at him shaking my head and just kept walking up the hill. Near the top of the hill, a taxi heading the other way slowed down, and I asked him the same question. He replied, "20." I confirmed "20?" When he agreed, I nodded. He popped his trunk, I tossed my big pack in, and then I climbed in the back kitty corner from the driver.

    He drove me back down the hill to San Jorge. He asked me if I had just come in on a ferry, and I told him that I had, but that there aren't any normal schedules because of the high winds and a busted ferry. A large man climbed into the front seat of the taxi without saying a word, and then we drove back towards Rivas. I thought that it was odd that the other man hadn't asked for the price or said where he was going, and I felt uneasy.

    About half way between San Jorge and Rivas, we stopped again for a man a woman and a child. The man asked how much for all of them, and the driver said "30." I scooted over behind the driver into the sun to let them in. The back seat was now crowded, but I felt comforted by the presence of the family. They asked the driver if he knew when the bus would leave for San Juan del Sur. He wasn't sure, but he though probably around noon. I asked him about the bus for Penas Blancas (since we were already on the subject), and he told me the same thing.

    He drove us into the center of Rivas to drop off the large man in front seat first (who didn't say anything the entire time, but paid the driver when he got out). I'm guessing that they know each other well and have a relationship that defies the spoken word. Since we were close to the park, I asked him if they had finally finished it, and both the driver and the man in the back told me that they hadn't and that it didn't look like they'd be done anytime soon. Then both of them insulted the public official who decided to work on the park in December--which is when it is usually the busiest.

    He dropped up all at the mercado just a block from the bus terminal. A bearded white man on a bicycle said hello to me when I was strapping on my gear. He asked me where I was from, and when I told him Montana, he told me that it's cold there. I agreed that it is always cold there, and then he told me that he loves it in Central America, and he doesn't like to leave. I had to hurry to catch a bus, so I smiled at him and left. I enjoy the occasional honest friendly interactions that I get with other tourists in Nicaragua, who are just happy to be able to talk to someone with more similar life experience. They are rare, but they are welcome.

    I found a bus to Penas Blancas immediately. One of the guys working on the bus took me around to the side to stow my larger pack under the bus. While I was doing this, I asked him how much it was to the border. He told me "3 dolares." I replied, "No ando dolares." To which he replied, "50 cordobas pues." I climbed aboard and found a clearly posted sign saying that the price from Rivas to Penas Blancas is C$18.50. I asked the driver, and he told me it's actually C$20. I asked, "Subio pues?" He didn't reply.

    I've noticed several times that the people who operate the taxis and buses around the Rivas bus terminal are almost all liars. What I find more interesting than the fact that most of them are trying to rip off everyone that they can by lying to them, is that they seem to have arrived at a median lie: "$3." The cost to take a taxi to San Jorge shouldn't be more than C$20, but they will all try to charge you $3 (which is C$88). The buses too. Why is $3 the magic number? In any case, I strongly advise anyone traveling through Rivas to completely ignore any people in the Rivas bus station no matter how helpful they seem. Just take your stuff--walk a block into Rivas, and then talk to someone--you'll save yourself some money as well as some aggravation.

    I got to Penas Blancas around 12:30pm. I paid $25 for an undated Ticabus ticket from San Jose to Managua from a guy only one step off the bus. I paid $1 to get a tiny bit of paper in the Nicaraguan terminal. I paid $2 to leave Nicaragua. The guy at the desk challenged my 90 days. I told him that my 90 days were technically up that very day. I also told him that I'd tried to cross the day before to be one the safe side, but that I'd been trapped on Ometepe due to high winds. I offered to show him the note from the naval officer, but he didn't need it.

    I had to wait in a fairly long line to get through on the Costa Rica side, but it wasn't more than about 30 minutes all told. I wasn't charged anything, and I was given a stamp for another 90 days in Costa Rica. However, I did forget my water bottle (1.5Liters) in there. I decided not to fight the crowd and the possible legal issues of going back for it.

    I bought a ticket to Liberia from a stand across the street for c$1560, and this one departed around 1:30pm. I got to Liberia before 3:00pm, and I walked quickly a block or so to the Pura Vida hostel. I paid c$5500 for a night. I dropped off my stuff and then headed out to look for food. I found an inexpensive and excellent breakfast meal that is served all day right next to the MaxiPali. They served me a sunny side up egg, a spicy split fried sausage, a chuck of fried cheese, a large pile of pinto, a tortilla, and a glass of tamarindo all for c$1600. This is more than I'd pay for a meal in Nicaragua. It comes out to around C$85, and I tend to pay C$50 or C$60, but it was good stuff, and it's the least expensive option that I've seen outside of a small dive that I found in San Jose--and even then I'm only paying c$100 more here.

    I decided to shower and to relax and get to bed early instead of doing anything else that day. I didn't sleep long in Moyogalpa the night before. I was up way too late enjoying Netflix and Youtube thanks to the solid internet access in Hospedaje Rosemary. And, I'd just spent the entire day traveling and stressing out about the unknown factors in the trip. Would they let me off Ometepe? Would I get hassled at the border for being a day late? Would all of the hostels in Liberia be full because I'm still at the tail end of the busy season in Costa Rica?

    I crashed around 8:00pm, and I woke up shortly after 5:00am today. I lounged around enjoying the internet and taking a shower in the morning, and then I took another short nap. Finally refreshed, I took a walk around Liberia. I wanted to give Liberia another shot, since every other time I'd been through this city, I've just used it as a pit stop of the say to someplace else. It's a flat city without any noteworthy geographical features (like mountains or volcanoes or rivers).

    I started out walking west to try to get to the edge of the town to get some better views of the countryside. What I found was a carefully groomed and cultured society. I don't have anything against social order or efficient urban sprawl. However, I've noticed that these things are usually achieved at the expense of natural beauty. I had to work hard to find anything that was photo-worthy. Sure, part of this could be because I'd just come from Ometepe, and the comparison would be hard on anyplace that isn't Ometepe, but it was more than that.

    I eventually gave up on trying to reach beyond the edge of Liberia to the west, because (as it turns out) the road that I was following was the main road that leads out to the beach, and it therefor industrialized for a long way--much to long for me to walk past it in the hot late morning sun.

    I turned back and started looking up into the sky and through the trees for inspiration as well as down at the flowers or the chickens by my feet. This change of strategy allowed me to enjoy the return trip more. Once I crossed back over the main north/south highway, I kept going east instead of turning north to return to Pura Vida. I climbed gently into Liberia, and I found that the city actually does have a personality and some beauty. I ran into Catholic iglesias. I found parks. I found interesting public art and architecture. I also found what appears to be a large thriving business sector with shops lining the streets a few streets deep and 7 or so blocks long.

    Satisfied that I'd seen the real Liberia at long last, I turned around after hitting the far east end of town--where the streets become dirt and start to wind erratically. I worked my way back toward Pura Vida. I followed different streets and found more parks and other photo opportunities. I stopped at the place next to MaxiPali for the same meal that I'd had yesterday, and then I paid for another night at Pura Vida.

    Since I've been back, I've researched the bus schedules to San Jose and to Playa Coco and to Penas Blancas, and I've read Islands in the Stream for a few hours. I honestly have no idea where I'm going from here. I know that I want to check out Playa Coco tomorrow morning, but I don't plan on spending more than an hour down there to take some pictures before returning to Liberia. A little bit of beach sun goes a long way for me.

    I know that I want to return to Nicaragua, but I don't know where I'm headed yet. I'm thinking Chinandega or Esteli right now, but I still haven't made up my mind. I know that I want to get back out to Corn Island before I'm done with this trip, but I figure I'll wait a few more months on that. I was excited about Chinandega (haven't ever lived there), and I'd found a place, but there aren't any room available right now. The reason I'm considering Esteli' is because it'd serve as a hub and a jumping off point to explore Somoto and Ocotal and Matagalpa and Jinotega and everyplace else that I can find up north. I haven't found any promising rooms online in Esteli' either. This means that if I chose Chinandega or Esteli' that I'll be going in blind and hoping that I can find something once I hit the ground. It's not ideal...but I've done it before.

    However, before I go back to Nicaragua, I could bounce around Costa Rica for a bit. I don't really want to return to San Jose, but I'd like to check out Jaco' and Punta Arenas and Monteverde...

    So, I'm lying here trying to make up my mind.

    Saludos!

    Soy el chele mono.

  2. #2
    House SOB Little Corn Tom's Avatar
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    Default Re: Liberia Pitstop

    Great post and pictures as usual!

    Please take the same kind of time on the DAC.

    For a real adventure.....go see Kevin on El Bluff and then walk up the coast to Ann and KWAH's place.

    It is one huge photo op.

    Back to Bluefields and a ferry to Big Corn ..... go directly to Little Corn and photograph one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean.

    You do not have to spend a fortune to do this....but ......more than Mainland Nicaragua.
    Life's different here ... It's a whole 'nother pace.

  3. #3
    Dog Whisperer cookshow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Liberia Pitstop

    You want to come this way let me know. I got a pile of old machetes, will fix you one up you can carry in a day pack and sharpen it right fine, you want to walk the Bluff Beach I will find you a guide, not a good idea to walk solo.
    ‎"You know what you say when people tell you you can't do something? Fool, shut your mouth up!"
    Ernie K Doe

  4. #4
    Dog Whisperer cookshow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Liberia Pitstop

    That Cough is all over this side, I finally picked it up, can't beat it. Mine is better than it was earlier in the week.
    ‎"You know what you say when people tell you you can't do something? Fool, shut your mouth up!"
    Ernie K Doe

  5. #5

    Default Re: Liberia Pitstop

    FINALLY a day of sort of sun.
    Partial overcast with a chill wind.

    Feels great out of the wind. We're starting to dry the corn.
    The morning started much warmer, woke up to 60F
    Maybe we've turned the corner.

    Everyone looks and sounds better.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Liberia Pitstop

    Nice looking little town. Must say the stream under the bridge is quite clean.

    Quick question, pic in the central park next to the gazebo on the right side it looks like a blue tree, maybe blooming but looks like leaves also. Could anyone let me know what kind of tree that is. If it is really that blue could you grab another pic if you are still around?

    Hope you make it to the DAC!


  7. #7

    Default Re: Liberia Pitstop

    Quote Originally Posted by kwah2249 View Post
    Nice looking little town. Must say the stream under the bridge is quite clean.

    Quick question, pic in the central park next to the gazebo on the right side it looks like a blue tree, maybe blooming but looks like leaves also. Could anyone let me know what kind of tree that is. If it is really that blue could you grab another pic if you are still around?

    Hope you make it to the DAC!

    It's a fake tree. I remember not just a bright blue one but also a bright pink one and I think a bright yellow one. They are much smaller and more detailed and realistic than the tree aberrations in Nicaragua, but maybe they were inspired by their northern neighbors...
    Soy el chele mono.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Liberia Pitstop

    I remember the statue of the guitar player and his novia. They have really cleaned up and improved the beach since I started going there.

    The next beach north is Playa Hermosa. It's a picture perfect little pocket beach with sailboats anchored just offshore, well protected, with a restaurant right on the beach, tables on the sand, run by a Dutch guy.

    You can't get to Playa Hermosa by walking, there's a headland that blocks access. You have to go back out a couple of miles, and take a road to the north, and come back in. Several small, and very nice beach hotels, couple of good restaurants.

    That whole area of Guanacaste is full of nice beaches.

  9. #9
    Viejo del Foro Daddy-YO's Avatar
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    Default Re: Liberia Pitstop

    Quote Originally Posted by KeyWestPirate View Post
    That whole area of Guanacaste is full of nice beaches.
    And to think it was once part of poor Nicaragua.

    Back when CR was affordable and border crossing was simply no big deal and I had my pick-up-made-into-a-camper and I was single - which is to say, the good ol' days - I camped out (free) in a number of those coves north & south of La Cruz. Drove in with plenty of water, eats, hammock, books and snorkeling gear. Bought wine at the duty-free and CR cheese & crackers at the supers in La Cruz. Rarely saw another soul, mid-week. Ah yes, pura vida.
    See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil: be a wise simian

  10. #10

    Default Re: Liberia Pitstop

    Quote Originally Posted by Daddy-YO View Post
    And to think it was once part of poor Nicaragua.

    Back when CR was affordable and border crossing was simply no big deal and I had my pick-up-made-into-a-camper and I was single - which is to say, the good ol' days - I camped out (free) in a number of those coves north & south of La Cruz. Drove in with plenty of water, eats, hammock, books and snorkeling gear. Bought wine at the duty-free and CR cheese & crackers at the supers in La Cruz. Rarely saw another soul, mid-week. Ah yes, pura vida.


    Yes,, that area west of La Cruz is still pretty isolated. A bus runs down there. There are a couple of hotels, one pricey, the ECO Hotel, but vacant beach for miles.

    A good place to look out over the area and watch the sun set over Bahia Salina is a hotel in La Cruz called The Mirador. The owner (lawyer who works in Liberia and his Spanish wife) built a big deck over the west facing cliff, and even if you don't stay there, he will feed you and provide cold beer for a price.
    He has a Saeco coffeemaker just like mine,, good cup of coffee. Rooms run $20 single,, it's a converted house and he has parking. Big living room to relax in,, WiFi and hot water if the widow makers are working. Just one option.

    There's a bigger hotel up the hill towards the west,, cold water,, no wifi,, private room is $10. Of course, all bets are off with all the Africans in La Cruz.

    I heard the Ticos are building a multi=million dollar retirement community on Bahia Salina SW of La Cruz.
    Don't know,, I don't ramble and wander like I used to.


    Yes, used to do what you describe in Mexico. Old Landcruiser FJ60 with a sun shade fixed to the back (half assed tent that wouldn't blow down. I cooked off the tailgate,, slept on the rack above (after I pulled my sailboard down).

    My biggest problem was keeping my beer cold,,, ice was hard to come by.

    Those days of innocence are long gone. World has become a much nastier place.

  11. #11
    Viejo del Foro Daddy-YO's Avatar
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    Default Re: Liberia Pitstop

    Quote Originally Posted by KeyWestPirate View Post
    A good place to look out over the area and watch the sun set over Bahia Salina is a hotel in La Cruz called The Mirador.
    We frequently stayed at the Hotel Amalia next door, actually before the Mirador was built. A big 2nd floor room with private bath (all US Standard: sink, toilet, bath), view of the ocean, was $20 for two. Sunsets from the spacious balcony deck, perched on that cliff's edge overlooking the sweep of the bay and the great ocean beyond, with the requisite wine & cheese & my sweetheart were nothing short of glorious. Howler monkeys grunting below completed the show with audio. An artist had the place built; it's a gallery of his portraits of women (mostly). After he died heirs fought. When we stayed there nothing had been settled. Those who kept the place going were reluctant to answer the door, let alone rent rooms, but they did - cheaply.

    Quote Originally Posted by KeyWestPirate View Post
    My biggest problem was keeping my beer cold,,, ice was hard to come by.
    Which is why I'd buy bargain Chilean reds at the border. Tucked under some rocks in the sea, their temperature was just right at dusk to help mentally accent those yellow to orange to red to violet skies of day's farewell.

    Quote Originally Posted by KeyWestPirate View Post
    Those days of innocence are long gone. World has become a much nastier place.
    Alas. I enjoyed my boy scout years in the Pacific NW US. We - the family - did a lot of what today would be called 'primitive' camping. That's what CR then reminded me of.

    Maybe not nastier - if you're choosy about the company you keep, but then you'd miss dealing with most people on Earth.
    See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil: be a wise simian

  12. #12

    Default Re: Liberia Pitstop

    i love Amalia's. Ive stayed there a few times when weve done border runs. The upstairs rooms in the back have one of the best views. A pool, a kitchen, hot water.....all for like 20 or 25 bucks. Great place.

    My wife and I once walked down to the beaches a few kilometers down the hill. It got to be a pretty long walk by the time we got towards the end. So we hung out until the bus came back cause we didnt want to walk all the way back. It seemed like a weird mix down there. Multi million dollar full service resorts and old beat up local shacks. Not much in the middle. It wasnt built up at all, but it looked like people were trying to change that.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Liberia Pitstop

    Quote Originally Posted by drlemcor View Post
    It's a fake tree.
    Well dang . . . zoomed in on it and everything. What idiot puts up fake trees in a tropical climate?

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