Amen to that…

In this case ‘that’, just happened to be Costa Rica and ‘Amen’, well it was the vessel that ferried us up river (and between countries) from San Carlos to Los Chiles.

The previous evening, as we’d scouted the location of the immigration office of San Carlos and adjoining dock for the boats to Los Chiles (not to be confused with Los Chiles Nicaragua, to where you can even catch a bus from San Carlos), a friendly official had advised that due to high season, more boats were running, but to arrive around 7:30am.

Heeding his advice, we’d arrived at around 7am, to already find a lengthy queue outside the office!

There was little else to do but wait, and well into our third hour, we found our passports stamped, our exit fees paid and we were sat on a boat.

We were 4 of the fortunate ones, many in the line immediately behind us were not allowed through at all (simply due to the two boats being full).

Before long, life-jackets were issued and we were on our way to Costa Rica!

Floating our way out of Nicaragua...

Floating our way out of Nicaragua…

The odd shower passed overhead, and Sarah and I entertained ourselves by counting the small turtles we could see, sunning themselves on the skeletal like tree limbs that protruded from the water throughout the journey (I think we spotted about half a dozen).

At the border, despite a queue, the whole process was relatively smooth, and when another shower emerged, we took the opportunity to indulge in a quick feed.

An afternoon of buses lay before us, both presenting no difficulty, just consuming much time so that when we finally got to La Fortuna, our destination for the day, we’d taken a rather circuitous route via La Quisada (Ciudad Quisada) and the sun had long set.

We were in fact quite fortuitous that we even got there, as upon arriving late on a Sunday to La Quisada, we discovered that only one more bus was running in that direction for the day, a bus that we’d not have made had we arrived half an hour later!

Finding a hostel on a rainy night felt an achievement (although truth be told, the first we tried had room, at least for that night) and thus ended a long, tiring day.

At least we’d shelved our original plans to try and reach Santa Elena in one day…

But La Fortuna wasn’t a random destination, it did have appeal in its own right.

With a towering volcano overhead, the area is home to many thermally heated waters, which as a result have spawned many expensive day spas and similar resorts.

There is however one that remains free, the hot springs at Tabacon, and it was this lure that our party of 4 piling into a taxi for the journey out there.

Sadly, as we arrived, the dark skies overhead began to release their chilly contents, so it was a slightly shivery party that made their way down to the flowing waters.

I’m not sure what we expected, but in moments the cold rain was a relief from the hot waters that flowed around us!

Hanging with Faye & Chris in hot waters and cold rains

Hanging with Faye & Chris in hot waters and cold rains

However what may at first glance look a lovely, natural location (as per the photo above) was in fact a river bed of concrete, as we were in fact sat almost beneath a bridge that carries the road above.

This would never do, so we made our move up-stream to where some deeper pools were to be found, for a full immersive experience.

All was well, but for the ever present rain (although it provided me with relief from the heat, it wasn’t great for pictures), and one moment of fear as I lost my footing and fell/floated backwards over the lip of the nearest waterfall.

The fall was not far, but it was dumb luck that I did not strike my head on a rock and I luckily (not that I felt it at the time) emerged with only a slightly grazed and bruised elbow and a very sore and bruised bottom (yes, I just used the word bottom)…

A warm dip in the hot waters near Tabacon

A warm dip in the hot waters near Tabacon

There wasn’t that much else to occupy us in town when we later returned, Sarah and I sticking to our plan to continue on to Santa Elena and the Costa Rican cloud forests, whilst our English friends Faye & Chris instead opted to head directly to San Jose.

It always feels sad to part from new friends, however that is the nature of travel, people come and go as the kilometres/miles pass.

We wandered a little, bought some groceries and indulged in a couple of slightly disappointing local artisan chocolates.

The parque central was memorable however for its resourceful Xmas decorations, the likes of which we had not seen since our days in Dili, back in Timor-Leste!

Festive recycling... the most resourceful since Timor-Leste

Festive recycling… the most resourceful since Timor-Leste

To see recycled products put to such use always warms the heart, just so long as there ultimate fate doesn’t see them part of a bonfire…

 

Notes:

* Our departure by water from Nicaragua included two exit fees, per person of $20.00 & $45.00 Cordoba each.

* The boat up river from San Carlos to Los Chiles (in Costa Rica) was $10.00 US per person.

* A $600.00 Colon entrance fee was required for the Costa Rican side of the border.

* Our bus from Los Chiles to La Quisada cost us $2400.00 Colon per person, with another few hundred each for our final bus onwards to La Fortuna.

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