In order to leave Nicaragua today, I was going to have to catch the 7 a.m. boat up the river. There’s less service on the weekends, and if I missed that one, the next one was at 2 p.m., which would put me into San Carlos around sundown. Since the border crossing here is done by boat, that might mean I’d have to stay in San Carlos for the night, in which case I might not have enough money left for the exit tax and the boat to Costa Rica, which would mean I’d be stuck in Nicaragua until I got to an ATM that would accept my card.
No problem, as it turned out. I got a knock on my door at 6 a.m. and had the incredible privilege of seeing the sun come up over the Rio San Juan.
From there, everything just kind of flowed. A boat up the river to San Carlos, a visit to a nearly empty immigration station, and a boat up the Rio Frio into Costa Rica. A new passport stamp, two more busses, and now I’m in La Fortuna, Costa Rica, which seems to have more hotels and tour operators than people. It’s a rude shock after the peace of the Rio San Juan, but I found a nice hostel and I’m sipping a cook Bavaria Dark beer and realizing that I’m almost at the end of my travels.
And I’m already missing Nicaragua.
I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed traveling in a foreign country more than I did here. Even the very few places I wasn’t crazy about led me to new spots that I loved. I hope that, a few years from now, I’ll see this trip as a turning point. I’m on the lookout for those nowadays. But after six years of not leaving the United States, I found the perfect country to make me feel like a traveler again.
The campsite in Ometepe with the fox sleeping by my head. Cacao pancakes for breakfast. Sliding down a volcano. Playing beach baseball with local kids. Swimming in a giant lake. Swimming in the ocean at sunset. The view from the waterfall in San Jose de los Remates. Eating lunch off the grill in the central square of Leon. School busses taking me everywhere. Waiting on the side of the road for a ride. A trip down the Pan American Highway in the back of a pickup truck. The view from the bell tower in Granada. And the people. So much kindness everywhere I looked.
I love Nicaragua. I absolutely love it. I look forward to going back.