Sunday, July 09, 2017

Escape From Nicaragua or We Rode the Tica Bus

This morning we very sadly had to leave the paradise behind at Playa Marsella, Nicaragua, leave the beautiful beach and the lovely cabina for a return to Costa Rica with renewed 90 day visas to stay in country. We took a last long look at the beach as we packed up and made our way down to the waiting taxi.

On the way back to town to catch the Tica Bus we both clearly saw that the area was lovely, no lurking French robbers on motorbikes, no dumped trash or anything else negative, at least until we came to the obstacle in the road, two large dogs merrily screwing and refusing to move over for our taxi. There were fields of horses, cattle, the occasional mule-drawn cart containing a farmer and lots of lovely countryside. Even the river we'd forded three days before had trickled back down to nothing.

We made it to town and caught that bourgeois Tica Bus, with the wifi and air conditioning. Because we had to leave so early we didn't get breakfast at the hotel and by the time we got to the bus we only had time to board. So no breakfast, and most importantly, no coffee for me. I distinctly do not do well without coffee, but I knew we'd soon be at the Nicaraguan-Costa Rican border and the border had hordes of vendors, both junk and food. I'd just get coffee and food then. Not quite how it played out.

When we'd crossed three days before we'd walked, having plenty of time to do whatever we needed. Riding over in the Tica Bus we had to surrender our passports, 4 bucks each and an exit form, which the bus driver presented to the authorities while we wandered around for thirty minutes at the border. Oh sure, there were plenty of food vendors, but no one with coffee, save one elderly lady with instant coffee. After viewing the cooking food offerings I was afraid to buy anything, open grills cooking meats, every possible candy and prepackaged cooked chicken and plantains. But the cooking/serving areas were pretty filthy and the last thing I wanted was projectile diarrhea while riding another four hours on the bus. No fresh fruit, but plenty of cigarettes. I was reminded of my trips to Mexico many years ago so I decided to play it very safe and buy some baked goods from an elderly lady. These tiny pastries were supposed to be stuffed with a bean and cheese combo in a poppy seed pastry shell. Gross and disgusting tasting and hard a a brick. Literally could not eat more than a spoonful serving. So all I had for breakfast/lunch was a tiny piece of this stale pastry and a diet coke. Not enough if you suffer low blood sugars or high.

While I was puzzling over what to eat and what would make me sick as a dog (a real fear - you cannot drink the water in Nicaragua, even the hotel insists you only drink from their supply of bottled water) Jim spotted Leticia, our border crossing buddy. She was trying to get a free ride on any bus going back into Costa Rica. She told us what happened after we departed over the river to the hotel.

The taxi driver abandoned her on the riverside, telling her to get stuffed and she walked for miles in the dark before bedding down and sleeping by the side of the road. The next morning a local took pity on her, driving her back into the city where she'd ended up in the hospital. She mentioned nothing further about visiting her sister or having surgery in Nicaragua.

What I noticed today that I didn't on Wednesday evening is that Leticia had track marks on both arms. She's an addict of some substance and before we reboarded the Tica Bus she wanted money from us. Yeah, not happening after the crazy things she'd claimed and now turning up strung out with more crazy sounding stories. I wish her well, but once I found out she'd tried to claim to the hotel that she was with us and sleeping in our room I was done with her. I hope she gets off drugs, but I am not prepared or capable of dealing with another person in my life with substance abuse issues. I've fought that battle with loved ones too many times.

We got back on the bus and I told Jim I knew that the bus would stop again in the beautiful rest station that they'd stopped at on the way up and I'd get something to eat then. I had the shakes by then. Because the bus was running late it ended up bypassing the stop, but a local man got on the bus with Fantas, Cokes and sandwiches for sale.  Yeah, so I paid 4 dollars for a coke and a grilled cheese and baloney sandwich. It didn't help. Started developing nausea and a bad headache which spiraled into a migraine an hour later. The sandwich was delicious, but I'm still quite confused by baloney turning up randomly in things where you least expect it. The man selling the sandwiches said they were all grilled cheese.

By the time we got to the San Jose airport I was sicker still. Jim had some drama when the guys on the bus could not find his laptop case in the cargo hold for ten minutes and then we had to fight off a pack of taxi drivers fighting for our fare not knowing that when we emerged from the bus we were planning on taking an airport shuttle to the rental car company.

Picked up the rental car and now we're off to look for a place to live in areas of the country we love. Right now we're at our favorite resort in the Arenal area and we looked at a beautiful place on the way down here owned by one of the managers at the rental car company. We have some leads, it's going to take time. We're looking near Lake Arenal, the Atenas area, near the beaches of Guanacaste area and down near Quepas/Matapalo/Dominical.

Sadly enough Jim has decided to extend his teaching of English at the school in Copey for another three weeks beyond his contract ending in late July because his replacement flaked out on the school and they begged him to stay. So a few weeks longer in our pokey little room. I just hope it stops raining.

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