Monday, 1 May 2017

Liberia, Nicoya and Jicaral, Costa Rica – Days 225 to 229

The ferry from Isla de Ometepe to San Jorge on flat calm Lago Nicaragua
If someone had told me a few years ago I would wake up naturally, in time to read my emails and leave the hostal by 06.00 I would have thought them mad! However in this heat living with daylight hours seems the obvious way to go, so wake somewhere after 05.00, and sleep just after 21.00!

Arrived at Union Jackson to pick up our packed breakfast in time for coffee and a chat, we were still undecided about how we were going to cross the border there seemed to be three options,

Lago Nicaragua on our calm, early morning crossing
1) collectivo from Ferry to bus station in Rivas, chicken bus to Penas Blancas, walk across the border, chicken bus to Liberia bus station.

2) collectivo from ferry to the rotunda in Rivas walk 500m to the left till nearly at the maxi Pali supermarket, to the Ticabus agency, pay the full $29 Managua to San Jose fare, even though doing a much shorter journey, get taken across the border, dropped off by McDonalds in Liberia

Another country, another bus station! This one is Nicoya
3) taxi from Ferry to the border $20 per car, walk across, get chicken bus the other side.

Got off the ferry and were immediately approached by a taxi driver, got him down to $18 with the change in dollars not Córdoba, nice AC taxi for the hour to the border. Walked through departure of Nicaragua, really easy, pay $1 or 30 Córdoba, then to get passport stamped, $2 or 70 Córdoba! (Interesting maths!)

The very different modern cathedral in Liberia, in front of....
We were then approached by a lady from Ticabus offering us $10 to Liberia. Saved us the 500m walk to immigration Costa Rica, and travel in comfort. Arrived in Liberia (11.00) dropped off at McDonalds and walked to the hotel, for a very unexpected welcome drink. We thought this a great compromise between cost and comfort. AC all the way and for two of us half the price of Ticabus all the way.

... the obligitary plaza that follows the same plan throughout C & S America
Went for a walk around Liberia despite melting to find the bus station for the next day, passing yet another shop selling unsalable American clothing and managed to get him a pair of trousers, and me a little shrug jacket, well I have been warned by Roxanne that they keep cruise ships cold! This brings our total spend for a dress, jacket, glitzy flip flops, makeup and a shirt and trousers to £11.00! We are now cruise ready (well will be by the time we hit the ship with everything fully laundered!) 

The rain storm at the juice bar in Liberia
Walking back we stopped for a quick juice, only to be caught in the most almighty downpour. Does the weather not know it was five days early for wet season in May?

This along with timing issues decided for us that we wouldn't spend the money to go to the local national park, with wildlife, waterfalls and mud pools (or according to Tripadvisor a tub of mud you can smear on yourself if the fancy takes you!) but go straight to Nicoya a one horse town, our overnight, before arriving in Jicaral a no horse town for our Housesit (she exaggerates! I rode into town on Julies bike this morning to buy cold beer and on the way back came across lots of horses and their riders trotting along the road in the opposite direction holding up all the traffic!).

One of a group of toads sitting at the roadside in Ometepe
I wrote a random message to our Airbnb host, Hector Luis, who has no English, in my shocking Spanish, saying which bus we planned to get, hoping he could collect us and could he please provide dinner, breakfast and a lift to the bus station for 09.00 the following morning. My Spanish can't have been too bad as it all worked like clockwork.

Our home for 8 days in Jicaral
The bus was horribly hot and sweaty, as expected, but the very nice bus driver had given us and our luggage priority boarding. Two hours passed quite quickly though we are slightly confused as to what 'directo' means, the notice in the windscreen, and what he said to anyone who got on at any of the completely random roadside stops he made. So not that it goes direct then! People just get on and off anywhere. Occasionally on at a bus stop and even more occasionally off at a bus stop. This means the bus can stop, let someone off, move off, and not even get out of first gear before stopping to let someone on. No, people won't walk to get on when they see it stop!

The church (cathedral?) in Jicaral
Arrived the half hour early we had planned to hopefully allow us to buy our ticket for the morning and get some information about our journey from Jicaral to San Jose at the end, only to find the next bus went from the other side of town! Walked down, with bags, though I did offer to go on my own, only to find no counter, just a man from another company who said 09.00 and no more!

Penka dog and Luno cat playing together
Back to bus station A to wait for Hector Luis who arrived bang on time to whisk us away to his very comfortable house where he lives on his own through the week while his son and daughter study in San Jose and his wife works in San Jose, a four hour each way journey that she does every weekend! This weekend is a long one so the plus is she doesn't have to leave till 04.00 on Tuesday morning, the minus is it took six hours to get home as lots of people were traveling. On top of that she works at the local university on a Saturday! Anyway he turned the TV to English, put some belly pork in to slow cook and tantalise us with the smell and we had a very comfortable stay. We did enjoy it and managed to have a laugh and conversation before early bed, leaving him to catch up with his wife.

Manchita (L) and Penka vie for Jackies attention
The bus to Jicaral turned up on time, and we joined the hoards of irritating people stopping the bus where we wanted to get off, rather than at a stop! Thank goodness for B's Navmii App that tells us where we are at all times without being connected to the Internet! Magic! 

Arrived at the house to be welcomed by Jean Carlo (in Spanish) and introduced to the dogs Penka (where they were found) and Manchita (because of the small brown spot on her head) and cats Kuky and Luno. We kept ourselves busy getting to know the animals while Jean Carlo prepared us a lovely lunch. Julie arrived fresh from the beauty parlour, and showed us round explaining our duties. We had been told that the attached bakery normally run by JC had been closed for a few months as he'd not been well. Testicular cancer, chemo, appendicitis with infection complications due to his weakened immune system all in the last six months......think the trip to Cuba with her brother and girlfriend is well deserved.

Kuki cat is not so keen on playing with dogs
The dogs are lovely, though they obviously also struggle with the heat, but were both very friendly and keen on being fussed after initially doing their job and woofing. I think Julie was a bit surprised to find us all getting on so well when she returned, but at least they can go away happy that we are going to be fine. B is also happy, that these are not animals owned by women who tolerate him as a mere man, but are assuming he is top dog and looking to him for attention.

As you can see on his face
The cats are also lovely but unsurprisingly sleep a lot of the day. Kuky is ok with the dogs but would rather not bother, but is very happy to sit, purr and be fussed out the back door. Luno seems to love the dogs, it just makes you smile to see them lick each other, though when he first walked in his whole head did seem to be in Penka's mouth which was a little shocking!

We did our first food shop, once they left, walked the 1.7km into town to the first supermarket, not that impressed, but time was getting on. Unable to find a cab we then had to walk back too, making us 45 mins late for feeding time! What a way to start, though I'm happy to shift them to 06.00 and 18.00 rather than 05.00 and 17.00!

'Foot on the plate to lick cake crumbs - me?'
Back into town on Sunday morning, too late even an 09.00 to beat the heat, to explore the other shops, a bit better, and it's only a week. Back at the house we have more mangoes, chills and lemons than we could possibly know what to do with, I'm picking about half a dozen mangoes  off the floor a day!
We are really enjoying it, though we are very grateful for the AC in the bedroom. It is also lovely not to have to be out doing as when the rain comes, it really comes! Amazing thunder and lightning last night before the rain, the whole sky being lit up for about an hour and a half. We are getting into the routine, take Penka out for half an hour, Manchita isn't interested, one night in the garden, alternating with one night in the house with the door open, this is to stop them (and us?) getting too much sleep so getting bored and chewing more of the furniture! Watch the cats eat to stop 'ghost cat' (a local stray) scaring them away and eating their food. What's not to like? 
Pleased that Kuki likes a bit of fuss!
Its sometimes tricky to do any work though, Penka demads attention
More Penka and Luno fuss time
Feeding time for cats
Seen outside the house but decided its harmless. From the internet I think it is either a Northern Scarlet snake or a Red Milk snake, both harmless. The saying I found goes: "Red touching black, safe for Jack, red touching yellow, kill a fellow"

1 comment:

  1. Looks lovely, hope you enjoy your doggie and cat time. Xxx