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February 5th, 2012
February 5th, 2012

Costa Rica and Nicaragua

Beach at Playa Grande, Costa Rica
Beach at Playa Grande, Costa Rica
Returning to Quito, Ecuador´s capital, by plane we discovered the airport was closed due to thunderstorms and heavy rain and had to divert to the port city of Guayaquil to await better conditions.  When the weather improved we flew back to Quito, arriving at the 5-star Swissotel after midnight (booked by daugher Esther at 2-star prices!) and too late to dine out at the posh restaurant we had planned for Marg´s birthday.  

Nevertheless, a considerate bell-hop turned up with a bottle of wine and a reasonable meal provided by room service, complete with white linens, so we considered ourselves fortunate.

The next morning Esther and family arrived to drive us to an ancient hacienda about 1.5 hours away where we were entertained by indigenous dancers and enjoyed the ambience of this former farm house.  A quick visit to Cotacachi on the return trip proved why International Living is touting this little town as the next retirement mecca for Americans and Canadians - clean, colonial and a pleasant climate.

Too soon we said our goobyes to Esther, Juan, Maria Letica and little Juan de Dios and were on our way to San Jose, Costa Rica.  After one night at a B & B and another at a hotel close to the airport we caught a little plane to take us to the Pacific Coast and the surfer´s paradise of Playa Grande.

With Marg´s knee acting up it was time to take it easy, which we did at a small hotel with pool, across the lagoon from the busy beach town of Tamarindo.  Years ago we had anchored off Tamarindo with the Pacific Swift but developments, and prices, have gone up dramatically in the last seventeen years.  Fortunately, Hotel Bula Bula, our wateriing hole, was an oasis of charm and quiet with the lagoon providing a natural obstacle for the party goers at Tamarindo.

After six days of quiet it was time for a road trip so, retaining the services of a van and driver, we made the five-hour journey to the colonial city of Granada in Nicaragua.  The countryside was intriguing with small villages, expansive farms, tropical fruit trees and both horse and bullock-drawn transportation.  The border crossing was packed with hundreds of Nicaraguans lining up to clear into Costa Rica for work and a half-mile of trucks sidelined and waiting for paperwork.

An ancient crone grabbed our passports and escorted us to the front of the line where we were processed in a few minutes so her fee of a few "colones" was well worth it.  Unfortunately, the driver and van took another hour and a half!

After a night in Granada, reputedly the oldest city in the Americas , and a 40-minute cab ride to the airport at Managua, we flew to the Corn Islands off Nicaragua´s Caribbean coast on a small rattle-trap plane that was delayed due to engine troubles.  The former haunt of pirates, these islands are now home to English-speaking descendants with lobster fishing as their main industry.  Compared to the Pacifit Coast the beaches are somewhat underwhelming and one´s pastime consists of swimmming, snorkeling, lying in the sun (between rain showers ) or reading.  Our constant companions on the waterfront are mostly naked little black boys who hurl themselves into the sea from derelict fish boats or rickety wharves. shrieking with glee.  We feel quite at home with these great, great, great, great-grandson of buccaneers with surnames like Morgan and Quinn and accents like Bob Marley.

More Images

One lady in a red skirt managed to make it through the long border lineups.
One lady in a red skirt managed to make it through the long border lineups.
Modern Nicaraguan windmills use the high winds of the Papagayo to generate electricity.
Modern Nicaraguan windmills use the high winds of the Papagayo to generate electricity.
Big Corn Island Municipal wharf and fishing fleet
Big Corn Island Municipal wharf and fishing fleet

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