The Journey to Nicaragua - Scammers Paradise
My 90 day VISA for Costa Rica was up and I needed to leave the country for 3 days in order to renew it. There are a lot of people that told me to not worry about leaving the country…..but I did not want to take the chance. Plus, this was a great opportunity for me to see another country. I had the option to go to Panama or Nicaragua but there were a number of people claiming that Panama was really touristy….so I chose Nicaragua. The trip to the border was relatively uneventful….I took the bus from Samara to Nicoya …then to Liberia….and finally to the Costa Rica/Panama border. In all…..by public bus it only took me about 5 hours…not to shabby if you ask me. The border on the Costa Rican side is relatively calm…….but as soon as I could see the gates for Nicaragua, I knew that it was about to get interesting. People were piled up…….. Pressing against the fence……just waiting for the Gringos to arrive. Now, for most people…this can be pretty intimidating. In fact, they have services that allow you to stay inside a bus while an intermediary takes care of your paperwork for you. Personally, this is what I came here for……and it is in times like these, you really find out what you know/don’t know…… As soon as I pass through customs, there are 20 Nicas all in my face….asking me if I need help with my paperwork, a taxi, …….ANYTHING. When I started speaking Spanish, about half of them stopped pestering me. I guess they thought that I would be too tough to scam….who knows. I did need a ride to San Juan Del Sur……and I noticed that there were two guys that looked somewhat reputable. We started chatting……and I told them that I was looking for a ride to San Juan Del Sur. They said they could take care of me no problem and it would only be about 20 minutes until my taxi was ready. As soon as my ride pulls up, I was pretty stoked….as it was a brand new Toyota SUV. I notice that one of the guys now had a rental car shirt on…..and he gave the keys to other guy that was waiting with me. I am not going to say what the name of the rental car was ……because I will be using this service again…..but essentially what these guys were doing was when someone turned their car in….they would take the cars for a quick trip to San Juan or Rivas to make a little extra cash….then actually check the car back in. These guys had their system down . After talking to my driver…..it ends up these guys could make an extra $100-200 extra a day…..and in Nicaragua that is big money. I got a private shuttle all the way to San Juan for only $20….damn good deal if you ask me. Not only that.....we made the trip to San Juan in only 35 min.