We had entered Guatemala on January 22nd, so that gave us until April 22nd to get through Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. As I mentioned before we flew through Guatemala and the same went for El Salvador and Honduras. By the time we got to Nicaragua we had about 2 months to kill which was fine by us because we had a lot we wanted to see in Nica and were tired of being on the move to much. After exploring almost the entire Pacific Coast we went inland to Ometepe and Laguna de Apoyo and we still had about a month left on our visas. We were stoked to get back out to the coast again so we hit the road west from Laguna de Apoyo.
I don’t remember the exact moment or why I took a look at our car insurance for Nicaragua but when I did I made a startling discovery. Our insurance was only good for one month in Nicaragua. This fact peaked my interest, so I took a look at our Vehicle Import permit. The Vehicle Import Permit stated the same dates as the Car Insurance, which meant that although our personal visas were good until April 22nd , our car had to be out of the country by March 31st. That only gave us about a week to be in Nicaragua and to top things off, said week was Samana Santa or Holy Week. Samana Santa is a very big deal in Mexico and Central America. Most people (most being pretty much ALL people) get the entire week off and the first thing they do is head for the coast, the same direction that we were heading.
For the first time on this whole trip we were short on time. We needed to be out of the country in 10 days and we didn’t want to leave yet. Millions of questions ran through our minds. Should we leave for just 3 days and come back? Should we risk just staying and paying the fines when we actually leave? What about Samana Santa? Are we going to be able to find a place to stay? With all of these questions unanswered we continued our trek back out to Popoyo.
This time around we decided to stay right on the beach just below Magnific Rock. It was a nice camp spot and we enjoyed a few nights there trying to figure out what to do about our little predicament.
Jeff from Da Surf Spot encouraged us to make a decision as quickly as possible because the beaches were going to start getting extremely crowded within the next couple days. Heeding Jeff’s advice we made a plan and headed towards the border 3 days later. We crossed on the 26th of March 5 days before Easter, in hopes that we would beat the crowds and be able to nail down a camp spot for 5 days. After the five days Jamie and I planned on heading back into Nicaragua to explore for another 3 weeks.
The border crossing was a breeze. As it turns out lots of people were going from Costa Rica into Nicaragua and not many people were doing the opposite. We flew through the crossing and headed towards the coast. The first place we checked out was a beautiful bay. Unfortunately they didn’t allow dogs in the campground, plus they were already full. To our dismay this was going to be a reoccurring theme throughout our day. Some may know that Coast Rica is full of National Parks and Reserves, while it is a good thing to keep the environment safe for native species it’s a bit of a bummer for us because dogs are not allowed. We were even told that if we snuck Reina in we were likely to get caught by police and fined.
At this point our Overlander problem solving skills kicked in and we went in search of a nice place to pirate camp. We turned down tiny one-way dirt tracks and turned around in multiple fishing villages for a couple hours before resorting to plan C. Plan C turned out to be just what we needed. Enter, Rincon de la Vieja National Park. Yes, I said National Park and no we didn’t actually camp at the park but very close to the park in the front yard of a B-n-B called Aroma de Campo.
Charlie, the owner, was more than accommodating for us. The BnB had a bathroom w/shower that we could use, along with a pool that was filled with fresh water straight from the nearby river. Charlie fills the pool with water and then about every week or so drains the water into his garden to water the plants! Brilliant idea in my book.
Rincon de la Vieja is a National Park in Northern Costa Rica near Liberia. The park is named after a huge active volcano and is littered with hot springs, bubbling mud pits and beautiful waterfalls. We decided to hike to one of the waterfalls that was fairly close because we didn’t want to leave the dogs for too long.
The hike that we chose was perfect. It took you through a primary forest across a mountain plain with views of the ocean and down into a dense jungle before dropping you off right in front of a gorgeous waterfall plummeting into a crystal clear pool.
The hike took about 2 hours so we were hot and ready to jump into the pool. As I mentioned the park is filled with hot springs and there was even a mini hot spring flowing into the pool. The water was pretty cold so it was nice to swim over to the warm spring and splash it on your face. After about and hour swimming and exploring the waterfall we packed up and made the hike back to the cars and our pups.
We stayed at Aroma de Campo for a few more days before parting ways the Nate and Sarah. Jamie and I made a decision to stay in Costa Rica and worry about our visas at a later date, we just weren’t in the mood to cross the border again. While Nate and Sarah stayed inland and we started to make our way down the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. You know us; we can’t stay away from the ocean too long.