Tica to Nica

This morning we left our beloved Tamarindo, Costa Rica and headed for San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua – pronounced, san wan de ser. The bus was nothing we weren’t used to by now, stopping every 200m to let people on or off as they please. When we arrived in Liberia we already knew who to avoid and where to get the information that we needed. Everything was smooth sailing. Our buses seemed to be right on schedule so there was hardly any down time. Within a couple hours we were back at the Nicaraguan border. Everything was going smoothly until we had to pay for our entrance fee. Here we go again.

To enter Nicaragua each person must pay $12 USD, so I forked over $40 USD to the immigration officer thinking that everything would be gravy. Until she asked me if I had any smaller change. Unfortunately we only had 20’s, because that’s what the ATM gives you. So she gave us back one passport and kept the other one until we were able to make change. It really baffles my mind when you have hundreds of tourists entering your country, each paying $12 USD and you cannot make $16 change. It makes no sense. As my passport was held hostage I asked this local that we met earlier if he could go find me change. Soon enough he returned and I was free to go with passport in hand. Since we didn’t have to pay to leave Costa Rica, which we thought we would have to – we used that money to pay for a cab to San Juan. Much quicker than waiting for 2 chicken buses.

The weather in San Juan was amazing and a lot hotter than we remembered. We quickly set ourselves up in our hostel and headed out for lunch on the beach. We both ordered seafood because that is the best food to eat when your are Oceanside. We also enjoyed the refreshing taste of sub-zero degree Toñas – Nicaragua’s domestic beer. Seriously, Canada has to adopt this notion that all beer must be kept in fridges that are -5 degrees Celsius at all times. There is nothing more refreshing than feeling ice cold beer travel down my throat and settle in my belly. I don’t know what it is but somehow we have a money issue with Nicaragua that we can’t seem to avoid.

When it came time to pay the bill, I handed over a $20 USD and within minutes the server returned saying that he can’t accept our money. At first we thought he couldn’t make change. Then we realized that the bill had the slightest little hole in it, that was the problem. Just a warning, restaurants in Nicaragua will not accept American currency unless it is straight off the press. This was a problem because that was all the money we had. I told the server that we got this money from the bank in San Juan so it must be good, if they are giving it out. He just kept refusing. After arguing back and forth for 10 minutes we spotted another couple and just asked them if they would trade our American for some of there Nicaraguan currency. They graciously accepted, we paid the bill left a quarter for a tip and were gone. Carling spent the rest of the day ironing all our money as to make sure it was in perfect condition for future purchases.

We spent the rest of the day sitting on a big beach lounger, reading and enjoying the sunset. Tomorrow we are heading out to a local surf spot to catch some waves. Wish us luck.

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