Retire Smarter

  Stretch the dollar of limited income

Through Nicaragua


   Jun 24

Through Nicaragua

Crossing the Nicaragua Border

It was around 10:00 PM after a gruesome day. Bad news, border is closed for Sunday night. We have to stay at the parking lot. Good news, they’ll process us only because Leonard is visibly very sick and I am his medical counselor. A skeleton crew is apparently still present, probably for emergency cases like ours. The tramitor we were handed over to by the Poto’s envoy was running around with our papers. I was “tending” Leonard and constantly had to fend off a group of youngsters. They either wanted to wash my truck or just watch it or do anything to earn a dollar. A new proposal and new attempt every few minutes. By age they all should have been in bed long time already. It took 3 hrs even though we were the only ones “processed”. Finally done after midnight. The tramitor sent a person with us to show us the hotel in a village 20 km South. We had to pay his taxi fare back.

Driving through Nicaragua

It was nice little hotel but not at all so nice room, yet cheap – $10 per night. The common rooms were set up nicely and decorated with paintings and carvings of local artists.

Hotel Sitting area

Hotel Sitting area

Lots of wood paneling, indigenous sculptures and tropical landscaping added to the ambiance of the foyer and the eating area.

Hotel Eating area

Hotel Eating area

Breakfast was extra, but worth it as we did not know were we would end up during the day. After breakfast I took off with the hotel’s tour guide to show me to the bank and a locksmith for a copy of truck key and a new topper key. We drove few blocks on the streets of the village. People seemed resigned, but not happy. The locksmith, an old guy with even older equipment for copies had to file all notches by hand. It took numerous tests and two hours to get the new truck key finally barely working. He said that the topper key will take him at least half a day because it must be made without an existing one. I had to give up on this idea.

In bank we learned that they can give me only Cordoba’s (the Nicaragua currency.) and not dollars. That did not make sense in our situation. We left without cash but with an emergency key for the other border.

Good Roads

Good Roads


Nicaragua roads have the best pavement of all previous countries, but very narrow or missing shoulders. Apparently, it is common to throw the trash out on the side of the road where wind frequently carries it on the road. Coca-cola and beer cans, plastic bags and other lighter thrash is floating on the road.
Trash Dump

Roads are a Trash Dump

Lack of any other roads forces bicyclists and people to use the shoulders. On narrow sections they are dangerously close to the passing traffic. Drought is crippling the agriculture. The grass has dried and mostly burned by wild fires. Cows and horses have not had anything to eat for long time and weaker are dying on the fields and in the ditches of the road.

Armed with the information from truck drivers Dyala is guided us past Managua traffic on secondary roads. Although through streets of villages and smalls towns it probably takes us less time than crawling in the congested traffic of Managua.

Nicaragua Village

Nicaragua Village

People on the streets are visibly unhappy, but resigned. The seem to have given up hope to change the situation. Election posters with one candidate – Daniel Ortega are everywhere. There are no posters for anyone else if there are other candidates.

Yet, there is work and that feeds the family.

No Unemployment Visible

No Unemployment Visible

Back on Pan American highway way South from Managua we proceed on good smooth pavement, through trash toward Rivas. After Rivas lake Nicaragua is right next to the road on the left. In few minutes after Rivas we reach the intersection with the road to San Juan del Sur and turn right.

San Juan del Sur Street

San Juan del Sur Street

San Juan del Sur is a cute resort. It looks like a grown up little fisherman village. Pretty and clean  resort.

Beach Promenade

Beach Promenade

In search for the hotel with parking space for Leonard we end up right on the beach promenade and book the pretty Hotel Victoria.

The Hotel Victoria

The Hotel Victoria

That’s were Leonard notices that the trailer’s rear axle clamp is broken. Local mechanic is called in. He promises to make new clamps by tomorrow 8:00 – 08:30

I guess we are not going to leave early tomorrow. The sunset is very beautiful, restaurant food decent and debate about various issues of life reaches past midnight … again.

The Dusk Wins

The Dusk Wins

The replacement parts were promised for 8:00 AM, then 9:30 – 10:00. Finally they arrived around 11:00. To our disappointment the mechanic had made holes for the bolts 1/16 smaller than the bolts. He had to go back and drill them larger. He took one bolt with him for testing. He arrived back after 12:00 with correct replacement parts. Leonard crawled under the trailer just to realize that the mechanic did not return the bolt. Even worse, the hotel guys who knew mechanics telephone and address were off for long lunch. No-one in the hotel knew the cellphone numbers of these employees. We were kicked out of the hotel because we did not want to pay for another day.

Leaving San Juan del Sur

Leaving San Juan del Sur

It gets little better from here. The mechanic apparently stumbled on the bolt in his shop and drove back to return it. Mounting did not take much time and we were finally ready to leave for the border crossing little before 3:00 PM. The day was nice and the road good. About a mile from the intersection with Pan American Highway we passed a farm of giant windmills. This is Nicaragua contribution to green energy. Lake Nicaragua was close to road and the giant volcano’s on the other side of the lake added to the majestic character of the landscape.

Green Energy

Green Energy


Approaching the Nicaragua border exit the road was blocked by a mile and half long line of trucks. They were waiting to cross the border to Costa Rica. Nicaraguans closed the border crossing for many days last week because of some conflict with Costa Rica government. The line-up was the remnant of this closing. The trucks occupied one line of the two lane road with narrow shoulders. Only way forward was the opposite direction lane. Maneuvering got tricky whenever trucks came toward Nicaragua from the border crossing. After few close calls of falling into the ditch we managed to the border crossing around 3:30 PM.

Trucks Waiting at Border Crossing, What a Waste

Trucks Waiting at Border Crossing, What a Waste

Exit from Nicaragua is undoubtedly the most arduous of all so far. It took us more than an hour to get all signatures and we got lucky again because we did not have to load off all our stuff for the inspectors. Not sure what the purpose could have been, but that is their process. After an hour we were finally ready to leave Nicaragua and cross the border to Costa Rica.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply