"If there's a delay, it will be at the entry into Costa Rica."
So said Jen's boss to her before we left on our trip to Grenada, Nicaragua, and truer words were never spoken.
On our way to Grenada, the Costa Rica side was -- off the bus, into the building, scan the passport, stamp, back on the bus -- and the Nicaragua side wasn't much longer (although we did have to wait about 30-40 minutes for the TransNica bus company employees to get our passports stamped -- a service they include with the ticket is taking care of things on the Nica(ragua) side.
On the way back, however... the Nica side was about the same, but when we got to the CR side of the no-man's-land (you've left one country but not yet entered the other) there was a line of a couple hundred people snaking across the open space next to the immigration building -- a large chunk of it in the hot tropical sun. After determining that it was indeed the line in which we had to wait, we took our places. After a few minutes, Jen said, "Oh, look. There's Steve and Margaret!" Steve and Margaret had left Grenada on an earlier bus (one hour earlier) and were still in line. So at that point we knew we were going to be there for a while.
About three hours (I'm a bit unclear on the actual times, as my brain was partially fried by the tropical sun) later, we finally got through the extensive customs search (I'm being sarcastic here, because we Gringos got a "move along" as our baggage search -- they were more thorough with the Centroamericanos) and got back on the bus. Although, to be fair to the Costa Rican Migracion people, they close for an hour for lunch.
So, if you're ever crossing the border from Nicaragua to Costa Rica, remember to have two things: A good hat and a couple bottles of water.
Here's some pictures from the trip:
There was a thriving carriage tour sector, and members of our group took it in. They said it was a lot of fun and worth it at $10/hour (that's 200 cordobas (C$)).
I didn't take these photos until we were leaving, and wasn't sure if these particular ones would be the last I saw. All to explain the poor lighting. Life is life, you know.
One of the things I really found interesting was the prevalence of horse carts for hauling stuff around. I saw lots and lots of things being hauled that way, from lumber to flat screen TVs (and, boy, was that an odd juxtaposition). The horses were much smaller than what we in the States would consider draft horses, but I suppose on the flat land (and in the tropical heat) smaller is not just fine, but better. In the photo above, the wagons are queued up at the hardware store, waiting for use.