On January 31st we
woke before dawn to begin our road trip to the northern border of
The drive itself was quite easy.
No major mountains to cross, no one lane bridges to wait our turn for, or impassable
roads; even though parts of the drive were questionable. While the girls slept,
Kurt and I enjoyed viewing more of our new country. We discovered that the
northwestern inland part to be very similar to the Santa Barbara/Santa Ynez
area with rolling hills, chaparral, windy and much drier than our
We arrived to the quiet border at around 8:30 am. Apparently, leaving at 4:30 a.m. paid off as there were very few people crossing that early in the morning. With previous insight from our friend, Kytka, we bypassed the line of semi trucks waiting their turn for inspection and passed the Costa Rica Immigration Building to a property that parks car for 2000 colones ($4) a day. We actually drove by the parking lot and had to back track as we were looking for a “gated lot” with a chain link fence. But to our surprise the lot was actually a dirt yard with a waist high barbed wire fence held together by thin wooden stakes. Certainly didn’t feel “secure”, but being that we really didn’t have another choice; we let go of our fears.
After leaving our car we headed
back towards the
Not really knowing where to go
next, we immediately headed to the most official looking building in hopes of
Days prior to our trip we had
made reservations at a nice hotel called Pelican Eyes (www.piedrasyolas.com) in
the southwest coast town of San Juan del Sur about 20 miles from the border. We
had also made arrangements through the hotel to have a driver pick us up and
take us to the hotel. Our driver was to pick us up at 9:30, but being that this
was our first time to the
During our ride to San Juan del
Sur we discovered not far from the border a huge lake with two volcanoes in the
middle of the lake, which of course explained the wind at the border and the
wind that we experienced throughout our entire stay. The roads to San Juan del
Sur were in great condition (this is a luxury living and traveling in
Pelican Eyes Hotel is located up the mountain side facing the ocean with incredible views to the town and the ocean. It is built on the hillside with each unit higher than the next one. Being that we were quite clueless in making reservations way in advance, we were left with the only unit available, a two bedroom, two bath house (the hotel has 5 rooms and the rest are self standing homes) and being that it was their high season we paid a pretty penny for this “casa” ($180 a night). The price included an incredible breakfast though, which we feasted on the two mornings that we were there and we took full advantage of the pool and facilities making our stay a luxurious and wonderful vacation (See Photos).
Our final night was spent at the Villa Isabella, located just down the hill from Pelican Eyes on the outskirts of the town. Pelican Eyes did not have availability for our third night, which we felt was a blessing for our pocketbook. For $75 we had a decent room, AC, breakfast, and a huge library of VHS movies to choose from. Our only hitch the entire trip was when we were awakened at 4 a.m. the final night to what we feared were machine guns being fired in the street below us. But instead it was just fire works going off. Oh, how the imagination can run wild. One of the highlights was when we went to a local park in the town and ended up taking some pictures of two local boys who were so excited to see themselves (maybe for the first time ever) when we showed them the pictures on our digital camera. (See photo). I ended up taking about a dozen shots of them as they loved seeing themselves again and again on our little picture display. Oh how they would laugh.
When our stay was completed, we
arranged to have our driver, Michael, take us back to the border looking, once
again, as grungy as we could. At the border there was an automatic charge of $1
per person before we could even cross into the Immigration area. Shaking off
the bombardment of “helpers” we were able to complete the process with no
problems and were only charged $2 per person leaving the country. Once again, carrying
our packs on our backs we took the now familiar walk back into