“Cambio, change, dollars, money!”
Just to our right as we left the border control building, a huge grey mesh wire fence separated us from the noisy throng of changers keen to take our Costa Rican currency, or US dollars, or anything we had really. They clung to the fence in an almost feverish state, willing us to come forward and agree a price whilst behind them, wooden shacks lined the road. Welcome to Nicaragua.
It was a loud and unruly welcome to Nicaragua, and as we had no money to exchange, we walked straight passed them and headed for the border checkpoint. Trucks and lorries competed with a handful of people as we carefully navigated the shared border crossing, with literally hundreds of lorries lining up to cross the border.
How long had they been here? How long would they be here? We skipped passed a couple of DHL lorries, cut between two other lorries and made our way to the small white hut in the distance where we would get our passports stamped.
It’s always the same with land border crossings. You get stamped out of one country, and then walk or take a bus through no mans land to another checkpoint where you are duly stamped into the next country. When we crossed the border between Chile and Argentina, we drove for hours before our passports were stamped for entry, here it was a 0.5 km walk.
We reached the hut and paid our entry fee, we had arrived in Nicaragua! We debated on our next course of action. There were two options: wait for a bus or take a taxi. We were heading 45 minutes south west, to the coastal hamlet of San Juan Del Sur, and the easiest way was to jump in a taxi.
Instantly we were approached by three eager individuals all vying for our trade, or more likely colluding together to keep the prices high. As usual, we walked passed anyone overly keen to take us to find the more relaxed, subdued drivers who in our experience were a better bet. Finding no one, a lone security guard gave us a helping hand by walking us through a throng of taxi drivers at the border gate entrance, and picked out an older gentleman with the right price. Our senses said yes, and we were on our way.
Leaving the border crossing behind, the tree lined road gave way to an open expanse, and to our right we got our first glimpse of the majestic twin volcanoes of Ometepe Island. We would be heading there in a few days, but first we’d scheduled some down time after all our overland travels through Central America. We were headed to a small cove near the town of San Juan del Sur called Marsella beach.
Marsella beach is around 45 minutes from the border, and 15 minutes drive from San Juan del Sur, along a dusty and bumpy track. We planned to spend a few days there, with day trips into San Juan del Sur, but we ended up staying in this quiet little cove for the whole of our time there. It was tranquil, and with only a handful of other people there, we more or less had the place to ourselves!
Talking about things to do here isn’t easy, because there isn’t much to do. But that is kind of the point really. You come here to walk along the beach, marvel at the incredible sunsets on offer, and generally wind down from what can be quite a hectic time in Central America.
For those of you who want to travel through Central America, we would highly reccomend a stop off here. We were able to recharge our batteries before we took the journey across Lake Nicaragua to reach Ometepe Island. After the disorientating border crossing with Costa Rica, you’ll be looking for a relaxing Nicaraguan retreat, and this place might be just the ticket for you.