With the sloth sighting complete, it was time to hightail out of the very expensive Costa Rica to Nicaragua. We waited outside Hacienda Baru Wildlife Refuge for a ride, and soon, a young couple picked us up and drove us 103 kilometers to Jacó, a small city on the coast further north. At Jacó, we had a quick lunch, and then continued our hitchhiking journey onwards. We were driven a few kilometers forward by an American in his purple Toyota, and then waited a bit more before two men picked us up to Liberia. The signs we made while hitchhiking, “Dos gringos a (insert destination name here) por favor),” have turned out to be remarkably helpful. Many of those picking us up remarked that they stopped because they were heading in the same direction or often, the same place, as listed on the sign.
At Liberia, we discovered we entered a larger town that we had thought. We had to cross the outskirts of the city to get to further along the road to pick up more cars going our way, and walked quite a bit forward. We waited for a while as the sun began to set. However, three sisters who were in a car that had driven by us, swung around and came to pick us up. They expressed concern about our next sign, “La Frontera,” and suggested that we did not try crossing the border at night. We declared we would go as far as possible, but once they made it clear that it was not safe and they strongly encouraged us to stay in Costa Rica for the night, we asked if there was a reasonably priced hostel nearby Cañas Dulces, the city where they were going to drop us off. The driver, Anais, declared that we could stay with her.
It turned out that Anais was formerly an active Couchsurfing host, and now, an AirBnB host. Her last guest just checked out in the morning, and the room was free for the night. We were very grateful for her kindness in letting us crash for the night, especially since we were still about 70km from the border and would therefore mean that we would have to cross at night, an unpleasant circumstance in any country. We chatted and played with her two friendly dogs in her comfortable home, and slept there for the night.
Early the next morning, we made breakfast and made our way to the border. A kind man (later we found out to be a police officer from the uniform in his trunk), picked us up and dropped us there. Once we arrived, we had our attention competed for as different people tried to convince us to enter their booths to pay the $7 USD exit tax. We went with one, and then stood in line as we waited for the office to open for us to get our exit stamp. About an hour later due to computers malfunctioning, we got our exit stamp and walked over to Nicaragua. We collected a piece of paper from the Ministry of Health that indicated we could pass, paid our tax for entering the immigration terminal, paid our $10 USD tourist fee plus a $2 USD administrative fee each, got our luggage haphazardly scanned, and finally, our passports checked a final time. With 4 pieces of paper in hand certifying we did all the appropriate checks, we were free to roam Nicaragua. We got on a school bus (Nicaragua converts old school buses into transport buses for everyone) towards Isla de Ometepe.