As I lay awake in Eli’s bottom bunk on our last night in Monteverde reading Gone with the Wind, I happened to look up and spotted a creature scuttling along the underside of my bed. Upon further investigation, thank you Google, I discovered that it was a BED BUG! And not just one but I spotted six of these nasty little guys. Of course Eli was asleep and as per usual I proceeded to promptly wake him. To my displeasure he was not as concerned as I with our new bed companions and huffed at me to go to sleep. So there I was, alone in my dread of my new found cuddle buddies slowly watching the hours tick by until 5:30 when we would have to get up to catch our bus.
We were going to Nicaragua the next day and instead of paying an arm and a leg for a fancy shuttle we decided to do the border crossing ourselves. We’d already done it once, how bad could it be? We had gone to the store to make sure we were fully stocked on snacks and water so we could save the little Colones we had left. With the discovery of bed bugs our early morning adventure was not starting out smoothly. After high tailing it out of our infested room we hurried downstairs to find the doors to the reception area locked with all of our food patiently waiting for us inside the fridge. Tired and cranky we left our hostel with growling stomachs and trudged up the hill to the bus station. Once we arrived the lady at the ticket booth informed us that our bus left at 4:20 am not 6. At this point I’m half way between bursting into tears and ripping the place apart. It’s early, I’m hunger, running on no sleep and there is NO WAY I’m sleeping with bed bugs for another night. After some smooth talking from Eli she gives us two tickets for the 6am bus to La Garto and only when we are safely sitting on our bus do we let out a sigh of relief. With one bus transfer on the Pan-American highway we are officially on our way to the border at Peñas Blancas. Our ride was pretty uneventful, which I’m starting to see is a good thing, however about an hour from the border our bus was stopped and the police got on to check passports. A few men didn’t have documentation and were kicked off the bus in the middle of no where left to choke on our dust.
The border at Peñas Blancas was pure and utter chaos. As soon as our bus arrived heaps of people surround it yelling out about border fees and money change. The border crossing was not a fun experience for us: we paid fees, exchanged and then reexchanged money, fought people about tips that they did not earn, withdrew money only to realize it wasn’t enough and had to withdraw again racking up quite the amount in transaction fees. All the while being hounded by the people around us, “cambio, cambio, CAMBIO!” they hollered. I felt like I was in that scene in Finding Nemo were all the seagulls are looking at the fish saying “mine, mine, mine, mine”.
The cherry on top of the already not so great day occurred when Eli and I were walking back from the bank. In the streets were thick grey puddles of mud mix with oil and I’m sure spit and pee. I don’t know what I was thinking, I should have seen it coming. Eli stepped across and into the safe zone, I on the other hand was not so lucky. I stepped, my birks slipped and down I went splashing into the giant puddle of mud. There I sat at the border of Costa Rica and Nicaragua covered in mud so thick I looked like a swamp monster. It was everywhere in my hair, on my clothes, my backpack. Before leaving on this trip one of my mom’s friends told me that there would be many situations in which there are only three options: to laugh, get mad or to cry and to choose laughing as much as possible. I thought about that as I sat there in the mud my brain catching up to what had just happened, as I looked around and saw all the people staring at me with pity yet not a single one of them offering any help. And I cried. Not just a few sniffles, nope it was an ugly cry. A Kim Kardashian cry. I opened the flood gates and made dying animals sounds as I pulled myself from the mud and onto the grass. I didn’t know what to do there at the Nicaraguan border covered in mud and tears. Finally an old man riding by on his bike felt sorry for the crying mud covered girl and ushered me over to a hose where he hosed myself and my backpack down.
And so still whimpering, no longer covered in mud, but throughly soaked Eli and I crossed the border and got on
a bus headed towards Granda, Nicaragua. Where we have been ever since.
Do you guys have any ridiculous border crossing stories? I’d love to hear them!
P.S. Stay tuned for my post on how to successfully, without being covered in mud and the potiental danger of dehydration from the amount of tears being cried, cross the border from Costa Rica into Nicaragua