After a wonderful time in Colombia my journey lead me North by flying from Armenia, Colombia via Bogota to San Jose. Sounds easy, but it wasn’t. At the little airport in Armenia, Avianca Airlines told me that I need to show a document that proofs my Yellow Fever Vaccination at the Costa Rica immigration. The problem was that I have the document in Germany. You don’t need to proof the vaccination when you fly from Germany to Latin America, but when you fly from some regions of South America to Central America it is a must. Armenia is one of the regions. Luckily the Avianca staff was very helpful and I got help from my friend Ieke as well (we wanted to meet up in Costa Rica). Avianca changed my flights and I had a long layover in Bogota, the capital of Colombia, where they have an „airport hospital“. My parents sent me the vaccination document via email in the meantime. Twelve hours later and after an airport hotel stay in Bogota I got to see the “airport doctor” in the morning. I was quiet tensed because she had to believe me that the email from my parents shows the right document. A new vaccination would take 10 days to have full immunization which would mean that I have to stay in Bogota for 10 more days. I tried to be as friendly as possible and luckily she believed me. I got a new vaccination document and took my flight 7 hours later.
Costa Rica wasn’t on my actual travel plan. I decided to go there because I didn’t do a Spanish language school in Cartagena as it was extremely humid and hot there. I got to know Ieke from the Netherlands in the hostel in Cartagena and she told me about a really good Spanish school in Nicaragua which is North of Costa Rica. In addition I got an invitation from my friend Chris’ girlfriend Johanna who is from San Jose. The decision was made.
Johanna and her friend Kim picked me up at the airport and after picking Ieke up at the bus terminal we had “family dinner” together with Larissa, Johanna’s daugther. It was delicious local food and we talked about the upcoming election. The big topics in the Catholic orientated country for the election were same sex marriage, adopting kids as a gay couple and abortion in certain cases. A religious hardliner who sees dancing as a sin and a liberal candidate had the best chances to win. Result: The election goes in a second round.
The time with Johanna, Larissa and Ieke was like being in a home for a while. We ate together, went to the cinema, went out together, etc. It felt like being home for some days which was very nice. Especially because they are really amazing and warm hearted. This attitude I appreciated in Colombia so much was also present in Costa Rica. I’m really thankful for the warm hospitality at Johanna’s place.
Costa Rica felt like a mix of Latin America and the US. They have many American chains and the Spanish accent of the people is quiet American (the R). San Jose was nice to see for one day, especially the downtown district with its beautiful theater. Afterwards Ieke and I got a rental car and we moved on to Manuel Antonio National Park. On the way we saw some hungry crocodiles and the temperature went up. The day at Manuel Antonio NP together with Martin from Canada was a day of awesome beaches, jungle hikes and many animals like sloths and monkeys. Martin played the guitar (with a lot of passion) in the evening and sang some songs in French which created a very charming atmosphere.
Our next destination in Costa Rica was Monteverde. It was a crazy drive there as the last two hours were on unpaved roads at night. Monteverde is a wonderful place in the mountains. We enjoyed the green landscapes a lot and went in the rainforest there. The rainforest hike was stunning. At night it was stormy and cold. Finally I needed my sleeping bag for a cozy evening in the hostel.
La Fortuna was the next destination in Costa Rica. We met David and Mel from Toronto and Jesse from Texas there. We hiked together in this Volcanic region and chilled in the natural hot springs and at the pool. With Jason from Detroit I got to see the Super Bowl. The nature around La Fortuna is breathtaking, the town itself very touristy.
We crossed the boarder to Nicaragua by bus which was quiet tricky as you needed several confirmations, of course stamps, some payments and lots of waiting time in lines. That’s why we decided to take a taxi from the boarder to our hostel in San Juan del Sur.
In San Juan del Sur we got to enjoy amazing sunsets every evening and had a great hostel community with Pascal, Annika, Cedric, Eliane and many more. Playa Hermosa provided us with perfect beginner waves for surfers. It was a really chilled time there at the beach, in delicious smoothie places and restaurants together with the guys from the hostel.
When we left San Juan del Sur for Granada I felt a bit sad as a good life with great people was changing again. You get to know people and you “arrive at a place” and then you have to say good-bye again. Life is moving on fast as people come and go in hostel communities. So it felt good to continue traveling with Ieke as someone who knows you for already two weeks and you don’t have to tell anything from scratch to her.
We took the local packed “chicken bus” to Granda where we lived with Luz Marina and her family for almost two weeks. It was my homestay for the Spanish School time. The family (two parents and three children) were very friendly and Luz Marina’s food tasted like in a restaurant. Besides Ieke and me there were more students in the house. Deb and her husband from Canada. Together with them we went to the International Festival de la Poesia in Granada and we had some really cool conversations about the Hippie times. The both of them were young adults during that time and really lived the moments of change in the 60s and 70s. We went to school at Casa Xalteva and I was really lucky with my teacher Gerald. He took the class equipment outdoors and we had our lessons in the garden of the school. Gerald felt more like friend than a teacher which created a perfects atmosphere to study. The school wasn’t about distance from teacher to students or testing knowledge, but about creating a harmonic study environment with a focus on practical use of what you’ve learned. We didn’t learn for tests, but for real life situations. Many greetings to the school system at home 😉
Friday after school Ieke and I went to the island of Ometepe which is in the Lake Nicaragua. It was a really chilled time as we cruised on the island on a rented scooter. I’d definitely recommend Ometepe as it is (at least on the South part of the island) not really touristy. In the evening we got to see a local fair and I think we were the only foreigners there. The island itself has nice beaches, a relaxing vibe and two impressive Volcanoes.
After two weeks in the Granada area we headed to a beach spot called Las Peñitas. The people at the hostel there were amazing and I had inspiring conversations with them. It was a very relaxing time and I was in my thoughts a lot as I had long sunset walks at the beach and enjoyed yoga in the evening. Especially after yoga I felt totally relaxed and in peace. During the day we had the chance to surf because the hostel was located directly at the beach. The local “commedor” provided us with local food for converted 1 Euro per meal.
It felt really good to live the peaceful surf, yoga, beach-walk moments and to hear the sound of the waves all day long. Afterwards it was time to say good-bye to Ieke who went to work on a farm in Nicaragua. It was a great time traveling together with her. After a short stop in the city of the Nicaraguan revolution, Leon, I felt ready for a change and moreover to learn new things after chilling for quiet a while. It was time to fly from Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, down to the historical Inka city of Cusco in Peru.
This blog post was more about what I‘ve seen and explored in Central Ameria. I will keep the „toughts-part“ for later as this post is aleady pretty long 😉
À la prochaine heure pile (2h, heure de Paris), MyAtlas sera coupé pour une durée de 15 minutes pour une maintenance.
Toute l'équipe vous remercie pour votre patience.