Independent Photography

Into Nicaragua


Well, it has been a long time since I posted.  Mid February was a little slow I was working on a few different stories but not much too exciting happened.

Then the last week of February my girlfriend Yamina came to visit, we had a pretty excellent time here, lots of beach time and seaside drinks.  Then suddenly she was gone.  Although I didn’t really have time to miss her right away…

Some dweebs playing photographer at a restaurant we ate at, the guy on the right was hanging out a restaurant in a speedo, enough said.

There were long walks on the beach after sunset…

Yamina on a walk home shortly after sunset.

And a trip into the jungle on ziplines…

Some good form coming towards the end of the third line.

The guides were pretty awesome people.

The ride over to the start of the course was in the back of a truck, the guides were super fun and super cool.

Complete with a sarcastic sense of humour…

The first line of the course

Our last night was so romantic, they should make a movie.

Beachside campfire, weenie roast, sunset, box of wine oh and the moon.

The day after she left I had to go to Nicoya, the capital of the province Nosara is in.  The paper wanted some stock photos of the of the members of town council there for future stories about their decisions.  It was nice and easy, I was also asked to shoot some stock pics of key places in the city.

In Nicoya the main Catholic church at night with a parishioner on her way to the alter. The framing in this photo isn't what I wanted, I saw the picture just as it was happening and had to race to pull my camera outta my bag, I shot this then took a step to the right to re-frame but she had taken her seat already. It drives me a little nuts. Its a weak excuse but I like the picture enough despite the error to include it.

The next morning rather than going back to Nosara I had to leave the country because my visa had expired.   When you enter Costa Rica you’re supposed to get a visa good for 90 days, however, mine was only good for 40 days, although I’m not sure why I think it was because I didn’t have a return flight booked.

So I left Nicoya at 6am for Liberia in northern Costa Rica then caught another bus to the border town of Peñas Blancas.  I walked across the border and hit two snags: first I got screwed changing money, I changed $50 and the guy that did it took a $20 commission, then I left Costa Rica, at the Nicaraguan immigration booth I was dealing with my visa, just before we were finished the border guard became somewhat sketchy and quiet and told me I need to pay extra because my passport was dirty.  While it is true there’s a coffee stain on it, that hasn’t been an issue for Canadian, American, Costa Rican or Peruvian authorities, this ass was soliciting a bribe.  So I made him repeat himself then said I didn’t understand and asked him to explain exactly what he needed.  It’s a technique I used in Cambodia to minimize or limit bribes required for border officials, making them state loudly and clearly, “I want you to pay me $X because your passport is dirty.”  The idea being, the guard won’t want to be overheard by superiors or coworkers, the tactic worked and he growled at me, stamped my passport and I was on my way having only paid the prerequisite $12 for a tourist visa.

I got into the town near by and looked for a bus, I found a brightly coloured school bus headed to the capital, I hopped on board and we pulled out.  The town of Peñas Blancas on the Nicaraguan side was like the wild west meets shanty town, people selling stolen watches, wallets and homemade food.

The bus dropped me off on the side of a highway about a kilometer from the hostel I was staying at.  The hostel was located in the village of Poste Rojo, about 10km outside of the larger town of Granada.

One of the more conservative "chicken buses" in Nicaragua, so named because people on occasion bring on chickens.

Poste Rojo is a series of tree houses in the jungle.  They rent small cabinas, private rooms, dormitory beds and hammocks, the latter was only $4 a night so naturaly that’s what I took.

Sunset from the reception area of Poste Rojo Hostel.

Some of the areas were accessible via bridge.

The suspension bridge at Poste Rojo Hostel.

My bed…

Can you imagine anything more relaxing? Nah me neither.

I slept well enough.  In the mornings though between the sun, Howler Monkeys and Cicadas it was hard to sleep in past 7am.   The sound made by thousands of Cicadas during the day is completely deafening and I had a mild headache by the end of most days, thankfully at night they go quiet.

A big spider with a Cicada it caught. The spider lived in the hole above the light, after catching and killing the Cicada it took it five minutes to maneuver the body into the crevice. Nature is gross but cool.

The day after I arrived was free rum night, yes all you can drink free rum…  Everyone seemed to either black out, vomit or both… I didn’t though, I know how to drink without making an ass of myself.  The party included a cow costume with a hole in the udder to feed rum out of and a visit by the Nicaraguan police…  The cops, however, were dissuaded from doing anything when the hostel owner offered them beer and rum and a pack of cigarettes, they then joined the party.  We took turns wearing their helmet and holding their shotgun for photos, then the cops sorta joined the party for a little while, I’m still not sure what to think about this.

My last full day in Nicaragua I joined a few other backpackers, two girls from Tilsonburg a guy from Germany, a guy from Sweden and a Nicaraguan-born Canadian, headed to a dormant volcano.  The volcano, now called Laguna Apoyo has become a huge lake and is one of the deepest lakes in all of Central America.  The water was beautiful, bath-tub warm and didn’t have salt!  After a month and a half of the surf and salty pacific, a fresh water lake was amazing.

Yeah that's me standing in a volcano...

The walk down and up the crater was killer though…

Some of the people I met at the hostel. The lake was at the bottom of the volcanic crater a full 40 minutes walking uphill to get out, needless to say we were a little exhausted.

The next morning I headed back on what became one of the most epic single day treks of my life.  By the numbers: it was eleven hours, six cities, five buses, 2 countries and about $5.  I also had trouble at the border, again, the Costa Ricans wouldn’t let me in because I didn’t have a copy of onward travel.  I explained I only had a confirmation number for an electronic plane ticket, I couldn’t find an internet café to print out the number so instead I purchased a bus ticket from San Jose to Managua good for one year and then they let me in.  I’ll need to leave again in three months to renew my visa anyway, so now at least I have a ticket direct from San Jose to Managua, next time I go I’ll bring a copy of my itinerary with me.

Interesting point too about Nicaraguan buses, they’re recycled school busses from North America, the one I rode from Poste Rojo to a town near the border actually said the words “Canadian Bluebird” in it and the emergency exit signs were in French and English (neither of which is widely spoken in Nicaragua).  I wondered if maybe I’d been on the bus before, perhaps headed to a field trip as a young kid?

A strange piece of home in a a faraway land... The photo was taken on my cellphone though because I didn't feel comfortable pulling out a $4000 camera setup on the crowded bus...

When I got back to Nosara I had dreams of a quiet beer and Skype with the girlfriend, however, that was not to be.  My boss and the other reporter were at the office.  Voice of Nosara has set up something big in August and she wanted to celebrate, so we got a bottle of Glenfidditch and went to a bar in town, bought some pizza and got a little silly.

This morning it was back to work, preparing an article about an upcoming surf competition and looking into some confusing rules relating to the Nosara airport terminal.

I promise I will try to update more often.

For now though that’s it.

Paz Siempre,

Adam Dietrich

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3 responses

  1. So renewing your visa is a simple as going out of the country for a day and then back in? I would think there would be stuff to prevent that, otherwise the visa is kind of pointless as it does not *really* limit your stay, or are they maybe just satisfied at the annoyance caused by having to get out and back in?

    March 3, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    • You have to be out of country for 72 hours, but otherwise yes, it doesn’t really do much to limit your stay. I know people who have been here for years and make a short trip to either panama or nicaragua every three months.

      March 3, 2012 at 6:52 pm

      • Very interesting. Thanks a lot for your answer. Looking forward to your next post, be safe in the meantime!

        March 3, 2012 at 6:54 pm

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