I went on this trip with my buddy Abe. We started out on a Thursday morning and took a bus from San Jose to the Nicaraguan border. About a 5 hour trip, not too bad though considering other bus rides we’d been on. I swear, right when we got off the bus at the border, a bunch of Nicaraguan cab drivers came up to us and pretty much just assumed they were gonna take us to San Juan del Sur. They ended up following us to the customs checkpoint until they realized we weren’t going to the beach. Not yet anyway. So after customs we hopped on a local bus, which was pretty sick cus they just stopped for anyone on the road who wanted to get on, and someone would go over to them and collect the money after they sat down, which actually does save a bunch of time. But when we were on that bus, the view was amaaazing. The first place we went to was Ometepe Island, which is a pair of volcanos in the middle of Lake Nicaragua. Btw, the weather in Nicaragua was perfect the entire time we were there, so we could see the island perfectly when de drove past. Not to mention when we took the ferry to it on the lake. We stayed at a hostel called el Indio Viejo, which I recommend. It’s only about 5 bucks a night, they have hammocks, and they sell beer and food. Anyways, we met a couple people from Oregon who told us they were professional hitchikers, so not really sure, but good for them. Lol they were cool though, and they knew this Nicaraguan dude named Ricardo, who we asked about renting some motorbikes. He set us up with one of his friends and said his motorbikes were 25 bucks a day per person. So, what the hell, lets motorbike around these volcanos. Well the next day the owner brought me and Abe out to test drive the bikes and taught us how to shift the gears. I got it down after a little bit, but Abe hadn’t really driven anything with two wheels before so he crashed into a wall and scraped up his knuckles lol so he ended up renting a moped. Ricardo came with us to kind of guide us and show us around the island. We went to this one place called Ojo de Agua, which was SIIICK! It was this private manmade spring which had ridiculously fresh water. And Ricardo said he’d take us to this other beach which was supposed to be pretty nice, so I let him drive the motorbike. Well, on our way through this dirt road path, he tried to pass Abe and ended up driving through this giant puddle and lost control and drove us into some barbed wire. I ended up cutting up my leg and had to go to the sketchiest hospital I’ve ever been to. There were stains all over the bed I was on, and all their supplies were kept in used water bottles. It ended up being okay though, I just got some stitches and we peaced. And since I couldn’t really go swimming or do much in water, we couldn’t go kayaking around the island, which we originally wanted to do, so instead we took a bus to San Juan del Sur. Oh man, this beach was def top 3 on my list of beaches I’ve ever been to. We stayed at a couple different hostels, but unless you were gonna pay a lot, most of em were the same. We stayed for three nights, and then took a bus to Granada on Monday. Granada was also pretty incredible. We first went to this cigar factory and rolled our own cigars, then headed down to the lake and took a boat tour around the small isands. I think we saw about 70 different islands in about an hour. The next day we went to the Tica Bus station to wait for Tara who took the direct bus which was supposed to take maybe 8 hours, and ended up taking 13! But she finally made it and we went to this real nice hotel called Hotel Spa Granada to get some massages. I’m def gonna go back there to stay once I make some cash moneys. We went out later that night and met this pretty interesting couple from New Orleans that moved to Granada about six months before and opened up a hotel. Abe had to leave the next morning because of class, but me and Tara stayed and saw a couple more things around Granada. The weather was still perfect and we got to go swimming at that Hotel Spa Granada. This was an amazing trip and I am def goin back to Nicaragua one day. Not Managua though lol.
We started our trip at 5am and went to Sixaola, which is a small town in Costa Rica right at the border of Panama. But to get to Panama, you have to cross this GHetto bridge that’s got a wooden bottom. I swear, everytime I looked down I thought I was gonna step through it. But after the bridge we started to go through customs when this big dude comes up to us and says we need bus tickets out of Panama in order to prove that we’re eventually gonna leave. So he passed us on to some other sketchy dude who brought us to some sketchy place to buy tickets. The place in Panama that we went to is called Bocas del Toro, which I recommend to everyone, even if you’re not planning on going to Panama. Honestly, I could’ve just chilled there for the rest of my semester. The first night, Wednesday, we stayed at a hostel on the main island that had two owners from the States. We were all pretty tired so it ended up being a pretty chill night. The next day we took a boat taxi to this island called Red Frog Beach. That’s what Bocas del Toro is by the way, a bunch of islands you take boats to. But this beach was awesome. It seriously had the clearest water and sand I’ve ever seen in my life. We also got a good deal on this real nice hostel for the weekend which had a ziplining tour around the island. On Friday we took this boat tour around the islands and saw some dolphins and went snorkling with a bunch of jelly fish. Bocas del Toro is also a great place to go out at night, and it’s not really that dangerous either. For the rest of the trip we just chillled at the beach, perfect weather, found a new hostel on the mainland, and then headed over to this hostel called Aqua Lounge, which is ridiculous because they have a trampoline and swings next to the water. That was a fun time. Anyways, one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. I wish I was over in Bocas right now, but maybe some day again.
This is by far the sickest beach I’ve ever been to. We got to our hostel on Friday some time in the afternoon. The hostel’s name is Rocking J’s, which is probably the sickest hostel I’ll ever go to. You only pay about 7 bucks a night to sleep in a hammock, and you can just walk straight onto the beach. There’s a bar and restaurant inside of it too which are pretty cheap. The nightlife in Puerto Viejo is pretty great. They have plenty of places to go if you’re in the mood for dancing, reggae, or just meeting new people. The next day we rented bikes and went to this other beach called Manzanillo about a half hour away, which was an insane beach. This is on the Caribbean coast too so the water was mad clear, and we rented kayaks and paddled around for about an hour. Great place to go to relax and have a fun time. First place I go if I’m ever back in Costa Rica.
We got to our hostel called Mariposa, which is a sick place to stay especially because the owner’s American and she filled us in on all the things we needed to know about Chirripo that none of the websites or guidebooks told us. Her hostel was right at the base of the mountain and was at about 5000 feet above sea level. We started the hike at about 7am on Thursday at kilometer 0. The first seven kilometers weren’t too bad. But from kilometers 8-10, we went from 8530 to 9915 feet. By then it was hard to breathe because of the altitude, and the trail was the steepest it had been so far. We had to take a break every five minutes or so just because it was so hard to get any oxygen, and surprisingly not because our legs were too worn out. I don’t know if this was normal but after I would walk for a little I’d start to see flashing lights out of my left eye. At around kilometer 12 it started to rain on us. Not that the trail wasn’t already muddy and treacherous or anything. Some people would rent horses to carry their bags up and down the mountain, and their hooves would destroy all the trails. But we finally made it to base camp at about 14.5 km and 11,132 ft. Some people actually climb to the top and go back down in a day, but by the time we got to base camp we were ready to pass out. We made the climb in about 6.5, 7 hours which is pretty good time considering the range is usually 6-9 hours. We all passed out for about 4 hours. I had a pretty rough sleep though. My resting heart rate was about 100-110 beats per minute because of the lack of oxygen at that altitude. At first I thought it was just me but everyone else was like, yeah my heart rate’s pretty weird right now too. All we had to eat was peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. By the way, if you’re gonna do this hike make sure to bring some variety of food or some hot food you can cook at the base camp. Lol, we were eating the leftover scraps of rice and beans and mashed potatoes out of other people’s used pots. Lights out was at 8pm and we ended up waking up at about 2:45am to start our accent. The last 5km were the most mentally taxing of the trip because it was pitch black, and all we wanted to do was get to the top. It was pretty flat for the first 2.5km and after that, every time there was a steep part on the trail someone would be like, oh man, this is it! And then the path would end up flattening out. The stars were ridiculous btw. But we finally got to the last couple hundred meters which were literally almost 90 degrees. It was like one step down from actual rock climbing with gear. A couple bad steps and you would just fall of the side of the mountain. But the four of us finally made it to the top. It was just starting to get a little light when we got to the top at about 4:40am and 12,533ft. I’m not sure what the temperature was exactly, but with the wind chill it must have been in the 20’s. The sun started to rise after 5, and I swear that was the craziest view I’ve ever seen. There was just a layer of clouds under us and the rest of the sky was pretty clear, which was pretty lucky because we heard it was storming really bad a couple days ago when some other people tried to hike to the top to see the sunrise. After that we started our decent back to base camp and then back down the mountain. The decent is by far the worst part of the hike because your knees and legs get Destroyed. Me and Zach pretty much ran down the mountain. I sprained my ankle about 3 times, but we finally made it down at about 10:30am. I can barely walk right now but getting to the top of that mountain was def worth the pain.