Crossing the Border

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We got breakfast at a fast-food chicken joint — yeah, you can’t escape those anywhere populated. We drank the water.

We spent most of the day on foot, the rides were the scarcest they’d been so far. I felt the road beneath my soles closer. There was nothing. The dripping sunscreen became welcome accompaniment.

We traveled more than a hundred kilometers that day.

A semi-truck stopped for us and took us to the border of Nicaragua. Another semi-truck took us a little further North, but we had to cut West. Our goal was a surfing hostel in Playa Madera that had hammocks to sleep in for cheap, it was supposedly just a bit north of San Juan del Sur. 

By the time we got to the coast, the sun decided the day was over and began it’s descent. We continued on.

The road north wound away from the coast.  The trees covered us, now. People began to slow down just to tell us to turn back. We didn’t. When they saw we weren’t going to, sometimes they’d let us get in the back of their pick-up trucks for a short spurt.

The warnings increased. We walked faster.

From the picture of the map on Mike’s cellphone didn’t show the hostel, just a vague label of where “Playa Madera” should be. We made left hand turns when they arose hoping this road will lead us to the coast, and on the coast, will be the surfing hostel.

Dark fell.

The sketch-factor increased significantly. We walked up and down and started noticing shelters we could, if it came to it, sleep in. At one point, Mike was further ahead than I was and a man walked along the road in our direction. The glow in his eyes I could see as I looked in them and he passed close by.

Then we were winding downhill. It was fully black now. We had headlamps.

We stepped onto sand. We saw the ocean.

All was still dark.

“You guys need a place to stay tonight?” A man appeared to our left. Mike dropped his rock.

Yes. Yes, we do. We followed him under this building just yards away. A light came on, there were picnic tables. There were surfboards. We had found it.

A green labyrinth, yellow jeep, & Upala, again.

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The day’s journey was not over yet. We still had to make it back – somewhere – before nightfall. Getting a ride down the mountain was easy, though a little uncomfortable — we were in a nice, rented SUV and we’re pretty sure the couple in front were whispering about how we stunk… the sulfuric aroma of the hot springs didn’t do too much for the clothes we were sweating in all day to get there.

They took a different route down the mountain than the one we took up. They didn’t know where they were going either, but the route was much longer this way, and put us much further from Upala…

They dropped us off at the bottom of the mountain, and we set off down the road again.

We stumbled upon a hedge labyrinth, and a bunch of carved plants shaped into all sorts. It made having to walk right past it just that much more worth it. Whatever it was, it was pretty neat.

We got the best ride ever from two young guys in a two-door yellow jeep. The wind beat against fabric over us in the “back seat,” as the driver drove like he was racing seconds against the gas pedal and conquering the wind in Spanish to keep up their conversation, which didn’t slow even when they picked us up.

And we were back in Upala again. 

We trekked to the northwestern side of the town and tried to hitch out, but the sun was setting and the dark came quickly. It was too late. We were stuck in Upala, Costa Rica, for yet another night.

So we bought a tub of icecream and killed it cinco minutos.