Upala, we love you

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The backs of pick-up trucks aren’t the most comfortable, but they’re fun. And provide an excellent view.This was the first time I’d ever hitchhiked. The folks who picked us up were probably doing it more out of curiosity than anything else.
Why the hell would two Americans be traveling this way?

My Spanish isn’t super sheik, but Mike’s was good enough to get us further along when someone did stop and ask.

We made the mistake of telling someone our destination was a town on the way to Upala, to break up the distance and make it seem less of a drag. He took us there. We got out and saw him turn right. Right down the road toward Upala.

It was a bit before another driver headed that direction with us.

As the sun set, we rode into Upala.

Una cerveca, por favor.

Hitchhiking through Costa Rica

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We made it to shore and took a smaller boat through a rainforest-enshrouded waterway into Costa Rica. The seven of us wandered around the village a bit debating where to wander next, eventually settling on Upala.

Mike and I decided we could get there without spending the córdoba on the bus fare. He took out his phone and took a picture of the map. We started walking.

A few kilometers down that road and another, we learned people won’t stop if you’re still walking. Turn toward them, and you’re more likely to get picked up.

Our backpacks were school-sized, the weight was in the water. The landscape was flat and dry. Sand, brush, heat. Crumbling street beneath our feet, clay-colored. The smell of sunscreen and sweating dripping, foreboding red and peeling skin. Wheels turned hope, but not always rest.

As dangerous as people say Nicaragua is, the real concern was hydration. We didn’t stock up once we decided to take an alternative form of transportation. The uncertainty in the timing of our arrival at the next town paralleled the uncertainly in the next time we’d see bottled water.

The road was deserted for kilometers.