Friday, August 7, 2009

Costa Rica/ Nicaragua

In July I had to renew my visa in Costa Rica. What a shame! The countries surrounding El Salvador; Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, share the same immigration rules and entry and exit dates. To renew my visa, I had to travel to Costa Rica, Mexico, Belize or Panama. Costa Rica was the most economical option, plus I had friends from Louisville that were in Nicaragua- the bordering country. Unfortunately, I only spent a night in Costa Rica before heading up to Nicaragua. The first few days I spent on my own at the Isla de Ometepe in Nicaragua. It is an island in one of the largest lakes in Latin America. The island has two large volcanoes that don’t seem to be active but you never know! There are many monkeys and wildlife to enjoy and the entire island is very laid-back. The island is also famous for petroglyphs. I spent three nights on the island before meeting up with my friends, Amy and Marlon, from Louisville. Amy’s family was also visiting and we spent the majority of our time at the Lago de Apoyo- a beautiful crystal clear volcano lake. Great swimming! We took a day trip to Granada, which is a very picturesque colonial town with great food. Instead of traveling back to San Jose to catch my flight home, I decided to take the bus back to San Salvador. The border has been closed intermittently over the past month because of the military coup. It had been closed for several days before I traveled but luckily was opened the morning my bus was passing through.

Costa Rica is the most stable and wealthy countries in Central America. The main industry is tourism which is very evident when you are there. They are miles ahead of El Salvador in promoting what the country has to offer and making it easy to access. I could see the difference in economic status most strikingly in the structures and houses in the country side. Costa Rica does not have a military and I have been told that a large portion of money has been invested in not only tourism but also education about the environment.

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