Goodbye to Costa Rica
After a relaxing week of beach lounging, reading, writing, and quality time with new friends, I had to say good-bye to Santa Teresa and the Nicoya Peninsula. We’ve spent nearly five weeks together. A sad moment, but I’m ready to move on and continue with my trip. Santa Teresa was the perfect way to ease myself back into the “real” world and I feel ready now to go off and travel solo for the next five weeks.
After various amounts of research, I realized quickly that if I continued traveling through Costa Rica I’d blow my entire budget. With that in mind, I decided I needed to leave Costa Rica after Santa Teresa and head straight to Nicaragua.
On Sunday morning, one other friend and I took the 6AM bus for a six-hour journey back to San Jose, where we finally said good-bye. From there, I’ve been on my own. I stayed the night in San Jose and woke early the next morning to take a local bus six hours north to Nicaragua. There, I crossed the border by foot, took another bus to Rivas, hopped in a taxi to San Jorge to take a ferry to Ometepe – an island in Lake Nicaragua. From door to door, the journey took about 12 hours.
Remembering the tiny victories
As I anxiously decided what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go last week, I realized this was my first solo trip since South America. It’s been nearly a year and a half since I’ve backpacked truly alone. I love traveling solo, but I was nervous! At first, I gave myself a hard time, “You’ve done this before, Casey. You did this for months alone, what are you so nervous about?”
When I arrived at my hostel in San Jose, I was reminded of the tiny victories I felt when I first started backpacking. I told the taxi driver in Spanish where I wanted to go: tiny victory. I made it to the bus station: tiny victory. I made it to my hostel: tiny victory. My hostel sucks: tiny loss. I crossed the border into another country: major victory. I was ripped off by the bus driver: tiny loss. I didn’t research the exchange rate before leaving wifi: tiny loss.
I think it’s the tiny victories that keep your sanity and spirit alive while backpacking solo. It’s nerve-racking sometimes, especially as a female, to make a trip all alone somewhat blind. But when you accomplish what you set out to do, which can be as simple as making it to the grocery store, it’s important to have a small internal victory dance to give yourself credit for what you just accomplished.
The tiny victories don’t last forever, either. Once you’ve traveled longer, the tiny victories turn into second nature and you don’t even feel them anymore. Celebrate them.
Bienvenidos a Nicaragua
So yes, I made it to Nicaragua. It was a journey, to say the least, and I spent more money and more time than I planned or expected, but I did it. All alone. And that, today, is a major victory for me.
Now I am on Ometepe Island, which was created by two volcanoes in Lake Nicaragua. I’m already starting to love the country. It has a much calmer energy than Costa Rica, the people are genuine, and my money goes significantly further than it did in Costa Rica. I can actually afford to eat and drink a beer now!
I still don’t have much of a plan. I’ve tentatively scheduled to stay through Friday and then go to San Juan del Sur for a few nights. That’s pretty much all I know. I’m continuing to take my time, spending as much or as little time wherever I want. As I meet more people, I get recommendations about where to go and where to stay, which is my favorite part. I have the time to do what I want and it’s a beautiful thing.