Day 309. Nicaragua-Costa Rica: border crossing on the Pan American.

13 May 2014

Approach late in the afternoon, was going to stop at the last town but decided just to cross and spend the night in Costa Rica. Nicaraguan side massively disorganized, long line of semi trucks waiting, for customs or to be sprayed by DDT and pronounced clean. Money changers appear out of nowhere, this the same as every other border crossing. This time too, a man appears with the exit paperwork form, can buy it from him or get it free at the window, your choice. But the Nicaraguan office to stamp out nowhere to be found. Don’t go to the window with the sign “Leaving Nicaragua”, that would make too much sense, the women there wave you away. Hunt around some more and eventually receive permission to leave.

On the Costa Rican side, everything suddenly becomes distinctly American. Roped off lanes organize us all into lines- lines!- and metal detectors await us. Would have taken a picture, but, you know, too much an American border feel. The un-American part is that smiling at the guards frees you from suspicion and clears you to go. The guys chilling outside welcome you to Costa Rica and then you’re off riding, 1 hour left before official twilight. 1 hour left before camp, food, sleep.

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Mexico; Tamaulipas

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Cross the bridge from McAllen, drop into a world where the chipped paint on the buildings is merely a backdrop for the bold written proclamations of things for sale. Evident right away too is the smell of gasoline fumes, off cars predominantly older but also smaller from their counterparts across the bridge. But there’s also a big public park right across the street too, and at least one in nearly every town big enough to have more than just a main street.

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Drivers have all been courteous so far. The secondary highways have little enough traffic, and the main ones usually have at least two lanes per side, so plenty of room for drivers to pass. Everyday to Ciudad Victoria featured strong winds coming off the Gulf, so with those and to avoid stressing my knee I’ve been sticking to 100km days. Nice to be back in the metric system again, though Celsius temperature reports still take some getting used to. The weather warmed up again, sunny cloudless sweat-filled ice-cream-in-the-afternoon days.

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From Ciudad Victoria, heading more or less south with mountains looming visibly to the west. Need to improve my Spanish pronto, the usual anticipated questions aren’t too bad but everything else takes a few seconds to process. Thankfully there’s time, and nowhere to go but up. Until next time.