Leaving Costa Rica, our next stop was the adjacent country: Nicaragua. We originally intended on going to Ometepe Island, in the middle of Lake Nicaragua, but having had enough of walking and volcanoes, changed course to a small beach town called San Juan del Sur. Four buses and one walk across the border later, we arrived in the coastal town where surfing rules and the pace of life is slow and carefree.
Our few days there were spent soaking up the sun, relaxing, and drinking margaritas as the sun set over the ocean. After this time of basically doing nothing, we headed to Granada to spend the night. The city was of two complete opposites: beautiful, colourful colonial buildings and churches were the backdrop of what seemed like a lot of great poverty. We spent our day wandering around the plaza, and eating fantastic food in old buildings with beautiful, unsuspecting courtyards.
The following day we took a bus to Managua, Nicaragua`s capital, in order to get another bus to our next destination: Honduras. The city was pretty grim, and we were glad that it was merely a stopover...or so we thought. Having bought our tickets, we were about to embark on the bus when the woman checking our passports informed us that we didn`t have an entry stamp for Nicaragua. This meant that basically we were illegal immigrants - we weren`t getting on the bus, and we weren`t leaving the country. Turns out that when we crossed the border, we completely missed the Nicaraguan office (easily done, as it was down a whole other road), therefore not getting the required stamp. We were completely outraged, as the border was totally slack (you could easily walk through with no stamp or papers - as we obviously did), and the guards on the Nicaraguan side checked our passports before we got on the bus to San Juan.
So we were told to go to the Immigration office, and that we couldn`t get a refund on our tickets. $80 down the drain, we jumped in the nearest taxi to the office, wanting to get it sorted as quickly as possible so we could leave the country and get to Honduras. We arrived to see the gates shut and locked, and the guide informed us that it was a public holiday - you`ll have to come back tomorrow. This meant spending the night in the one place we didn`t want to.
The office opened at 7.30am, so to get it over and done with, we got there for 7, hoping we`d be seen straight away. Only, we arrived, and the queue was already snaking around the block. Luckily, I did manage to speak to one of the officers and we got fast-tracked - giving us a small ray of hope that soon our nightmare would be over. But it was just beginning. Apparently the `slow and carefree` pace of life also applies to anything official. We were left waiting, shuttled between various offices, and probed for any information that might make us suspicious, until an outcome was finally reached...at 12.30. Finally, after 5 hours, all we had to do was pay a fine, photocopy our passports and fill in some forms. But you`re going to have to come back tomorrow, the guy said, because we`re closing. Seriously frustrated by this point, we flat-out refused, so the officer gave us half an hour to sort it all out. That office has probably never seen such quick action - Adam jumped in a car with some Nicaraguan family, taking him to the nearest cashpoint so we could pay the fine. Meanwhile, I was running around trying to photocopy our passports and sort out various forms. We did it in the nick of time, and were able to get the 2pm bus to Honduras`s capital, Tegucigalpa.
Relieved, we arrived at the bus station, only to get quite the surprise: Adam`s ex-girlfriend was there, and yes, she was getting the same bus, and yes their final destination was also Utila, a small island off the north coast. Seriously, you couldn`t make this stuff up. By this time we were truly convinced that we were starring in our very own Truman Show, but the most important thing was that we arrived in Tegucigalpa without any further mishaps.