Waiting, long lines, customs officials, money changers, lots of trucks and even more people, fees, visas, and stamps. Border crossing days are always a little more stressful, hectic and challenging than the average day on a TDA tour. Even when the crossing goes off without a hitch there’s always the possibility it won’t.
Despite all the preparation and extra work I always find border crossing days to be some of the most interesting. The sometimes stark contrast from one country to the next can be fascinating. A mere 100 feet can result in a different language, food, culture, religion, and general way of life.
Crossing from Costa Rica to Nicaragua may not be the biggest difference but you can still feel immediately that you are in a new country. Once all the major details – exit and entrance stamps, tourist fees and medical checks, are out of the way you suddenly notice that things are just a little bit different. There’s a greater military and police presence, seemingly a lot more cows, pigs, and goats to dodge on your bike and one of my favourite things about entering a new country – new foods and beer to try.
I also always wonder what the people who spend most of their time at the border think about us. They are used to long lines of truckers and busses full of locals and tourists but they must not see large groups of spandex clad cyclists all that often. While we are busy trying to navigate customs and take in the sights at the border we are probably a bit of a spectacle and entertainment for those who work there daily.