Monthly Archives: February 2013

Snapshots: Granada, Nicaragua

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Another 90 Days in Paradise

Although Elisha and I have lived in Nicaragua for more than a year now we have not yet applied for residency. Compared to many countries the process is relatively easy and inexpensive. That being said, there are still numerous hoops to jump through to obtain residency in Nicaragua.

Elisha and I are currently living in Nicaragua on a tourist visa that we are required to renew every 90 days. This 90-day visa can actually be extended for an additional 90 days at most immigration offices in the country. The cost is approximately $60 USD.

Just before our visas expire we leave the country and re-enter.  This restarts our 90 day clock. Luckily for us we live less than an hour from the Costa Rican border, so renewal is only a small inconvenience.

We get a lot of questions regarding tourist visa renewal and border crossing so we decided to document the details of our most recent “border run” so that we could share it with you.  

The time line below summarizes a typical border run for us. Well, kind of…

This particular time we took a little longer than usual because Elisha took approximately one hundred photos and jotted down about three pages of notes. I too held up the process a little trying to decide on my alcohol purchase from the Duty Free store.

9:02 am
We left home with our “itineraries” in hand. 

Another 90 Days in Paradise

– These United “itineraries” may or may not be authentic. Shhhhhhhh!

Costa Rican immigration now requires that you show proof of onward travel from their country.  

9:10 am
Gas tank topped up. Check! Windshield washed. Check! Fluid levels checked. Check!

Another 90 Days in Paradise

– UNO Gas Station – San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

9:54 am
Our Hyundai Galloper is safely parked just 50 meters outside the border entrance at Comoder Mayra. The dude shown in the picture below will hang around and watch your vehicle for you for a small fee. For a few extra cordobas, he’ll even wash it!

Another 90 Days in Paradise

Another 90 Days in Paradise

– A chicken bus leaving the border and heading to Rivas

It’s a short stroll to the first gate.  If you’d like can get a meal or do a little shopping on the way.

Another 90 Days in Paradise

– Shoe Shopping at the Nicaraguan Border

10:00 am
We pass through the first gate. A Nicaraguan immigration officer looks at our passports to check the date of our last entry into Nicaragua, then we are on our way to the Nicaraguan immigration office.

10:01 am
On the way to the immigration office we must stop and pay $1.00 USD for tax to the city of Penas Blancas.

Penas Blancas tax collection booth.

– The town of Penas Blancas getting their tax money

Penas Blancas Tax receipt

– Penas Blancas tax receipt

10:09 am
With our tax paid we enter the immigration area and get in line and fill out our customs forms. An agent checks our passport and forms and then keys some information into the computer. At this gate we paid a $3 USD exit fee.  The friendly agent stamps our passports and we’re off.

Central American Customs form

– Nicaraguan Customs form

10:13 am
We are officially stamped out of Nicaragua and approaching “No Man’s Land” as we like to call it.  We are now walking between the two countries.

10:20 am
Yet another check point. This photo friendly agent was checking for the stamp that showed our exit out of Nicaragua.

Nicaraguan Immigration official

– This Nica Immigration officer thinks taking pictures at the border is cool

10:20 am
We are now entering Costa Rica. It’s about a 200 meter walk from the Nicaraguan Immigration office to the Costa Rican equivalent.

Welcome to Costa Rica

– Bienvenido a Costa Rica

Taxis to take you to Costa Rica from the immigration office.

– Taxis to transport you from the immigration office to your Costa Rican destination

10:27 am
We enter a line up for the Costa Rica immigration office. Thankfully we arrived just before of a group of 60+ people who were traveling on a Tica bus. 

Lining up at the Costa Rican Customs and Immigration building.

– Lining up at the Costa Rican customs and immigration building

The Costa Rican Immigration office after a Tica Bus arrives.

– Sometimes it’s all about timing!

10:44 am
After a short wait we enter the immigration office with our completed customs forms and “itineraries” in hand ready to show the immigration official.

Costa Rican Customs and Immigration form.

– Costa Rican Customs & Immigration form

10:49 am
Not suprisingly the agent asks for our boleta (ticket) showing proof of onward travel out of Costa Rica. This is a fairly new practice and seen by many as a money grab. 

To avoid hassle most expats simply purchase a $25 open-ended bus ticket – which is good for one year – but never actually use it.

Unlike Nicaragua, Costa Rica does not charge an entrance or exit fee. However, it seems to us that the government is trying to compensate for that revenue by requiring you to purchase the bus ticket.

Costa Rica entry requirements.

– These signs went up recently when they started to require proof of onward travel from Costa Rica

10:54 am
We distract a police officer by asking him if we can take a photo. In exchange for a quick little chat we avoid having to walk further into Costa Rica.  We walk back the way we just came from and get in line on the opposite side of the immigration building.

10:59 am
We enter the building that we just left and fill out another immigration form.  This time it’s to leave Costa Rica.

11:05 am
Our passports now have three stamps and we are out of Costa Rica and on our way back into Nicaragua. 

There is a misconception that you must leave Nicaragua for a period of three days before you can re-enter and renew your tourist visa.  This is not the case at all. There is no law indicating how long you must be out of the country before you may re-enter.

In fact, on this particular border run we were only in Costa Rica for a period of 16 minutes.

On the other hand, if you are living in Costa Rica on a tourist visa you are required to leave the country for a minimum of three days prior to entry back in.

Nicaraguan and Costa Rican Exit and Entry Passport Stamps

– Nicaraguan and Costa Rican Exit and Entry Passport Stamps

11:16 am
Check point back into Nicaraguan frontera.

Checkpoint at the Nicaraguan Frontera

– Check point at the Nicaraguan Frontera

Nicaraguan Immigration

– Nicaraguan Immigration straight ahead

Shoe shine at the Nicaraguan border.

– Need your shoes shined?  No problem – get it done before returning to Nicaragua!

11:24 am
We are back at the Nicaraguan immigration office and pay a $1 USD tax to the city for the second time that day.

11:25 am
Entrance forms are completed. We pay $12 USD for our 90-day tourist visa and entrance back into Nicaragua.

Nicaraguan Immigration office

– Finally…our last passport stamp of the day!

Another 90 Days in Paradise

– Sandals anyone?

11:29 am
Since we are here we might as well get some cheap duty free treats. We haven’t actually left long enough to qualify, but no one ever cares or even checks to see if you have duty free.

The shops are setup after you clear customs and are right next to where we park the truck. In truth you wouldn’t even need to leave the country to shop at the the duty free store. In fact, we have friends that own a bar and they used to shop there regularly.

Another 90 Days in Paradise

– A border run wouldn’t be complete without a quick stop at the Nicaraguan Duty Free Shop

Another 90 Days in Paradise

– Lots of goodies at Duty Free!

11:36 am
We are good to go for another 90 days and ready for a snack before making our way to a Rivas for some shopping.

Another 90 Days in Paradise

– A couple of snacks for the drive to Rivas

11:40 am
We pay our parking attendant C$40 cordobas for his services. He’s happy and so are we!

Another 90 Days in Paradise

– Our truck (and our parking attendant) are safe and sound exactly where we left them! 

BPP Preschool Toy Drive a Huge Success!

A couple of weeks before Christmas I reached out to friends, family and In Nica Now fans and followers for some help.  I asked people to purchase gifts for the Barrio Planta Project Preschool. (To view my original post click here.)

Donations immediately started pouring in.

I was – and still am – blown away.

Thirty people donated a total of $912.

Yes, that’s right, $912!  

We also received gift donations from an additional nine people.

BPP Preschool Program Toy Drive a Huge Success!

– Coloring books, crayons, princess dresses, play-doh, sidewalk chalk, scissors and glue. You name it BPP Preschool now has it!

With the money collected and gifts received we not only have enough coloring books, crayons, toys, games, puzzles and arts & craft supplies to sustain the preschool program for a year, we were also able to allocate $200 for supplies for some of the other programs at BPP.

Preschool classes were not in session when my sister, my Dad and I delivered everything to the school, but fortunately there were a few older students around who snuck out of class to help us unpack everything and share in our excitement. 

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– I’m not sure who was more excited the kids or us!

The children had huge smiles on their faces as we unpacked two large suitcases.

BPP Preschool Program Toy Drive a Huge Success!

– My Dad really enjoyed helping out with the delivery and organization of the toys and supplies.

They were wide eyed with excitement as they tried to make a decision on what to play with first. I kept hearing the words “Wow!” and “Mira! Mira!” [“Look! Look!”].

We colored for a bit, tried on a few of the costumes and we even had time for a tea party.

BPP Preschool Program Toy Drive a Huge Success!

– We now have coloring books for everyone!

BPP Preschool Program Toy Drive a Huge Success!

– And we even have dress up costumes for the boys!

BPP Preschool Program Toy Drive a Huge Success!

The  girls really enjoyed the dolls and boys loved the plastic animals and dinky cars.

Barrio Planta Project Toy Drive a Huge Success!

– Huge thanks to my sister Sally for shopping for me and transporting the “goods” from Calgary, Alberta here to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. I couldn’t have done this without you!

BPP Preschool Program Toy Drive a Huge Success!

– My sister Sally and I enjoyed the Tea Party!

BPP Preschool Program Toy Drive a Huge Success!

Thanks to the generosity of donors from Canada, the United States and Nicaragua Barrio Planta Project Preschool program can now operate like a typical North American preschool.

I look forward to visiting the preschool kids next week once classes resume on the 19th. And I can’t wait to play a game of Snakes & Ladders!

BPP Preschool Program Toy Drive a Huge Success!

– From the bottom my heart THANK YOU!  Thank you SOOOOOOOO MUCH!

To learn more about Barrio Planta Project and how you can help make a difference in the life of a child in Nicaragua check out the official Barrio Planta Project website by clicking here.

Puppy Love

Gord and I are excited to announce the newest edition to our family – a wee little fur baby who we’ve named Maggie Mae. She’s a 5 week old Miniature Schnauzer who came to us yesterday from Managua.

Puppy Love

Can you say puppy love?

Photo Journalism Friday: Clowning Around

Photo Journalism Friday:  Clowning Around

– Windshield washer on a busy street in Managua

In Nica Now 2012 Annual Report

We just discovered that the WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared an annual report for In Nica Now for 2012.

In that report there are some statistics we thought you would find interesting so we’ve decided to share it with you.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. In Nica Now had 37,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, our blog would power 9 Film Festivals!

To view the full report click here. It may take a couple of minutes to load, but we promise it’s worth the wait!

Operation Kitty Rescue

What was supposed to be a typical pool day at Mango Rosa actually turned out to be an extra special day.  Together with our friend Mandy, Gord and I recently rescued a kitten.

As we cleared our tab with the bartender he explained they had a couple of kittens on the property that needed homes. 

Gord and I are looking to adopt a dog and Mandy already has one dog, one cat and two parrots so unfortunately neither of us were in any position to take any of the kittens. Luckily we knew the perfect couple who were – our friends Brian and EJ.

A quick phone call and Mandy had the green light.  Operation Kitty Rescue was a go!

After three attempts we managed to get this little fur ball into a box and into our Hyundai Galloper.  

Kitty Rescue

We weren’t even out of the parking lot when our little Houdini had escaped again, but Mandy held on tight and stroked her chin. The kitten started to relax a bit and thankfully Mandy managed to come out with only a few minor scratches.

– Mandy the Kitty Whisperer

Fifteen minutes later we turned the corner into Barrio La Planta. Brian waved us down. 

– EJ was wide eyed with excitement as Mandy placed the tiny frightened ball of fur into her arms.

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– Love at first sight!

– Brian, EJ and their new fur baby!

I can’t wait to find out what name Brian and EJ choose for their new family addition!

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