Friday, December 30, 2016

Tica Bus Pickup in Liberia, Costa Rica

Pulmitan Station in Liberia, Costa Rica
As we wrote previously, we were surprised how simple it was to buy our Tica Bus tickets online. The next step of course was using them.


In communication with Tica Bus we confirmed that the location for pickup had changed since the last time we had travelled this route. With the construction of the overpass, the new pickup spot was at the Pulmitan Bus Terminal. The rep from Tica Bus wasn’t able to give me the direction for the terminal but confidently told me that all the taxis know where it’s located. Not being one to leave such an important detail to chance I was able to get a Google map to show the location of the terminal by using the website: http://thebusschedule.com/cr/index.php. We tried to get information about what time the Tica Bus would arrive from the ticket & information booths inside the Pulmitan station, but they weren’t helpful at all and of course spoke no English.




Interior of Pulmitan Terminal


Our tickets were booked on the 6:00 am bus out of San Jose which meant that it arrived in Liberia between 10:00-10:30 am. Our bus pulled right into the terminal, but we know that at times when the bays are full it will pull into the lot across the street from the terminal and load the bus from there. There wasn’t an assistant on the bus for our trip who usually would collect the border fees, which meant that when we arrived at the border the bus driver arranged for a woman to take us to where we had to pay our exit tax. 


There are new ex-ray machines to examine your luggage which modernized the process, but we were still about 1 ½ hours at the border before getting on our way into Nicaragua.

We arrived in Granada about 3 pm and there were taxis at the drop off point to take us to the hotel. Our taxi driver wanted $10.00 US to take us to where we were staying, but we knew that this was way overpriced.  We had checked beforehand and had been told that the fare for the taxi is 10 Córdoba’s per person. Quite often they will charge for your luggage which should still have only cost us 50 cords. We agreed on 60 cords and in no time at all we were settling into our accommodations.

Pulmitan Terminal - Liberia, Costa Rica

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Maleku Tours - Liberia, Costa Rica

Tempisque River Boat Tours
When we originally booked our tickets through Air Miles we were scheduled to fly on Sunday, December 11th and transfer to Nicaragua by bus on the following day. However, Air Canada contacted us to inform us that they had cancelled our flight and we had the choice of leaving Halifax on Friday, December 9th or the following week on the 15th. Since we had already booked our Tica Bus tickets we opted to leave sooner, rather than later. With leaving two days earlier it meant that we had time to book a tour and enjoy what Costa Rica has to offer.  We decided on the Palo Verde Jungle Tour.

Iguana




We contacted Maleku Tours for airport pickup and also to take the Palo Verde Jungle Tour. Since we have used them before for transfers to the Riu Guanacaste we were not surprised when they responded quickly to our email request and all our arrangements were in place in no time at all.

Airport pickup went smoothly as they were waiting for us as we exited the airport. We were surprised to have personalized service with Eugenia and chatted all the way to the hotel catching up on what has been happening in the area over the last few years.

The following day Eugenia met us at 7:30 for our day tour to Palo Verde followed by lunch at Rancho Los Coyotes. All arrangements went smoothly. We had exceptional wildlife viewing on the Tempisque River with iguanas, crocodiles and birds galore.






After the boat tour, Eugenia located Howler monkeys for us and stopped for us to take pictures of them. By chance, the location that she stopped the van was along the route that the troupe used to cross the road and we were able to take some amazing shots of a mama howler and her baby.





 
Lunch at Rancho Los Coyotes was delicious and was ready as soon as we arrived. Before we left the Rancho some local artisans showed us how they make pottery - truly beautiful works of art that can be purchased right on site.


If you are in the Liberia area, we highly recommend using Maleku Tours – you will truly receive excellent service. https://www.malekutours.com/

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Flying into Costa Rica and Requiring Proof of Onward Travel - Purchasing Tica Bus Tickets Online

We have been planning our return to Nicaragua pretty much since the day we left three years ago.One of our strategies to minimize the cost of returning was to aggressively collect as many Air Miles Reward miles as we could in order to purchase plane tickets at a reduced rate.

Purchasing our tickets through Air Miles did result in considerable savings for us. However, by redeeming reward miles it meant that we couldn’t fly direct to Nicaragua, but had the option of landing in San Jose or Liberia, Costa Rica. This itinerary created the necessity for us to prove onward travel because having proof of onward travel is one of the entry requirements for Costa Rica.

To satisfy the need to provide proof of onward travel we considered a couple of options. A flight from Liberia to Managua was cost prohibitive and would eat up the savings from purchasing our tickets through Air Miles. We also considered a private transfer, but with the low Canadian Dollar we couldn’t spring for the $275 US that we were quoted. Finally, we looked at various shuttles and bus options and decided that the bus was what we were going to go with.

Having traveled by Tica Bus from Liberia in the past we decided that their company would be the best solution for us - but since we were in Canada how would we get our tickets? We considered purchasing the tickets through an agency listed online, but the additional fee they charge for the service discouraged us. Due to circumstances friends were not able to purchase them for us either so we decided to bite the bullet and purchase them online ourselves. We had read online that the process was simple and could be completed quickly.

Here is our experience with purchasing Tica Bus tickets online:


Tica Bus chat assistance
First step was to visit their website and determine the route and time that we wanted the tickets for. Their website is: https://ticabus.com/ When we determined what the bus schedule we wanted, we used the chat box in the lower right corner.  When it is green it means that someone is available to help.  

I changed the language to English by selecting “English” from the drop down menu when you click on the little world icon. I filled in my name, email and question and then clicked start chat.  Very quickly I had a response from Tica Bus with these instructions:

Tica Bus Chat initiator

Good morning
We have a way to buy and reserve tickets in advance via e-mail and paying with a credit card so here the steps:

1. Send an email to (CSR email address) with the scanned passports of the passengers, the desired route, time and date of travel.
2. Once I receive the email I will forward the information to the Credit Department. They will contact you and send the Debit/Credit Card Authorization Form.
3. Complete and sign the form and send it back to them via email.
4. The Credit Department will charge your credit card and send the tickets via email.
5. The Credit Department functions Monday – Friday from 7:00am to 4:00pm….processing of credit cards will happen during that schedule.
6. IMPORTANT – TICKETS ARE NON REFUNDABLE –

From this point the procedure went smoothly. I sent along a scan of our passport and travel schedule to the CSR and he forwarded the info along to the Credit Department. I was contacted by a representative from that department with a copy of our “temporary” tickets and a credit card authorization form with instructions to respond only to them in order to keep the credit card information confidential. We confirmed that the date and time on the “temporary” reservation was correct and returned the signed authorization form (either scan or take a picture of the form). We received confirmation of the purchase with copies of our tickets to print off from the original CSR within a short span of time.


The whole process to purchase the tickets online was fairly simple and we had no communication issues since both the CSR and the credit department communicated in English. 

Would we recommend purchasing your Tica Bus tickets online to prove onward travel?  Absolutely! We will definitely purchase our tickets online again when we need to cross the border for a visa run.


Thursday, October 27, 2016

We Are Returning to Nicaragua!



Where has the time gone? We can hardly believe it, but we have been back in Canada for 3 years!
Pat finished chemo and radiation in 2014 – he was glad to get that behind him. However, for most of 2015 we were waiting to find out if he was in remission. He had two “iffy” scans and we didn’t find out that he was out of the woods until the end of August. Woohoo!

Once the relief set in that Pat was in remission, we started to think about the possibility of returning to Nicaragua. So….we have good news to share – we are returning to Nicaragua in December 2016! Only 44 days to go!

Cuba - Cayo Guillermo
 As much as we loved both Leon and Pearl Lagoon, we won’t be returning to either of those places. After a couple of vacations in Cuba we realized how much we loved white sandy beaches, palm trees and easy access to snorkeling. So, our plan is to move to Big Corn Island where we will be able to enjoy the beach life in abundance.

One of the goals that we set when we returned to Canada was to collect enough Air Miles to "pay" our way back when we were ready to return. Our goal was achieved and only had to pay the taxes.   What we hadn't considered was that we wouldn't be able to have a direct flight to Managua. Therefore, we will be arriving in Liberia, Costa Rica and traveling by bus up to Granada for a week to get reacquainted with old friends - a happy alternative.

We have enjoyed exploring more of Nova Scotia, but are happy and excited to be leaving before the cold and old man winter returns. 


Luckett's Vineyard - Nova Scotia

Finally, we must say, that we have really appreciated the loving support we’ve received over the last 3 years helping us to conquer the CANCER beast. Without the support, sometimes daily, from our close friends and a fantastic team of doctors and nursing staff, it would have been even more difficult than it was. Also, the support that we received from Debbie’s place of employment (Transcontinental Halifax) has been truly amazing. A huge THANK YOU to everyone!