There are different levels of bus service in the city of Managua. The first week I was in town, here’s a conversation I had with a man who at that time who was teaching me Spanish:
Me: “Where do all these students come from?”
My tutor: “What are you talking about?”
Me: “Look at all those school buses.” (Every bus I saw was a yellow school bus.)
My tutor: “That’s public transportation run by private investors”.
So you have one guy who owns 5 or 6 buses, and he hires drivers to run little routes. And I noticed that the ones running outside of the city would say “Managua to Leon” or “Managua to Matagalpa” or “Managua to Villa el Carmen.” So you need to look at the sign in order to know which one to get on.
It costs about US $1.00-$1.25 to ride all the way out from Managua to San Cayetano.You get off just before you get to San Cayetano and you’d be right to the entrance to our road coming down to the property. It’s very inexpensive.
We nicknamed them “chicken buses” for reasons you would know if you saw one. Usually 20% of the people have live chickens inside the bus or on top of the bus. (The ones on top get a little wind-blown.) You have to watch out for buses because they stop every 500 - 600 yards when they start getting into the rural areas where the little townships are because they let people off. They don’t actually stop; they slow down. The only time they stop is if there is a little old woman getting off the bus. If you are a young man, you might as well prepare to jump and take your belongings with you because the driver will just slow down for you.
Now inside Managua, just recently, there is a cultural exchange between Mexico and Nicaragua and between Russia and Nicaragua. They have brand new air conditioned buses which look like big city buses like in the States. And they are running around full of people. So now in the city itself, you need to go by a public transportation office and buy a prepaid card and swipe the card, so paying money to ride one of the transit buses now in town has been taken over by prepaid cards. So, you get the drift. Here are tens and tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people who take public transportation with prepaid, $10 - $12 cards who enjoy the flexibility of just swiping their card when they get on public transportation. The term “public transportation” is a misnomer. These are glorified chicken buses.
There are some of these really nice buses that travel from Managua north into Honduras and south to Costa Rica. I’ve ridden the “Tica Bus”. There are two or three competing companies but they are all roughly termed “Tica Buses” because they all go into “TicaLand”, which is Costa Rica. It is about $50 round trip from Managua to Liberia, Costa Rica, and back.
When we cross the border its a little bit time-consuming because all the luggage comes off and is opened for inspection upon leaving and upon arriving on the other side of Costa Rica. Then it goes back on the bus and you are on your way again. But that’s a big Greyhound. They’re air conditioned, and they have little TV sets to play movies in them. It’s a pleasant way to travel, and very inexpensive. You just get on the bus, and “leave the driving to us.”