Travel Down to San Jose, Costa Rica

We made it to San Jose today. Our plans had been to try to depart for Costa Rica in the early afternoon but after talking to folks last night we decided to just leave when we woke up. We caught a chicken bus (e.g. an old school bus) from San Juan del Sur to Rivas, a small connection town about an hour inland and closer to the Interamericana. We ended up having lunch/breakfast in the middle of some market that a women and her mother cooked for us at a few tables she had setup inside the market. All told, Nicaraguan food is not much to speak of. I was hoping for better, but alas, I was disapointed in the end.

From Rivas we took a taxi to the border and spent about two hours crossing. It was totally chaotic, with no clear signage or path or route to follow. Just random windows, random stamps being put in passports and small amounts of dollars flowing out of our pockets as “taxes” or some sort or another. In any case, we arrived in Costa Rica around 12:30 after being admitted from immigration. However up until this point we had no idea once in Costa Rica were we were going to go. It was either going to be Libera or San Jose. We started talking to people and found a bus going to San Jose and decided on a whim that we’d head to San Jose, a six hour ride starting at 1:30pm.

The bus ride was long and slow and painful. The bus stopped for every traveller on the road, so it took all six hours to get down the 290ish kilometers. At least I know if I’m ever stranded on a road in Costa Rica, there’ll be plenty of buses for me to jump on. Also, for the first perhaps hour or two after the border we were pulled over twice or three times at police crossings to have our passports checked. They always took mine and looked at it, while for Jamus just looking at the over was enough and once they didn’t even take it out of his hands. Talk about profiling.

We made it to San Jose around 7:45 and found a taxi at the bus stop to take us to a hostel that was recomended and that’s where we are now. Funnily enough, we went to the hostel’s other building to have dinner and ordered some awesome comida typical (I love Costa Rican food) and two beers. As the order run up we realized we didn’t have enough money to pay with colones and the dollars were back in the room. So we asked the guy at the counter where an ATM was near by and he said the nearest was too dangerous to walk there at night. This corrobrated what the scene had looked like outside as we walked from one building to another (a few prostitues and a guy or two sleeping on the sidewalk). The taxi driver had also mentioned that the area near by has lots of non-Costa Ricans in the are who are in to drugs or in the drug trade or somesuch. It doesn’t feel unsafe at all, but it was enough for us to hand back the beers to bring the bill in check with the amount of cash we had on hand.

Tomorrow we fly to Mexico City. We’ve booked a shuttle that leaves at 1pm and should be in Mexico by 10pm (we fly via Panama City, so it’s a bit indirect). Hopefully we’ve got a hotel booked right near the Zocalo, which will be great. Trip has only three days left! Five weeks are nearly done and the real world is right around the corner. I just got email in the last few days about when to show up for work to do paperwork and about temp housing and the lot. While I’m ready to start heading back to SF, I know I’m going to miss this laid back holiday.

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