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Wednesday 18 Dec 2013
San Jose, Costa Rica

Farewell Costa Rica... can I come back again?

After a slight calculation error at the cash machine in Santa Elena, I’d inadvertently withdrawn far more colonnes than intended.  500 Colonnes is roughly equal to $1, so we’d been doing our calculations along the lines of ‘double it and remove the zeroes for dollars, half it and add two zeroes for colonnes.  Somehow, I’d gone the wrong way and ended up with over $400 in the wrong currency.  If I tried to change it back at the bank, I’d get stung on commission and a poor exchange rate, which I was hoping to avoid.  Instead, I managed to swap colonnes for dollars with various guests at the hostel and rid myself of most of them at a simple 500:1 ratio.

Steph and the boys walked me down to the bus station and helped me get my ticket for San José.  She was going on to Montezuma with them, while I had to head back to the capital for my flights to Ecuador in the morning.  The bus station was fairly chaotic.  There were bays for each bus, but no timetables or signs to indicate which bay I needed.  We asked several times and were just told to wait, as it hadn’t arrived yet.  Steph waited with me to make sure I got on the right one while the boys went off to find some breakfast.  My bus finally arrived half an hour late and we hugged farewell.  I’ve had a great time in Costa Rica, particularly because of the great people I’ve met in just over a week: Blain and Mark in La Fortuna; Andrea, Chris and Gayle in Santa Elena; Adam, Scott and Flick in Quepos; and Steph who linked it all together.  Thanks guys!

My bus to San José was less hot and sticky than the ride down from Santa Elena, but only marginally.  I sat next to an elderly Costa Rican man who dozed through most of the journey, waking up occasionally to point something out to me, such as a crocodile infested river below us as we crossed a bridge – I kid you not, they were huge and there were a lot of them.  The scenery changed from flat and costal, to more mountainous terrain as we moved inland, but remained lush and green throughout.  It really is a beautiful country and I enjoyed watching the scenery as I listened to my audiobook.  (Audiobooks have been fantastic on my travels this year.  They allow me to pass long bus journeys without too much fuss and still enjoy the scenery.  There’s no way I could read a book on the bumpy, twisty roads, and it’s not always practical – or advisable – to flash a laptop around to watch a movie.)

We’d been in built-up areas for a while, but still had about 20 minutes to go for the centre of San José.  From there, I’d have to get another bus half an hour out to Alejuela, the area nearer the airport where I was staying.  Suddenly, the driver suddenly called out Alejuela and several other backpackers started getting off the bus.  I checked with the driver and got off too, queueing up to retrieve my pack from under the bus.  I was getting pestered by a waiting taxi driver and with the bus driver’s help, I established we were still some way from Alejuela, but this was as close as he went and the taxi would take me the remaining 10 minutes.  I managed to knock him down to $20 from his initial $30 price, as it had only been $30 for my arrival taxi, which had taken 40 minutes.  However, as we drove along and I spotted a few sign posts, I realised I was still a good 20km out and it took us nearly half an hour to reach the hostel.  I could have saved $15 by staying on the bus and getting the next one out to Alejuela, but I’m not sure how much longer that would have taken.  At least the taxi got me there in daylight and took me right to the door. 

With a 3.30am departure in the morning, I treated myself to a private room, which turned out to be enormous.  It had windows opening onto a beautiful inner stairwell, which doubled as a light tunnel for the lower floors.  It was being renovated, so the walls shone brightly with new white paint on the adobe plaster and gave the place a real character.  Unfortunately the noisy bar at the end of the corridor gave it a different kind of character, but thankfully the music was turned down at 10pm and I got a surprisingly good night’s sleep in the very comfortable bed.  Sometimes it is well worth the extra dollars for a room without other people’s snores, coughs, smelly feet and drunken stumbling when they come in at 4am and apologise to the rucksack they just tripped over…

 

 

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Zoe's Big World Adventure Part II - #2 Mexico, Belize and Costa Rica

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I met Christina in April. We travelled a bit of Australia together and both learned to dive. Now we're off to Mexico and Belize to see what the Caribbean and the Great Mesoamerican Reef have to offer, before I head down to Costa Rica for 10 days.

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