And so here I am, in a nice hotel room, a cold pizza by my side (the only food I could get this late!). For once, I appreciate the free toiletry—shampoo, soap, toothpaste, etc.—since I ran out of everything. And believe it or not, there was hot water! I haven’t had a hot shower in… well, three weeks.
Monthly Archives: February, 2014
For my last day, I had decided to stay in Alajuela, a town located close to the airport, 18 kilometres from San José. I had already visited the capital when I flew in and I thought being in a new place would be fun, that exploring may keep me busy, may prevent me from thinking too much.
The hostel in Jacó was by far the weirdest place I have stayed in—and people were quite “interesting” too.
Second and last day in Jacó-the-Sin-City. I woke up rested and decided to head to Playa Hermosa, South of Jacó. Why not? I wasn’t going to pace the same old main street all day long. “How far is Playa Hermosa?” I asked around at the hostel. “Far,” some said. “Not far,” others insisted.
My expectations were low. Jacó is a resort town on the coast, by the Pacific Ocean. It was one of the first places where gringos flocked into and bought land. I had pictured a cross between Playa Del Carmen, Playa Tamarindo and Cancun. I was close enough.
Transportation is a bit of an issue here, like it was in Omotepe. There are no paved roads. You can rent a quad but it’s expensive and frankly, I wouldn’t be able to drive it (okay, maybe I would but I ain’t trying). Bus service is erratic and they are not direct, you have to go first to Cóbano and then take another bus… and of course, the buses don’t connect. But this is not really an issue because most of the time, buses don’t show up, break down, and service stops around 3 p.m.
¿Viaje sola? ¡Ay, probrecita! That’s how locals feel when they realize I travel alone. But I don’t feel like a “poor little thing”. Traveling alone is pretty awesome.
Montezuma hasn’t changed that much. Considering how fast Costa Rica has been developing and growing, I had half expected beachfront condos and skyscrapers at the tip of the Nicoya Peninsula. Nope. Not yet. Montezuma is still just three streets of hostels and hotels, restaurants and sodas, a small village surrounded by amazing beaches. This may have to do with the fact it’s hard to get there.
The first part of the hike was relatively easy and, soon enough, I saw several coatis (members of the raccoon family) and a long snake in a tree (then I started to be paranoid and really watched where I was stepping!). The hike became harder and I had to focus on… well, putting one foot in front of the other.
I didn’t have the time to think much. The San-José-bound bus was about to leave. “How long to Puntarenas?” I asked the grumpy driver. “Tres horas,” he said. I mentally completed the sentence: “… Más o menos.”
I wanted to spend the day in the city to spend my last cordobas and buy a few stuff. Fortunately, I sat by a Nicaraguan university student in the chicken bus and I was happy to help him “practise his English” for most of the trip.
That was my plan: hop onto the chicken bus with the bike (the best part with these buses is that it’s completely normal to bring along a bike, a chicken, a cow or huge bags of frijoles with you), get off at El Quino, bike the four kilometres to the beach and then bike the 25 kilometres back to town.
I can’t drive a motorbike so I rented a bike for $5. My plan was to get to Altagracia, the other town on the East part of the island. Sure, people told me I was crazy
Isla Omotepe is a pretty unique place: formed by two volcanoes, it rises on Lake Nicaragua. Why did I even hesitate going there? Right, because I was afraid to be stuck on the island without accommodation. Well, I’m glad I made the trip—it’s awesome here.
Everybody had told me to go to San Juan del Sur. “It has the best beaches!”, I heard over and over again.
I am always suspicious of the “best beach EVER” claim. I mean, every beach is nice, especially in this part of the world—the atmosphere, on the other side, is everything. But I had to check out San Juan.
People in León seemed to be fans of three things: churches (each barrio has one), political left-wing murals (the city was and is a Sandinista stronghold) and Big Cola (whatever that is, it was advertised everywhere).
When was the last time that a woman, after hearing sleazy comments from some guy in the street, looked at the stranger and said “wow, I am so turned on, I want you right now!” Yep. Never.
In a way, Granada reminded me of Antigua, in Guatemala: a nice colonial city, big enough to explore and small enough to walk around, the brightly painted buildings, the volcanoes around, the laid-back yet sophisticated feel and the mix of culture and natural beauty.
After pyramids in Mexico and the fortress in Masaya, I decided to tackle Volcán Masaya, Nicaragua’s most heavily venting volcano. And yes, you can do it without a guide—gotta love this country!
I walked to the chaotic market street in Granada to catch one of the chicken buses to Masaya—yes, like Guatemala, Honduras or Belize, Nicaragua uses these colourful US school as public long-distance buses. Needless to say that rides are long, bumpy and crowded but very fun.
The view on the Mombacho volcano was pretty amazing and so was boating on the lake. Suddenly, it was like stepping into another world, far away from the city.
Right now, I am fulfilling a long-time fantasy of mine: I am all by myself in a hotel room (i.e., not in a hostel, in a dorm). I am on the bed, a can of Coke Zero and a bottle of water on the table beside me. The TV is on (some Hollywood movie dubbed in Spanish) and I have a relatively good Wi-Fi signal. Life is easy, eh? Wait until you read this. I deserved that fucking room.
Breakfast here is invariably “un desayuno típico” with “gallo pinto”, the national dish—beans, rice and spices mixed. It is usually served with eggs, natilla (sour cream) and fried plantains. It’s filling. And pretty tasty, really.
This is the kind of place where backpackers gather to celebrate the anniversary of Bob Marley’s birth—no, really, it was apparently yesterday’s excuse to have a reggae night on the beach—, where hostels are long-term accommodation choices, where sleeping in a hammock is an alternative to paying for a dorm bed, where dreadlocks is the preferred hairstyle, where no one really has money, a job or a plan for the following day.