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.
Browsing: Costa Rica
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.
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.”
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.
“Is it okay to walk to the bus station alone with my backpack?” I inquired at the hostel. The Tico owner pouted, slightly offended. “Of course! This is Costa Rica, it’s a safe country! It’s not like Nicaragua, you know.”
On one hand, Avenida Central is lined up with posh flagship stores and foreign brand sold at foreign prices—Levis, Desigual, Aldo, etc. but on the other hand, hawkers sell socks, underwear, calendars and religious items in the middle of the pedestrian traffic.
I really shouldn’t have stepped into the Mercado Central right after breakfast. No because I was grossed out by all the meat on display but because the food looked delicious, and I was full!
I explored the barrio chino, Costa Rica’s tiny Chinatown, and the many plazas and parques— Parque Morazán by my hostel (with a lot of hippies juggling fire torches), Plaza de la Democracia (with office people eating ice cream) and Plaza de la Cultura (with kids chasing pigeons).
“Maman love you very much, sweety pie. And you know that mommies always come back,…
In, Central America, as well as in Peru, you just need to know three words to order food: arroz (rice), frijoles (beans) and pollo (chicken). Makes life easy, doesn’t it! However, the food may be quite basic, and at one point, you’ll be desperate for something other than chicken. I mean, how much chicken can one eat???
We both loved our trip in Central and South America. And now that we are home again in Canada, we thought about it: what were the best places, the best cities that we saw… and what were the worst experiences?
Observing people in Central America is really interesting. First of all, there is a true melting pot of cultures: Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, indigenous people such as the Kuna in Panamá…
We were in Monteverde, in the Costa Rican mountains, where this is a popular activity. Basically, we were attached to a steel cable with a harness, attached itself to a removable trolley. Plus the cute helmet, of course. We were taken deep into the rainforest and left on the first platform, on top of a tree. There, we were taught to use thick leather glove (to brake) and… that was it!
These are some of the animals we met in Costa Rica. I have not included pictures of mosquitoes… damn blood suckers!
But busing around in Central America is not that straightforward. First of all, we have to agree on the definition of a bus. If it has no windows and no doors, it is still a bus? What if it is painted in flamboyant colors, like bright red and yellow, and has words of wisdom such as “no pain, no gain“, or “dio bendigo mi alma” written on the windows? And if it takes 5 hours to drive 20 kilometers? Is it still a bus?