“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.”
I found his comment very funny because when you are in Mexico, Mexicans would tell you that their country is much safer than anywhere in Central America, Ticos make fun of Nicas, etc. The neighbour is always worse, right?
I ended up walking the 14 blocks to the bus station.
There are two kinds of buses: those where you freeze because the air con is on and those where you sweat because they are packed and there is no air con. Because I was cold in the theatre in San José, I prepared for an air-con bus and wore jeans and a sweater.
There was no air con. I was already sweaty from walking with my backpack but after an hour in the bus, I was dying for some fresh air.
As soon as we got on the bus, the woman sitting in front of me crossed herself and muttered a prayer. That pretty much summed it all. Taking the bus in Central America is an act of faith—maybe that’s why there was a huge drawing of Jesus on the dashboard… besides the Transformers symbol.
Destination Sámara, a five-hour ride South of San José, on the Pacific coast. Why Sámara? Porqué. I liked the name, it sounded nice. And you can’t really go wrong with a beach town, right?
The passenger sitting beside me was Tico working in San José and going back home in Nicoya for the weekend. I asked him if he was going to see his family. “Yes,” he nodded. “I am going to do the fiesta!” he grinned. “Party?” I wondered. Well, why not. The word just sounded incongruous in the mouth of a sixty-something gentleman. He then proceeded on pulling a Walkman—I hadn’t seen these in ages!—out of his bag and sang sotte voce, slightly out of tune.
The gentleman got off right before Sámara. He was greeted by a bunch of other Latinos, who screamed “FIESTA!” as soon as they saw him. I guess he was a party animal after all.
We stopped in Cangreja for a quick smoke and bathroom break and we arrived in Sámara, más o menos.
I checked into the hostel, changed to shorts and walked to the beach, fifty metres away, to catch the sunset.
It felt good to be by the sea again.