Published: February 14th 2012February 14th 2012
It's not been long since my last blog but it's my last day today in Costa Rica, and therefore Central America, so it seems like a good time to update. I'm currently in San Jose (for the third time in six days), getting ready for my flight to Rio de Janeiro this afternoon. Central America has been incredible - a chance to explore a group of countries that I knew very little about previously. I just wish I had had a bit more time to see it all - I would have definitely enjoyed longer in Honduras and Nicaragua.
I finally made it to Monterverde after a dull night in San Jose and spent the day ziplining through the forest. Costa Rica feels very different from the rest of Central America: it's very Americanised, very touristy and much more expensive than Nicaragua and Guatemala. Monterverde is a good example of this - although set in an idyllic jungle location, it feels a little bit like a theme park with a number of ziplining companies competing for customers by building bigger and bigger structures in the middle of the rainforest. I barely had speak a word of Spanish in my two
days there. I also went on a nightime jungle tour, where I saw sloths, raccoons, birds, a tarantula, lots of insects, a baby snake and one very big Viper.
In Monterverde I realised I had lost one of my bank cards. My organisational skills need to improve; so far I have lost one t-shirt, some headphones, a torch, earplugs and sunglasses (bought only three days before).
Amber, Rob, Dennis and Stacey were able to reach Monterverde in one day (clearly better at negotiating Costa Rican buses than me!) so I met up with them briefly before heading back to San Jose for a night. My second time here was more enjoyable than the first and I was able to see the city's nightlife. San Jose has a an interesting student-led music scene and some good bars but it also suffers from having an open and tourist-centred sex trade. It feels like the Bangkok of Central America.
I was to see a completely different side of Costa Rica when I moved over to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca on the Caribbean, the first time I'd been on this coast since Mexico. English is spoken widely there as a first
language and there's an even mix of people from both Afro-Caribbean and Spanish descent . The mood feels typically Caribbean - relaxed and ridiculously laid back. I thought they liked Bob Marley in the rest of Central America, but here he's regarded as some sort of deity. One day I heard 'Stir it Up' being played in no less than five different bars. (No joke, as I type this the guy next to me has started strumming it's opening chords on his guitar).
Travelling alone is naturally very different than being in a big group and I spent a few days in Puerto Viejo relaxing and exploring the coast. I hired a bike and rode down to Manzanillo, where I snorkeled for a few hours and was lucky enough to see a turtle near the reef. The next day was fairly uneventful and spent mainly on the beach, the only noteable incident occuring early in the morning when I was shaken awake by a small earthquake. They're very common here.
I left Paradise for San Jose and met up with Amber and Rob again last night. I now have the next stage of my trip, South America to plan and look forward to. I'm flying to Rio this afternoon, with an hour stopover in Lima, and plan to meet up with my old work colleague Josh (who I realised last year was doing a near identical trip) tomorrow.