Published: June 28th 2012June 28th 2012
It's only been just over a week, but I figured I post my first blog as it might be a while til I have internet access again.
The second I step off the airplane in San Jose, Costa Rica, I already broke one of the major travel rules. Me and two other backpackers joined together to find a taxi, to save some money instead of going individual. Out of the 80 people trying to convince us to step into their taxi, we picked a guy. We followed him to his taxi which happened to be a private car his friend was driving, parked away and behind the airport exit. Being late at night and just wanting to find a hostel, we decided to take it anyways, hoping that I could outrun the two girls that where traveling with me. Of course I never told them that part. Not long after, we arrived at Costa Rica Backpackers, where I would spend my first 3 nights until I had planned out my near future.
Looking back, I wish I would have spend a bit more time on my Spanish, as it is pretty non-existing. First sign of miscommunication only took a
my first hostel
short time. As me and a friend walked into a small soda (diner) the next morning to eat breakfast, we told the server that we were just waiting for one more person. The word "person" sounds similar to one of their local beers called "Pilsen". Needless to say, I was drinking a beer for breakfast at 9am. That same day, we decided to go back to the same soda for dinner, as it was located in the same complex as the hostel. Looking at a menu that makes absolutley no sense to you is both adventurous and frustrating. I am good at the pronounciation of Spanish, so I went ahead and order three random items on the menu. To our surprise, we ended up with some decent food. The one thing I might wanna mention is that is is very true that Costa Rican food mostly consists of beans, rice, and tortilla chips. Every meal in some form will offer you one or all three of those components.
Although many people travel to Costa Rica to take in the natural beauty the country has to offer, San Jose is not one of those places. I was warned by fellow
travelers and my tour guide book, that is is a city purely used to fly into or used to disperse to other places. Walking through the downtown area, there are a couple of things you will notice. One is the smell of toilets and the other is the exhaust from all the buses and car, which would all fail Aircare. All of the shops or street vendors are set up to cater to locals rather then tourists. The upside to that is the fact that you get left alone when walking down main street, however the down side is the fact that noone speals English when you do try to look at or buy something. Security and city layout are something that poped out to me as well. It looks like every house or shop is fortified against crime. Depending on the size or demographics, you will find alarm systems, gates, barb wire, prision bars, guards, or guard dogs. Lastly, the city street grid can be helpful but also be confusing at the same time. Streets (calles) and avenues (avenidas) are laid out just as we know them in North America with a small change. Each city has its center
twice fried plantains
point which will used central street or avenue as their starting point. The difference here though is that odd number streets or ave. go one way, where the uneven numbers go the other way. For example you can be standing on 18th Ave. thinking that the next one will be 19th Ave. Wrong! The next one will be 20th, where 19th will be on the other side of town. In other words, you will have to know which way the streets flow in order not to get lost when looking for an address. It does also not help that they only put a street name sign up every 10 minutes of walking, meaning you can be at a large intersection not knowing what street or avenue you are currently on.
Before I leave talking about San Jose, I will have to expand on my title for this blog entry. "Pura Vida" meaning "Pure Life", is Costa Rica's theme by which they live by. At first this appears to be a slogan created for tourism, but you will soon find out that it's even more for the locals (ticos). People for the most part don't have a lot
and are forced to work in hot weather and travel in crowded buses every day to get to work a couple towns away. This does not take away from the fact that they love life and the beautiful country that they live in. They enough family and entertainment and use "Pura Vida" in their daily lives. Of course the first time I personally used this slogan was to cheers a shot of Cacique, which is thei local alcohol, made from sugar canes. By itself, it tastes like rubbing alcohol, so even the locals will drink it with hot sauce and fresh lime juice mixed in.
Next, my journey took me to Ciudad Colon....
There are more photos below