The only decent looking building in San Jose!
Dear Blog Readers,
Triumphantly I write this blog in the knowledge that I´ve been awarded Blogger of the Week! Thankyou for the nominations and the decision to let this small insignificant deluge into the thoughts of ours on our travels be awarded!
We left the Flutterby House bitten to death by mosquitos and there was a little bit too much hippiness going on (at one point I heard Ellie Golding coming out the speakers...*shudders*). However, the place was beautiful and probably the nicest beach we've ever seen so it is definitely worth checking out if you get the chance. I also used their book exchange service. Much to the delight of Betty and Stephanie, I´ve become some sort of book fiend whilst we´ve been away. I implore anybody travelling to get Bill Bryson´s "Notes From A Small Island". It´s superb and the first chapter left Laura and I in tears. I exchanged the 350 pages of joy for a Nick Hornby book. We got a bus out of Uvita heading for San Jose. The driver said we'd have to stand but there was quite a few spare seats so we stole them. As we entered into San Jose it
The grand hotel in the center of town.
dawned on us just how green everything was outside San Jose...and unfortunately, just how grey the capital city was to become.
Our mood was not grey since we were eagerly anticipating seeing Finnish Laura from our day in Panama City. She's a student at the University and kindly offered us a place to stay. It wasn't long until we were all together and pacing through the grid-like and barely navigable streets of San Jose. It's like Milton Keynes but worse (yes, that is possible). Laura took us to a great little organic and vegetarian restaurant which served up some great food, and even better smoothies. After eating we found her house which was in a nice area of town and away from the sketchy bus stations.
It wasn't long until friends were called and we were soon heading towards the University. It's a traditional week of festivities, music, workshops and general University shennanigans. It's called 'Semana U' which translates as "University Week" to Costa Ricans and Spanish speakers or "bloody brilliant" to me. It was simply wonderful. We turned up and it was reggae night. In a car park they'd set up a stage with a great sound
Ricon de la Vieja
On the bridge going into the rainforest.
system and the place was full of University types. It was such a good atmosphere and the whole evening had an amazing vibe that it wasn't long until we were dancing along and taking in the sights and sounds. Jugglers and diabalo spinners practiced their moves, hippies sold bracelets, rastas smoked god-knows-what, fire breathers were breathing fire until "the pigs" stepped in. Laura's San Jose born and raised friend Danny went out and got some beers for everybody which they drank in secret (it's illegal here to drink in public) but nobody was caring because the last band from Nicaragua were putting on such a good show.
We set our alarms to conincide with Laura leaving for University. Apparently her landlord checks to make sure nobody is sleeping over in the house who isn't supposed to. Hahaha how we thwarted her with our cunning plan! We caught a bus into town and had a wander around. San Jose isn't really up to much. There isn't a particularly iconic or touristic place. I think the guidebook lists the National Theatre building as being a highlight. It does have Calle Central which is basically a street which has expensive shops at
Lizard laying in the sun.
one end and cheap shops at the other. We worked our way down and bought a Lacoste t-shirt for $(((((65-25)+10)/2)*10)/100)+2.5) which, as you can see, is definitely not a fake one.
We got back to Laura's after she'd finished her Spanish classes and I went round to Danny's grandparents house because the second leg of the Barcelona-Chelsea match was on. I managed to see the second half and was absolutely devasted that Barcelona lost. Not just because Chelsea are a bunch of wassocks (yes, that's right, wassocks) but because Danny had bought tickets for the final and his dream was to see Barcelona and it was crushing to see his dream shattered.
That evening, we went out with some of Laura´s friends to a sushi restaurant that she had recommended. It was superb! If you´d told me I´d be eating sushi in the middle of Costa Rica I´d have probably nose-efforted a load of miso soup at you. Afterwards we went to see which bands were performing at Semana U. It was metal night so I wore my "Bury Your Demons" t-shirt (the album for which is out now on iTunes!!) and we survived about 37 seconds of
Nearly stumbled into that one!
"Corpse Garden". They were truly terrible. One guy was wearing a t-shirt for "Dying Foetus" so we decided to find another stage. In another little park was an sort of improvised jazz group who were brilliant. I think they were called Social Club. The crowd swelled to see them. The only people I saw that were unhappy were a couple of confused Corpse Garden fans who were disappointed with their beloved band and their apparent change in musical direction.
It was time to leave San Jose and we jumped on a bus to Liberia. We found a nice hotel near a beautiful town square and church. Skateboarding is the "cool" thing to do here and the central pavillion is full of kids attempting, and almost inevitably, failing to land a single trick.
We booked a trip to Ricon de la Vieja - a stunning national park and volcano just outside Liberia. The volcano hike was a no-go because the fumes were too toxic. Laura and I were still reeling from Volcan Baru so we weren´t entirely disappointed. We went along the left trail first which took us through the rainforest with the biggest trees you have ever seen!
We even spotted a huge rat creature which stopped in its tracks as we walked past and then scuttled off. The trees were alive with activity and we could hear loads but everytime we stopped to look up there seemed to be nothing.
The trail took us first to a steaming bed of rocks. The smell was decidedly eggy and disgusting. Naturally I assumed Laura had broke wind but she kindly informed me that it was sulphorous gas. We kept walking and the trail brought us to a small volcanic crater. We obviously went off-track at some point because when we nearly stumbled into it, we realised the safety fence was on the other side of the crater! We worked our way round and came across some pools of boiling water and bubbling mud. We were surprised at how active it was and we think we might have been lucky with the timing coinciding with the high activity at the top of the volcano.
We rushed back and went along the right trail. This took us to a beautiful waterfall which was huge and the water was really cold - just what we needed after such a long
walk in the heat of the day! We walked back and found a beautiful pool to cool down in just before we got our taxi back home. Weirdly there was loads of French people (not weird because they are French, rather, weird that out of the 10 people we saw on our trip, 7 of them were French!) so I got to practice a lot of my French and translate it to Laura. The French couple who we were sharing a ride with were keen birdspotters and had seen loads of wildlife. Laura and I thought we´d done well seeing so many monkeys, huge birds, lizards, butterflies but it was nothing compared to these guys!
Next stop! Nicaragua and the sensational Isla de Ometepe!
Tink and Laura
PS - Many thanks for the comments. It´s lovely to know that you´re reading it and enjoying the blogs so keep them coming!
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