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Published: July 18th 2015
As my journey across Central America was coming to an end, I had to plan the last days carefully to ensure I can make the most of it and make the flight home on time. There was only one bus a day from where I was on Ometepe island back to the port to get to the mainland. The journey to Costa Rica consisted of a 2 hour bus, 1 hour boat, half hour taxi to Penas Blancas and then the main long-distance Ticabus to San Jose, the capital city of Costa Rica.
When I first got off the boat I wanted to go to the main Ticabus station close by but the taxi driver told me it was closed and I should go with him to the next town. I thought he was ripping me off so I was telling him to take me where I wanted to go .... and he kept telling me it's closed and if I want to make it to Costa Rica on time I need to listen to him and pay the extra. In the end he took me past where I wanted to go and it was indeed shut, after which he
told me I should in the future shut my mouth and open my ears and just listen to other people .... I didn't have a comeback so on we went to the next town on the border, Penas Blancas (white feathers, except 'pena' is feather in Portuguese and 'blanca' is white in Spanish).
At the border things got more confusing. I was searching for Ticabus but another guy from a different company (Transnica) came up and said he can take me to San Jose for cheaper, but we have to hurry, hurry, hurry ... the bus is leaving. I decided to go for it and this guy took my passport and some money and went to deal with Nicaraguan exit customs with me. This guy then gave me all the stamped forms and we ran to the bus. I didn't have much time for receiving change so I paid him extra in cash for the journey and hopped onto the bus. After a while we arrived at the Costa Rican entry customs where we had to wait in a very very long queue. When I finally got to the front I gave the official all the forms that other
guy had given me, but the official told me I was missing something ... aarrgghh the dude didn't do his job properly. I know had to go and fill another form out and wait again. The bus was about to depart at any moment with my luggage on it so I ended up pushing in line and forcing my way to the front .... had to be done. I get everything resolved and go back to the bus where the driver is standing there inspecting everyone's passport making sure they got stamped legally. He lets everyone through and then looks at my passport, then tells me I have the wrong date stamped on the passport. I was getting p!ssed off at this point:
He: You have the wrong date on here
Me: How is that possible, they wouldn't give me an incorrect stamp, doesn't make sense
He: Yes it says here 24th Feb, but it should be 25th Feb
Me: Ermmm no it's 24th Feb today
He: (looks at his watch, then asks his colleagues for confirmation) ... oh ok then , get on the bus
Me: You didn't do this with anyone else, why are you wasting my
time? I paid extra to get on this bus, I don't have time for this bullsh!t, you need to find another job you can actually do
I didn't play the system correctly this time. When the official asked me how many days I'd be in Costa Rica for, I said 3 ... but it could have been anywhere up to 5. I expected them to stamp me in for 90 days ... but nope, they actually gave me only 3 days to come in and get out. I didn't have this issue in any previous country. In fact, you have 90 days total between Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua ... then from Costa Rica it is treated as a separate entity and you should be given 90 days max. Now I knew I could only be in the country for 3 days.
When we landed into San Jose it was very late at night. I got out of the station and walked into the 1st hotel I found. It was an Elvis hotel with Elvis ornaments and music everywhere. It was ok, however my bedroom didn't have an outdoor window that closed and there was a loud
pet bird in the garden screeching all night, that was not ideal. I went downstairs to watch football and spoke to another traveller who had massive holes in his ears ... he'd overstretched his ears and placed huge tubes in them ... the hole was the size of a loo roll tube, I'll never forget those ears.
The next morning I went off on my way, a taxi then a 5 hour bus journey to Puerto Viejo on the coast. There are actually 2 Puerto Viejos in Costa Rica, one on the Pacific side and one on the Carribean side where I was going. It was the choice of this place or Tortuguero, a place full of tortoises. I opted for Puerto Viejo because it is right next to Panama and it will save me time. The bus was cramped and many people brought surf boards with them ... Puerto Viejo is well-known as a surf hotspot.
When I landed there I fell in love with it quickly ... it's a great little town, funky Caribbean vibe, Spanish rasta accents everywhere. I needed to find a hostel so I went into this internet cafe and asked the woman
... she said she doesn't know of any so I went online and checked hostelworld. There were only a couple there which were booked up. I decided to use the opportunity to print off my flight tickets and other paperwork I needed hardcopies of. The woman working there was very grumpy and didn't like me very much ... more so when she couldn't print a simple file and I had to show her how to do her job.
I got out of the internet cafe, turned left and immediately saw loads of hostels .... boom, why are these not online? Oh well, I checked into the very 1st one, had lunch at their cafe and went on my way to explore. This place was awesome, I thoroughly loved my walk, checking out the local amenities and keeping in mind the sign outside the local woman's house who said she provides laundry services. When I got to the street by the beach with the bars, I was walking along and I thought this guy ahead of me was blowing me a kiss .... I decided I must have heatstroke and ignored shook the incident out of my mind ... 10
seconds later and he did it again. Wowww, have I pulled? I'm approaching him and rather tempted to cross the street, but I think I should just be nice, smile and tell him no thanks, my butthole is only for exit and not entry. Just as I get within a few feet from him he goes to do the same gesture again yet this time I hear words, he says "you want some ganja" ... and then I realize it was the gesture of him smoking a spliff, not blowing a kiss ... phewwwww. I politely refused and went on my way. Little did I realize over the next few days I would be harassed day and night by people wanting to sell me all kinds of drugs, I really disliked this.
Do you recall the island of Caye Caulker in Belize had a motto, "go slow"? Well, Puerto Viejo also has a motto, "Pura Vida" aka "Pure Life" ... just live your life and don't worry basically. I must live a pure life as so many people were telling me how young I looked for my age ... but then I get that anywhere ... a combination of
eating well, drinking well and keeping active. The mosquitos here were living a Pura Vida also, they were hardcore. I was getting attacked all over ... and for the 1st time in my life even on my face. I'd cover my bed up with nets and hide in quilts sweating away, yet these f^ckers would be inside with me sniggering at what they're about to do. I'm a fan of life, but not of mosquitoes ... I don't mind if they go extinct ... I can't think of a good reason to have them in this world ... but there must be, nature has a way of balancing itself out.
As usual I ended up mingling more with girls than guys in Costa Rica ... they're much more fun anyway ... I had great laughter and adventures. This one night I was getting ready to go out to a flamethrower show. There was a girl in my dorm room who used to work during the day so she was already in bed. I went out to this place to meet somebody else and enjoyed the fire act, then realized the girl that was in bed was here, gettin' down 'n dirty with a local Costa Rican guy on the dance floor ... how the feck she get from bed to here before me? This place also had table tennis ... a game I used to love playing in Italy in the 90s. There was a local girl who was whopping everybody's asses, accepting challenges from anyone. I decided to challenge her and got my butt kicked big time ... and I mean big time, she put so much spin on the ball my brain was still computing 3 shots prior.
On my final day I checked out some beaches. The local buses are actually those you expect for long-distance travel, like a National Express ... all local bus rides are on comfy coaches ... Mepe was the name.
I also went to that woman's house to get my clothes washed. When I got there she told me how much it would cost per kilogram and came out with some scales. I brought all my clothes in a suitcase and she took them out and started putting them in carrier bags to add the weights of them up. I taught this woman some basic maths skills at this point. Step 1, weigh the suitcase empty ... Step 2, weight the suitcase with the clothes inside ... Step 3, subtract the numbers to get the weight of the clothes ... Step 4, give me a discount for this tip which will change your life forever. No tip was given, however I received my clothes back washed, dried, soft, ironed, folded and smelling nice ... she knew what she was doing 😊
I had a great time in Costa Rica. I even bumped into the guy I saw in that Elvis hotel with the large earholes I'll never forget ... I saw him in 3 different villages around Puerto Viejo and then got chatting and found out he comes here for his friend's birthday every year and works at a stall. Unfortunately I couldn't stay longer because my passport said I had to be out by 27th Feb, and so I packed up and off I went across the border.
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