Hangin in San Jose

Trip Start Oct 17, 2006
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Trip End Jul 08, 2007


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Where I stayed
Tica Linda

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Friday, December 22, 2006

After a long bus trip from Panama and a very intense border crossing, I arrived in San Jose at about 2.30am friday night along with Sam Waks, and together we managed to get ourselves safely to a very cosy and quaint little guest house called the Tica Linda (and despite hearing how Costa Rica is the most expensive country in latin America, at $5 a night, it was also the cheapest backpacker accomodation so far).
After a decent sleep, we walked around and had a look around the city.....and as luck would have it, they had a big festival on that night - the festival of the light!  Its pretty much just a parade, with ppl parading on various costumes in various floats...and a shitload of ppl standing by the road and watching of course!  And of course fireworks too......
Once the official festivities were over, we headed off to this nightclub district - rather than having clubs spread out all over the place, they had a whole stack of clubs in the one complex....kind of like an open aired shopping mall full of nightclubs (that werent open air unfortunately).  Lots of latin-based dance music, with a smattering of reggae (mainly Reggaeton actually) and other dance music thrown in for good measure.  I think.  (my recollection of that night is a bit hazy).
I then spent the next week doing.....absolutely nothing!!  Sam left on monday, but I decided to wait for my new bankcard to arrive at the post office.  Sadly, I was still waiting on thursday and gave up....only to find all the busses leaving San Jose were full!!  So I basically spent my time on the internet, reading, cooking or making sandwiches (I didnt have a great deal of money), studying a bit, and hangin out with the crew in the backpackers (2 Dutch guys, and quite a few Spanish speakers) - as Spanish was the language of choice though, I at least got some good language practice in.....and saved a lot of money.
Luckily, I managed to get the 2nd last seat on an overpriced bus heading to El Salvador on Christmas eve, ending the most boring period of my holiday so far. 
 
Some personal observations on San Jose: 
First up, is the food......KFC styled fried chicken seems to be the national dish!  Its absolutely everywhere!!  Whilst I NEVER eat fried chicken in Oz, I decided to do as the Romans (or Costa Ricans in this case) do, and eat it quite regularly.  Its v cheap, at about $1.40 a ¨portion¨ (1 portion being 2 pieces for some reason).
Next is the confetti - All thoughout the leadup to New Years and Christmas, people are selling Confetti on the streets, whilst others throw it everywhere.  In particular, at people like me.  It seems its quite acceptable to throw confetti all over complete strangers, even if it goes inside their cans of beer and forces them to throw it out, despite being almost completely full (ie me of course).  Still, its quite a fun little custom, even if it does cause a ridiculous amount of litter on the streets. 
And San Jose on the whole?  IMHO, Its not a particularly great place to hang out.  A few days are fine, and of course there are some good bars (mainly in the university district of San Pedro) and clubs around.  And whilst the city feels reasonably safe during the daytime, there are plenty of crackheads and dodgy people around certain areas...especially at night, and especially just west of my backpackers near the ¨Coca Cola¨ building.  Its hard to know how I feel about these people - I know theyd steal of me in an instant if given the chance, and I even had one of em attempt to attack me and a Spanish dude I was with.....but some of them are just so messed up, its really quite sad.  You know someones hit rock bottom (no pun intended)  when they spend half their life inspecting gravel on the ground in the hope that some of its a piece of crack.  And dealing with the dude who attacked us was kind of like trying to swat a fly away - he was annoying, but didnt really pose any real threat as he could barely stand let alone fight properly.  Luckily these people are so desperate for money they never have guns....if they did, they would no doubt pawn them.  On another occasion though, I found it quite freaky seeing a guy in some sort of futuristic cowboy outfit with a pistol by his side knock back about 5 shots in an hour at one of the local bars (another reason I didnt really go out after the first weekend).  Im damn glad guns arent as accepted in Australia as they are in latin America!
One little tip I learned from Sam is to carry a pack of cigarettes: When people ask (or beg) for a bit of money, just tell em ¨no, I dont have any...would u like a cigarette?¨.  That seems to keep em happy for the next 2 minutes, and of course u will be long gone by then.
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