Do You Know The Way To San José?

Trip Start Sep 05, 2005
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Flag of Costa Rica  ,
Monday, July 31, 2006

Over the last couple of days I've started to feel pretty damn tired. 11 months of travelling was taking its toll and I had been considering what to do next. Dave had decided that he was going home as he had had enough of getting sick everywhere we went which is quite understandable really. He wanted to get a flight to New York from Managua but having talked it over we decided to try our luck from San Jose, Costa Rica instead as it was likely to be cheaper. I'd figure out what I'd do when we got there.

At 7am Dave was released from the hospital and came to find me in the hostel. I quickly got my things together, checked out and headed towards the dock. We had no idea when the boats would be going but luckily there was one leaving just after 8am. Between us we managed to scrape together just enough cash to make it back to the mainland.

After 30 minutes of standing around in the pouring rain waiting for the boat we boarded. Highly uneventful 1 hour journey spent watching Spanish TV and reading the LP. When we arrived at the dock in San Jorge we were pounced on by loads of drivers trying to get us to spend $20 to get to the border. We shrugged them off and caught a taxi for a couple of dollars to Rivas where we could catch a bus instead. Once we arrived in Rivas we started walking to the bus when a taxi driver offered to take us for $2 each, $1 more than the bus and far quicker so we accepted.

The border was incredibly confusing. We wandered around from room to room trying to find out where to get stamped out the country and people were jumping the queue everywhere. I don't understand why they have to make these border crossings so difficult? Just have a well signed exit room and entry room. It could be all over in minutes rather than taking up to an hour or longer.

Once across the border we went to book a bus ticket to San Jose. Seeing as pretty much every bus route in the country routes through the capital we didn't expect to be there too long. We had to wait for 2 hours before we finally got on the bus. We were getting incredibly frustrated as we had to wait at the front of the queue for over an hour and numerous other buses left which weren't going to San Jose. 4 hours later we arrived in the middle of nowhere in San Jose and I can't say I liked the look of it.

It just didn't feel safe at all. I've been loads of places that weren't considered terribly safe but this was one of only a few times where I felt vulnerable. We negotiated a price with a driver and drove towards the Hostal Pangea.

The Pangea looked like a prison from the outside. Huge iron gates, patrolled by 2 doorman, but inside it seemed very nice. They didn't have any space available so sent us to their sister hostel 2 streets away. Dropped our bags off in the room and decided to make the most of the free Internet.

For the remainder of my time in Central America I had planned to continue down to Panama City and then make my way back to Cancun along the Caribbean coast. To facilitate this I had requested an increase on my credit card a couple of days ago and needed to check online to see what they said. Well all those plans went out the window and I was soon searching through flight details looking for the cheapest flight to New York. Thanks a lot Mr Vijay Kumar, HSBC Bangalore, you just ruined the rest of my trip!

So for the rest of the day I researched the price of flights back to the States from anywhere in Central America and it soon became obvious that I didn't have enough money for a flight from San Jose! In the evening we walked towards Parque Central to find some cash and something for dinner. I was still knackered after all the non stop travelling during the last few days so we headed back to the hostel.

On the way, within viewing distance of the hostel, the police reversed their car up the street and stopped us. They proceeded to check through our passports, wallets, bags and generally being threatening. I had to empty my pockets and pulled out an empty packet of crisps.

Policeman: "Drugas?"
Me: "Doritos"
Policeman: "Drugas?"
Me: "No. Doritos."

This went on for about 2 minutes before he was finally satisfied and we were free to return to the hostel. Did I say that I hate San Jose?
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