I assumed that Costa Rica would be similar to Nicaragua in regards to being able to wing my accomadation whenever I arrived. So I sat on my nine hour bus ride, fantasizing about my reunion with my dear friend... and what a nine hours that was. Apart from having to get on and off the bus at the border crossing a thousand times (in reality, only three), having to use to on-board bathroom (if you have ever seen a typical central american road, you can imagine how much skill this requires, numerous times I almost fell into the toilet/hole), the actual traveling bit wasnt too bad. However, as soon as I arrived into San Jose, I was on a whole other playing field. My bus arrived two hours late to a dark and extremely rainy city... which is also notorious for being extremely dangerous. As I was waiting for my bag, trying not to completely panic as I had no hotel arrangement and knew nothing about even where to look (plus my spanish really isnt good enough to deal with the situation without being completely ripped off), a guy in line started talking to me in English
. Turns out his name was Marcus and he was in the peacecorp along with his three buddies. They had been in Nica for vacation and were now coming back to Costa Rica in order to finish up their last six months. Anyways, they completely saved me. Not only did they get me a hotel room, they also made sure I got to my bus to Samara the next day. All around, extremely awesome guys.. and as it turns out, the peacecorp is useful for something.. even though all three might have argued a little differently.
My voyage to Samara was a little less eventful. It took me about 5hrs and was an extremely pretty winding road through the mountainous jungle and over gorgeous rivers. The only annoyance I can report was the couple making out in front of me THE ENTIRE TIME. I felt as though I was being a little bit bitter and jealous, but then I caught other people on the bus giving them dirty looks as well... so I justified my eye-rolling every time they ate eachother's faces.
Once in Samara, I got to my hostel and met the lovely owner, Janet, who turned out to be from Alberta. She was very helpful in getting me a cab number in order to make arrangements to get the river I would be crossing at 7:30am once I met with Caitlin (according to our plans, anyways) in order to visit her volunteer placement with a turtle conservation group on Playa Buenavista (just outside Samara). Marcus and I had been talking about our spanish skills, and he had told me that you knew you could speak a language once you could have a phone conversation
. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I had my first phone conversation; the cab showed up, at the arranged time and place, and took me to the river. Unfortunately, it had rained very heavily the night before, so the river was now extremely rapid, so my driver took me to the place he thought the river would be the calmest. No Caitlin. So then we drove to every possible location to cross, and still, I could not find Caitlin. After about an hour and a half, I went back to where the river was the least rapid, paid my driver, and proceeded to walk across. My cab driver insisted that I was crazy and that I should stay in Samara and meet my friend the next day, but I am tenacious to a fault, and so I ignored his advice a crossed. For the record, there are crocodiles that live in this river. I figured if a croc ate me, it was at least an interesting way to go. The crossing went smoothly and I was able to arrive to the other side only half wet, but my bag was dry so I gave myself bonus points. After I waved good bye to my driver, I turned around, gave myself a self-highfive and then realized that I was in the middle of the junlge, seperated by civilization by a crocodile inhabited river, with no idea where my friend or her turtle camp was... so I started walking. After about 10 minutes, I encountered a guy on a bike (who gave me a solid congratulatory thump on the back once I explained I had crossed the river all by myself) and he explained how to get to the beach I was looking for. Once on the beach, I started walking once again, hoping that the camp would just magically appear on sand bank. Sure enough, it did. And I found Caitlin, filthy, fishing hatched turtle eggs out of a hole in the nursery. I had made it! We caught up all day, I helped out a bit with the conservation, digging holes, moving sand and counting baby turtles. It was nice to see someone from home and made the day's adventures extremely worthwhile. Another volunteer arrived later in the afternoon, and somehow he already knew my name
. Turns out, he had the same cab driver as I had, and I have scarred this poor man. He probably thought I was dead somewhere in jungle.. because he knew I made it as far as the other side of the river. So, I am known in Samara as that crazy Canadian volunteer who crosses rapid rivers alone into the jungle, I am begining to think I cannot go anywhere without receiving a reputation. Ah well, at least it keeps things interesting, and my cab driver knows I am alive as I saw him later (he waved very enthusiastically at me).
That Sunday Caitlin got the day off so we headed back into Samara (crossing the river at the appropriate time and place, which I found out I had not done the previous day). We enjoyed the beautiful beach and hung out with some of the local Ticos who also worked at the camp during the week. The boys had a little boat and took a few of us out to a gorgeous island about half an hour off shore. The water there was so warm, it felt like a bathtub, and we ate fresh ceviche and suntanned until dark. That night, we had a barbeque and ate some more amazing food and chatted with the locals. All in all, an amazing day.
The following morning I took Caitlin back to the river, said goodbye, and then started my journey back to Nicaragua. I had opted not to return to San Jose, as it was not a nice city whatsoever, and changed my travel destination to Liberia, which was both closer and safer
. I arrived in Liberia and found my bus station, but was told by the lady working there that in order to buy my ticket, I would have to return to the station at 7:30 the next morning because the guy who sold the tickets had left for the day. This wasn't ideal news, but at least I was in a safer city and I knew there was a bus the next day. I asked a cab driver to take me to the center of the city where the most hotels were, got out and looked for a hotel sign. The first one I saw was for a hostel, so I walked inside, and asked the guy to show me a room. It was a dump, but I didnt care because all I was doing was sleeping. As I was going to pay for my room, I asked if there was another office to buy bus tickets for TicaBus (my bus), and it turns out, this hostel was the only office for TicaBus in Liberia, and that he was the only guy who sold them. Oh, and the next bus left in an hour. Talk about perfect! I bought my ticket, and returned to the bus stop... I was on my way home!
Now I am back in Jinotepe and back to work. Feels good to be back, I think I was a little bit homesick for Nicaragua.. starting to feel like home to me.
I left Thursday morning at 7:30am to embark on a voyage down to Costa Rica in order to visit Ms. Caitlin. And what a trip I had.