Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chicken Buses, Ticos, Cold Showers, Hot Surfers & Howler Monkeys

San Jose doesn't hold much in the way of much to see or do, a few people had already told me the same. It seems to be used mostly as an entry and exit point and a base to do the abundance of day trips available.

I had been looking forward to a chilled day of reading, catching up on emails and relaxing in the sun before I trek to the coast tomorrow but it occurred to me that my last day in San Jose would most likely be the last chance to find myself a couple of books in English. I found an old Costa Rica guide book in the hostel and the details of a couple of bookshops with books in English and set out, map in hand to the crazyness that is Downtown. After navigating carefully several Avenida and Calle I was no closer to finding the elusive bookshop. As I turned a corner there stood two very handsome Costa Rican Policia so I took the opportunity to ask; in broken and probably offensive Spanish, where the bookshop I was looking for was. Luckily their English was much better that my Spanish and they were quick to advise that the address I had was incorrect and then proceeded to "radio for backup" in order to find out where I needed to go!! Needless to say I was most impressed, as Laura knows I already have quite a penchant for the local police of any foreign country so this put a huge smile on my face.

A few blocks later I was sorted, three new books in hand (god knows where they will fit in my pack) I headed off to find some food. I was beginning to think I might starve to death, or at best easily loose my newly acquired muffin top as every menu I came across was in Spanish and I had no idea what to order. I almost resorted to Burger King or good ol' McD's but then I thought, just wing it....I ended up with a "Casado", a traditional Costa Rican lunch dish consisting of a tasty but oily piece of grilled fish, potatoes, salad, some kind of banana dessert and a drink for all of $4. Not bad, although I have been told that the same in a local 'Soda' would cost about half that. On the way back I went to the supermercato and picked up everything I needed to make dinner (plus some) as well three beers for less than ten bucks, well impressed with that!

I was awake early the following day and ready to embrace the challenge of making my way to the coast. I had heard about the "chicken buses" and as I boarded the bus to Puntarenas I thought to myself...this bus is great, what is everyone on about! After two hours of Costa Rican countryside I arrived happy to find the next ferry was departing shortly. I boarded, set myself up with a rooftop view and an Imperial, ready to take in the beauty of the Nicoya Peninsula. Arriving in Paquera an hour later I was greeted by several buses...ok this is what a "chicken bus" is. Think school bus pre 1980, hot, sweaty and packed to the brim, seats and aisle full of Ticos and tourists. Two chicken buses and a Spanish/English conversation with an old Tico (I was speaking English, he was speaking Spanish), I arrived in Santa Teresa and Cuesta Arriba (

Santa Teresa welcomed me with one of the most incredible sunsets I have seen and Cuesta Arriba welcomed me with 4 new and very cool dorm-mates. J Lee a super hot Potter/Band member/Surfer (and most recently hairdresser) from Florida; Ed and Simon, two of the most tanned Brits I have ever seen/surfers with their own Juice business and Shawn a medic from Montana! Needless to say the evening ensued with yet another international UNO championship and many Imperials.

I spent yesterday riding around town on a bike reminicent of my own pre 1987 and working to turn my pasty complexion into a bronze that looks like I belong in this relaxed paradise...

I was woken this morning at about 5:00am by the half a dozen Howler Monkeys that have taken up residence in the trees surrounding the hostel, the combination of their screetching and the fan that whirred made it sound like there was some kind of storm ravaging the tranquility of Santa Teresa, I went outside and was happy to find my morning run was full of nothing but a calm breeze and the warm air of the Costa Rican sunrise.

Today is Australia Day and I have started the day by insisting my dorm-mates eat Vegemite for breakfast, this afternoon we are going deep sea fishing for tonights dinner (and hopefully the days to come) followed by a beach bonfire and again many Imperials.

Happy Australia Day from Costa Rica!

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