I am seriously in need of a haircut. I look like a yeti. It's so long and I can't do anything with it. The humidity makes it go mental which doesn't help, plus there's so much of it now I'm sure that it is contributing to my horrible hot, sweaty episodes. Must book one in when home! Unless I find somewhere for like 5 bucks out here. Either or. I last left you on our last night in Granada, my favourite place so far. It has just slightly pushed Antigua Guatemala into second place.
The alarm went off at 530am Saturday and I begrudgingly sprung out of bed. Within fifteen minutes we were ready to go. Key handed in and we set out to seek a taxi to take us the short, albeit uncomfortable short journey to the Tica Bus terminal. Thankfully one showed up pretty quickly and it cost us 40 Córdoba to get to the station. Due to open at 6, us, the American girl and the German women were looking slightly perplexed when the assistant just casually strolled up the road at 615am without a care in the world. I mean, yes my timekeeping at work wasn't the best before I embarked on this adventure, but, my job didn't depend on checking people in for a bus and timescales. Not really anyways.
We checked in, got our tickets and waited for the bus to arrive which it promptly did at 7am. Luggage stowed we got to our seats and Nathan fell asleep whilst I watched an episode or two on the iPad. It wasn't long before we reached the border. As always, we stopped on the Nicaraguan side and were all asked to get off the bus. We had no idea what we were doing at all so headed inside, which we didn't need to do, then just casually made it look like we were exchanging money. This was the first time I actually forgot to research the exchange rate so god knows what we ended up with. We all then waited outside the bus for the guy who took all our passports and something like $3 each as an exit fee.
After what seemed like an eternity, our Tica bus guide and a dude from immagration turned up to roll-call us back onto the bus. Onwards it was then to the Costa Rican customs and immigration. All off the bus and luggage too, we queued up to enter. It's free to enter Costa Rica and some people were being asked to show their bus tickets. Luckily we just got asked how long were in Costa Rica for, to which I replied about 9 days, then our passports were stamped, luggage screened and we were back on the bus. The whole process there only took about thirty minutes.
We arrived in Liberia about two hours later and were the only ones to get off here. Everyone else was going on to San José. There were taxis waiting as usual and we were dropped off by all the delicious fast food restaurants. As we got off, Nathan couldn't find his glasses. Panicking, he went back on the bus twice to search as I searched our bags. After about five long minutes, we both realised they were actually on his face. Not only could he not feel them, I couldn't see them. Maybe I need glasses. We collapsed in fits of giggles, god knows what the taxi driver was thinking. $3 to our hostel and we could finally relax.
Our hostel, Hostel Dodero was situated a few minutes from the Pulmitan bus terminal, a supermarket and the restaurants previously mentioned. We booked a six bed dorm, that actually had air con at night!!!!! We were so excited. The dorm was quite small but the beds were so comfortable. The shower was refreshing cool for temperatures that average 32 degrees here. We had checked in early, paid and then wandered out for some food. McDonald's it was. Our host, Jesus, (pronounced hey-sus), was fantastic.
As we were leaving the hostel, he was taking to us about the fact they have a socialist economy in Costa Rica. Anything branded is really expensive, which we did find to be true, anything like meat and veggies, locally grown are really cheap. He gave us a map to the bus terminal and pointed us towards Central Park, where we wanted to explore after lunch. Sadly that never happened as it absolutely poured down for a few hours before it dried up as it got dark. We spent the evening chilling in the hammocks in the garden planning the next fifteen days and chatting to our Danish friends who gave us some hints and tips on where to visit.
Sunday came around and we were excited to venture to Playa del Coco, the beach about an hour away. We actually successfully mastered the bus ride this time. Arriving at the Pulmitan bus station, we booked two tickets to the beach. It cost 1350 colón each for one way. The bus was not a repainted American school bus, nor was it a coach, somewhere in the middle. It was also a free for all. We boarded nearly last and we lucky to grab the last two seats. Everyone else who got on had to stand. They were packed like sardines! It was immensely hot and those locals used to the heat, kept bloody shutting the windows!!! We were dying of heat exhaustion. The worst part was when the bus stopped to let people off/board. Eventually we arrived and got off just a little before Hard Rock Cafe.We were excited to eat something other than pizza so ate and drank till we were full before venturing down to the beach. Surprise sur-bloody-prise, no sooner had we left the restaurant, guess what, the clouds filled the sky and there was moisture in the air. Still, undeterred, we continued the short walk to the beach. It was beautiful. If the sun was shining, we would have successfully topped up our ever fading tans for sure.It was really beautiful, despite the weather. The sand was a browny black, that in places admittedly did look more like mud, but inviting nonetheless. There were people sunbathing, despite the lack of sun, boats out in the sea, people wading in the water, swishing their feet forwards as to ensure the stingrays swim away if there are any lurking about, an abundance of eateries all along the sea front and a still, calming presence in the air. All of that for about half an hour. Then, as you can imagine like with all the countries we've visited so far, the heavens opened for us yet again. This time they weren't stopping. We walked back past the wall of souvenir shops lining the road to Tico's Bakery, where we'd catch the bus back to the Pulmitan station.Sadly the rain didn't let up and turned into a full blown storm that evening so that ended our time in Liberia. Monday came and we were attempting to navigate our way to San José by ourselves. Luggage packed, we headed back to the Pulmitan station where we purchased two tickets costing 3950 colón each, about $13 to get there for us both. The 9am bus was full so we had to wait an hour and a half for the 10am one. There was no fans/aircon in the station so it was like a sweat box. Still, nothing prepared us for the 6 hour ride down to San José on a normal bus.
Oh my god. The most uncomfortable 6 hours we've had so far. The bus was full, and there were two people standing! For 6 hours!! There was no air con. We didn't have a window seat, and like the trip to the beach, the locals clearly don't feel the heat so kept shutting the windows. It was utterly unbearable it really was. We stopped somewhere near Puntarenas for ten minutes, that was closer to twenty, before continuing down to San José. The only saving grace was that a) the scenery was beautifuland b) it started to rain which somehow cooled the bus down, despite the windows closing. As we entered San José we passed through what looked like the posh part of town, featuring posh hotels such as Hilton and Radisson, then it became a bit less posh and there were some high rise buildings, a street swarming with people, houses being made from corrugated metal and anything else people could find, before we finally reached the bus terminal. The driver pulled in, then literally parked, opened the luggage stow and walked off. It was a free for all! Luggage got, we headed out to track down a taxi. Two seconds later we were in one and headed to Hostel 1110, twenty minutes away.
The taxi pulled up and I handed over 4000 colón for a 3500 ride, and he couldn't have looked any more pissed when I asked for the change. Not that he gave me the right amount, unless 4500-3500 is 150 nowadays???
We checked into our room, (after being told that I had booked the 30th, 31st and 1st, instead of 31st, 1st and 2nd, whoops!!!) where the toilet leaked and smelt a bit damp, but it was comfortable all the same. Hungry, as usual, there wasn't anything in the vicinity, but thankfully, the kitchen served burgers, nachos, burritos etc from 4-11pm. Or so we thought. No burgers. No fries. We set out to locate a cashpoint instead and got some beer and Pringles, only about five minutes from the hostel. The streets seemed to have lots of homeless people, slightly more agitated than those we'd seen so far, shouting after us to help them.
We did give in back in the hostel and get some freshly made nachos which were actually quite good! The evening was spent listening to the monsoon outside, desperately planning some tours from the hostel. I'd later find out that the amazing lady behind the desk can do it all for us..😂.
Tuesday morning, we figured out that San José had über!!! Who'da thought it. Our hometown doesn't have über, yet here does! We booked one to take us to lunch at Applebee's. Food here is turning out the be expensive, wherever you look. On our way back to the hostel we got dropped at Mexico Park, to seek out a tour agency that ceased to exist. Oh and it was raining. As usual! We passed this beautiful, huge church adjacent to the park on our journey back to our hostel. All of a sudden we were thrust into the hustling downtown scene where there were hoards of people in the narrow streets, fast food joints everywhere and we finally found a post office. It was beautiful, ornate and decorative as well as huge. I have never seen such a stunning post office. It truly was architectural beauty. We rounded the corner and hit Central Park. Full of statues, a 'SJO vive' sign and the San José Metropolitan Cathedral. A Greek Orthodox, baroque and neoclassical style cathedral built in 1871. It towers at the end of the park overlooking the fountain and statues.
It was nice, albeit wet, park. The sign was fun and the cathedral grand. We then began the trek back to the hostel in the rain. No luck with the tour companies so we resorted to the desk. The lady was amazing. She booked our transport and hostel in Tortuguero all for us. So easy that we should have thought about it yesterday. They're even letting us store our luggage for free whilst we spend a night in Tortuguero, as we will be coming back here for a night!
Until next time….