So San Jose quickly became a crazy experience!
As soon as I stepped off the bus I was met by 2 guys I could only describe as homeless drug addicts by their clothes and demeanour. I quickly say “no gracias” and try to walk away only they follow and keep trying to talk to me. One of the guys starts pointing and grabbing at my watch and keeps saying “muy peligroso aqui” which I learned means ‘very dangerous here’ (I know mate, you’re here already!) then pulling on my backpack and repeating himself.
A few more people come up as well and this starts to get a little unnerving, I want out and fast so I dart towards a taxi on the side of street. The homeless people are staring at me expectingly now with their hands out and even the taxi driver tells me, “they want 1000 colones each” (roughly $2) I can’t believe I’m having this conversation anyway but I say “For what.” and he goes “To eat”. “Yes but why am I giving them money?” “For the help” he says, “the information”.
I didn’t need anybody to tell me its dangerous for foreigners, but I didn’t even think as to why the taxi driver was trying to help them instead. I throw my bag in his car and climb in, apoligising for some reason for not given them anything, and finally I’m away from them.
I tell the driver about the backpackers im staying in and he pulls a face like a plumber on a call-out. “It’s the other side of town man, thats far”. I don’t know for myself but I dont care. So after about 30mins of driving in circles and sitting in traffic he says, “We’re here. Thats $50” I try to argue a little over the price but he gets quite annoyed and starts raising his voice, I go to climb out and he starts shouting out the window too. People staring on the way past, one or two walking toward me and I’m thinking I’m about to get lynched or something for not paying him. I get some money out but only have $50 notes which he refuses to change as well and drives off with my $50!
Feeling a bit cheated already I just want to get in the hostel and take a nap, but when I look round, theres no hostels where im standing either…
One guy that was walking toward me as the taxi driver was shouting was actually coming to help me; there are lots of unofficial taxis around the city that do what had just happened to me to the tourists on a regular basis. He helps me get a genuine cab and tells the driver where to take me and i hear him say “It’s the other side of town”
Not this again!
When we get there the driver says “$50” only this time he shows me a meter and even the conversion rates between colones and dollars. Damn…
I just paid $25 for a bus to take me across borders and in the space of an hour I’m down $100 because of cabs. I hope this isn’t San Jose; what a first impression!
The hostel was cool though, I must say, and still had a lot of people in it for low season. A few people there even shared my experience with the taxis.
Costa Rica Backpackers is one of the best known places to stay in San Jose and I can kinda see why. Despite being in the city, once your in there it’s like time slows down. There’s no rush. La pura vida. I get talking to one guy in my hostel and we end up going around town.
One thing I’ve noticed now about cities, no matter which part of the world I’ve gone to, the city is the city. The architecture varies slightly by shapes or colours but the contents are always the same. Shops. The nightlife was a little better though.
Cost of living in Costa Rica is almost similar to back home so it takes some time to find a few, cheap places to eat- sodas are still probably the cheapest option, but they’re not exactly cheap here.
Most of my time again, is spent relaxing in the hostel or casually strolling around town trying to make up for some of the losses (and avoiding more homeless people). The rain as well was something not to be messed with here. On my last day I go to the shop to grab some snacks and while I’m in there I hear this almighty crash and the building shakes- turns out it was thunder before the rain started!
Thinking I’m close enough to the hostel to risk it, I move out into the rain quickly and within seconds I’m totally drenched and even winded. It comes down so hard and ice cold. Luckily, I made it the coach the next day before the rain started but that meant crawling along the road so my 4 hour journey actually took us over 7.
Arriving in Puerto Viejo at night, in the rain and without a reservation made the experience more interesting at least. I ended up staying in a place whose name I didn’t know until the end. But waking up the first morning and realising where I am in the world instantly made everything worth it!
The Caribbean Coast. The placed I’d dreamed of being for almost an entire year surrounded me. I made it! Although I can’t quite handle the heat here during the day, there’s nowhere else I’d want to be.
Being a tourist here I’m approached several times a day by all kinds of people selling things but no one is pushy. They’re just trying to get by like everyone else only the offers get more and more interesting. “You want weed my friend?”, “Got hashish, nice price”, “You want cocaine? Women? Wanna party?”
I behaved myself this time round, my time in Puerto Viejo was spent trying the food from the local Soads and walking from beach to beach- I can feel something inside me changing only I have no idea what this feeling is, I’m just loving life again!
I think it’s adjusting to my solitary status but the funny thing about travelling alone is you’re never alone for long. Everyday I’m with new people from all over the world. My first night I spend with 2 Danish women and a French rasta, the second I met an Englishman and spent some time with a Spanish woman and Argentinian guy, and the third, I went out alone and ended up with some locals.
I can’t wait to see Bocas del Toro next and see what Panama has to offer.
Have you ever been or want to go? Is there something specific you want to see out there? Let me know about it in the comments.