The time had finally come to set off on my big adventure to Central America. Four months of beaches, wildlife, volcanos, Mayan culture and everything else this region has to offer.
This adventure is to be taken solo, without my number 1 travel buddy Dante. He will be in Melbourne while I am away, checking out some sights in VIC and also Eurpoe for a month.
After a two day delay in LA, I was happy to be finally boarding my flight to San Jose, Costa Rica.
I arrived in the city after dark and did not get the best first impression! The bus from the airport was no trouble and I managed to find it using my skeletal Spanish skills. Once downtown though, I got a bit of a shock. You see, in all the research I had done and blogs I’d read, Costa Rica was the ‘easy’ country to travel through in Central America. Costa Rica is going to be expensive, I was told, but it is more developed, safer and more Western than the other countries. I’m not sure exactly what I was expected, but it wasn’t this.
When we arrived at the bus station in town, I freaked out a little bit. It was a dirty hangout for groups of men. I always feel uneasy about groups of men hanging about, especially when no women appear to be around or other travellers for that matter. I grabbed the first taxi I saw.
The driver took me down some creepy back streets. We went past lots of homeless people, people appearing to be drug affected, police approaching people that looked sketchy and some generally rowdy groups. I felty pretty scared, this was not what I expected of Costa Rica at all. At one point when we were backed up in traffic, the driver locked the doors. I think it was because of the weirdos mulling around us, but I also worried he was going to drive me to the middle of nowhere and rob/rape and/or murder me and didn’t want me to escape. I think I have been watching too many murder mysteries.
Obviously none of my worst case scenarios came to light and I got my my hostel safely.
The hostel I was staying at is right near a lovely park. The guy running the place spoke fluent English and was helpful enough. The other travellers were all really nice and I felt safe tucked away there.
The dorm was a bit different, a huge room with ten single beds, not bunks. It felt a lot like school camp! I had one tucked behind a divider with a Danish girl who was going to the Osa Peninsula to volunteer in helping the turtles. She gave me some great tips about Costa Rica as she’d been here with her boyfriend a few weeks back.
The only full day I had in San Jose was meant to be spent visiting Volcan Poas. I was keen on hiking the trails there but another traveller who visited recently mentioned the trails were temporarily closed. Bummer! There wasn’t much else to do in town as it is used mainly as a transition point for most travellers.
I mustered up the courage to go out for a walk. I must admit, the previous evening’s experience left me slightly nervous and scared. Thankfully, daylight was more welcoming. Despite the local men giving me unwanted attention (Hola chicka, woah mama, wolf whistles), I enjoyed my walk to breakfast and then to buy a bus ticket.
After my morning walk, I headed back to the hostel and ended up playing with the dog and cat. They both seemed to take a liking to me, they could probably smell Mojo.
I went out for two more walks, one for lunch and one for dinner. As the day went on, I felt a lot more comfortable and started to appreciate the charm that lay under the dust of San Jose.
I saw some really cool street art murals, impressive buildings, lovely parks.
The lively mall area reminded me of Bourke Street on a tiny scale. The parks were gorgeous and full of people. I was stoked to find a cool vegetarian cafe, the staff patient with my fumbled attempts at Spanish. A huge downpour came through in the afternoon so I ran into a little cafe, drank some tea and watched the storm. I silently apologised to the city for judging it on first impressions.
I spent the night hanging out with the other travellers at our hostel who were, like me, ready to move on to their next destination. For me, that is Quepos and Manuel Antonio National Park.
Until then, happy adventuring!