Friday, June 19, 2009

Do you know the way to San Jose?

“So how do you feel about french toast and caremalized apples for breakfast?” When that’s how you’re greeted in the morning, it’s kinda hard to leave. But it was time to move on from Essence Arenal. And it was time to get the answer to that age old question "Do you know the way to San Jose?". I managed to ask Kelly without breaking into song and likewise he was able to give us the answer sans musique. The bus wasn’t until 2:45 so we had time to enjoy another of Kelly’s tasty breakfast and hang out with Georgia and Josh and swipe some of the movies and tv shows they had on their harddrive. Unfortunately we weren’t able to reciprocate due to those annoying Mac and PC compatibility issues. Thanks guys and sorry about that.

Since Nico was still out of town with the van, Kelly arranged a local guy to take us into Fortuna for $20 at 1pm. We settled up our bill and discovered we were short about $20. No worries though. Kelly told us we could just give the money to the driver after we hit the bank machine in town. Phew. But when 1pm came and went, and the driver still wasn’t there, Kelly called the guy again. He said he’d be there in five minutes which true to Central American timekeeping actually meant more like 45 minutes. Considering it took us almost an hour to get out here, and we still had to hit that bank machine, I was doing my best not to be antsy. But the driver was an expert on the roads. And we got to Fortuna with 10 minutes to spare.

Now we had to find that bank machine. If you’re familiar with Murphy’s law you’ll have an idea of how this worked. We were in a hurry therefore it was going to be difficult. Sure enough, the first one denied Adrian any money. I asked the driver to take us to another machine. He replied that if that one didn’t work the next one probably wouldn’t. He obviously wasn’t familiar with the vagaries of international banking and unfortunately my Spanish wasn’t good enough to try to explain it to him. The best I could do was just ask him to let us try another machine. He shrugged and drove to the next bank.

Luckily the second time was the charm. We were able to pay the driver and give him the money we still owed Kelly. Now I thought we’d zoom off to the bus station. But no, the driver decided now was the perfect time to stop for gas. Rather than get upset I told myself that we’d just catch the next bus. Much better than getting cranky. However, when we finally got to the bus station, the bus was still there. So I went to load our luggage and tell the driver to wait while Adrian bought our tickets. And once we were on the bus it zoomed off. Yay that was close.

On the bus, it was nice to exhale and relax after the last couple of tense hours. It poured rain for most of the 4-hour ride. Other than that the ride was quick until we hit San Jose. We arrived just in time for rush hour traffic and now that we were in a big city again, rush hour traffic really was an issue. It took another hour to get to the dodgy Coca-Cola terminal we’d read about. We found a taxi driver – or rather he found us, of course. As instructed to do by the guidebook, I asked him to put on the maria. He told me it didn’t work because it was peak time and gave me a flat rate instead. Because the amount was fairly reasonable I didn’t fight him too much. Of course as we sat at traffic lights I had a chance to see the meters at work in other cabs. Gee, another taxi driver who lied to me, what a surprise. But the driver knew exactly where we were going, which was worth the lie in such a big city.

The guest house was just a few blocks away from downtown and quite nice. It was by far the biggest room we’d staying in (photo above, well that's half of the room) and even the giant king bed in the middle of it did little to fill it. It was also the most expensive room so far at $40/night with a shared bath. But it was super clean and modern and close to everything. And across the street was the affiliated hostel with swimming pool, computers, big screen tvs, restaurant and bar. We popped in for a delicious thai curry that we ate while watching Pirates of the Caribbean 97 (I have no idea what number the franchise is up to). We’d made it to San Jose. But we’d have to wait until tomorrow to explore it.

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