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A One Night Stay in San Jose

Last night was a whole lot quieter than our place on Bocas del Toro. 3:30AM one of the neighbors decided to put on some slow romantic music at a level just loud enough to likely cover up any noises of intimacy. After that wake up, I was only able to get a few more winks in before the happy little dogs next door got going. Maybe tonight I will sleep a bit better, but here in San Jose we can still make out the rumbling of the Pan American highway all of a 5 minute walk away.

We got up at 6:30. That happens when you try going to bed at 9. Overcast again with that heavy humidity that makes you think it is going to rain. By 8, we needed some food and headed down to Bread and Chocolate. There was a breakfast bagel we saw a couple weeks ago that looked pretty tasty. We sat down and ordered one each since the bus ride would straddle our typical lunchtime. Add to that a pineapple smoothie and coffee, then we were set. We made our way back to the room to gather our things…then the rain started.

We had an hour before our bus departed, so maybe this too would pass. A little rain turned to a lot, then a little…and a whole lot more. By 10:30 we had to take our chances with a slight lightening of the downpour and make our way down. Umbrellas in hand, we slogged our way through the 7 minutes of waterlogged streets to the bus stand. Our heads were dry, but luggage very wet. Next time we either do covers for the suitcases or go hard case. Since we had a few minutes to kill, and no idea of our lunch plans, we grabbed a super greasy chicken empanada for the road. By super greasy, I refer to the one Melanie had yesterday where a couple tablespoons of oil seeped out the bottom end of her lunch onto the plate…and kind of looked like honey. A bit gross. Lunch in hand, we just needed a bus. The 11 o’clock bus arrived at 11:10, and we departed at 11:15.

Our big white bus had some very cushy seats. We were damp and so was all of our stuff, so some drying AC should help out. The bus stopped in Cahuita for a few people, then an hour later in Limon for a lunch break. This isn’t the fastest route. We stretched our legs and Melanie requested something healthy like a fruit cup to snack on. 5 minutes later I returned with a dulce de leche pastry that we both heartily enjoyed… its our last day after all.

The bus arrived in San Jose just after 4PM. A 5 hour ride filled with construction, traffic, waterfalls along the highway, scenic drops down the mountainside…and AC. As the bus made its way into the mountains, the temperature outside was dropping low enough to start fogging all the windows in the bus. As a safety measure, the driver was quick to ramp that coldness up to counteract the effects our dampness was having and we all started to chill off maybe a little too much. Sure San Jose was expected to be only around 21 degrees C when we arrived, this cold bus ride would certainly acclimatize us to that. Upon exiting the bus…yep, just a little warmer. The luggage hold opened under the bus and passengers just started grabbing their bags. Ours were buried in the back, so I climbed in and started tossing bags out to people. This seems like a job for the bus staff, but no one stepped up. I go to out bags, passed them to Melanie, then cleared the remaining pieces. Maybe I could look at doing some luggage handling in the near future.

We wandered over to the corner to gather ourselves and hail an Uber. Apparently there is some unwritten rule where Uber drivers are not allowed within 100 meters of a bus station. A guy at the station mentioned something about broken lights or glass…no matter, we will move along to the next corner for pickup. We found an open spot on the sidewalk and waited. A couple guys sitting there started asking if we needed any weed or coke. No, we were good. Did we have any money…nope. We patiently waited for the driver who was 2 minutes away, then 9 minutes away… this could get interesting real quick. We still had an hour of daylight, so lots of time to get another ride if need be. A lady walked by us and said “this neighbourhood is not good. Watch your stuff!” Well if that wasn’t a good enough warning…we just needed our driver to arrive. He showed.

We tossed our bags in the back and were off. Michael was his name and he too spoke no english. Friendly guy, keen on getting us where we needed to go as quickly as possible. This Wednesday afternoon though traffic was backed up everywhere. He was able to weave through residential and back streets for 10 minutes and avoid the snarled traffic on the main roads. A great ride.

We checked into our fancy place, all of 10 minutes from SJO, and found our room for the night was situated out at the back corner of the property…in behind the pool. It is almost like a guest house, or where you would put the guests you didnt want anyone to see. We enter and we have two queen size beds…one more than we need. A very clean place, and we will see how quiet over the next few hours. With the sun setting quickly, we rifled through our bags for shoes and pants, also some long sleeved shirts, just to warm up. Plus shorts and sandals might be a dead giveaway we just came in from the beach.

We headed off in the direction of the mall. This is our first big city exposure in 8 weeks. A mall might be a treat…or so we thought…until walking in the door and getting blasted with Christmas carols. A bearded Santa was waving at kids to try and entice them to sit on his lap for an expensive picture or two. We have avoided all this Christmas commercialization so far, and really liked it. Now we have to ease our way back into the holiday season too. We were not about to eat in a food court on our last night, so we backtracked to a place called the Beer Store nearby. The other option was a Hard Rock Cafe…and that was not in our interest either.

We downed a tasty and pricey meal consisting of a couple burgers, cocktail and single beer for about 50 bucks. Full to bursting, we returned to the room for our final packing and readying ourselves for that early morning Uber to the airport. 4AM will come quick.

Strolling Playa Samara

We picked the a room with a bit more space. Unfortunately this more space seems to be a bit damp…maybe moldy. Likely a byproduct of a long wet season and when the 4-5 months of dry kicks any moistness in the air will probably be welcomed. Laundry will need to be done real soon.

Breakfast was prepared for us, along with a bit of coffee. Tipico breakfast again which fills our daily dietary requirements for rice and beans, complimented with eggs and that terrible white toast. We ate until we couldn’t, then went out to walk off some of those carbs. Today, a stroll along the beach to the long end.

A pit stop at the info center directly across the road provided a bit of intel as to where we might want to go and not go. I was interested in making our way to Santa Teresa, all of 97km away from here, and a 3.5 hour drive including a river crossing. This can be accomplished with an expensive shuttle, or 8-12 hour series of bus rides. Thelady behind the counter also mentioned that Samara and the neighbor beach Carrillo were the best beaches in the country and if we like the feel of the community here…there wouldn’t be much sense in making that trek down.

We headed down the beach to snap a few photos and discuss. Where should we go next. How to get there. When do we leave here? We would think about it for the day and decide later. Now, a beach stroll. We headed out and into the sun. The tide was low, and just starting to turn its way back inland. We wandered from puddle to puddle checking out the little fishes and crabs running around inside. At one point, I stepped on some bottom fish buried in the sand and nearly fell over due to the surprise. I didnt get a good look at the creature as I was trying to stay upright and dry while watching it scurry in Melanie’s direction leaving a plume of sand in its wake. The thing was about 6 inches across though, and maybe a little flatter after my encounter.

We continued along the exposed sand. Off in the distance I had seen what looked like a sawhorse in the water…as we got closer, it was a dog…sitting there in the surf with waves lapping at his belly. Odd behaviour for a canine. As we approached, the dog barely moved. Focused on the horizon like he was thinking of some long lost stick the ocean might have taken from him. Soon enough we saw a guy coming back on his surfboard, and as he got closer to shore his best buddy eagerly waited. Definitely mans best friend here.

We continued down to the end of the beach. Snapped a few more pictures and turned back. It had been 2 hours now out in the sun, which is about 1.5 more than we are used to. On our way back, our Floridian friend ran by with a quick wave. We needed to get back, refill our water levels and find some shade. It is beautiful out here, but sun protection and hydration are essential.

We dropped out stuff back at the room and popped over for some of that tasty ceviche. We were looking for something light and beachy, we again ate too much and were slipping into that sun drenched comatose state that almost ate up yesterday afternoon. Think of it as that content state just as you are about to nod off for a nap, but you dont want to let yourself fall asleep just yet. At peace.

A dip in the pool woke us up a little and a stroll around town ate up most of the daylight. We found a place a short walk away that has open mic tonight. Being up early, and no nap this afternoon…plus Melanie likely fighting the cold I had a couple weeks ago…meant no fun for us tonight. Dinner, then in for the night.

We returned to the same restaurant again as at lunch. That is now 3 times in 2 days…which is a pattern we will have to break tomorrow. It is really good though. As we arrived, the Floridian was seated at the same table we had lunch at, and just settling his bill. We sat with him and chatted for a bit before he departed, then ordered ourselves a pizza. We havent had pizza in a few months, so this would actually be a treat. As we finish up, a couple folks from Coco that were out with Tim during Melanie’s karaoke night happened to sit down at the table behind us. We seem to run into people everywhere, and it is no longer surprising.

So now in for the night. Apparently there was a bit too much sun today because for some reason i have sunburnt my chin. Must have been a little light on the sunscreen there. It should make for some creative photo editing over the next few days.