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Day 3 San Jose to SJdS

Written on: Thursday July 26th, 2007

A journal entry from: Central America Road Trip 2007

Tica Bus was a new experience. I´d travelled chicken buses in Guatemala and local buses in CR. But this was more like an airline, well a fairly cheap and ramshackle airline. I´d say that no more than 10% of the passengers were non-latinos and those were mostly non-gringos. The girl next to me and her companion were from Hamburg Germany and the ticos on board looked somewhat more affluent than what I have seen on local CR buses. The bus left a little late and still made it to Penas Blancas on the border in less than 4 hours, or by 7AM. I thought it was supposed to take more like 6 so the bus must have been flying. Thank god it was dark most of the way and I couldn´t see. The ride itself was very comfortable with cushy recliner seats. I had heard the AC on those buses gets frigidly cold, but I didn´t think it was that bad, although the german girl did so I gave her my blanket.

The reason I had chosen the 3AM ¨ejectivo¨ Tica Bus was to get me to where I was going early enough in the day to be able to enjoy it. Their regular buses cost about $5 less, and the other company buses even less than that but they all leave several hours later and take an hour or two longer en route, putting me at San Juan del Sur (SJdS) in the afternoon. I also had hoped taking an international bus carrier rather than local buses and switching at the border, would make it easier for me since I didn´t really know what I was doing. I had checked with Tica and they said they could drop me at La Virgen where I could catch the local bus to SJdS. As it turned out, getting through customs on the CR and Nica sides took quite a while. I´d say almost 1.5hours. I think I probably could have done just about as well on my own. The only possible catch being getting between the CR and Nica border stations but as I recall they did not seem that far apart and I think the distance was walkable. Adding insult to injury, I was told they could drop me there but not at La Virgen, so I was forced to find a local bus at the border anyway.

Wandering off on my own from the Nica border station and the Tica Bus and armed only with my broken spanish, I managed to navigate the local taxistas who insisted there was no bus leaving but they could drive me there for 20 dollars and then found the bus for Rivas that could drop me at La Virgen for $1. They even told me when it was time for me to get off. There wasn´t much there to mark the crossroads, only a ramshackle house or two, a pulperia and a crumbling towering obelisk outside what appeared to be a shuttered bar and soda. I popped into the pulperia to buy a drink and make sure I was waiting in the right place. I met Domingo there, a nice local guy who spoke no english, but we had a nice little chat while we waited for the bus to come  along. It didn´t take long. I would say between the border and SJdS it took me maybe an hour including wait time and I was looking for a hotel by 9:30AM.

Unfortunately, my first choice of hotel was all full and my 2nd choice the room would not be ready until 2. I checked a few other places. But decided to wait it out at my 2nd choice since it had AC and only cost $10 per night. When I got back they told me the room would be ready soon so I decided to wait it out. They stretched the truth a bit but that was okay. I wound up talking to a local ex-pat that was doing some service work there. Actually his guy seemed to be doing most of the work he was just sitting around. His name was Holden Jernigan from Emerald Isle on the Carolina outer banks. He seemed like a pretty nice guy and filled me in on some of the local scene, but had some unusual ideas about US government conspiracies and 9-11, and so on.

Still it was nice to have someone to speak with in english again. In previous installments, I focused heavily on my social interactions. That was partially because I had figured I´d be largely on my own as I travelled north where english is less common. I can communicate well enough in spanish and enjoy doing so, but it takes effort and limits the conversational flow if nothing else. Well as its turned out so far, I´ve had plenty of opportunity to take a break from having to speak spanish all the time and I met several more expats during my stay.

After finally getting settled in my room, it was pretty late so I went to the centrla market to grab some lunch at one of the comedors. I ordered Pollo Asado off the menu. No pollo asado pollo frito. Okay whatever. It was not the best fried chicken I´ve ever had but for 3 bucks it was a pretty filling lunch. The rest of the afternoon I basically just hung out, enjoyed the view on the beach and basically just lazed around for the rest of the day. Dinner was pizza at The Brick Oven. Pepperione y Aceite Verde? No Sausiche Italiano. Okay, whatever. Doyou see a pattern emerging here. The italian sausage looked more like cut up pieces of hot dog to me. Again, not bad but nothing special, but cheap and filling.

Time running out at this internet cafe. Its now actually Saturday the 28th and I´m trying to desperately to keep up. I lost my work a couple of times over the last 2 days due to power outages but have since learned to do quicksaves more frequently. I´ll fill in more on my observations about SJdS in tomorrow´s entry.

Costs for the day: $33, now that´s more like it.