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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Monteverde

COSTA RICA | Tuesday, 21 August 2007 | Views [1779]

            Today was my first full day in Costa Rica, so I’d like to share it with you. I woke up at 9:30 because I was exhausted last night. I was scared shitless last night, but I feel better now. I got ready and put my bag in the storage closet. I then set out into San Jose. I got my usual breakfast; a banana, from a street vendor for only 25 colones (about a nickel!). Everything is cheap out here! I started walking toward the Coca-Cola bus terminal because I wanted to head up to Monteverde later on. A few blocks up Avenida Central, I hopped into a taxi. Traffic was really bad and there is a stench of fuel exhaust all over. San Jose is not a pretty city! It took about 15 minutes to get to the bus terminal (because of the traffic) and the taxi ride was only about 1,000 colones ($2). However, I was in the wrong place. It’s hard to ask for directions because most people speak limited if any English, but I have been practicing my Spanish. Next semester, I’m taking Spanish 101 because I would love to learn another language. I walked a few blocks to the bus station and got a ticket for the 2:30 bus to Monteverde. The bus ride, which would be 4 ½ hours only cost 2,100 colones (about $4). That would cost about $70 in Iceland and $25 in Australia. It was only 11:00 AM and I just kept strolling around. It was gloomy with a light drizzle. It’s so easy to get lost here because there are no street signs anywhere. I didn’t cut my hair before my trip, so I inquired about a haircut. That way, I’d look better in my pictures, but I figured I’d do it elsewhere. I stopped at a fruit stand and got a young coconut that you sip the water out of. It was really good! I got a photo of me with it. Speaking of photos, I’ve only taken about three pictures because I’m careful about where I flaunt my camera. Afterward, I walked around a souvenir market and saw lots of cool things. I got a Costa Rica shirt with a blue parrot on the front for only about $5. At the end of my trip, I’ll do a shopping run. I then walked back to Costa Rica Backpackers and relaxed for a bit. I met a pretty girl named Caroline, from Ireland. She told me she doesn’t like San Jose, either. She’s right; I mean, from all the tourist revenue this country receives, they should be cleaning up the capital city. By the way, I’ve now been to three capitals: Wellington, Reykjavik, and San Jose. I used the free internet and I got an email from Mitra and Mr. Hanley. He told me that tourists are fleeing Cancun like crazy because of Hurricane Dean. At 1:30 I set out toward the bus station. It started to rain along the way and I had to pull out my umbrella. Before leaving home, I made sure to pack extra Ziploc bags to protect my camera, passport, etc. from getting wet. The wind started to pick up and I’m guessing I’m experiencing the outer fringes of Hurricane Dean. So, I eventually found my way after this girl (who is probably a homeless prostitute) was bothering me. One problem I have here is that I stick out. I don’t blend in like I do in Australia or Iceland. I got to the bus terminal at about 2:00 and it was still raining. San Jose smells pretty bad during the rain because of all the garbage lying around. At a snack stand, I got a pear juice and a pastry. At the same time I noticed flies buzzing about in the pastry case; not a good sign, but hygiene standards aren’t as good here as they are back home. It’s easier to eat healthy though because there are fruit stands everywhere. That works to my advantage because I’m a fruit connoisseur. At 2:30, the bus ride was underway. I fell asleep briefly while reading my book and woke up when water started dripping on my head. I had to move to another seat. As we were driving, the place started to look a lot nicer. We drove through Cariari; a place I’ll have to go if I head to Tortuguero. I really want to do a turtle tour because I love turtles and it’s on my list of 100 travel goals. I had to move back to my other seat because someone had a reservation for the one I was sitting in, but it had stopped raining. Costa Rica is so green and lush, much like New Zealand. I’m currently at about 8°N; the closest I’ve ever been to the Equator. I hope to one day take a trip by land to Peru. In that situation, I would cross the Equator. As we passed through banana and sugar cane plantations, I was wondering what Monteverde would be like. Would I see monkeys, toucans, and all that? I saw smoke coming from a section of the forest. Hopefully it’s a simple forest fire and not destruction of the rainforest. It feels good to be out of San Jose, because I’m on to seeing nicer parts of the country. I just love it out here now after being so scared last night. I was scared out of my shoes! But, the trick is to be careful because it could have been much worse. I then fell asleep again because it is a long bus ride, and it was pouring down rain. I hope it doesn’t rain the entire time I’m in Monteverde because I want to see Volcán Arenal and I want to go zip-lining. This man on the bus was making some kind of announcement, but he was speaking in Spanish. One thing I made note of is how many of the restaurants are called “sodas.” I’ll probably be a conversational Spanish speaker by the time I return home. Even though it is pouring out, I’ve accepted it as part of absorbing Costa Rica as a whole. At least it’s a warm rain; the type of rain that I like to get out and wave my arms in! I’ve lately been thinking that if I have enough time, I’ll take a quick trip to Nicaragua. I can add another country to the list of those I’ve been. Dr. Carthew told me that he paddled his kayak into Nicaragua on his trip here for that reason. At about 4:30, we stopped at a “soda” for about a 15-minute break. I finally had a few minutes to stretch and get some food. I got a filling plate of carne de salsa and rice for only about $4. I also got some Pringles. I took a few pictures which I was finally able to do because I was fearful of taking out my camera in San Jose. It was still raining, but I didn’t care. After 15 minutes, we were off. It was getting dark. Monteverde and San Jose are about 150 km apart, but it’s a 4 ½ hours drive. The bus drives so slowly in many areas because there are dirt roads. On the bus, I was talking to a young man named Ely who lives in Monteverde. He works at a butterfly farm (or something like that). He told me that I should go to Granada, Nicaragua, which is the oldest Spanish settlement in the Americas. I just might do that! Ely is originally from Oregon, but he moved here for work last year. It was getting very dark and I was thinking on what to do tomorrow. At about 8:00, we finally got to Monteverde. It was a LONG bus ride! I got Ely’s email and he pointed me in the direction of a youth hostel and the place to buy bus tickets to Granada. I got some French fries and a tea at a soda and asked about a zip line tour and bus tickets at the adjacent tour desk, but I had to come back tomorrow. I ate my fries and walked down to that hostel that Ely pointed out, but they were fully booked. The desk attendant told me where a few others were, but I saw one right next to the soda I visited only a few minutes earlier. I got a nice room for only $8; one of the best deals I’ve ever got while traveling. I also booked a canopy tour for 7:30 AM tomorrow. I got a 25% discount with my ISIC card. It really comes in handy here in Costa Rica. I went to put my stuff in my room and I noticed a butterfly flying around the room. This sure is butterfly country! Monteverde is at an elevation of about 4,600 feet. The highest altitude I’ve ever been at outside of a plane is about 6,800 feet, and that was at Jay Nolan Camp during middle school. Someday I’m going to make it much higher! I don’t think I’ll ever climb Mt. Everest, but I will climb Kilimanjaro someday! I then walked up to the store and got a Red Bull and some water. I then realized I wanted some bananas, so I went back and got some. I went back to the hostel and used the free internet. I emailed everyone telling them about my harrowing ordeal last night. I seriously felt like I never wanted to come back here again, but I feel so much better now. Now I wish I was staying longer! Mitra emailed me earlier telling me she experienced the same taxi scam that I told you about when she was in China recently. It sucks because I’ve never experienced anything like this in Iceland, Fiji, or any other place I’ve traveled…well, I did have a similar experience in Fiji, but it was nothing compared to here. Carrie also emailed me wishing me the best out here. I’m really enjoying it. After getting off the internet at 9:30, I went upstairs and talked with this cute girl named Kelsey, from San Diego. She traveled around Honduras and then came here. I told her about my experience last night, and she was like “Welcome to Latin America.” But, who knows, that officer probably bought some toys for his children with that $20. Things like what happened last night add to the challenge of traveling; you can’t expect everything to be perfect. I then jumped in the shower. In San Jose, I was having problems with the hot water, but it works fine here. I washed up and dried myself with my shirt. Earlier, I was trying to get a good photo of a moth. If I’m going to make it in Costa Rica, I’m going to have to learn how to take good wildlife photos. I said goodnight to Kelsey and went to my room. It is pouring down rain, like it has been all day! So, tomorrow I’m going zip-lining above the rainforest canopy. I might even do a night jungle walk like I did in Australia. That was so much fun! I’ve been here for over a day and I’ve only taken 16 photos. I seriously need to take more. I have that opportunity tomorrow to take a lot. Well, I have to be up at 7:00 AM to do the canopy tour, so I’m going to sleep now. Good Night!

Tags: adventures

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