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coast 2 coast world - here we come.

coasting though costa rica

COSTA RICA | Saturday, 30 August 2008 | Views [697]

it took a good two hours to cross into costa rica and when we finally made it into immigration we were pretty annoyed to find one lady sitting there stamping passports, especially considering the line was basically winding twice around the building! we got a bus with doug and monique and jumped off at liberia, a major town just across the border where we were meeting friends Mikey and Ella for some rodeo action the next day. After saying goodbye to Doug and Monique we checked into a very nice hotel, thinking it was $25 a night, only to discover it was $25 per person, so after enjoying the air con and tv for just a couple of minutes we had to slink back to reception and try and explain in terrible spanish we had stuffed up our conversion rate. Money in Costa Rica is a nightmare because it is all in such huuuuge numbers; basically $1 is equal to 500 of their colones. it meant to pay for a room we were paying something crazy like 14,0000. try working those sums out in your head. In the end we figured that you basically half it and minus some 00s and it worked out at roughly the same, but that did take a while!

We caught up with Ella and Mikey the next day and started off towards the big fair, which is held each year to celebrate the region’s independence from Nicaragua. We figured we were early when there was basically no one else around, but they were selling beer so we settled in for a couple and waited for the action to kick off. After a few beers I begged everyone to come to the cattle arena with me (once a farm girl.....) and we spent the next hour wandering around, our jaws on the ground because these bulls had the biggest balls we had ever seen on any animal. I swear they don´t in Tasmania because I would have noticed, surely! The cows over here also have a big hump of fat stored on their back, which gives them a slight appearance of a camel, strange, and the way I must have looked trying to gesture to the local cowboys that in Australia there are no big balls or lumps of fat on our cattle, well, they were laughing and I´m pretty sure they didn´t understand what I was talking about!

We got our tickets for the rodeo and scored pretty good seats, watching as the rink filled up with mostly a gringo audience. Once the action started it was Kim who first noticed they were letting people into the rink, all Costa Rican, but they were just jumping down from the audience, so he decided to give it a go. Mikey and Ella said they wouldn´t go with him, and I wasn´t sure I was keen, but after watching him down there and thinking about how he was going to embellish the story to everyone back at home, I knew I couldn´t sit on the sidelines so I jumped down beside him. Sweaty palms and feet, we were both in thongs, we practiced climbing up the rails to safety and then, suddenly, there was a crazy bull in the ring with us! it was such an adrenalin rush and we both had hearts that were beating very fast. The bull came under us a few times, but we were always safely up the top of the fence holding on very tight!! We stayed down in the ring for the rest of the night and were eventually joined by some other gringos and we all exclaimed how this would never be allowed back at home! oh & s is not a concept they have discovered here in central america. After the rodeo we headed home as we had an early bus to catch the next day.

Our next destination was Monteverde, a little town up in the hills of Costa Rica. It took us nearly the entire day to get there, and also involved a very bumby bus ride in which we covered 30km in 3 hours. Chicken buses are always stopping to let people off and on and the roads are bloody terrible. We arrived and it didn´t take long to realise that perhaps we should not have come this way - you couldn´t actually do anything without a guide, and all the tours cost a minimum of $60pp, slightly over our budget of $50 a day for two of us. BUGGER. but, we had a nice room and free internet and coffee and we passed the evening by scouring the supermarket looking for something cheap to make for dinner. Prices are nearly more than at home and we had to settle on hot dogs and bread. yumo. the next day we walked to a cheese factory thinking we could at least indulge in free tastings, and it was a great walk along the mountain roads, but once we arrived we discovered there was not even one free tasting. Stingy bastards. AND cheese was a least $5 for the smallest piece so we didn´t buy any. It was a bugger of a day to say the least. We woke to leave Monteverde the next day at 5am, only to discover the bus was fully booked and it was standing room only. bugger. So we had to stand the five hours to San Jose and it was very painful experience, especially as we had paid the same as those smug people sitting down. I would say Monteverde was our least favourite destination thus far. If you had money it would be fabulous, but for us povo backpackers it was not an ideal destination.

The capital of Costa Rica, San Jose, is suppose to be dodgy so we got of one bus and onto another heading down south towards Pavones, a cool little surfing town we had been told about while in Hondurus. It took us two days to get there and another 30km bus ride that took 3 hours. When we arrived we found a lovely cabañas to stay at, owned by a lady from NZ and settled in before heading out for some lunch. Pavones is basically famous for having the longest left handed wave break in the world, when the conditions are right surfers can ride for 3 minutes. We spent a week here, passing our days surfing, hanging out with very friendly locals and practicing our spanish and watching surfers from the breakwater. No hone reception, no internet, nothing to do but beach it, hammock it, read ( I read many books here as our hostel had a fabulous book exchange) and relax. We cooked in the outdoor kitchen and basically chilled out, having just one big night with the locals in their waterfront bar and eating lots of pineapple! Our room was fairly cool with an outdoor bathroom out the back! It was another early start to leave Pavones, and we caught the bus to the border with quite a number of the locals as they had various appointments in town, one to get his stab wounds checked out, another for a court appearance and so on. They were lovely guys to us and became good friends during our week with them, but we realised life is not so easy for them here in their tiny little town where they all basically surf all day and earn money when and where they can.

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