Well, Costa Rica to be frank has no culture it didn’t steal from America
. I know that sounds harsh, and you probably think I’m just still cross about the rickety border-bridge thing (which, I won’t lie to you, I am a bit), but honestly – I’m fairly sure the Black-Eyed Peas get more publicity here than in their home town of Da Street (or wherever they’re supposed to be from. Does that sound really middle-aged? Damn – I was going for world-weary). Everyone’s ambitions are around getting better mobile phones or more crappy gold jewellery, especially in the cities. There’s no traditional dress, no architecture to speak of, and everyone speaks word-perfect accentless American. It’s a bit unnerving – I may go count the states on the American flag just in case they’ve sneakily added another one. To be fair, the food is a vast improvement on Panama, although the buses are comparatively rubbish. I’m sure there’s a profound conclusion to be drawn there, although it momentarily escapes me.
So I decided to try my luck (and my Spanish – well, you never know) in Costa Rica, which involved traipsing over the border (actually a rickety bridge with no barriers and a 200-foot drop) whilst trying to avoid the trucks coming the other way – a bit like the scene in Lost Boys where they hang off the railway bridge. Welcome to Latin American immigration – the only signs warned you not to bring your guns over the border (otherwise presumably the 18-year-old policeman would confiscate them and add them to the selection attached to his brand new uniform). It didn't mention knives – then again, in El Valle whilst hunting for a fruit knife in the corner shop, I was offered variously a machete, a flick knife designed like a gun and a metre-long samurai sword. Mahatma Ghandi would’ve really struggled here.