4.45 am departure from Ometepe to San Jose
Trip Start Nov 16, 2013
167Trip End Jan 14, 2014
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Where I stayed
Hotel Ricino del San Jose
Even leaving so early, there were locals out and about in the pitch darkness. So it was all aboard the same ferry and waited the half an hour in the dark before the 6 am departure.
Then with moon in the first quarter high above, the then sunrise and yes, it was well worth while getting up this early to capture it from the near empty top deck.
Landfall at 7.15 am, aboard our van with the border reached an hour later at 8.15 am. Yes, it was a crowded border, duty free shops, money changers outside the van again. Hammocks, pen and food hawkers trying to earn a living. Then the immigration officer came out and we had to line up outside the van while she identified us and returned out passports. It was a bit comical with some of our names. All good humour. With a cheerful smile and wave from her we away over to the Costa Rica side.
Costa Rica and we had to individually go through immigration. We needed evidence of our outwards passage from Costa Rica or Panama (airline ticket was sufficient) and as I was travelling through to Panama was on Bec’s ‘bus’ ticket into Panama! Our bags had to go through the X ray machine. Well the guy wasn‘t even looking at his TV monitor!
Waited for the driver to complete his formalities which included the immigration or was it custom lady coming out and checking the empty van for any contraband / smuggling etc.
The Costa Rica side took an hour then the 5 hour trip to San Jose. First impressions, cleaner, countryside and houses more developed, roads being redone in that I could not see anything wrong with the current tar seal road. A dual carriage concrete road was being built. In some ways it felt like ‘home‘. I was sitting on the sunny side of the van looking into the sun so didn’t take many photos of this trip into Costa Rica.
Then into San Jose and the auto parts dealers plus new car sales yards. Next the fast food signage and high rises just like any western city. It was the barb wire fences surrounding many of the buildings that I will remember.
Hotel Ricino del San Jose was reached and the orientation tour of main city’s pedestrian mall town only a 7 minute walk away passing a bit of the Berlin Wall (see picture).
Off to the Scotiabank ATM to get both US Dollars and local Colon out. Well I got 200,000 colons which sounds like a lot!
We had a short while before the 7.30 pm meet back at the hotel for dinner so off one went capturing the now San Jose by night light! Parque Central with the green lit dome in the middle and some street performers. (video to be uploaded later), Catedral Metropolitana where a service had just finished and street night life in and around the brightly lit buzzing Avenida Central pedestrian mall.
Dinner at El Patio and yes, we were back paying first world prices. It was like paying for one at home! Risotto con pollo y azafran or Chicken rissotto with saffron: chicken, onions, garlic, saffron, parmesan cheese and cream cheese with focaccia bread. C$ 10,500 / NZ $ 25.80 / US $ 21.