Toto, I've a Feeling We're Not in Kansas Anymore!

Trip Start Apr 16, 2012
Trip End May 02, 2012

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Where I stayed
Hotel Casa Tago Alajuela
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of Costa Rica  , Alajuela,
Monday, April 16, 2012

Stepping out of the San Jose International Airport can only be described as complete chaos.  I had read online that you should ignore all the men that will try to offer you taxi service and go find the booth where you can prepurchase your fare in a legal taxi to Alajuela (the nearest town).  As soon as the doors opened we were swarmed by a horde of men all trying to get us to take their taxi.  Completely intimidated, we tried to ignore them while we looked around for the booth, but after a couple of minutes of not seeing it we gave up and just took one of the offered cabs.  Once inside the cab we looked at each other and thought oh god, what the hell have we gotten ourselves into?  

The cab zipped us along through the streets of Alajuela where red lights are merely a suggestion and cars, not pedestrians, have the right of way.  The drive was a quick five minutes to our hotel situated along an empty street with businesses locked behind steel gates and barbed or razor wire fences.  Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.  Unnervingly we got out of the cab, paid our $5 fare and checked into our room at Hotel Casa Tago (great hotel, see review).  Once settled in our cozy room I decided it was time to shower and wash away the 17 hours of travel when I came face to face with something I've never seen before.  Huh, what's that?  An electric shower?  Is that even safe?  Well, I thought, when in Rome....

The next morning we awoke to the sound of birds and roosters which instantly put a smile on my face; the adventure starts today!  Since we still had a couple hours to kill before our bus to San Jose departed we took the owners advice and walked to the central park to scope out the area and the bus station. 

Along our walk we stumbled upon a Scotiabank and thought what luck, we need money for the bus and this is a Canadian bank!   Well what we thought was great luck soon turned into complete ridiclousness as we realized that we didn't even know how to get inside the bank.  Security is high in Costa Rica, especially at the banks, so to get in you have to push a button (or swipe your card) on the outside of the bank, step inside the first set of doors, wait for them to close completely behind you and then you can push the second button to open the next set of doors.  Of course there was signage to this effect, but with us being so out of our comfort zone. we missed this completely and got ourselves trapped in between the two sets of doors. Everyone in the bank was staring at us while panicked and made a total scene trying to get the door open until the annoyed security guard came over and pointed to the sign.  Oh, how embarrassing.  Thinking we couldn't embarrass ourselves any more we went up to the teller only to realize that she spoke absolutely no English and we spoke absolutely no Spanish; crap!  Feeling like idiots already, we tried to mime can you break this $20,000 colones into smaller change?  After a few minutes someone thankfully realized what we were asking and we were on our way.  Note to self, brush up on Espanol!

After the bank fiasco we headed straight for the bus station and took an easy and cheap $1.00 bus ride into crowded, exhaust smelling San Jose followed by a $2 taxi to the Pacifico bus station where we caught our next bus to Manuel Antonio.   The 3.5 hour bus ride to MA would cost us $8.50 each on a bus that was very clean and comfortable. Thankfully the last bus was running on 'Costa Rica time' so we were able to catch an earlier bus and were on our way to the pacific coast.   Phew, what a day.  
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My Review Of The Place I Stayed

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Mom on

Bit of a spooky start, hey?

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