Coasta Rica - Rain rich country

Trip Start Jan 07, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Costa Rica  ,
Monday, October 13, 2008


I am in San Jose, Costa Rica and have been in the general vicinity for almost three weeks now. Just before here, I spent two very unmemorable nights in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Boy, I though Guatemala had some rough spots.

On my way from the Northernmost Caribbean coast inland to San Pedro Sula to catch my flight to CR, I saw the largest area of squatters I have ever witness with my own two eyes. It was so sad. Row after row of lean twos made of limbs, torn pieces of plastic and odd shaped pieces of corregated tin. Tragic. Then not a half a mile away, a long busy and beautiful highway filled with typical big box American stores. All my reading indicates times are tough in Honduras and have been for a long time. They have something crazy like a 40% unemployment rate. It explains the visual presence of armed men everywhere in the city. EVERYWHERE. There are men with metal detectors and guns outside of pizza parlors. One bank I went to even had a locker system at the entrance of the facility with armed guards. You could not even bring a bag into the bank with you. You had to put everything into a locker in the lobby before entering. Crazy.

And ALL, and I mean all, the American fast food chains were represented. Even Popeyes. I have never seen a Popeyes outside of the US before. Never. I was flabbergasted. The long arm of America.....

So my flight to Costa Rica was quick and uneventful, and I landed by mid morning to venture out and find a place to stay. What an adventure. Advice....NEVER rent a car in Costa Rica. Never. There are no street signs anywhere in the country, let alone the Capital city. Trying to navigate with a street map was near impossible. I would walk into store fronts and ask folks what street I was on and the employees didn't even know the name of the street. THAT freaked me out. The cops scratched their heads when I stopped and asked what street corner I was on. It took me two hours of walking around with 50lbs of my life on my back to finally find a place to stay. San Jose has some good room deals, but you have to work hard to find them as there is lots of crap too.

I landed in a hostel called Casa Ridgeway which sat amazingly on a dead end street at the East end of town. Cheap, clean, private rooms and close to everything I needed. Many of you know I had decided to have my annual medical visits while here in Costa Rica and I bravely jumped in with both feet. I had gotten a referral from some friends in Guate for a dermatologist and made an appointment to see her two days after I arrived. It was a strained phone conversation making the appointment, because of language issues, and I decided to wait until I arrived to make the rest. I am much better understanding people when I can see them talk, than when I am trying to listen over the phone.

I realized after arriving that the dermatologist was at a clinic frequented by North American just walking distance from where I was staying. So, on day two I hoofed it over to the clininc to see if I could get some other referrals. Amazing, in the lobby, they had an international department and I marched right in. I told them what I wanted and by the end of that day, I had appointments with two other English speaking doctors before the week was out. Amazing, efficient and priced right. I also found a dentist en route and made an appointment to have my teeth cleaned later on THAT day. Within 4 days of arriving I had had all my appointments, tests and cleanings and the grand total for EVERYTHING was $400 US dollars. So much easier when you leave insurance companies out of the mix.

But, I needed to stick around for results, and to see if all the skin tags the dermatologist froze on my body fell off in the allotted two weeks time. No sense leaving the country if I need to come back and see them again. So, I made it my business to check out the city a bit, take some day trips just outside of San Jose and to catch up on some reading and writing.

The highlight of the day trips was to Volcan Poas about 2 hours Northwest of San Jose. My first volcano did not disappoint. The cloud forest surrounding it was amazing and rich with dripping wet green everything. Quite lovely. The altitude of 4600 feet was a little bit for me to adjust to while hiking, but I prevailed and enjoyed the day. The was damn cold. I haven't been that cold since I was in the mountains of Chiapas, Mexico. Holy shit. And when it started to rain later in the day, I was really miserable. 50 "wet" degrees is too damn cold for me. I was happy to get back into the Central Valley by days end if for nothing more than to just warm up. It was about 20 degrees warmer in San Jose. There was lots of interesting agricultural things to see along the way and I was not at all bored with the drive.

Coffee, coffee everywhere coffee is growing in and around the Central Valley. And it is is good coffee. Really good coffee. They have these cool things called chorriadors which I have included a photo of herein. Natural fabric coffee filters that you fill with fresh ground coffee and then pour boiling water over and then it drips into a vessel below. Very cool. Very yummy. I like my coffee really hot so this suits me well.

I went to a really cool butterfly exibit at the National Museum and have included a few photos here as well. The blue morpho butterfly is truly amazing to see up close and in person. It is brown on the outside with all those cool looking eye like features, and then inside it is ELECTRIC/METALIC blue. Quite a sight. I also went to the jade museum and enjoyed that too. There were many similar items on display but what I enjoyed most was being able to see the varying colors of jade side by side. Some of the pieces were blue and that I had never experienced before.

I also went to Cartargo which was at one time the capital of Costa Rica. There is a church there where people pilgramage to once a year to see La Negrita. An tiny black virgin statue said to have healing powers. The church was exceptionally beautiful, especially the stained glass, but I will tell you I was a little taken aback by the visitors the day I was there. They crawled on their knees all the way from the back of the church to alter to pray. Devotion is a very personal thing for sure.

Finally, I went to Jaco this weekend on the Pacific Coast. A complete non event for me. Very touristy and the beach was not very nice, it was dirty and had volcanic sand. I still cannot warm up to the whole black sand thing. This particular part of CR is booming with typical North American developments -- high rise condos and such. I am happy for the locals who are able to make life better for themselves. I say, have at it.

I am heading to the Caribbean Coast tomorrow. I need me some black folks, hot sauce and calypso music. Nothing like a steel drum to set this gal straight. I will update again in the next few weeks.

Gracias por su amor amigos!!!
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badnomad on

my dear wandering lady
Am so glad is well, sounds like i might go there just for the doctors visit. Our trip to London was nice, rained the whole time, but we had fun, now setting our sights for hawaii, in dec.
Not working at all, my choice, so it has been nice.

Sox in ALCS, though down 2-1 against tampa

Going to NYC tomorrow for a few days of Museum and cigar shopping, ( not actually buying a museum), Other than that all is well, getting cold and i hate it,,, can't wait to to get to hawaii.
miss ya



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