Thursday, April 30, 2009

Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

Getting from La Fortuna to Puerto Viejo was a rather painless endeavour. The Dutch couple decided to head to Monteverde so we parted company and I headed out on my own, but we are facebook buddies for life LOL. I found a great site for bus schedules for Costa Rica all the info you will need to find your way around.

I caught the 7am bus out of town going to San Carlos for $1.50 US, I had to make a transfer there to the bus for San Jose, the driver was very helpful and yelled at me to get off when he saw the San Jose bus coming up the street from the depot and I made the transfer, cost of the bus was $7.00. I have kind of gotten used to bus employees yelling at me, not sure I'll be able to take transit when I get home without someone to yell and shoo me off the bus, "vamous, vamous".

The bus goes to the Atlantic terminal and I needed to get the bus to Puerto Viejo at the Terminal Caribenos, the terminals are about 10 blocks apart, I could have walked it but we got in at 11:15 and the Puerto Viejo bus was leaving at 12:00 if I missed it I'd have to wait until 2:00 (Note: the last bus leaves for PV at 4:00pm if you miss it you have to spend the night in San Jose) so I opted for a cab. I have decided that I really do hate cab drivers, I asked this one how much to the other terminal and he said he had a meter. Well the meter was rigged cause he charged me $5600 Colon's which works out to $9.85US. As he was holding my backpack hostage in his trunk I had no choice but to pay the creep but lesson learned. I usually don't put my backpack in the trunk for just this reason but I was tired and in a hurry, my bad.

The bus from San Jose to Puerto Viejo takes 4ish hours and cost $8.00 US. You will notice I am using a lot of US pricing, it is because most of the prices are in US $'s but you can pay in either currency.

At this point I have 12 days left before I head out of Central America and a few of my road buddies are also heading home in May so a few of us arranged to meet up from our various points in Puerto Viejo. I was going to stay at Rocking J's hostel however one of the road buddies I was meeting mentioned Hotel Puerto Viejo, I was the first one in the others were not due till the next day and a couple the day after so I checked it out. I ended up booking a room there, it was $8.00US a night for a private room with shared bathroom & kitchen along with free WIFI and was in the middle of town. Rocking J's was $7.00 for a dorm and is a little outside of town. Some other folks that I knew from the road stayed there and said it was great, I did attend a party there and a fabulous time was had by all. For the most part I'm okay with dorm living however every now and then I treat myself to my own room in order to keep my sanity, living & sleeping with 8 strangers every night can get on your nerves after a while. Within minutes of getting in the room I had my shit spread out all over the place, what a great feeling. Mine all mine mwhaha! No having to consider someone else, wake up when I want, sleep when I want, don't have to lock my stuff up, total paradise. The folks that run the place are surfers and the atmosphere is great, very chill.

I was in Puerto Viejo 4 years ago, it has changed a bit, lots more people selling stuff, they put in sort of a mini mall and they have taxi's now. There is still only 1 paved street (not paved well, potholes everywhere) and most of the same restaurants and bars are still there. Puerto Viejo is a surf town and home to one of the best waves in Costa Rica Salsa Brava. I got to see it in full force last time I was here, alas this time I arrived too late in the season and it was a shadow of it's former self so most folks were surfing Playa Cocles. The rainy season seems to have started early this year and there was a killer lightning storm one night, I sat out on the beach under a tree to watch, the whole sky would light up and then the thunder came, it was an awesome sight.

The best way to explore the area is to rent a bicycle for $2.00 for 24 hours pack a lunch, snorkel gear and hit the road. There is a stretch of 15 kilometers of potholed filled road that will take you to one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean Manzanillo. The road is pretty flat there are a couple of minor hills once you get close to Manzanillo so the ride is pretty easy. I should mention that the bikes are the old fashion kind, no hand breaks, no gears, it takes some getting used to. Mine was a pretty pink and white one (my friends are laughing their asses off with that visual) with more than a little rust.

By day 3 everyone who was suppose to arrive had gotten there and they too where experiencing the joy of the private rooms. All of us are female and we are all traveling alone and have been doing so for 3-7 months so none of us felt obligated to hang out together all of the time, always good when you can find like minded people. Funny because we are all very different partially due to culture (none of us are from the same country or part of the world) and partly because we are different personality types and have different backgrounds. I think it's my favorite part of traveling, getting different perspectives and finding out about how people live in other places. It does make me a little ashamed of myself as well, they all speak at least 2 languages and all I have is bad English, some Spanglish and almost forgotten French from high school. It seems to be a North American thing, in Europe they have to take other languages in school usually 2 of them.

I stayed in Puerto Viejo for 5 days, there were a few nice days weather wise but as previously mentioned the rainy season started early. So with 7 days left and a now seriously damaged liver and a few less brain cells, what to do what to do... Panama was not part of my original plan as I didn't think I would have time but now I do so we all decided to pick up and head down to Bocas Del Toro. One of my friends is flying back to Switzerland out of Panama so it seemed like a good idea as I had not been to Panama before, ah the freedom of travel. So off to Panama we go!

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