Posted by: baropbop | May 23, 2010

San Jose => Puerto Viejo

After an excellent recharge in San Jose, I decided to move on toward the Caribbean coast. I caught a cheap cab ride from the hostel to the Caribe bus terminal, purchased a ticket and made my way toward the waiting bus. As I was standing in line for the bus, waiting to check my bag, I noticed a guy with long hair and glasses and headphones in his ears walking around a bit aimlessly. He kinda stood out to me a little, because he was a local, but he looked just like every other tourist. I was standing there with one backpack on my back and one on my chest and he got in line behind me. I stood there for a bit and then took a quick glance back. I can’t be certain, but it sure as hell looked like he was starting to reach for my pocket…. about ten seconds later he simply walked off. So, I’m fairly certain he was trying to pickpocket me. I didn’t have anything of any real value in my pocket anyway, besides my passport that is, but it was still a close call to say the least. I was planning on throwing an elbow to his nose about the time he decided to leave. This was at about 14:00, so beware even in the middle of the day.

The bus was piloted by the most aggressive driver of my whole trip. The first couple hours the road is spiralling through the mountains, but luckily I had some motion sickness medicine with me. I took it almost immediately and felt fine after that. There were several close calls along the way. Some very hard break checks and one incident where the driver had to slam on the breaks in addition to jerking the wheel sharply to narrowly avoid rear ending another vehicle by a matter of inches. I don’t think anyone slept. Just outside of Limon the bus stopped for a bathroom and food break at some roadside place that I can only assume has all the bus drivers on the payroll. The food is good, but it’s very over priced. From there you pass on to Limon. Don’t stop there. Limon is probably the shittiest place I saw in all of Costa Rica…at least from the bus it looks awful anyway.

Eventually I was in Puerto Viejo. As I was getting off at the bus stop with absolutely no plan I listened in to the usual mixture of taxi drivers and local marketing reps and decided which direction to walk in and headed toward the Pagalu hostel. There were two other guys who decided to do the same and I quickly became friends with Eli (from Jerusalem) and Aaron (from Boulder). We made it to Pagalu only to find out that they were full. The person working the desk suggested that we check in with their next door neighbour. So we proceeded on to “Cabinas Likas.” There were 3 of us and they had several triple occupancy rooms for $30 total, so we decided to give it a shot. It was a great choice. A/C. somewhat functional suicide shower, communal computer, wifi, and a quiet relaxed vibe. Don’t get me wrong the place was a little old and run down, but it was cheaper than Pagalu which didn’t even have A/C….and it was a very hot day. The owner is a very nice guy and I would definitely recommend staying there. Pagalu is cool too and far more social, but if you want quiet and relatively comfortable, Cabinas Likas is a great off the beaten path place to stay. Rockin Jay’s is a highly recommended spot in the guide books, but I wouldn’t stay there if it was free. Fun place to party, but completely filthy and very loud and completely lacking in every comfort besides having a bar. We were pretty wiped out so we went out for a few beers and that was the end of day 1.

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