The First Week in San Jose

Costa Rica Travel Blog

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My room...
Ok so this is my first attempt at writing is awhile so we will see how it goes. I'm going to use this to try and keep track of all the stuff that I do this summer while working and traveling throughout Costa Rica. I'm already a little late starting this so let’s get going.....


-Arrival 16 May 2008


Ok, so I arrived to San Jose on May 16th at about 11am. I spent the previous 3 days packing after a short trip to Guatemala (which btw was incredible...definitely got my summer off to a good start!). So after all of the packing and getting stuff ready, I was finally in Costa Rica and anxious to do some exploring and figure everything out.
main room...alajuela
Supposedly, my buddy Luis, who I'm going to be living with was going to pick me up from the airport but I was a little late getting through customs and I missed the pick up and since we had no way on contacting each other (more on that later), I just took a taxi to our apartment.


Getting to the apt. was relatively easy. We are living in Alajuela, about 10km from the airport and I don't know if anyone knows this (I certainly did not), but in Costa Rica, there are no road signs or addresses. Everything is based off of landmarks and distances...sometimes of landmarks that no longer exist. For example, when I hopped in a taxi at the airport, this was how I gave the taxi driver my address, " 200 metros norte y 200 metros oeste de los tribunales." In all honesty, these are the most confusing roads I have ever seen and I have no idea how the taxis know where they are going.
The room at La Cometa...20$ a night..not too bad
Anyways, I got to the apt. at about 1ish and pretty much unpacked and passed out until Luis got home from work. Out place isn't too bad, in fact, I was rather impressed with the spaciousness and overall feel of the complex. It's called Condominios Maná and overall, it’s not half bad...I mean what more can u ask for than a decent bed, satellite TV, and high-speed internet?? For Costa Rica, its def. a pretty sweet deal.



-The commute 19 may 2008


So as I said earlier, my apartment is pretty nice. However, I quickly realized that the location is far from ideal. The problem is this: the apt. is in Alajuela, about 15 miles max from Tibás, where I am working.
more of the cometa
So after looking at it on google earth before I came, I thought...15 miles...that’s not too bad...maybe like a half an hour to get to work each day. Oh how mistaken I was. For my first day of work, I had to get there at 8am to sign in and get all of the paperwork and identification stuff taken care of. In order to do this, I had to wake up at 530am, walk about a mile to the bus stop, wait for the bus, sit in traffic for about an hour moving a mile a minute, just to get to San José. Once in San José, I was a little lost while looking for the other bus stop where I needed to take another bus to Tibás and ended up taking a taxi so I wouldn’t be later than I already was. When all was said and done, I made it to work at about 815....almost 3 hrs after waking up.
Playa Jacó...looking towards la roca loca..
...awesome. After getting all settled in at work and bombarded with Spanish paperwork for about 2 hrs, I finally got a chance to sit down and chat with my co-workers....I realized that I was quickly going to find out how much Spanish I actually knew. Luckily, after a semester and a half of tutelage from the GT SHPE chapter, my Spanish was pretty good and I realized that working in all Spanish wasn't going to be too much of a problem. I had a pretty good first day at work and now I had to get ready for the amazing commute home....which pretty much took the same amount of time, except it was dark outside and thus incredibly more boring.


-The first trip 23, 24, 25 mayo 2008


After an arduous first week on the job and some crazy daily commutes, the time had finally arrived for me to really experience Costa Rica.
First day of surfing for the trip...we were a little rusty..
Luis and I decided earlier in the week that the beach was sounding like a good plan, and Jaco seemed like a good place to start. Jaco is the closest beach to San José and it's about 90km or 1.5 hrs away by car. We decided to rent a car so we would have some wheels for the weekend and so we could be more flexible. We left Friday night at about 945pm after packing in about 15min...Surely we were going to forget something (more on that later) and we arrived at around midnight. The 90km trip was definitely an adventure and a good test of our driving skills at night with some crazy mountain turns and not a whole lot of visibility. We finally made it to Jaco at about 12am…luckily, alive and well. It was then time to find some accommodations, because being adventurers; we booked absolutely nothing and just sort of went with the flow.
1st annual arts and craft festival
After crisscrossing the main street a couple of times, and avoiding the thousands of prostitutes all over the road (did I mention prostitution is legal here?), we stumbled upon a place called “La Cometa.” It was right off of the main road tucked behind a small entrance and some pretty ornate flowers. We drove in and got the last room, 20$ a night for 2 full size beds and a shower…and a perfect location. We wanted to do something that night but after the drive and a long day at work we though it would be better to get some rest and wake up early to try some surfing.

The next day, we woke up at about 730am to go rent some boards and hit up the beach; we didn’t even stop for breakfast. We rented our boards from WOW Surf…or something like that and it turned out to be a pretty good deal.
Fireworks..
Fifteen bucks a day for the entire day and they had a pretty good selection of quality equipment. For the first day, I went conservative and went with something around 8-9 ft. It’s been awhile since I’d done any surfing and I wanted to at least be able to get up a few times. Anyways, we got to the beach around 9am and immediately paddled out. It was still pretty early so the waves weren’t too blown out from the wind and they were breaking in pretty consistent sets of 2-4ft, perfect for some much needed practice. I caught about 3 good waves and all in all I considered it a successful day. At about 12pm we went to grab some food at this place called “Pachi Pan.” It’s a little panderia that sells empanadas, drinks, and postres. It is actually owned and operated by some of Luis’s relatives so we ended up getting the meal for free. I ate a churro con caramelo y una empanada de pollo. They were both delicious, especially the churro. After the satisfying meal, we surfed and relaxed till about 3pm when it started to get unbearably hot. At that point, we went back to La Cometa y nos echamos una siesta hasta las 430pm. Perfect for the long night ahead. Upon waking up, we went to return the boards and look for some grup. A guy at the surf shop was eating some ceviche and it looked so good, we asked where it was from. He told us of a place right across the street called Isbaca o algo asi, no me acuerdo del nombre and that it was pretty delicious. We decided to try it out. The place was sorta tucked in on Side Street leading toward the beach, it was pretty small and quaint and one glance at the menu let us know what we had come to the right place. I ordered casado con pollo which basically means rice, beans, this typical salad thingy, and some type of chicken. It came out and it was delicious, I pretty much inhaled the whole thing in 10min and I was stuffed. A complete meal for 1200 colones or about $2.40 US; not a bad deal if you ask me. Afterwards, we went walking down the main street looking in various shops, taking pictures and pretty much killing time. At about 6ish, we wandered into some sort of festival for the arts. It was the sort of ramshackle production that you would expect to find in a Costa Rican beach town. There were selling all types of artesanías ranging from paintings to bracelets. We actually ran into a lot of older Americans there that were expatriates and living down there full time. Mostly very hippi-ish but they seemed content. There was also a live band…and when I say band, I mean the whole enchilada. Trombones, drums, piano, guitar, bass, trumpet, singers, dancers…con todo y mas. They played some salsa-ish music and they were pretty good. We watched them for awhile until the aguacero started and we had to take cover for a little while. After leaving the festival, we ended up at this bar\club thing called “the jungle.” It was basically a sports bar slash dance area combined. Pool tables, tv´s, and a dance floor. We started playing some games of pool and chatting it up with the people there. The first people we met were a group of students and a professor from Pepperdine. They were in Costa Rica doing biological research about frogs; in particular, a special frog that for the life of me I can’t remember the name, but this frog had the unique ability to detect UV levels in its environment and at any given point, the location of the frog would always be the location with the lowest UV in the surrounding area…pretty trippy if you ask me. We chatted it up with them for a little while and then headed for the dance floor. After a little while of dancing and scoping out the room, we ran into two ticas named Iliana y Karla and their friend Brian. We talked with them for awhile and when the Jungle closed, we headed to another bar but I can’t remember the name…we only stayed there for about half an hour because Luis and I were dying from surfing all day and lack of sleep. We bid adieu to the ticas but not without getting their digits. At the hotel, we immediately passed out.

The next morning, we attempted to wake up at 830am to do some more surfing but that effort failed miserably. 1000am was a much more reasonable time considering we didn’t go to sleep until around 4ish. After struggling to get up and check out, we made a quick stop and WOW surf and rented some more boards; this time we chose shorter ones because we thought we were getting better. With our boards now in hand, we made a “quick” pit stop for breakfast. I say “quick” because quick in Costa Rican terms translates to about an hour. We finally got in the water around 1200pm, just in time for the wind to start picking up… Needless to say, the ocean was a little rougher. The waves were choppy and overall, not that good for riding. We made the best of our situation and surfed for about 2-3 hrs before calling it quits. After we finished, we chilled on the beach for awhile with Karla, whom I forgot to mention we picked up previously…right after breakfast. It turns out Karla is a pretty cool girl and she suggested that we go to this beach\bar\restaurant and grab some food before we hit the road. The restaurant bar thingy was right on the beach and it was a pretty neat place. We hung out there for awhile snacking on some ceviche con camarones and taking in the view. The view; however, turned ugly quick when the wind and rain came right around 5pm. At this point, we decided to hit the road and start the trip back to Alajuela. The drive back was nothing too eventful besides more dark mountainous roads and some fierce rain. We arrived to Condominios Maná at about 8pm, had a quick bite to eat, and passed out.
d2amy says:
Wow this is a really great blog!
Posted on: Jun 05, 2008
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My room...
My room...
main room...alajuela
main room...alajuela
The room at La Cometa...20$ a nigh…
The room at La Cometa...20$ a nig…
more of the cometa
more of the cometa
Playa Jacó...looking towards la r…
Playa Jacó...looking towards la …
First day of surfing for the trip.…
First day of surfing for the trip…
1st annual arts and craft festival
1st annual arts and craft festival
Fireworks..
Fireworks..
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