Pulpology: Mark & Sonia's Intercontinental Absurdities!

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12 July 2007
No alimentar a los monos
Monkeys and Americans at Manuel Antonio

donĀ“t feed the monkeys! seriously!Today was a good day! Nothing like a blast of fresh air and wildlife to shake off the travel dust. The public bus from Quepos to Manuel Antonio was a whopping 150 colones, which is less than 30 cents. After traversing a shallow river and climbing a slippery hill, you find the entrance to the national park. The park is well-marked with signs introducing the various flora and fauna, and sternly admonishing visitors NOT to feed the monkeys. Apparently the poor critters are suffering from heart disease and other health problems related to eating people food. The beaches are beautiful and the trails are gorgeous.

if you have any poo, fling it now!After fielding a snarky comment from an American jerkwad who clearly thought I was trying to hone in on his guided tour, I tried to stay clear of the groups with tour guides. It´s pretty easy to spot monkeys and sloths and other wildlife... you just watch for the gaggle of people with their cameras pointed in the air. I decided to take the waterfall trail, which seemed to be the road less traveled. It snaked through lush dense rainforest, up steep slopes and across winding streams. Beautiful! And, as luck would have it, along the way I met a nice American family from Connecticut. The daughter, a GW student, was doing a summer study abroad program in Costa Rica, and her brother and dad were visiting her down here. I hung out with them for the rest of the afternoon and they invited me to join them for dinner.

El Avion restaurantI managed to hook up with my CouchSurfing (virtual) pal Julia via email and suggested she come out and meet us for dinner at El Avión, a restaurant made from the remains of a crashed CIA plane that was supposedly involved in the Contra scandal. A little touristy, but cool! And thanks to the eagle-eyes of my new American friends, we were able to spot Julia and spent the rest of the evening munching and conversing. I had managed to secure bus tickets to Monteverde the next day (through Puntarenas again, joy!) but Julia was going to stick around for another day, so we agreed to meet up in Monteverde at the Pensión Santa Elena, a hostal that came highly recommended from several sources. 

Posted by soniaz at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments

11 July 2007
Ah, the "real" Costa Rica
Or, how I survived my first crazy bus ride

What a day, what a day. I officially lost my "riding on a crazy Third World bus" cherry today, and lived to tell the tale!

We begin with a ridiculously early departure from Tamarindo, on a bus that was supposedly oversold so I didn´t have an actual seat. And it didn´t even really stop where I needed to catch my next bus, but according to Carol´s Spanish teacher the common thing was to hop off at a nearby town and take a taxi. OK, fine. I wound up with a seat for the first hour, then had to stand for the next three. Not as bad as it sounds, except when people wanted to get on or off the bus and everyone standing got shoved around a bit. The bus was full of workers heading to Liberia and San Jose, as well as women with two or three children in tow. No chickens, though! At one point a woman with a small child in the seat next to her shoved part of the way over and offered me half a seat, which was very sweet but I had to decline. My big fat American butt would have never fit in that tiny space. And standing, while a bit tiring, wasn´t really all that bad.

Enlisting the help of the bus driver and fellow passengers, I managed to get off at "Las Cruces de Barranca," which despite the name was not much of a crossroads, just a small bend in the road with a ramshackle bus stop. I caught a taxi into Puntarenas, and waited around for my CouchSurfing friend Julia to arrive from Sámara.  We´d never met in person before, but figured it should be easy to spot the gringas at the bus station. Unfortunately the place where the buses left for Quepos was across the street from the actual terminal, so I wasn´t sure of the best place to stake out a spot. In the process of moving from one place to another, I witnessed a woman getting her purse stolen -- several nearby young men joined in the chase, but I didn´t stick around to see how it ended -- and decided that it would be best to get the hell outta Puntarenas ASAP. I did try calling Julia´s cell to let her know I´d be taking the earlier bus than the one we´d agreed to, but I could only get through to her voicemail, so I left a message and hoped we´d meet up in Quepos.

The second ride was quite pleasant -- oh, what a difference a seat makes! -- and I arrived in Quepos around 4pm. My first attempt at finding a hotel based on a recommendation in my guide was wildly unsuccessful. There are no actual street names in Quepos, and after the third person I asked had never even heard of this particular place, I settled for the second choice which was a block from the bus station. Not glamorous, but it was clean. I tried leaving another message for Julia, and explained my situation as best I could to the kind woman at the front desk, but otherwise there wasn´t much more to do. So I grabbed a quick snack from the nearby convenience store, and went to bed early. Hopefully, somehow, I´d find Julia tomorrow.

Posted by soniaz at 8:00 PM | Link | 0 comments