A pre 6 o’clock start once again for an early bus departure, again heading south, again crossing another border. This time to Costa Rica. The border as always was an interesting affair you have to pay $4 departure tax and then to enter Costa Rica you need proof of onward travel so I had to purchase a bus ticket (back to Nicaragua) at the border, I was later able to change it for one to Panama but I had to pay $7 more than I would have otherwise. The queue to the actual immigration desk was fairly long when we got there (50+ people) but by the time we left it had doubled in length so we defiantly got there at the right time.
From the border crossing to San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, was another 5 hours. When we arrived the first thing I did was try and change my bus ticket, unfortunately I had to wait for all the bags to be unloaded off the bus which kept all the staff occupied (so much for speed with only hand luggage). As I said earlier I did eventually manage to change my ticket but only after paying extra. Looking back on the experience I wonder if I had shown evidence of my plane ticket from Panama to Germany it would’ve been sufficient evidence to show my intentions of leaving their country, unfortunately I’ll never know. Once I had sorted my ticket I went to find my hostel and having never been much of a fan of taxis I decided to walk. Unfortunately Tica Bus (the company I travelled with) have two terminals and once I had found out where I actually was (the streets are in grid form like American cities but not all the streets are labeled) I realised I was a sizeable distance from the hostel. 53 blocks later, having walked through the city centre I arrived, just after 1700, hungry as I hadn’t had any lunch. Before I went to eat I planned tomorrow and had a shower and a much needed shave, the last place I stayed had no mirror and I already had 2 days growth before I arrived so I had about 5 days worth of hair that needed removing (not very befitting of an Army Officer).
Dinner was an interesting fair, I asked the hostel where was good for local food, I went to where I was directed but when I got there it looked shut as there were no lights on. I was just about to walk away when I saw a silhouette moving inside, I found the door, went in and enquired if they were serving. They were, as long as young were paying in cash. I ordered rice and beans with chicken (a classic staple), it was the best meal I have eaten in Central America, it might have been partly due to the fact I was so hungry, it might also be the fact it was a candle lit dinner but either way you look at it the sauce was incredible, the chicken was well cooked and it was a large portion.
The city of San Jose, like every other Central American capital I have been to, is a cacophony of car horns, food sellers and general busyness but one noticeable difference is the general wealth. Unlike San Salvador where there was an obvious (and huge) divide in San Jose the western shops and American fast food chains are littered amongst the city and not just isolated to one area, there are of course less well off areas but certainly near the centre they weren’t anywhere near thew slum standard I have seen. It was odd however to see people using pay phones (not a common occurrence in Europe these days) and I saw my first train since I got one to Frankfurt Airport just over two weeks ago, busses are the way to travel here.