Monday, February 13, 2012

San Jose and lavanderia

Right now I am in SJO, doing laundry on the second floor of a building near the Plaza de la Cultura. I have not done proper laundry in a while, just sink washing. I want to smell good, for at least a week. And today I smell bad. I spend 6-7 hours on buses from Nicaragua.

The morning started at 4:00 am. I was too excited, about life, to sleep any more. I had met a French Canadian guy and an Irishman the day before who were both on the way to the Frontier, the boarder between the countries. The Quebeca invited me along, most likely because he always noticed I was the first awake at my hostel, drinking coffee. He too likes to get up ass early. His travel buddy, the Irishman, does not like getting up early. But with 2 spouting off the benefits of early chicken buses (less crowded, you may get a seat), and no que at the frontier, the Irish gave in. The 2 of us were correct, the 5:20 am start put us ahead of the craziness of boarder crossing.

We took one bus for 10 cordobas (22.5 is $1 USD, so for about .50) to the PanAmerican Highway, and waited less than 10 minutes for the next chicken bus, another 10c.

At the boarder my 2 friends did not know about the Nickle and dime charges that are legit for the boarder crossing. First $1 USD for a slip of paper, I think about goods, then a departure charge of $2. I carry a stack of USD singles for these things. The boarder people do not make change and cannot break large bills. I was prepared. But our Irishman was not and I had to loan him $2. He only had USD$20. He would have been stuck in country or dealing with boarder money changers, knowing he was stuck.

We walked the 1k across the frontier. My 2 friends had not crossed this boarder. They had come from Honduras, and guatemala, and Belize. They are continuing south to Panama, on the same route as me and Joseph.

At immigration, we had no que, which was good, because I had an issue with entry, due to my previous entry and my USA passport. My 2 friends just breezed in. I needed to show proof of an exit day. Lucky again, I was prepared. I had printed out my receipt from the Internet from my e-ticket, showing all my dates and the hundreds I paid to exit in march. My friends were amused.

The Quebeca was Mr negotiation of pennies and dollars. For example, a $6 USD taxi he refused to take (split 3 ways), until it cost $3 (a dollar each). At the boarder he was the same. However, I jumped on the $6 bus to Liberia that was leaving at that moment, because I did not want to hang around the boarder, and it was a nice, non chicken bus. He and Irish bought tix, but almost missed the bus. Irish talked like the stereotype; he talks non-stop on all topics, all the time. Normally I love this feature in anyone, but due to 3 hours of sleep and stress, I was secretly planning to ditch these 2 guys.

With this bus I almost did. Quebeca and I were on the bus and it was driving away, and the driver refused to stop and wait for Irish. Quebeca jumped off the moving bus, ran, and made his friend run to catch the bus. (Quebeca looks 45-50, and Irish is probably 65-70). I looked like a prick, since I did nothing to help, but I think they could not read my mind, and being female with a backpack helped. In any case it appeared I did not anger them for being a prick. Nice guys!

The bus took us to Liberia, and there I expressed I was going to SJO ASAP. They were too, and in fact had a room reserved in a dorm in a nice hostel for $10 USD, in a good part of the city. Irish had booked it online on the night before. I had not asked the 2 of them their plans, in fact, I barely spoke to them before the bus and boarder adventure. I knew that Quebeca barely talks; he is the strong silent type that reminds me of those guys in a Jack London story, or Jack Keroac.) He is a heavy smoker, thin as a rail, weather beaten, and carries only a very tiny backpack, what americans call a day pack, which he would like to downsize to the size of my daypack, which he very much likes, because it is olive green and looks like shit. (but I know what he means, my daypack is awesome. It makes me look a bit poor.) And he has been to 4 countries with Irish. I think they met in Antigua, and hit the continent together, and just kept moving south, chicken bus by chicken bus. This is a man who refuses to pay to piss, when it is required. He will argue, very quietly, over a dime. He has a heavy french accent and knows Spanish, and I think the combination is to his advantage. The locals cannot place him. And Irish has a very heavy Irish accent and zero Spanish. At times Quebec does not know what Irish is saying because of the accent. Like the word chain. On the bus a 5 minute conversation was on what a chain was. I didn't want to interfere - I knew what Irish said, but it was interesting to here Irish explain what a chain was to Quebec, who did not understand because if the accent. Eventually Irish spelled it out. "Ay, you mean a chain!"

We saved close to $10 USD due to Quebec and his bus bargaining. We transferred to another local bus and got to San Jose in record time, 4.5 hours, on a $6 bus. I spend 2 hours sitting and talking to Irish on the ride, getting to know him, his like and politics. He had been to over 30 countries around the world. He owns a cabin in Thailand. He is retired. He has 8 brothers and sisters, making it 9, or maybe it is 10. He has an opinion on everything. He eats halls as a candy - he calls it a sweet. He hates that Americans say "cool" and "awesome" and really hates "totally awesome", and of coarse I naturally say these things all the time. He believed all Americans sound the same, that we have a national accent. I set him straight on that and tried to give him Alabama and Texas. I cannot do Bronx. I told him TV is not accurate as to American accents, that TV has trained clear California accents, unless needed otherwise. His experience in the USA is limited to San Francisco in the 1960's, and flight connections.

I mooched a taxi with these 2 to their super cool fabulous hostel and proceeded to stay there myself. We will see if our paths keep crossing. These 2 are going the same way we are - to Panama via the Carribean.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:San Jose, Costa Rica

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