Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Arriving in San Jose - Travels in Costa Rica (Part 2)

March 8, 2012
We arranged for transportation from the airport to the hostel where we’re spending our first night in Costa Rica. Our driver has to drop someone else off first, so he leaves us in the car...with the key in the ignition...for over twenty minutes. I’ve heard ticos (what Costa Ricans call themselves) are friendly, happy people, and apparently they’re trusting, too.
After dropping off our things at the hostel, Nick and I walk the streets. Parrots are screeching and swooping around a small grove of trees in one of the many parks. On the sidewalk, a man asks if he can help us in any way - “A little green? A little white?” People smile at you on the street. I already like Costa Rica, but I’m happy we’re only staying in San Jose one night. Too big. Too many loud, honking horns. (I’m so glad we didn’t rent a car.)

Costa Rica Backpackers (http://www.costaricabackpackers.com/)
This is a hostel with a genial, laid-back atmosphere. Our room was sparse, to say the least, but it had a bed, and that’s all I needed. Most hostels offer a dorm-style room (you purchase a bed) or a private room. The private rooms have a shared bath, but many hostels also offer private rooms with a private bath (for more money). Whenever possible, we stayed in a room with a shared bath, just to cut down on costs. It’s really not too bad - there were only one or two occasions when I had to wait a few minutes to use the bathroom. I can’t comment on if the showers here have hot water because I didn’t take one. This hostel has an outdoor area with a tiny pool, some tables and chairs, and a few hammocks. There is also an outdoor bar/kitchen/eating area and an indoor lounge area with computers. It’s a nice set-up.

When we asked the young man at the front desk for dinner recommendations, he told us that he likes to eat at Taco Bell. Hmmm, not very promising... Costa Rica is not known for their cuisine, so many dining options, especially in cities, are international (Chinese, Italian) or chains (Burger King, KFC). We chose to eat at Restaurante Nuestra Tierra (Calle 15, Frente de la Plaza de la Democracia, San Jose, Costa Rica) because their sign claims tipico cuisine (food typically eaten by Costa Ricans). This place is a tourist trap, but I wanted to eat tico food my first night, and I also preferred it to the Taco Bell alternative. Nick and I shared the tabla chicharrones, which came with little bites of fried pork, beans, rice, salad, and plantains. It was good, but definitely overpriced. If you want to eat typical Costa Rican food, you’re better off looking for a soda, their equivalent of a diner, which serves typical dishes and is generally cheap, too.

I’m sure there’s plenty to do in the largest city in Costa Rica, but they only reason I was there was so I could catch an early bus to Monteverde. It’s interesting to walk around, and there are some nice parks to relax and people-watch.

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