Day 7 – Return to San Jose

Monday, August 20th, 2012:

Our final hours at Samasati. =( We thoroughly enjoyed our last breakfast at Samasati, saying goodbye to many of our new friends, then set out on our final hike in the resort.

Having explored all but one of the routes, we embarked on that last one, keeping in mind some tips Tim and Eliza had given us (namely which fence to cross). They had also mentioned the location of a sloth they spotted, so we kept a look out for that.

The road led past several of the permanent residents’ homes:

Eventually we came to the fence Tim and Eliza mentioned, and crossed over, following the road to the construction area for this house:

There were several neighboring lots for sale and we wandered around a couple of these, enjoying the views.

Though we never spotted the sloth Tim found, we did encounter the retreat’s horses:

While Will was setting up for our photo op,

I noticed the nearby leaf-cutter colony’s artistic work:

On our way back to Reception, we also spied a colorful skink:

[While it was a blue-tailed skink, it might not have been a Blue-tailed Skink. Wikipedia says those are native to Australia and references Plestiodons for the North American look-alikes.]

We eventually returned to Reception (“we’re not dead yet”) and then to Shanti House, to pack up. En route, we stopped to photograph weird plants:

and give thanks to our make-shift tripod(s) that had served us so well:

After packing, we carried all our bags to Reception in time for the morning shuttle to Puerto Viejo. On our ride down the hill, we FINALLY got to see howler monkeys in the wild. There were a few little ones perched at the top of a tall tree, screaming their demonic calls. Very cool =)

In Puerto Viejo we had time for a quick pineapple/coconut smoothie at Zion, then hugged Michelle goodbye and walked the block to the bus stop.

Will watched our bags while I finally got pictures of the town’s landmark:

Yep, that’s a beached barge with a tree growing out of it.

I ran back to the stop as the bus arrived, we put our big bag beneath, then boarded and settled in for a comfortable ride to San Jose.

The bus stopped for a while at another coastal-town bus station, then continued toward the country’s capital, circling North of the city, through the mountains.

I slept through most of the ride, but Will met and talked with one of the other passengers – an American visiting Costa Rica for dental work. Coincidentally, he was staying at the Quaker hostel I had tried to book for our initial arrival in San Jose. I had been unable to get a response from the either by phone or via email, but he said they were operating and probably had vacancy. He gave us some helpful hints on landmarks and directions for getting there, too.

We took a cab from the bus station on the North side of San Jose, and – as is apparently often the case with drivers in San Jose – had to give him landmarks instead of the street names (Calle 15 & Avenida 16 bis).

The receptionist set us up in the Dr. MLK Jr. room ($35/night). It was little more than a large closet with a shared bathroom down the hall, but we were happy to have a place to set our stuff, glad to be located downtown, and eager to explore the city more.

In need of some food, we hiked out originally seeking a restaurant that could meet our needs (vegetarian, gluten-free), but after wandering for awhile, we settled on the Auto Mercado (a supermarket at C. 3 & Ave. 3) and chowed down on fruit, coffee, delicious rice pudding and some addictive flan (we went back for seconds).

While seeking food, we crossed through the plaza in front of the Theatro National and past a man playing guitar. Wandering back toward the hostel, we sat on the ledge of a nearby fountain to listen. The music was beautiful – mostly variations on several of the softer English pop songs (we recognized The Beatles, The Eagles, Chris Isaac and some others). When we couldn’t hold it in any longer, Will dropped a tip in his guitar case and asked if we could dance. The guitarist smiled and invited us to the space in front of him. Will took the lead and we danced. Right in the middle of the capital’s downtown evening pedestrian traffic. =)

We only danced for two or three songs, but we drew a crowd and Will said he even spied some onlookers videoing us. We wanted to dance longer, but needed to get back, so we thanked the musician and walked home, grinning all the way.

San Jose is great! See Day 8!