After sending away my bicycle in Panama City, I got a bus ticket to San Jose, Costa Rica. I took the 18 hour bus ride through the day and night to arrive San Jose in the early morning hours. Nelly, my Servas host in Guadalupe was expecting me later in the afternoon. I did plenty of walking around the busy city, trying to kill some time before heading over to Nelly’s house to crash. I didn’t get much sleep on the bus.
I spent a night with Nelly and her son Orlando, talking about how the rest of my riding was over Cerro de Muerto and through Panama. The next day I gathered my things and took a short bus trip to Alajuela where the international airport is to meet up with my mom. Mom was flying in just for a day during her weekend for a short visit and to deliver some things. I met her at the airport after settling into a hotel in town. Our time was short, but we had great talks about our experiences on the road, life, and future plans. We went into San Jose the day she left to do a little souvenir shopping for my brothers and other friends. After mom returned to Miami, I got together with my buddy Reed who had just flown in from the US as well. He was headed for Nicaragua for a course in permaculture, but first wanted to check out a bit of Costa Rica. Reed and I bussed to the Pacific Coast to a beach called Brasilito. We checked a few hotels out and it seemed too expensive for the kind of atmosphere we were experiencing. The beach wasn’t even that impressive either. So we bussed to the more popular and touristy Tamarindo a bit further south. There was lots of action in Tamarindo when we arrived. Gringos were everywhere and you could see that money had left its mark here with the big waterfront hotels and American style strip malls. Reed and I settled into an 8 dollar a night hotel and started walking the streets to check out this town. There were artisanias (jewelry and crafts) everywhere for sale. We paused to check out their goods. Since I am getting into artisanias now, I like to check out other peoples’ work and see if I can pick up some good ideas. Reed started blowing on his harmonica and I busted out with some improvisational blues lyrics and that is more or less how we spent the rest of the evening, walking, talking to locals, and making crazy music in the streets. Before leaving Tamarindo, we enjoyed a day on the beach, making jewelry and talking to some interesting locals. One guy we met rented horses for rides along the beach and was looking for a hit of ganja off my pipe. We got into talking about tourism and how the area has changed over time. He seemed to resent the change. He told us about how he worked hard in the banana plantations on the East Coast and fought through an addiction to crack cocaine. I was happy to talk with him, possibly presenting an alternative to the stereotypical gringo tourist image.
I got news from Heather and John, my friends sailing down the coast. They said they’d be stopping in Playa del Coco, a small beach town further up north. Reed still had a couple days to spend before moving on to Nicaragua, so we traveled together to Coco to check out the scene. Playa del Coco seemed like another popular tourist destination for local Ticas and foreigners, but not as busy as Tamarindo. We fell in quickly with the craft vendors, other travelers looking to sell off some stuff to fund their trip. We met a few Ticos from the San Jose area, and lots of Argentinean travelers. Reed and I put out a blanket and presented our own jewelry, shells, drawings, poetry, and music. After a couple days, Reed left for Nicaragua and I stayed in Coco to wait for John and Heather to arrive. Meanwhile, I produced more jewelry, made some friends, and enjoyed a swim in the refreshing ocean every now and then.