Big Rigs & More Borders

Paso Canoas, Puntarenas, Repùblica de Costa Rica

Nearly to Panama…just on the border, in fact…

I stayed at the Bigfoot Hostel for a few more days. I´m glad I did, because I met a very nice and very beautiful Swiss girl there named Nathalie. She´s a flight attendant for Swiss Airlines, so we shared all of our stories of air travel, as my dad is a pilot, after all. We hung out for a couple of days, and now I have a place to stay if I want to (which I definently do) in Switzerland! Nice… So I had fun at Bigfoot, until I was impolitely asked to leave after it was discovered that I was pinching food from the fridge (what? I´m poor and I was hungry…) I finally left the hostel on Wednesday.

I walked for a bit until I got out of León, and then hitched a ride to Managua in a huge pickup truck. It was rather nice. Upon arrival to Managua, I was unfortunately dropped off near to the city center (or what passes for the city center in Managua…very unorganized, that town…) Consequently, I had to walk for awhile. I managed to get a ride a bit closer to the outskirts in the back of a pickup…I was slightly concerned during this ride, as the bed was enclosed with a cage that the fellow drivig had to lock upon my hopping in, which effectively imprisoned me. However, I noticed a gap in the top that I could definently jump out of if needed be.

I needant have worried, though. The guy drove me a few kilometers, unlocked the back, and even gave me about twelve cordóbas for some water. Nice fellow…

I continued my trek south for about another hour until I hitched a ride for about ten more kilometers, effectively clearing me of the Managua city limits (if it officially has any.) After getting dropped off, I noticed it was getting quite dark, so I decided to stop at the nearest gas station to relive myself, and then do some covert camping in the vacant lot across the street.

After finishing up in the gas station, I darted across the street and began walking the twenty more yards to the lot. Just for good measure, I stuck my thumb out.

All of a sudden, a semi pulled over and told me to hop in. Sweet… He drove me into the next town (he was a short haul trucker, not a long haul one) and dropped me off near a gas station. I stopped there and bought a crack snack (saltine crackers) and then started walking out of town, looking for a suitable place to camp, as it was nearly nine.

As I was walking, I, of course, stuck my thumb out. No one stopped all through the town. However, as soon as I got to the outskirts (and passing a fellow hitchhiker) a taxi stopped and offered to drive me for about ten kilometers. After asking several times that this was, indeed, a free ride, I hopped in. I told the cabbie that I was going to Granada. He told me that he was sorry, but he couldn´t take me that far for free…however, he kindly dropped me off at a lighted area and gave me ten cordóbas for the bus.

So I decided to just take the bus. It was nearly ten o´clock now, and once I got to Granada, I could have a good night´s sleep on the shores of Lake Nicaragua, the largest lake in Centroamérica.

So the bus came, I hopped on, and rode to Granada. Upon arrival, I was dropped off near the section of town where all the gringos like to hang out…hostels, bars, the lot. I walked up to the nearest white face and asked him where the lake was. He answered (with a European accent) that he didn´t know, but he was going to ask his mates. So he did, and soon five or six Europeans spilled out of the bar and told me that they were going to drive me to the lake. Nice of them. So we all piled in to this little four door seden, and they drove me to the lakeshore. I thanked them, and hiked to the beach.

It was very windy that night, which was a good thing because it kept the mosquitoes down. I crashed out while watching the stars.

When I woke up the next morning, I discovered that someone had stolen my shirt! Douchebags… Anyhow, I shrugged off the loss (it was only stuff, after all) and walked out of Granada. As soon as I reached the cemetary, I got a ride immedietly with a couple of locals, who gave me giant, apparently mutated bananas. They dropped me off near a bus stop, and it was there I ran into a couple of Canadians who were on there way back to their winter home in Costa Rica. Nice folks, really…They needed to leave Costa Rica every three months for three days, as their visas expired after ninety days.

After the Kanuks hopped on the bus, I managed to grab a ride for about ten kilometers, where I was dropped off pratically in the middle of nowhere. I waited there for several hours for a ride, but it was all right because I got to watch two large, brightly colored tropical birds work together to infiltrate a bee hive the size of a basketball. Ah, nature…

So I finally managed to stick a ride for a good seventy k´s. They were very nice people, and we stopped at the local wind farm, where I was fed a delicious meal. After that, the driver of the truck attempted to sell the workers at the farm clothes.

These people left me about two kilometers from the Costa Rican border. So I started walking.

As I was walking, the driver of one of the many big rigs ideling pointlessly on the side of the road, waiting for his turn to cross, asked me if I needed a ride to San José. I told him, sure! So I hopped in, waited two hours with him to get to the border, and then hopped out to go and get my exit stamp for Nicaragua (two more dollars…fucking gougers) and my entry visia for Costa Rica (free, thank God.) Upon reaching the Costa Rican side, I could not for the life of me, find my trucker friend amongst the hundreds of other big rigs parked all around. So I gave up and continued walking south.

It´s fucking HOT in Costa Rica. I was literally melting away when my trucker friend passed, picked me up once more, and gave me some much-needed water. Relief…

So the trucker told me he could drive me to San José, but if I was going to Panamá, He would drop me off on a better road. I told him that sounded just peachy. So we drove for a long time, into the night, before we stopped at a rest stop and got some food. Apparently, we were spending the night here, so for the second time in my life, I got to sleep in the bunk of a big rig.

The next morning, we left early, and drove for a few more hours. Then, I was dropped off in some Costa Rican town high in the rainforesty mountians. I said goodbye to the driver, who grinned, gave me a couple of tuna sandwiches, and lumbered off.

I walked for close to three hours, all the way out of the town, and up this steep, winding road into the jungle-covered mountians. Many cars passed, but they didn´t seem iterested in picking me up. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that Costa Rica is a shitty country for hitchhiking. I finished off the tuna sandwiches, all of my water, and was starting to get really frustrated. I was also very tired (as it was sweltering in the cab of the the big rig and I didn´t get much sleep,) so I hiked a bit into the rainforest, rolled out my bedroll, and took a much-needed nap for a few hours.

I awoke refreshed, alibet a bit sunburned, and returned to the road. I still walked for a good hour before I finally got a ride. These peolpe were cool-ass motherfuckers. They were a convoy of two vehicles, and I rode in the back one with a guy named Caeser, who is an electrician in his mid twenties. He was very nice, and proudly showed me pictures of his twin one-year-olds. His truck, though was another story. The front tires had absolutely no tread left on them, and the stick shift would periodically slip out of gear, causing the engine to revv up past the red momentarily until Caesar could shove the stubborn thing back into place.

Every time we would pass another car on the road, Caesar would ask me how much that one would cost in the USA, or that one. I took my best guesses, and he seemed very excited, apparently planning a trip to the U.S. to buy a “1995 four door, four wheel drive Ford Ranger.”

We drove for hours on a narrow, winding road up in the mountians, with clouds rolling gracefully across our path. On my right was a beautiful waterfall spouting out of a rock face covered with dense vegatation. On my left was a steep drop that went down several hundred feet, ending in impossibly thick and seemingly inpenatrable rainforest. Toucans and other tropical wildlife frolicked happily about in the treetops.

Caeser liked to sing American pop music at the top of his lungs with a heavy Spanish accent. Personally, I think there`s not much in this world that`s more hilarious then hearing The Backstreet Boys sung as “Ya! Yoo ah my fiah! My wan desiah!”

Later, we stopped for a bit to get some food, and then drove for more time. We stopped at a used car dealership, where Caeser up and sold the car we were riding in, and then had to take the bus home. He suggested that I come with him, and even gave me 10,000 colónes (about twenty bucks!) So I decided to leave this beautiful but bad hitch hiking country behind, and hopped on the bus for a couple of hours. I only paid about 2,000 colónes, so I still had a bunch of money left.

When I arrived at the border, I found it closed for the night (as it was nearly ten) so I decided to use some of my extra money to treat myslef to a cheap hotel, a shower, and some laundry.

The first hotel I went to wanted to charge me 5,000 colónes, and I got him down to four, but I wasn´t allowed to use the shower. Fuck that. So I walked down the street a few blocks and found another hotel. This guy also wanted to charge me 5,000, but I Jew´ed him down to 2,500…plus, I could take a much needed shower (I smelled so bad the mosquitoes weren´t even biting me anymore) and wash my clothes.

The hotel wasn´t too bad, at least not for 2,500 colónes. The owner was very nice. His name was Mario. He gave me some food and let me watch Les Miserábles in English on his TV. There was even a funny cat there, who was just a bit too big to be a kitten and just a bit too small to be a cat. He was very playful, and kept attacking my bare feet with mock animosity. I didn´t mind, until he accidently scrached a sand fly bite I had on my ankel, causing me to reflexively kick and catch him upside the head. He glared at me and stalked away after this, clearly mortally offended.

Later in the evening, while I was watching Les Mis, a couple came in very drunk. One of them was a rather ordinary looking bloke with a beer in his hand and an slur in his voice. The other was a grossly obese woman with similar signs of intoxication. They entered and asked if they could rent a room “por un hora.”

A room for one hour? Three guesses what she does for a living, and the first two don`t count…

Anyways, while Big Momma and her John were doing God knows what in the room across the hall, I took a nice shower, shaved (using a borrowed razor, since if you remember correctly, I sold my other one to Hondurans) and went to bed. I slept hard, and this morning, I woke up refreshed and ready to face another border. I even indulged myself with ANOTHER shower, and went to use the Internet.

So after I leave here, I go to Panamá. Should take me a few days to get to Panama City, as the country is much longer than I imagined.

Stay frosty, my friends…

The Modern Nomad

…AKA Cheeky Fucker

EDIT SEPT 2011: Gee, I sure wasted a lot of money on buses and lodging in Costa Rica, didn’t I? Could have used that for some delicious Costa Rican cusine, what was I thinking…

Also, it’s true I stole quite a bit of food from the fridge at the hostal. Yes, stealing is wrong, but the thing was I had to stay there since I was waiting on about $20 to come through from a friend in Mexico, since I had accidently stayed one night extra after Derrick left (accidently meaning, slept till past noon and was charged); without any money whatever, I had to find a way to pay for it. The owners would not let me leave until I paid for my past-noon sleeping, so I had to figure something out.

Manuel (you’ll remember him from León) had told me if I ever was in a situation where I needed a few extra bucks to call him and let him know. So I did, and he sent me the US$20, which took three days to get there (I obviously had to pay for those three days as well). During those three days I had absolutely no food whatever, so I pinched old pizza slices and milk from the fridge, rubbing a few people the wrong way. At least I gave the people who’s food I had been stealing $5 before I left. After paying as well for the four days in the hostal, I once again had no money left.

Next up…the wonders of Panama!


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