No monkeying around!

At 4:30AM this morning my iPhone alarm rang to remind me to get my behind out of my comfortable twin size bed. I rolled over, shut off the alarm and almost said screw Manuel Antonio, but then I remembered all the beautiful pictures I’ve seen online and dragged myself out! As much as I love sleep, I am in Costa Rica; I can’t be monkeying around with my time.

Costa Day 3_Monkeys
These little guys are quick and have an itching for almost anything in a bag.

How I made my way to Manuel Antonio 

  • I caved in and re-downloaded Uber for convenience and safety (I deleted it after the company tried to profit from the Taxi strike in NYC). I left the house at 5:15AM this morning to make it to the bus station. Carlos, the driver, took about four minutes to arrive — much quicker than Uber in the states.
  • Tracopa Bus Terminal is on Calle 5 y Avenida 18 in San Jose (you can look it up or ask your driver, they’ll know).
  • Once there, purchase a 6:00AM ticket to Manuel Antonio at the window. Make sure you purchase a roundtrip ticket otherwise you’ll have to take a bus to Quepos from the beach to get to San Jose. I was given two tickets out of San Jose rather than a roundtrip so make sure you read your tickets and confirm that they are correct. Total: $16 // 8,730 colones.
  • I have found the bus system quite efficient here. For example, the seating is assigned on your ticket and drivers arrive and leave on time.
  • The trip from San Jose to Manuel Antonio is about 3 hours and 30 minutes. Tracopa driver makes one 10-15 minute stop about halfway for food and bathroom. There is no wi-fi or toilet on the bus, but it does have AC and comfortable seating.
Costa Day 3_Tracopa
The last bus from the beach at Manuel Antonio leaves at 5pm. If you have a roundtrip ticket you do not have to bus to Quepos first.

I’m at Manuel Antonio, now what 

The ticket to get into the park is $16 and has to be purchased at a booth about 100 meters from the entrance gate.

Once you have purchased your ticket at that booth, you can enter the gate to get into the park where you will likely get heckled to buy a tour guide experience. The guy who approached me and another American (she and I became great friends, stay tuned!) said we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the park without a guide.

Well, the heckler was right. Once I entered there were groups of people in small circles with tour guides who spotted everything from tiny frogs, lizards, birds to monkeys way up in trees. Although, I did not have a tour guide, whenever I saw a group of people stop to stare at something, I stopped too. While looking for a brown bird in a tree, I ran into the American from the entrance gate, since we were both solas, we decided to become pals for the day.

Sarah and I walked the trails together, saw more monkeys and a big ol’ sloth trying to carry on with its afternoon nap. FYI: Do not go to the Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica. I looked it up and was shocked to read about how terribly the sloths are treated. Of course, have a look for yourself.

Costa Day 3_Jump
Taking a nice jump-stretch on the Southern Beach. PC: Sarah

After spending about three and a half hours in Manuel Antonio, Sarah and I headed out to grab some lunch. Most of the restaurants in the area charge about a 20% tax on top of your meal.

Good to knows

  • Wear comfortable shoes or sneakers
  • There is water at Manuel Antonio, I filled up my bottle from the spigot there and my stomach was just fine but it might depend on you
  • You can use credit, American cash or colones
  • Drink lots of water
  • Your hands might swell from the hike, don’t freak out, have something with a bit of salt at lunch
  • The 5:00PM bus dropped off a little after 8:30PM –there are taxis available at the station or you can request an Uber — my cab ride cost 4,000 colones (which is a bit high, but I was too tired to bargain)

Tonight, I am going to bed with this question in mind… Why is Costa Rica considered a third world country? I understand that there is a percentage of poor here, but is that the only marker to measure development given developed countries like the U.S. have high poverty.

So far, I have found that Costa Rica has paved roads, is environmentally friendly although parts of San Jose remain spewed with garbage, education is important and the government invests in it, there has been an increase in employment, and technology is available and booming. Lastly, I have found Costa Rica to be relatively safe as well. This idea of third world countries is definitely something I want to think about some more because frankly Costa Rica is no Haiti.

Costa Day 3_Beach
Thank you for reading. Come back soon!

 

Watch your toes day and night

Last night, after I got settled in with Gabi, I walked over to the supermarket. While there, I noticed that dark was quickly approaching so I asked a woman whether it is safe for women to walk at night in San Jose.

“Las mujeres nunca están seguras,” she gave me one of those stern mothering looks that reminded me of my good friend Samantha Shaw — she’d give me that stare down if I asked that question.

I could spend time writing about that introspective comment, but let’s just say I agree with the woman from the yogurt isle; women are never safe.

Watch your toes day and night

Women aren’t the only ones who need to remain alert when walking the streets in San Jose; everyone should, because the sidewalks have more cracks than a Playboy magazine.

As you saw in yesterday’s post, San Jose is pretty modern. There are crosswalks, sidewalks, paved roads, public buses with comfortable seating, trains, local airplanes, and street lights. However, it’s important to take into account that the trains run in the street alongside buses, cars, motorcycles, and pedestrians. What’s especially concerning is that drivers move about with the impatience of New York City taxi drivers, so you better have quick feet if you decide to walk! I’ve been walking everywhere and love it– best believe my legs are going to be lit.

Costa day 1_2
As you can see, Costa Rica has street lights, cross walks, etc…

One last point about streets, street signs are far and few. So know your way before you leave your home destination. If you don’t purchase an internet card for your SmartPhone, download maps.me, it’s a mapping tool that navigates without wifi.

I don’t want to feel like a tourist, although I am one

Studying abroad in Spain for about four months in college solidified my desire to experience new spaces as if I live there.

Today, I wandered around the Parque Nacional in Downtown San Jose, entered government buildings to ask questions about what goes on there (which proved to be a great way to practica mi Español), and stumbled into a presentation on digital databases at the Biblioteca Nacional.

Costa Day 2_Library
Biblioteca Nacional Miguel Obregon Lizano

See the images below to find out where else I went!

I spent about an hour at CENAC and close to three at El Museo Nacional (tons of great history and exhibits). The Museo also has a butterfly conservatory there at the moment — I spent quite some time reading about “mariposas” en Español.

Fun Fact! 

Marcus Garvey spent some years in Costa Rica working to get Afro-Costa Ricans (mostly of Jamaican descent) back to Africa. 

Costa Day 2_Marcus Garvey

A few more stops before heading back to Gabi’s 

Before heading back to Gabi’s for the evening, I stopped at Arteria, which seemed to be mostly a t-shirt shop, and was followed around every corner of the store. The two young folks working there did not greet me or ask if I needed anything, a young woman just followed me around as I looked at the merchandise — not a good feeling. But! I did find this bag to be super funny given I have a poem titled Viejo Verde in Close Your Eyes, Now Breathe. 

Costa Day 2_Viejo Verde

After Arteria, I stopped right next door, Cafe Miel, where I enjoyed a delicious chipotle patty. The shop is cozy and the staff is friendly.

What I didn’t get to

  • Museo Jade de Costa Rica
  • Shopping
    • I’ve decided that I won’t shop on this trip to save money and because I’m sola
    • There’s a fairly large market near Plaza Democratica where folks are dying to bargain so take them up on it!
  • Mercado Central
    • I’ll likely get there another day
Costa Day 2_Gabi roof
Here’s a shot from Gabi’s porch early this morning.

I hope Costa Ricans don’t speak their Spanish as fast as the Flight Attendant

“How do I get it to work on airplane mode,” he says to me pointing at the curved lines on the top left of the iPad.

I have been sitting an empty seat away from him for about two hours while I finished The Farming of Bones quietly, taking short moments to cry then wipe my tears away.

“It’s not you, we don’t have access to wi-fi on this flight.”

He smiles and takes a breath before responding with a grainy voice. I wonder if he’s an expat, one of those Americans who has come to find solace in a foreign land because the place we’ve claimed as United is much like the break terror takes when its hand grows tired from the sling of the whip.

“You young people know how to do these things better than I ever could.”

“It’s not you,” I remind him. We smile at each other as the flight attendant announces that we’ll need to fill out two immigration forms.

This is my first solo trip. It is also my debut as an American and I have a dark blue passport to prove it. Earlier this morning when Lorrie, my adoptive Florida mom, drove me to the Tri-Rail station I was quiet with nerves. I mean, I am super pumped — it’s my first solo trip out of the country by my damn self. But it’s also scary. Last night, I stacked a first aide kit on top of medical tape, praying that I won’t have to use any of my precautionary items.

I am excited to use my grammar-less Spanish.

I can’t wait to wander into small-town markets and local museums.

I want to reward myself with the legs of mountains as I stare down at a small town from the top of a volcano hike.

I look forward to my words thriving — I write best when god and the universe converse quietly with me in my travels.

I am grateful to be millennial rich, the kind of affluency that allows for Airbnb rentals, day trips and a few days on an island in Panama for the price of a hammock.

Right now, sitting in my window seat with Beyonce singing in my ear, I am proud of myself. Happy to know that I am the kind of woman who will challenge herself to live outside of comfort. The kind who searches for humanity in new lands. It’s what we were meant to do, you know, rather than capture, kill, rape, and seize (sorry, it’s hard to quite my justice brain).

Anyway, come back here over the next couple of weeks, I plan to share my journey with you.

Helpful nuggets on day one:

  • I am spending my first full week with Gabriela; it cost me only $183. I could have stayed in San Jose for much less or much more. The reason I decided to go with Gabi’s place is because it seemed to have a homey feel (and it delivers!) and other women who had travelled alone left her outstanding reviews. Within moments of contacting her, she responded and has not let me down since.
  • The immigration line is efficient, I moved through it in maybe 15 minutes.
  • When you arrive at the airport, you get access to internet for free so let your family and friends know you’ve arrived safely. If you’d like, you could also purchase an internet card for a couple U.S. dollars. I decided not to because I heard there is wi-fi everywhere is Costa Rica — so far, that holds true.
  • You can “cambia plata” or exchange money in the airport. I exchanged $40 which made out to a little over 19,000 colones, enough to cover me for a couple of days. Most places seem to take U.S. currency though.
  • When you get outside the heat will hit you immediately and you’ll be met with dozens of people standing with signs. There will also be a hoard of (unofficial) taxi drivers ready to bargain with you; all men. One offered to take me to Los Yoses for $30 and another quickly added that he’d take me for $20. After giving him my location, I realized he was not an official driver in one of the orange-red vehicles so I turned him down. I suggest not telling a random man in a foreign country where you’re going just because he has a sign that reads “TAXI.”
  • I took the public bus. If you don’t know where to find it, ask airport staff; they’re quite helpful. It cost 1,000 colones. Once I arrived in Los Yoses, San Jose, I took a taxi for less than 3,000 colones. I knew where to go and how much everything would cost because Gabi sent me a detailed email four days before my trip.
  • Once I settled in with Gabi, she explained the neighborhood to me and showed me an incredible map that she designed herself. I’d describe the map and accompanying directions as a marriage between your maps app and Yelp. Using her map, I was able to make it to “Automercado” successfully, but did get lost on the way back a couple of times before finding my way (to no fault of hers).

Thank you for reading about day one! I’m off to write up my itinerary for the week. See you back here tomorrow.

If

If I had you as my own, I’d love you like
the moon kisses the sun day after day
I’d sprinkle compliments on your pillow
and drown your bath water in beauty

If I had you as my own, every song on
the radio would be your favorite and I’d
know just what to play when your face
creases in that way I don’t like and I’d
know the right beats to match your
Saturday night hip

If I had you as my own, I’d love you
honestly—without chains and
these daydreams would end in late
night kisses by your side.

Written by: Flose Marie Yardley Boursiquot

Shit on a Thursday

Doesn’t potential excite you?
It’s like the first rain after a long drought– how it eases into your pores while feeding your best vegetables
If you reach out your tongue and catch some of the drops
your budding tomatoes don’t lose out

Doesn’t potential excite you — until it scares you

Written by Flose Boursiquot, March 23rd

Jealousy — nah, it don’t make sense

what do you see in her but skin and bones,
says the spider as it crawls on the window
it must be the sway of her hips above those legs
but i’ve got more than she could ever give

when the apple falls its not a tree,
the couple falls in love at the foot of the growth
sweet Adam takes his bite while Eve’s mind gets blown
Albert doubts that science could date back to just one bite.

Written by: Flose Boursiquot