PRE-BLOG: As I know some folks may have noticed, I didn't post a blog last Saturday. Normally I write and queue these blogs well in advance of their publication date – in the past, sometimes many weeks in ahead. However, since getting back in Canada I've been incredibly busy, which is a double-edged sword for sure, considering much of my busyness has stemmed from photography work. That said, I apologize for the delay, and let's get back to our regularly scheduled program.
On January 30th (day 91), Danielle and I woke once again on the peculiar streets of Jaco, Costa Rica. To recap, the main thing the two of us were thinking about was what we were going to do with Bilbo. At this point in time we'd somewhat come to the conclusion that we weren't going to be making it down to South America this time around and therefore we had a few options: sell the vehicle down here, store the vehicle here to someday in the next few months return to it and drive it home, or ship it home. After contacting many shipping companies, and getting very little response, one company had quoted me USD$5000 to ship the vehicle from San Jose, Costa Rica, home to Vancouver, not including any charges on Canadian soil. Understandably, this seemed preposterous. Holding on to hope that we could find a cheaper rate, we decided we should drive to Costa Rica's main Pacific port, Puntarenas, and try to go directly to a shipping company's office there. I had seen online that Maersk supposedly had an office at the port, and that's where we headed.
Driving from Jaco to Puntarenas's port – Puerto Caldera – took less than an hour and we arrived to find almost no buildings at the port whatsoever. Disheartened, I asked the guard at the gate where the Maersk office was, he pointed me up a small road a few metres back. We took the directions and found a small portable with a one room office with two men inside. After a bit of broken communication we were able to tell the guy what we were looking for and he got us on the phone with an agent who could speak better English. After more confusing conversation to the mystery agent on the phone we didn't come away any better than we went in; the agent would email me a quote from Puntarenas to Vancouver supposedly within three days.
Feeling somewhat down, we left the port and headed into the town which exists on a 7km peninsula. Hoping to find a coffeeshop or a decent hotel we instead found a pretty shitty place. I don't recommend you visit the city as there's really nothing worth seeing. Again feeling at a loss of what to do, we, somewhat on a whim, decided to drive to San Jose and perhaps store the vehicle there and fly home. It's worth mentioning that legally, in order to leave Costa Rica without the vehicle, I would be required to store the vehicle in a government storage facility with approx. charges of USD$3.5/day.
Thus, we made the estimated two hour drive without incident and found ourselves in the capital city in the cooler mountain air. As highly recommended in our travel book, we found vacancy at the Hotel Aranjuez on a quiet, yet central street. The hotel itself was gorgeous, we stayed two nights, the first in their apartment building, and the next in their main, heritage building.
Importantly, as I was unloading Bilbo to bring things into our room, a younger guy walking by said to me “nice to see those [license] plates”. We got to chatting and the guy's name was Jeff, and he'd lived in Canada as well as Costa Rica, but now lived in Panama City. I briefly mentioned to Jeff that we were in a bit of a tight spot and trying to figure out what we were going to do. As it turned out, Jeff worked for a hostel company operating out of Panama, and offered us some work should we be interested. He gave me his email address, and we parted ways.
As previously mentioned, we stayed the 30th and the 31st at Hotel Aranjuez and while there didn't do too much aside from edit photos, blog, and try to figure out what to do, on the 31st (day 92), we spent a part of the day wandering around admiring the graffiti and looking for a number of clothing stores that supposedly carried the brand of clothing I'd seen in La Fortuna when we first arrived in Costa Rica. If you remember, I was looking to replace the hat I'd lost in Granada, Nicaragua and figured San Jose may be a good bet. However, we found the foot traffic in downtown San Jose to be nightmarish and therefore headed back to the hotel after an hour or so of battling the crowds. Because of this, I didn't take too many photos in the city.
In closing I have to add that the breakfast buffet at the hotel was easily the best buffet I've ever had at a hotel. If you find yourself in San Jose, stay here just for the breakfast buffet.