Mandy and Jon's Journey 2005 travel blog

One difficult thing about traveling the way we are is that we seem to always be torn about leaving a place, and a country moreso, as we question if we have seen and experienced enough to move on. You of course can never see enough, especially in such a grand country as Nicaragua. Preparing ourselves for the more ¨comfortable¨ country of Costa Rica, and saddened to part from the very compassionate people and community of El Castillo, we boarded the river boat en route to Los Chiles, Costa Rica. It was a significantly different boarder crossing experience. No eight hour lines or system failures, just a simple customs check, and a passport stamp and we were ready to catch the bus towards La Fortuna, Costa Rica. A kind man and his young son kindly led us to the bus station, and quite miraculously we caught the bus right away to Ciudad Quesada. Ahhhhh, the cushioned seats of Costa Rican buses. It was as if you had plopped us both into two lazy boy recliners, after the chicken buses of Nicaragua. Simply amazing that you can instantly see the economical contrasts between these two countries the moment you set your foot on the borderline. We experience the nicest bus station to date in Ciudad Quesada, have time to buy a quick avocado and pineapple slice (breakfast and lunch for the day) before we hear the boarding call for La Fortuna. Quite a painless travel day.

Fortuna is a bit of a traveler´s eyesore. Expecting it to be a quaint little town at the base of the active Volcan Arenal, we were unpleasantly surprised to see just an unbearable number of tour operators, overpriced hotels, tourist info centers, internet joints, and more tour operators. Nothing more. On top of that, it was just teeming with tourists (including ourselves, I suppose). So much so that for the first time in our travels, we had a tough time finding ourselves a place to stay. We went from hostel to hostel, to overpriced hotel, only becoming slightly frustrated, as our day up to that point had been strangely easy and pleasant. To our rescue came David, a 16-year-old used car salesman... without a used car. Instead, he was selling rooms in his hostel. As always we were skeptical of anyone approaching us selling anything at all, preferring to find our accomodations ourselves. But, sorry to say, David caught us precisely at our vulnerable point, and reluctantly, we checked the place out. Bargaining down to 7 bucks each for the night, and hoping that his selling success would shut him up, we placed our bags in our room and began to ready ourselves for the ¨hot¨shower David had promised us. Instead of being able to relax, David then began to try and sell us tour after tour after tour. He was relentless. Mandy´s spanish is not quite yet to the point that she has found a polite way to say ¨shut the "%&% up¨, so we painfully listened to his well rehearsed crap.

You get the point, and David does not deserve any more space in this entry, I don´t believe. And his promise about the showers- bogus. Lukewarm for 2 minutes at best. We securely locked our packs to the bed, a bit suspect about the securtiy of the place and not overly trusting of David, we headed out to find our first true meal of the day, which turned out to be pretty bad pizza and french fries, but we were quite happy. A pleasant nights sleep in David´s hostel followed, and we were refreshed the next morning to begin our Fortuna adventures.

They turned out to be few and far between, and we now blame the veggie Omelette Mandy had for breakfast. Took a month of travel for one of us to get sick, not bad! Sparing you the gory details, lets just say that luckily we had found a cozy little hostel, La Choza Inn, and that Mandy did not have to lay in her sick bed at David´s. Coupled with the rain, Mandy´s stomach prevented us from doing much in Fortuna, but perhaps it was all for the best, as we found ourselves unable to do much of anything in the area without seriously breaking our budget. One thing Fortuna does have is some magically healing chicken veggie soup that seemed to be the cure for Mandy´s illness, and allowed us to feel ready and able to head on to Monteverde.

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