Tomorrow we head to San Jose and for the first and probably only time in my life I will get to sing the Dione Warick song ´Do You know the way to San Jose´with some purpose.
I liked Nicaragua, there is a charm about the place and the people, and it is truly a spectacular place to travel through. I´m particularly fond of the taxi drivers. Like most of Central America they are a special breed of frustrated Formual 1 drivers. Here´s a little guide of what to expect:
1. Expect to be bundled unceremoniously into the nearest car by a moutached man relentlessly shouting the word ´taxi´at you.
2. Your luggage will then be bundled onto the roof rack and left to balance there alternatively they will attempt to shove it into a woefully inadequate boot and leaving the boot lid to flap like tail as you steam along the highway. Needless to say you spend the majority of the journey glancing out the back of the car to see at what point your luggage will be lying in the middle of the road.
3. On realising that you are English, the driver will spend the next minute, while he should be concentrating on the road, attempting to find some Techno music on the radio to apparently please you.
4. Remember the cartoon ´Wacky Races´? Well you are now in it and you will go round, under and over anything in your path.
5. The background symphony of horns. The use of the horn can be used to signal anyone of the following: Hello, Goodbye, want a lift?, i´m full, after you, hey hot stuff and check my bad self. A long blast generally means get a damn move on. So pretty much the thing is firing off your entire trip.
No such excitment in our next destination. Costa Rica possesses the one quality that is lacking in all the coutries we have thus far visited: Order! To give you and example I´ll take you back to the border crossing from Nicaragua. When you arrive at the border on the Nicaraguan side the word ´chaos´ instantly springs to mind - but still doesn´t quite do justice. You are ushered through a tiny door and ordered to pay one dollar to a dubious looking gent. All the while boys and men are trying to sell you the forms you have to fill out and that you can pick up for free in the office in fornt of you. Passports dissapear and 30 minutes or so later, a little relieved, you are handed back your passport with a new stamp in it. You then walk about 800metres with your luggage to Costa Rica. The change is immediate. All of a sudden you are made to queue, only a certain number of people are allowed in the air conditioned office and the process is carried out speedily and efficiently. What is even more remarkable is how even the landscape appears even more ordered. We had been used to seeing spectacular verdant scenary all through Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua but Costa Rica appears brighter, prettier and even more stunning. Costa Ricans or ´Ticas´as they are known take immense pride in their country´s natural beauty and the quite shocking littering (baby nappies and all chucked out the windows´ of buses) that is common place in other coutries does not happen in the bits of Costa Rica we have seen. Reading into the country´s History I beleive it has much to do with the free education available to all, the close ties with American culture and a relative lack of conflict in their History. Citizens of other countries appear worn down by numerous wars, injustices and tales of political corruption. It´s a broad generalisation, but people seem to be slightly more aspirational here and there is a defnite sense from talking to people that they want to better themselves. All this comes at a price and coming from coutries where we have paid about one pound fifty for a hearty meal the prices here are creeping towards the ones we are used to at home.
Likewise our experience zip lining through the cloud forests was incredible (100s of metres up in the air and some of the lines were about 700m long) and both professionally and safely carried out. I couldn´t help imagining what the same activity in Guatemala would have been like, presumably you would be given a towel and told to use it to zip between telephone poles.
Anyhow, must be off. Me and Mrs K are off to the supermarket. Just like Sunday´s back home.