From Changuinola there is a direct bus to San Jose, which again drives along the Caribbean coast and therefore past Puerto Viejo, Cahuita and Limon again. Since I had seen very little of the Caribbean side of Costa Rica until then and as I really liked the city of Puerto Viejo, I decided to stay another night in Cahuita. Cahuita is a little bit smaller than Puerto Viejo and not as touristy. However, there are also many restaurants, bars and a variety of accommodations there. For 15 dollars a night I decided to stay at ¨Cabinas Palmer¨, a kind of hotel with a small courtyard and the obligatory hammocks. The room had two beds, a bathroom and a fan and it was quite nice. The hotel also had a kind of Internet Café, therefore I could go online for 800 Colones an hour which is affordable I think. Unlike in Panama, the Internet connection worked very well.
Cahuita has a beautiful white sandy beach and an amazing National Park. You can enter the park on your own and just start walking around and exploring the numerous animals and plants. Admission is free, you only have to subscribe to a list so that people know what name they should write on your grave stone, in case you get lost and never return. Unfortunately, I had very little time as I wanted to take the afternoon bus to San Jose, so I only walked around for about 1.5 hours, which was enough time to discover numerous crabs, blue Morphos and a lot of monkeys.
The evening before, I met an Austrian girl called Michi, who was also traveling around. She invited me to spend the night in her apartment in San Jose, rather than in one of the hostels. So we met the next day on the bus and drove back to the capital together.
Spoiled and tanned by the Caribbean sun, I sadly realized the temperature on the display inside the bus falling down from 30 to 19 degrees. Dressed in light clothing and sad having to leave the beautiful Caribbean, I sat there and watched the rain drops running down the windows of the bus. When we arrived in San Jose, we took a taxi and drove to Michi’s apartment, which was as dreary as the weather. After a cold night and woke up with a slight cold, which I probably got due to the temperature difference and nightly air condition on Bocas. I left the apartment quite eraly in the morning and took another bus to downtown San Jose.
Although it was only about 8 o’ clock in the morning, the streets were full of buses and people. Compared to the Pacific or Caribbean coast, San Jose is like a completely different world. People are dressed fairly well and all of them seem to be in a hurry. There’s no more Caribbean flair or Pura Vida in the air. By the way, the Ticos and Ticas seem to love shoes, as almost every third shop is a shoe store.
Somewhere in the busy center of San Jose, I had a relatively cheap and traditional Costa Rican breakfast. After that I walked around and coincidentally discovered the ¨Mercado Artesanal¨, a market which is supposed to sell arts and crafts. However, the market was not that extraordinary, it was merely a kind of road with various stalls selling souvenirs of Costa Rica like ashtrays, cigarrs, hammocks or jewelry.
My bus to the Pacific coast was supposed to leave at midday. As it is better to buy your ticket about one hour before the departure, I took a Taxi and drove to the terminal called ¨Empresa Alfaro¨. The terminal is quite central, but as the area around the terminal is not that nice you are well advised to go there by taxi. Buses in Costa Rica are mostly on schedule, so I started my trip back to the Pacific coast on time. It took us only about 3 hours to reach Nicoya, so I arrived at 3.30 p.m. instead of 5 p.m which was much more early than I expected.
All in all, I can highly recommend a trip to the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. Of course, it is not much better than the Pacific coast, which, by the way, has many more beaches than the Caribbean, but nevertheless, it’s a different lifestyle there. Colorful houses, dark- skinned people who sometimes even speak English and a lot of music all around you.
However, I have to add that Bocas del Toro, Panama is another place worth visiting. The trips with one of the water taxis, the turquoise blue sea and the stunning beaches are just a few good reasons to travel there. You can meet a lot of young people and you can do both, enjoying the amazing nature of the many different islands and underwater worlds as well as having a good time partying on the main island.
As far as the weather was concerned, I could really call myself lucky. Except for one rainy night and some slight drizzle in the morning I had almost always warm summer-like temperatures. Although I came more or less during the hurricane season, which often affects the Caribbean.
When I was back at the Pacific coast, I heard that probably just when I was on my way back from the Caribbean, tropical storm ¨Matthew¨ caused great damage over there. Even here in the area around Samara, one could feel the effects of ¨Matthew¨. For more than one week, it rained almost continuously in the whole country of Costa Rica, which is quite unusual, even for the rainy season.
However, despite all forecasts, the sun came out again and there is now summer-like weather in the province of Guanacaste.