We didn’t tell you this, but before the dust of Nicaragua on our shoes had been covered by the dust of another country, when we were in no-man’s-land petitioning for entrance into Costa Rica, we had to prove one thing. It wasn’t economic means. They had posted several signs congratulating themselves on not charging an entry tariff. We didn’t have to pledge allegiance to anything. We simply had to prove that we were going to leave Costa Rica at some point before any roots grew under our feet.
Jen had to pull out her Kindle and show the confirmation for the plane tickets she bought, thankfully, the night before when we were on Ometepe pondering new adventures in a new country. Before we could get to those adventures, the man at the entry station needed to see that we had an exit strategy.
They turned up the heat, too. It was 104 degrees in Quepos when we walked to the bus.
That is the strategy we used yesterday to fly to Belize, leaving a country that was very nice, but all the same asked us not to let the door hit us on the way out. I mean, c’mon, yes we like tourists, yes we like your money, but we don’t want you to get too attached. Let’s just keep it casual, you know. Keep it simple, baby. Free and easy.
Anyway, Costa Rica’s a nice place, but it was clearly trying to get rid of us at the end. Jen got a stomach sickness early last week and that was just a shot across the bow.
Yesterday, for the first time in all of our experience in Central America, the bus was late. We waited in the hectic Quepos terminal, with very little information to go on, trying to figure out why the noon bus to San Jose was still not in the terminal at 12:30. It’s not you, Costa Rica wanted us to think, it’s me.
They also employed advertising to remind us of our native country in a clear attempt to draw us back to our nest. On the bus back from Quepos I saw even more signs of US cultural imperialism: Office Depot, Hooters, Carl’s Jr. — we don’t even have Carl’s Jr. in New England! How do they rate one down here?
Preparing to spend our last 3,000 Colones in the airport…
…in the candy aisle.
And then, as a final boot in the pants, this weekend it seems that they froze our assets. Our debit card — our access to trip-lubricating money, our life line — would no longer work at the Bank of Costa Rica, where it had worked fine for the past four weeks. We were very lucky that Jen spotted the noble Lion of the Bank of America Central during our taxi drive to the hotel. We’d been in this country, it is clear to me, for longer than that for the country comfortable with.
Jen seriously doubts this money freezing thing really happened, even though she can’t produce another reason why our card suddenly wouldn’t work at the national bank of Costa Rica, even though it worked at BAC. I agree that it would seem counter to Costa Rica’s purposes of kicking us out. Despite the lack of an entry fee, Costa Rica does charge a hefty exit tax (like $29, per person) and if we can’t get to our bank account how are we supposed to pay? Have you thought of that, Costa Rica?
In the welcoming arms, only briefly, of an El Salvador layover
Yes, they have. What is right there inthe airport, right next to where you queue up to pay the exit tax? It’s a cajero automoatico. Is it under the rotating cube of BCR? No, the ATM in the terminal proudly sports the BAC’s lion. We don’t need your stinking service fees, gringo, just go.
Well played, Costa Rica. I hear you loud and clear.
On the water taxi
Anyway, we’re gone. At the top of this post you can see a map of our complex journey among the Ticos. I’ll soon start the Belize map, which will feature even more water taxis, and — Jen was particularly excited at this because she’s keeping track of modes of travel — a golf cart!
On the dock at Caye Caulker
That’s what picked us up on the dock at Caye Caulker and drove us the kilometer to our very nice villa. We tried the pool out and then headed back into town to wait for our dear friends the Brooks family, who were in Belize and coming out for a week in another villa right here on Caye Caulker!
In a new conveyance!
Except they weren’t on their way, they were already here. We got our first glimpse of them from about four blocks away. They were standing in the middle of the main intersection in town (on this Caye there’s only bikes, golf carts and a couple of dump trucks). Nadia spotted a large group of people — some tall, some short — wearing backpacks. It fit the profile perfectly.
We spot the Brookses!
They spot us!
By the time we caught up to them, they had sat down at a restaurant and were preparing to order some lunch. It was a joyous reunion, complete with nachos, smoothies, tug of war with a palm frond, lots of talking and a stray dog that seems to like noise and activity because she seems to have adopted our families as her own. A man with a shirt that said “Tourism Police” started to approach them, probably to put an end to the palm frond abuse, but upon taking in the entire mass of swirling children and dog, wisely decided to keep walking.
Happy kids by the sea
Happy parents by the seafood vendor
The accommodations are great here, the scenery is magnificent, and we’re ready for a week of adventure with our friends.