I had figured I'd take the TransMonteverde bus back to San Jose, then get a Tracopa bus going south to try to get to Paso Canoas by nighttime. He pointed out the obvious. Well, it wasn't obvious until I looked at a damn map. Why go back to San Jose when TransMonteverde also goes to Puntarenas, then head south along the coast from there? Ah ha!
Multiple web searches and various Costa Rica transportation sites later ... I can take the 5:30am TransMonteverde bus to Puntarenas (8am arrival), then a T.Q.P. (Transportes Quepos Puntarenas) bus to Parrita (hourly so I'll get the 9am) to spend the night and then get the 7:30am Tracopa to Paso Canoas where I'll meet Sue and head back to Zandudo. :) If I went all the way to Quepos instead of getting off early at Parrita, the morning Tracopa's don't stop there because they are Directo. Okay, plan in place!
Robert even called Mario, his taxi guy, and he was waiting at the end of the driveway for me just after 5am (he arrived 1/2 an hour early so I was able to get the 5:30am instead of the 6am bus out of Monteverde). Good man. 3,000 for the early morning taxi, then 1,600 for the bus to Puntarenas where I'm now waiting. I'm in the small bus terminal in a row of plastic chairs bolted to metal beams to keep them in a nice row. Oh great, looks like I just set my backpack in a puddle. Let's just hope it's water. :(
I slept most of the ride down here but first watched a beautiful sunrise over the lush mountains of Monteverde. I felt good. Despite some slight drama and typical drunken female emotions, I felt I was leaving there with good memories of my last time there.
I didn't get to see quite a few of my MV friends in such a short visit, but I did see some and even met some new people (my friend's landlord/neighbors) who just arrived from Germany for their yearly 3-month stay at their beautiful home in Costa Rica and their relatives who own the general store in St. Elena. Of course all very nice people. They invited me to come visit them whenever I'm in town. It was funny, once the man there referred to Robert as "the most famous foreigner in Costa Rica". That's quite a title!
So I'm sitting here contemplating the whole "traveling alone" thing. I'm fine with this part of it and I feel pretty good that I'm actually doing it. I can ride a bus and can thankfully figure out how to get from point A to point B, even if it requires asking around to figure things out. The logistical part I'm okay with. It's the FUN part that I struggle with. Like right now there's a small soda outside. I should go see what they have. I have half an hour left before my bus leaves and I should check out the area. But I'm not going to. Funny, the kid I was talking to at the bar the other night said it's exactly the opposite for him.
I'll be in Parrita before noon and will look for a hotel. I'll have the rest of the day there and I'll probably just chill in my hotel. But on the flip side, I have been making some wonderful local friends everywhere I've stayed, and I don't think that would have happened if I were with someone else.
During my wait for the bus, I was thinking that maybe I should just take the bus all the way to Quepos, then take an afternoon (non-direct) Tracopa to Ciudad Neily, I think that would work and I'd get a lot further south today and only have a short ride from C. Neily to Paso Canoas in the morning. But I didn't have internet so I couldn't look up if there are public buses between C. Neily and Paos Canoas, or if there's only the afternoon Tracopa. I asked the very un-cheery guy behind the glass window here at the bus station if he knew if there were many buses between those towns or only Tracopa. One word in between bites, not even looking up at me; "Tracopa". Okay, I'll just trust that and stick to my original plan.
Later: Well things did change a little bit. I got to Parrita and went straight to buy my bus ticket for the next day. The 7:30 am bus will work just right and get me to meet Sue and Carlos in time for us to get back for Carlos' soccer game. Well it turns out that either I read it wrong or the times were wrong on the Tracopa website. The bus leaves San Jose at 7:30 and wouldn't pick me up until 10:30am. Too late to meet Sue. Shit. Okay, is there a bus that will get me to Paso Canoas today?!? Yes, it leaves in 45 minutes but I'm closing for half an hour for lunch, starting now. OMG no, really?. :( Okay fine, I told her I'd wait. So I went to wander around the bus terminal area and a few minutes later she came and found me. She said there's only one seat left so I needed to buy it immediately. LOL Okay! She did it on her lunch hour for me which was super nice.
After an hour waiting in the hot bustling terminal, getting blasted by bus exhaust and sitting next to a cardboard box full of peeping chicks, my bright orange bus pulled up. OMG it has aircon - woohoo! 4 more hours to sleep, check out Jaco (kind of a pit), get a better look at Playa Hermosa (more Dave's speed), and enjoy the beauty of ALL THESE TREES!
So all in all, I like the way I came via Puntarenas instead of San Jose. But I'm honestly not sure if it saved me much time or money. Actually it looks like I saved an hour, had less aircon, and spent about $1.25 more. But I got to see something different. Oh, and I would have had to pay for a taxi in San Jose so I didn't miss the 11am bus I suppose.
- 5:30am Monteverde - San Jose ₡3,060, arrive 10:30
11am (aircon) Tracopa to Paso Canoas ₡8,490, arrive around 6pm
- 5:30am Monteverde - Puntarenas ₡1,600, arrive 8am
9am Puntarenas to Parrita ₡2,155, arrive noon
1:07 Tracopa to Paso Canoas ₡8,490.00 (same damn price as from San Jose), arrive 5:15pm
In the morning I texted w/ Sue via WhatsApp, packed up, caught a taxi out front and met them at the "usual" (way overpriced) breakfast place. Seriously, ₡4,000 ($7) for a small coffee and some scrambled eggs. WTF. I left my luggage there while we shopped in Panama for the day. Typical unfocused shopping - ha ha but we did get it all done! I got some groceries for my stay in Zancudo and waited at the McDonalds in the City Mall while they finished. Then Carlos treated us to an ice cream cone while we waited for our ride.
Their taxi driver Mauricio is great. For the standard price of $50 back to Zancudo, he makes many a stop along the way for them to pick things up for their restaurant. Wow, the duty free booze store is great there! $45 for a magnum of Absolut. I got quite a few good wines for $4/bottle, and Sue and I split a case of Corona for $24. Much cheaper than in Zancudo! Wasn't it a 6 pack of Corona that Dave wanted to buy here last year but it was like $18?! Oh and so funny. The booze shop had a DJ out front - yep, a DJ - and when we pulled up he started announcing over his PA "Zancudo in the house" LOL! "Welcome Zancudo peeps", "Coquito bar and cabinas", etc. ha ha I'm not sure which was funnier; that they had a DJ at the liquor store, or that they all knew Carlos and Sue!
I got a case of beer and 8 bottles of wine for $55. Nap time for everyone on the way home after grabbing a few cans of Cuba Libre Pina Colada at one of our many stops. I'm so happy to be coming back to Zancudo.