Gearing Up for an Adrenaline Crash

*No time to proof-read! Don’t judge me for my illiteracy.

I hopped a ride to the Boquete bus station yesterday at 8:35 with Mr. Mullin, on his way to his weekly golf match. I wasn’t exactly sure how to get to San Jose, Costa Rica — but I was confident I would be able to figure it out. I arrived as a bus to David was pulling out of the station, and I threw my mochilla aboard and departed. We made it to David as my next bus was leaving. I had to chase down the tiny minivan that Latin Americans call a cooperativo. We inched our way to La Frontera (the Costa Rican border) and arrived a couple minutes before noon. I stamped-out of Panama, walked a few hundred meters to Costa Rica, and stamped-in. Now I needed to get to San Jose.

I asked around, and everyone informed me that the next bus wouldn’t leave until 15:30. Sitting around in La Frontera didn’t sound appealing, and dozens of cars were heading into CR every minute. I failed terribly in my attempts to hitch a ride with any of the travellers. However, there was a truck stop a few hundred meters ahead, and it looked promising. I questioned the border guard for a couple minutes and he assured me it was safe, and probably the only way I would find a vehicle going directly to San Jose.

I walked over to the truck stop and spoke to a few drivers. One dude who was fresh out of the shower and elegantly clothed in a bath towel offered to give me a lift. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, and I would have saved loads of time by taking the bus. However, that wouldn’t be nearly as interesting.

San Jose is only 350 well-paved kilometers from La Frontera. It shouldn’t take more than five hours to get there. It took us eleven.

My driver, Alex, and myself hit the road around 12:30. After only five minutes, we pulled over into another rest stop to shoot the shit with his buddy, Jose. After 20 minutes of meaningless banter, these amigos decided to caravan to San Jose. I am curious whether or not this is a normal day for Alex. Either way, he was extremely excited to break the monotony of his career with all these compadres. He turned up the regaeton and wailed his super horn at every girl we saw for the next 11 hours — he especially didn’t spare teenage girls. It’s a good thing he was only transporting clothes and shoes.

We made uncountably many stops along our journey, including a 16:30 meal. We hit a cheap roadside joint with authentic Panamanian food. I kept it simple and wanted to continue my authentic truck driving experience so I ordered the same thing as my amigos. This was my first substantial meal of the day, so I feasted on rice, black beans, fried chicken, fried bananas, a vegetable stew, a gross mayonnaise based coleslaw and a pineapple licuado. Like usual with this pair, conversation was light and varied from futbol to unspeakable things about their wives — things I could only half make out and certainly didn’t want to believe. When our check came, they just started walking, signalling that the bill was mine. I had no problems with this and happily shelled out the $4 for their almuerzos. This is all I ended up paying for the whole experience.

The truck driver’s radio channel was starting to come alive when we got back on the road at 17:10. I guess drivers were starting to get tired, so the ‘fellas had a few competitions and guys played ridiculous Hollywood audio clips. There was a mooing competition and the highlight of the audio clips was when someone put on part of the Leroy Jenkins World of Warcraft dungeon raid. We stopped for hot chocolate at 19:30. Café and candy at 20:30. Baño and tortas around 22:00. These guys were ridiculous.

My anxiety kept increasing as these guys drew out our journey into an unfamiliar city and country. I didn’t know where they were going to arrive in San Jose, and I only had a vague idea of some hostel options. I started probing into this at lunch, and they assured me not to worry — they knew just the place.

After arriving at their unloading station at 23:30, they escorted me to a moderately busy street, hailed me a cab, and sent me to their recommended hotel. I got out of my taxi with the driver telling me to go straight to the hotel and that this neighborhood is terribly dangerous. I was obviously feeling excellent when I learned the hotel was full. There was another hotel around the corner, and a shady guy standing outside my original who tried to escort me over there. I didn’t have many options, so I walked over, negotiated and set up booby traps in my room! This was by far the most dangerous place I have ever slept. I have photos to show off when I get home. I left first thing this morning — only paying half my negotiated price. This is the first time I have stiffed anyone, but this guy ripped me off and this place was simply terrible. He should be glad I even gave him $4.

I found a nicer area and hostel to put my backpack in for the day. Walked around for about 8 hours and am going to catch a 3:00 AM bus tonight to San Salvador. I should be greeted with the comfort of a friend of a friend. Thanks Janna and Mario.

Something came up back home, so I had to change my schedule and had time pressures. This is the most at risk I have felt since I have been traveling — I have been on edge for about 34 hours. It was definitely a learning experience.

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2 Responses to “Gearing Up for an Adrenaline Crash”

  1. Scott Bower Says:

    Shawn, I would forget about writing a book and go straight to a screen play!!!!

  2. Colleen Says:

    Shaun, I absolutely love reading about your adventures, and can’t wait to here about them when you come back to the lovely U.S.A. I actually just chuckled in class at one of your witty observations and got a glare from my teacher. 🙂 Sending lots and lots of love and blessings from all the Maguires. ❤

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