May 13th, 2000

emu

Gerbie on tour 11

Gerbie on tour (11)

Hello everybody, Get your school atlas or the maps out again, here is the next travel report by me. It’ll be the last one coming from central America by the way, as I am flying to Caracas next Saturday. In Nicaragua I did visit one more village before leaving the country, San Juan del sur, the favorite beach of many rich person from the capital. It was extremely calm there, apart from some Australian surfer boys, there wasn’t a soul around. Coming into Costa Rica I stayed in Liberia first, before moving on to Alajuela. Both of them are semi-big cities, local standard, though there wasn’t much to do. One of the first things I’d noticed though, is that the country is a lot greener than other Central American countries. In the latter city I did visit last Sunday’s match of the local football team. They had a chance of winning the championship, so the stadium was nearly full with plenty of fanatics, all dressed in red and black. As my own team wears the same colors, no way could I have stayed independent that day. Unfortunately the visitors did not really want to co-operate, taking a 0-2 and 1-3 lead. The last half an hour was full of events. 2 red cards, 2 penalties, from which the first was missed, some idiots fighting amongst themselves on the next stand, but also 5 goals, so Alajuela still won 6-3. As their last competitor did win as well, they had to wait another week for the big celebrations, so I had to give it a miss. The capital San Jose is too much a north-American city to my liking. All big stores and fast-food chains are there, you’d feel like you’re in Miami, if you didn’t know where you were, the difference is slim. And even though I am a big fan of huge cities, this one will not be amongst my favorites. But it was easy to rent a car there, so with 2 other travelers, I drove up to the volcan Irazu, the highest volcano in the country, over 3400 meter (something like 10500 feet? I’m not sure). It was the first time I have driven in the mountains, but leaving the city was a bigger challenge than getting up. When the weather is clear, one could see both oceans from the top, but it was cloudy, as most of the time apparently, so no such luck for us. On my way further south I did stroll through San Isidro del General. Not really an exciting little town, even the annual funfair was dead, only the bingo had some visitors. But it was easy to break my journey there, on my way to another border. The next day will not be remembered as a memorable journey. Hours in a bus, that could have gone much faster, just before the border it starts raining, so another hour and a half well spent, doing nothing but wait and stay dry. After that twice the same story: civil servants working at their slowest, unfriendliest and using every possible form they can think of (that I still notice this after crossing so many borders before, says a lot about how bad it really was) and another bus journey, having lost another hour to the time-zone-change as well. In general I was not very enthusiastic about Costa Rica. Many Americans will probably not share my opinion, but in my view the people weren’t as friendly as in the rest of Central America. And apart from dozens of national parks there is not much to do either, unless you like to lose your time lying down on a beach. And after a volcano, I don’t really feel the urge to visit another one the next day. Apart from that it has been relatively expensive as well, something I hadn’t encountered since Mexico. Boquete was the first village I visited in Panama. A small mountain village, apparently very different from the rest of the country, though I can’t judge that yet. It was very quiet, the people very friendly and it was nice to have a few small walks. Today I hope to visit a rum factory, just outside David, before continuing my journey towards Panama City. Only a couple more days and after having seen the most famous canal in the world, the next stage will start: Venezuela. For now, enough bollocks, take care and ´till the next mail!

Gerben