Thursday, February 21, 2008

Really on the way

I'm sitting at a table in the restaurant of Hotel Mesón de Maria in Salvador. It's a little more than we'd like to spend at $24, but it's right here at the bus station and that makes it easier when you get in at 10:15 pm. They also have wireless internet here. It's a much better value than the place we stayed at the other bus terminal in the center last year which was a dump for $20 and no hot water.

Before leaving San Jose we had dinner at a good Italian restaurant with Jeanie and her friend Jim, in whose apartment we were crashing. Jeanie bought dinner. Thanks Jeanie! We slept on Jim's fold-out couch for about 3 hours, got up at 1, and called a taxi ($2) to the bus station.

Tica Bus has a new terminal in San Jose which is much nicer than the old one. I talked to a guy there who had hitchhiked from Canada with his friend and they were out of money so they were looking for work in San Jose. They had gotten a ride and were supposed to have a place to stay but it fell through, so they came to the bus station to hang out and wait for morning.

They gave our breakfast in these little boxes

The bus left on time and Alaine and I were able to get a little sleep. I woke up around 6 and shortly after that they announced that we were approaching the Nicaragua border. They served coffee and a light breakfast. They came and collected $17 from each of us to cover all the border crossings as far as El Salvador. This is one of the big advantages of the international buses; they take care of all the paperwork and getting passports stamped whenever possible. To leave Costa Rica, though, we did have to go in person with our passports.

After going through the line I went to one of the money changer guys to get rid of my colones. I've found these guys to be honest before. They will try to give you a bad exchange rate, but you can talk them down if you are aware of the right rate. This guy was tricky though. I had 64,800 colones, which in the bank would get be around $129. He was showing me how he was getting his figure on his calculator except instead of the "=", he was pressing the memory read key. First he came up with $96. When I complained he got it up to $118. Still no good. He complained that, "A guy can't make much money like this." Finally he gave me $128.

I'm running out of time here. We only have a few hours to go visit the market in San Salvador. I will post more later.


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