We were up early the next day and were relieved to find that Aaron’s money had gone into Susan’s bank (so we could go to the zip-lining ball), so celebrated with our tasty free taco breakfast (we got a token to use at the kiosk next door) before wandering up to the bus station and buying tickets for the 3pm bus to San Jose. The woman at the hostel had said we’d EASY be back from the zip-lining by then and have no problem catching the bus. There was no sign of Gabriella, and we even walked by her hostel to see if we could see her but just assumed she had met some new friends there and decided to go zip-lining with them instead.
We were picked up in a little minibus from the tour company (that was doing the rounds of all the hotels in Santa Elena picking up zip-liners) and drove further up some more windy mountain roads before we arrived at the zip-lining place, where we were harnessed up and sent on our merry way to zip between platforms in the forest canopy. It was great fun and the scenery was stunning – we did buy the DVD of us doing it (they must have had cameras around the forest at various points) but we’re sad to say you probably won’t get to see it as we both decided that we look too fat in it for it to be shared on the internet. There are photos though! And I do believe that rascal Mandible turned up and made a spectacular superhero entrance! After we’d finished the zip-lining course, there was the option of trying the “Tarzan Swing” which sounded good to us. We imagined it would just be a kind of big rope swing from one platform to another, but when we got there, there was just a rickety mezzanine walkway (that wobbled when you walked on it…and was quite high up!) with some men standing at the end of it. Jill drew the short straw and went first – we hadn’t seen anyone else on it so had no idea what to expect- and the men attached her to a rope and completely without warning (not even a countdown or an “are you ready?”) shoved her off the end of the platform, screaming an undignified stream of expletives as she plummeted. It turns out it was actually a bit like a bungee jump, but only you “sat” like on a swing. So the name was a bit misleading and it should have been more of a “Tarzan Plummet”. It was great fun though, and Susan (having had the advantage of knowing what she was letting herself in for) enjoyed it so much she was demanding that we had another go, but one look at the millions of rocky steps we’d have to climb to get back up and she quickly retracted her demand and since we’d spent the day so far working up a thirst with our wholesome outdoor pursuits, we decided there was nothing for it but to go to the café and get a nice cold beer while we waited for the rest of our group to finish the course.
Time was getting on a bit by now, and the group were coming back in dribs and drabs and we were getting concerned that we really should be heading back to Santa Elena by now to get the bus, but reassured each other that the wife in the hostel was adamant that we would be back in time to get the 3pm San Jose bus. Finally everyone was back, had finished farting about in the shop/café and got back on the minibus only to find that it couldn’t pull away as we were parked with some bit of sticky up rock wedged in front of one of the wheels, so after lots of frantic revving and failed attempts to move, the driver got us all to get out so he could get the bus off the rock. We were starting to get very stressed by then as it was only half an hour until our bus, and we still had to go back to the hotel to pick up our rucksacks! Luckily, by some fluke we managed to make it up to the bus station before the bus pulled in. There was even time for Susan to dash across to the café across the road (there were no shops nearby) to try and get us some road beers and a nice taco or something for lunch and make it back just in the nick of time.
We had a nice relaxing bus ride (apart from an initial altercation with the two very tarted up young girls in front of us who had turned up late, delayed the bus and then kept trying to put their seats back onto our legs, one of whom turned round to glare furiously at Susan when her knees prevented her from doing so “I cannit chop me legs off yer knar man woman man!!”) , enjoying our bus lunch of Fanta and cake (the café that Susan found didn’t sell either beer or tacos/sandwiches!) and trying not to sing “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?”. The way to San Jose was fine, it was the way OUT of flipping San Jose that was the problem! Our itinerary had us getting the night bus from there to David in Panama, and after trying to buy tickets at the bus station the Monteverde bus had dropped us at, we were told that we needed another bus station which was on the other side of town and after we got THERE we were informed that the 11pm night bus was full! Merde!! So anyway we had to then go to yet ANOTHER bus station to book tickets for the morning bus to David the next day as it was a different company, this station being the main “Coca Cola” station that all the guide books warn you not to go near at night. It was for sure an interesting ride around the brothel filled streets of San Jose! Upon arriving at the station we were dismayed to see that the ticket office had closed for the day shift and wouldn’t reopen for night shift for another two hours! And there was no beer for sale at the kiosk! We decided to make the best of a bad mess and find ourselves ourselves a decent hostel in San Jose to stay the night. The outstanding choice was the Hostel Pangea as it had a pool and lovely sounding rooftop terrace. Upon arriving we decided to treat ourselves to the “penthouse suite” – have you ever heard of a penthouse suite in a hostel? Neither had we! – which was very nice and had a telly, a big en suite bathroom and a lovely panoramic view of the city. The hostel also had a nice bar that boasted “the biggest Margaritas in Costa Rica” so of course we had to get in on some of that action, and although they were pretty big, they were ten dollars each! The Margaritas in Mexico and Belize came in that size as standard and were a fraction of the price! They were lovely though, so we had a few of those sitting on the nice roof terrace (which, despite being outside, you WEREN’T ALLOWED TO SMOKE ON! Madness, Costa Rica. Madness.), before getting one each to take to our room to drink in bed while eating the meals we’d ordered to take away and watching some rubbish 80s cop movie and enjoying our little bit of luxury.