The Jungle – San Jose, Costa Rica

Qualifying Statement #8

This article is dedicated to Joy Rothke, my harshest critic.

Well, I came sliding back into San Jose, Costa Rica, last Saturday afternoon. Four months in The States was all that I could stand, even with the fact that I was trading options – my favorite thing in the whole world besides sex and drinking. And so, I surmised that I could trade options from anywhere, and I had been discussing some offshore capital management ideas with business associates of mine in The United States and in Costa Rica. And, here, I must say: You all didn’t think that my travels through Costa Rica were limited to casinos, beer, and women of the night, did you? Because, they weren’t.

So, I thought that I would write about San Jose since, it would be your jumping off point in Costa Rica. Here are two ways that you can travel through The Capital City.

The Budget Traveller
When you get through customs and walk outside of the newly refurbished airport, walk a hundred yards to the bus stop and take the Alajuela bus that goes into the city for about 50 cents. The bus route ends just around the corner from Gran Hotel Imperial. This hotel caters to backpackers and other budget travelers. Although it is in a questionable area of town, it is secure and sort of a turnkey place. They have internet access and a restaurant/bar inside the facility; the cost for a single with a shared bathroom is about US$4.

Also in this vicinity are several budget hotels, but most cater to Ticos. My only other recommendation is the Hotel Generaleno which is about a block from the aforementioned bus station. This hotel is slightly more expensive, about US$5 for a single room, but it is secure. Both hotels are within walking distance from the Coca-Cola bus station, which is the departure point for Manuel Antonio, Jaco, Puntarenas, and Parrita. A short distance away is the Alfaro Station that takes you to Tamarindo and other parts of Guanacaste.

Under no circumstances should you be creeping around the area of these two hotels after 10pm. You will get robbed. This doesn’t mean that you can’t go out, it just means that you have to be on your guard.

The Quaint Traveller
My favorite area inside San Jose has to be Barrio Amon. Just across the street from Bo Amon are old American favorites like the Hotel Del Rey and the Holiday Inn Aurola, but in Bo Amon there are many bed and breakfasts, which I like a lot better.

Bo Amon has been converted into a business district with almost no residential housing. Yet, when I lived in San Jose last year at this time, I was fortunate enough to find one of the few houses for rent there, so I spent a lot of time roaming around Bo Amon. When I got back to San Jose last week, I chose the Hotel Kekoldi,, a converted house in Bo Amon with probably 14 rooms. The front desk staff are very cordial and eager to help. Breakfast is included, and there are phones in the rooms, as well as king-sized beds and hot water. A single occupancy costs about US$40 and is well worth it.

My other recommendation in Bo Amon is the Hemingway Inn. The Hemingway follows the same basic concept as The Kekoldi and the other B&Bs in the neighborhood. Also, most of these B&Bs in Bo Amon have an agreement with the Airport Transit Taxis (they are orange) and you can get from the airport for about US$10. The taxi director will tell you how much it will cost before you get in the taxi.

The Sites
Suspend your disbelief: there aren’t any. Teatro Nacional is a big tourist attraction, and it’s beautiful. Some of the mountain vistas from surrounding suburbs are spectacular, but as far as aesthetics go I am partial to the coast.

However, you can get all of San Jose that you want in about an hour, unless you are a slave to your vices. Then, you can spend all day in the casinos, bars and various houses of ill repute. I’ve written enough about that sort of thing, so I won’t go into it here. For a Tico flavor, I would recommend Bar 1930. And, for the Tico/expatriate flavor, I would say Bar/Soda Morazon, which is at the edge of Bo Amon. These places will give you an idea of daily life in the Central Valley.

San Jose is going to be one of the few, if not the only place in Costa Rica where your Mastercard will be accepted regularly by an ATM. Also, as San Jose is the center of the country you can be anywhere in six hours time, and fly anywhere in under an hour. Also, things are cheaper in San Jose, because everything goes to the rest of the country from this central location.

Bienvenidos a The Jungle.

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