Prior to leaving I had been told by many people that you needed proof of onward travel so that Costa Rica knew you wouldn't try to stay in their country without any money to get home. I had been told by a few people however that they weren't asked for anything. If you know me, I'm a bit of a cheapskate and I hate to plan so of course I "winged it" and went without buying a bus ticket out of CR. At the Nica side of the border they didn't ask for anything other than money, and when I got across I got on a direct bus to San Jose. I thought I was clear and done! Nope, I needed to pass through CR immigration as well, a large group was in-front of me at the second border and I was watching to see if they asked, it seemed like everyone got through fine...but then the girl right in-front of me got turned away and my Spanish wasn't good enough to understand why. I passed my passport across the desk, and BAM! STAMPED! He hardly even looked? Maybe they have a biased towards U.S. passports? Anyhow, I wasn't asking questions, back onto the bus!
On the bus I started a chat with an older fellow whom had moved to CR from the States some 30 years ago. Since then his entire family had moved down, including his two sons, whom were now both married to Ticas (local CR women). Originally I had been told that even through marriage a U.S. citizen couldn't obtain CR residency or citizenship, but the idea seemed far-fetched, so I asked the man more...He seemed pretty sure that his kids were now residence and on their way to obtaining citizenship, he also mentioned that through adoption you can get these as well. He also told me that if you try and border hop like he has been doing for a long time now, the border offices get really strict because they don't like people hopping the border without spending money in their country. The man offered me some advice towards working online as well and was all around happy with his life. It's always nice to hear from people whom have left the comfort of their home country and adapted so well to a new one!
The older gentleman got off the bus well before San Jose, and there was construction and traffic everywhere. I got nervous that it would be quite dangerous in San Jose after dark. Even the old man had told me that this was a bad month to be in CR because if you work all year here then the government gives you an extra month pay as a bonus to go towards Xmas shopping and for being a good working citizen. Petty crime becomes really prominent when everyone has their extra money in pocket. I looked around the bus a few times, and thought that I was the last Gringo on the bus. The sun went down two hours before arriving in San Jose, great...I walked to the front of the bus to ask where we were even going to end up in the city. Right as I was about to ask the driver, I turned and saw one other traveler, I leaned over and tried to not be awkward as I asked him if he knew where he was staying, and if he knew how to get there..."No problem," he said "I'm staying at CR Backpackers Hostel and I think I can find it." "If you want we can walk that way together?" It's funny how I was completely lost only 30 seconds before that but now I had a pretty solid plan because of a simple question.
Every day that I end up in these situations it makes me realize how much more I can take on in the world. It honestly makes me excited to wake-up everyday because I don't feel like I HAVE to do something just to be safe. That being said, we'll see how I feel as my money starts to run out, haha! More to come about Puerto Viejo too!