Although San Jose had served a purpose of being somewhere to relax for a few days and fill out job application forms, I’m now more than ready to leave. Today I’ll be embarking on a guided tour down to Panama. While it’s fairly simple to travel though Costa Rica and Panama independently, Intrepid Travel offer a nice itinerary at a very good price.

Walking across San Jose to the tour meeting hotel, I discovered Parque Central, a more than pleasant place to stop for a breather. I just about made it to the Hotel Le Bergerac before the heavens opened. It’s now rained during four of the five afternoons I’ve been in San Jose. Presumably we must be in some sort of rainy season. Hotel Le Bergerac has a Cyrano de Bergerac theme going on, complete with a poster of the Gerard Depardieu film in the lobby. While the Bergerac is located in one of the nicest parts of San Jose, there’s not a huge amount to do in the vicinity. On the block next to where we were staying, the following were located, in no particular order: Starbucks, Subway, a cafe, a shoe shop, a petrol station, the Italian Embassy, a sex shop and a surf shop (despite San Jose being almost 4000’ above sea level).

At 6pm it was the tour welcome meeting. The guide for the next 12 days would be Jorge from San Jose. I’ve been on about five or six of these tours before and the majority of participants seem to originate from the UK, Germany, Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand. This evening’s group was slightly more interesting. There were two girls from Luxembourg, the first people from there I’ve met. Also here was a brother, sister, mother and boyfriend from Puerto Rico. They were both the first family I’ve seen on one of these things ad the first Puerto Ricans I’ve been aware of meeting. Everyone else seem to come from more standard places such as Portugal, Iceland, the US, the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Continuing with group demographics, there were six men. Two were part of couples and another two were in brothers so their accommodation arrangements were taken care of. That left me and Charles, an older gentleman from the United States. Charles had paid for his own room. This meant that by the virtue of being the odd person out, I had hit the jackpot and also had my own room. A good roommate can enhance this sort of trip. Conversely they can potentially also be a nightmare. Without sounding like some sort of miserable, anti-social bore, I’m quite happy to have my own room. After staying in so many hostels, it just feels nice to have a bit of personal space. It all feels nice to have something that would normally cost a £200-odd supplement for free!

Jorge took us for some Costa Rican food. Being from San Jose he knew where the reasonably priced places are. I had chicken and rice, something of a national dish here. It was nice enough and great value for £3, a much better price than the often quoted figure of £10. After the meal everyone headed back to the hotel by 9pm. I’m not even sure if there was much nearby nightlife in this quiet corner of San Jose but hopefully people will get a bit livelier as the trip goes on.

Parque Central