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The Way To San Jose

Sunday 23rd March 2014

I don’t know how, but I woke up in time to drive Casey and I back through Manhattan to Newark airport, fill up with petrol, return the car, check in, get through the odious security and board the flight.

Speaking of odious security, I do not allow myself to be scanned with that infernal body scan machine they have in Yankee airports. You know, the ones that take a big fat photo of your balls. Americans are more than aware of their own rights, you only have to watch a real-life cop show (or engage in debate with a member of the NRA) to know that. Not so aware of other people’s rights though are we America? What’s that you say? The scan images are not recorded? Really?! Is that how tens of thousands of them ended up online?


I’ll take the “pat down” which is slightly – slightly – less intrusive, but still somehow involves a total stranger getting to know me better than they would after a first date. I find it interesting that on my journey to every country in the world I wasn’t personally violated in this way in order to enter any country… and yet the country MOST obsessed with its individual rights and freedoms is the place where everyone’s like “ah yes, I see why this is totally necessary!”

The head of the TSA. Presumably.

Next stop: Costa Rica!!

“Eh?! Why Costa Rica?” I hear you cry. “I thought your island was in Panama?!” Yes but the island is tucked away in the very top left-hand corner of Panama, in the province of Bocas Del Toro, which is on the border with Costa Rica. Somewhat counterintuitively, it’s a much shorter drive from San Jose than it is from Panama City.

So unless you’re taking a domestic flight from Panama City to Bocas Del Toro (which takes about 45 minutes), you’re better off getting to Jinja Island from San Jose. Especially if you’re planning to travel by bus.
Story of my life...

We arrived in San Jose just after midday. “No way am we spending $25 on a damn taxi”, I thought, so we hopped the local bus into town. We checked into a sweet little guesthouse called Kap’s Place. After dropping our bags off and showering, Case and I headed out for a walk. The capital city of Costa Rica is not the most attractive of tropical metropoli – it’s a grid system with loads of unedifying concrete edifices. However, there are small pockets of magic, not least the wonderful colonial architecture and churches dotted around the place, if you know where to look.

There’s a lot to love about Costa Rica. It’s regarded as the Switzerland of Central America for its level-headed governance, they take environmental issues seriously and although the country only accounts for 0.03 percent of the earth’s surface, it contains nearly 6 percent of the world’s entire biodiversity.

And OMG check out the gorgeous banknotes!

Costa Rican Banknotes
Nice one, CR!

Graham Hughes

Graham Hughes is a British adventurer, presenter, filmmaker and author. He is the only person to have travelled to every country in the world without flying. From 2014 to 2017 he lived off-grid on a private island that he won in a game show, before returning to the UK to campaign for a better future for the generations to come.

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