Thursday, November 16, 2006

Logbook: The John Galt Line - Phase Three

JglphasethreePhase Three of “The John Galt Line” through Central America started a little bit like “deja vu all over agin!” As usual, I got up, packed up and checked out, but then I woke up Parole who was sleeping in his cab in front of the hotel to be sure he got my business! With plenty of time to spare -- especially considering my experience of showing up at the TICA office only to wait for it to open -- I informed Parole of my need for coffee and we went to a local gas station for a cup. With that necessity handled, we drove the short distance to the TICA office and parted ways with Parole strongly encouraging me to return to Managua soon so that he can drive me all over the country on a grand tour. Um... Maybe. Anyway, in due course we loaded up the bus and did the first three hours to the border. On the Nicaraguan exit side, the scene was downright calm. There were a few money changers and peddlers, but the energy level was so low that it was really quite pleasant.

After the briefest of stops, we loaded up again and drove through a “delousing” building where the bus was sprayed with what I imagine is an insecticide. Don’t quote me on this, but I think the exercise is probably more symbolic than effective. Just a few hundred meters down the road, we got out and stood in line to be admitted into Costa Rica. My sense is that because Costa Rica is the “jewel” of Central America many citizens from nearby countries want to enter for work or whatever. Accordingly, the Costa Rican officials are quite adamant that people who enter must have a return or forward ticket of some kind. Several people in the line ahead of me were pretty well hassled and had to buy TICA tickets from the awaiting representative. Steeling myself in anticipation of trying to explain that I have no such return/forward ticket -- and why not! -- I stepped up to the counter and handed over my documents.

With nary a word, my passport was stamped and I was waved on my way. It became clear to me in that moment that I don’t exactly fit the profile of someone who is going to be a problem for Costa Rica and that they really don’t “care” about me at all. This insight was very useful a few minutes later when -- after dragging all of our gear off the bus -- people lined up and opened their bags for customs inspection. Noticing that there was not enough “room at the trough” for all of us to present our luggage, I hung back a little bit with a few of my fellow riders. When a gap opened up, I walked up to the “trough” in front of “The Man” and smiled. With not a second’s pause, he waved me on my way without so much as a glance at my bags. Sometimes it’s good not to be “cared about.”

With the entry formalities behind us, it was five more hours to San Jose where I got off the TICA Bus one last time, grabbed my gear and got a taxi to the hotel. Check in was smooth, my room has air conditioning and an occasionally stable internet connection. Color me happy! I had a light supper and hit the rack, quite satisfied with the week I have spent on “The John Galt Line!” This morning I sorted my gear, gathered up my laundry and headed out for “chore day.” I found a tidy little laundromat where I actually got to wash my own clothes and then picked up a few supplies.

My folks are due to arrive on Saturday for a week of co-exploration on an organized tour, so I am going to repack my gear such that I will be able to leave the “warehouse” behind and not lug it all over the country. In addition, I don’t know how good internet connections will be where we are going, so I am making sure everything is up to date. I had originally expected that “The John Galt Line” would render media suitable for a Report, but it just doesn’t look that way to me now. There is only so much you can do with photos of a bus and various checkpoints, and I think the Photos page and Logbook entries do a sufficient job of telling the story.

So, I will “sign off” for the moment and hope to provide updates over then next week or so as conditions permit. Today is “Day 100” on The Voyage and -- while I have thoroughly enjoyed and benefitted from everything that has happened so far -- I am looking forward to a bit of a “vacation” where somebody else handles all of the arrangements, logistics, etc. Nevertheless, stay tuned for more to come soon as The Voyage of Macgellan continues!

1 comment:

Term papers said...

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