Panama to Costa Rica – El cerro de la muerte (the mountain of death)

partlycloudy.gif Well. Temperature cannot exactly be measured today. I have been in lowlands and high high up in the mountains. The temperature has varied from+29C to +7C with all from sunny, wind, rain, misty to cold.

Early in the morning at 7:00am we had to go down to the David bus station to check when the bus to San Jose was scheduled. Office did not open until 7:30 and oups. Bus leaves at 8:30. Jorge Sr had to go back to the house and arrange for Jeniffer to pack the little rest i had to pack and Shayla made me lunch. I was seated in the very back of the bus. My bad luck.

It was sad to say goodbye to my new friends but then again… Maybe Ill be afortunated enough to see them again soon. Bus left on time, amazingly enough, and we spent about 45 minutes to the border where the mess started.
We had to deboard the bus and take all our luggage out to check it. Then we had to go through immigration. They dont work very fast !!! A busload of people … and 2 people to handle it all. We spent about 1,5 hours before all were done. Then we realized… ouf we have to go through it all again with costa rican immigration. All in all we spent 2,5 hours there.
HOT, all were sweating and stressing to find out where the bus were, where the CR immigration office were etc. Finally done. They wanted to check our luggage there as well. NICE. NOT. Finally finished I bought a cold beer. Man, that tasted good.

19.jpgBoarding the bus again the bus driver had moved me all up front. Nice. Better view that way. The passengers he moved were not too happy though. On the road again we noticed a very sudden change in the landscape being in CR from Panama. The standard of the panamerican highway is also lousy in CR compared to Panama.

I had a nice and talkative seat-mate that is one of the National panama football players as well as he plays for Peres Zeledon here in Costa Rica. His name is Luis Gallardo. A nice dude that must have been a little famous sinse he was recognized by several people that wanted to take his photograph. Peres Zeledon is in the southern parts of CR and is about 3 hours from the Panama border.

Straight after Peres Zeledon we started the long way over El cerro de la muerte. In english: the mountain of death.

It is called that way because the road that travels through these mountains is not a good road. The section is a curvy, “two-lane” stretch of road that climbs and falls around mountain cliffs. There were few lines on the road, no guardrails, and few streetlights at night. In addition to this, the road section is located in an altitude often covered by clouds and rain and bus drivers and trailer chofeurs take high risks all the time passing eachother even where the view is poor. An error at any time could send one plunging of a mountain, and cars frequently pass on blind curves.

These factors, combined with the dense high-mountain fog and hordes of tractor-trailers, makes it perfect for car accidents. Another term of why it is called mountain of death is that in the old days before there were too many cars people had to cross the mountain by foot and horses. The temperatures are very cold. Now at summertime temeratures we had +7C at daytime. The temperatures will get down below Zero Celcius degrees at night and people easily froze to death crossing the mountain by foot or by horses.

We arrived Cartago/San Jose at 4pm and avoided most of the bad traffic jam. I got dropped off a little outside Cartago towards San Jose. Francisco, my cousin, picked me up there and we went home to his place.

In the night he went out with his girlfriend, Hazel, to celebrate her birthday. I went out with one of my friends, Christian, and we went to a restaurant in Escazu high up in the mountains where we could enjoy the whole view of San Jose city by night. It was nice to catch up and dinner was great. I was home by midnight that was a little too late concerning the long bus trip with no sleep. hehe.

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