A Predicament in Nosara, Costa Rica

After a delicious lunch in Liberia, Costa Rica with Dad and Monique, Jon & I got dropped off at the bus station in Santa Cruz (ironically this is where they both live in California!). We gave hugs, said our goodbyes and bought our bus ticket to Nosara, where we would then have to catch another bus to take us to our final destination Garza Beach. It was getting a bit late, but we were informed that the buses would still be running by the time we got to Nosara.

The bus ride to Nosara was a quick 15 minute trip and before we knew it we were outside in a new town trying to figure out how to get to the bus station. One of the locals saw that we were wandering and asked us where we were going. We told him Playa Garza to which he immediately responded that he was too and suggested we all share a taxi there. Seemed a bit coincidental that he was going to the exact same little beach town as us, so we cautiously followed him. We knew this was some sort of tourist trap where we would get the short end of the stick. We told him that we honestly just wanted to take the bus, that taking a taxi was too expensive for us. He told us that the last bus from the Nosara bus station already left and that it closed at 5:30. It was 5:45. It was dark.

We already didn’t like this situation. As the taxi driver and the random gentleman went back and forth about the price of the ride, Jonathon and I were talking about what we were going to do. The price for all three of us was about $70. $70?!? That’s more than a taxi ride from the most southern beach town of Nicaragua (San Juan del Sur) to the airport in Managua which is three hours away. Garza Beach was only 20 minutes away. We knew we were being ripped off. No way. We thanked them for their time and set off to find the bus station to see for ourselves if it was really closed or not.

We walked through the lit up little town that was filled with sounds of reggaton music and people drinking. There were quite a few cops walking around, so we stopped and asked them for directions to the bus station. A bit confused, they pointed us in the right direction. This was definitely not a tourist town. We were the only gringos on the streets. We walked a few more blocks down in the direction the police told us and finally stumbled upon the empty bus station. The dimly lit station was cleared out and there was only a line of taxi cabs parked to the right of where the buses normally were.

We both looked at each other with the same thoughts in our eyes. What are we going to do? We now only have two options: either get a hostel room for the night here in Nosara or take an overpriced cab. Neither of us wanted to stay the night, so just as we agreed on that decision, one of the taxi drivers in the parking lot came up to us. He could smell the vulnerability in us as we stood there confused with our oversized backpacks and pounced on us like a lion on his prey. He offered us $50 for a ride to Garza, we refused. We negotiated for a couple of minutes and finally agreed on $19 each person for a ride to Garza. The driver wasn’t happy and neither were we. But JB and I wanted to get to our safe house in Garza Beach and the driver wanted the business. So we compromised.

We hopped in the car and realized that we only had cords (Nicaraguan currency), a small amount of colones (Costa Rican currency) and a $100 bill. We asked the driver how much change he had in dollars and he said he definitely didn’t have enough to give us change for $100. We frantically searched through our big backpack for anything that would add up to $38 in either dollars or colones. I’m not sure how, but we miraculously found $38 deep in the pockets of that bag. Exactly $38, no more and no less. The driver was satisfied, but now he new that we had at least $138 dollars after we had negotiated the price down. We didn’t like the situation any better than he did–it was dark outside with no street lights, we were driving through dirt roads with no one around and had no idea where we had to go. For the first time in Central America, we were the most vulnerable we had ever been. We were completely dependent on a perfect stranger who really had the upper hand in this situation. Had we known how it was going to turn out, we probably would have gone with the option of staying overnight in Nosara.

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