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Puerto Viejo, Rockin J's and Rolling to Quepos

A big pain in the ass for one interview

all seasons in one day 85 °F
View ESL Trip Costa Rica on dfilipia's travel map.

The Beach at Puerto Viejo

The Beach at Puerto Viejo

The ride back to Costa Rica was fun. A forty five minute boat ride over to the Panama mainland and then a shuttle to the boarder in Sixaola. Once again I didn’t have a return ticket when I was trying to enter Costa Rica. This time all I had to do, I was told, was buy a bus ticket in Sixaola. I did that ($11) and once again Costa Rican immigration didn’t care if I had a return ticket or not. I wish I knew how to avoid getting fleeced. At least I’m starting to minimize the damage. The locals are making a lot of money here off of uninformed tourists. No worries ... another six months and I’ll have it all figured out. Give me a year and I’ll be living large extorting money off of the tourist fleecers. We had to walk across a bridge to get from Panama to Costa Rica. It was an old train trestle bridge spanning a river. Did you ever see ... any movie where people were on a bridge and then the train came? That’s the movie I was thinking of as I crossed. Once we got through immigration another shuttle was waiting to take us to Puerto Viejo. When I was in Bocas Del Toro arranging the trip to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, the agent asked me which hotel I would be staying at. Of course I replied, “Uh, I don’t know”. So she decided Rocking J’s was the place for me. Yeah, Rocking J’s, cuz I look like a Rocking Dude. She must be getting a kick back. As we drove though Puerto Viejo I could see that there was no shortage of nice places to stay.
Carpe Diem, Rocking J's, Puerto Viejo

Carpe Diem, Rocking J's, Puerto Viejo

Rocking J’s was an amazing place. One guy I met there made the comment that Rocking J’s was the closest thing to a compound that he had run across on his travels. There must be 150 hammocks there. The majority of them are arranged in rows under two separate roofs. These hammocks you can rent as your sleeping quarters. With these hammocks you also get a large storage locker for your stuff. I’m guessing there are around twenty hammocks scattered about for general lounging about and napping. Also in the cool category is the huge platform stuffed full of rentable tents ... maybe seventy-five of them, also with storage lockers. Every square inch of Rocking J’s is decorated with tile mosaics ... floors, support columns, fixtures, tables ... everything. Rocking J’s is a huge place. The amount of labor that had to go into all of those mosaics blows my mind. The pyramids got nothing on this place (I’ve never seen the pyramids except in pictures ... they don’t look like that big of a deal to me). Some mosaics were clearly done by amateurs but others looked truly professional. I stayed in one of the suites under the palace that Rocking J himself lives in. I’m not sleeping in a hammock all night.
Mosaics at Rocking J's, Puerto Viejo

Mosaics at Rocking J's, Puerto Viejo

Rocking J’s also comes with an oracle. He was camped out in a hammock just outside my room. There was usually a group of two to five people listening intently as he held court. I eves dropped on him a couple of times and learned that he is able to project his opinions and beliefs onto unwitting listeners and in that way control their minds. Cool. He had a pretty good spiel. One evening I decided to start up a chat with the oracle to experience mind manipulation. I found out that he had spent a good amount of time in Bocas Del Toro organizing poker games. We talked about the best places in Bocas to get a beer and the general laid back small town feeling there. We talked about Rocking J’s. We basically just chit chatted. I wasn’t mind manipulated until the very end when he said he was tired and was going to hit the rack. Get this ... I said, “Yeah, me too.” Freaky. I had just had my mind twisted around without knowing. It was one in the morning so I headed off to bed.
Tents at Rocking J's, Puerto Viejo

Tents at Rocking J's, Puerto Viejo

Puerto Viejo is a nice little seaside town. The Caribbean side of Costa Rica is quite a bit different than the Pacific side. Here the music is mostly reggae, the people are darker and there are way more dreadlocks (same goes for Bocas del Toro by the way). The food is different too. It’s more ... uh ... Caribbean. I didn’t do much exploring while I was in Puerto Viejo. I had one thing on my mind ... setting up that interview in Heredia.
The Beach at Rocking J's, Puerto Viejo

The Beach at Rocking J's, Puerto Viejo

A fellow TEFL International graduate had landed a job at a school in Heredia and told me I should give them a try. I sent a resume to the director of the English department when I was in Samara. I got a quick response back from him. He wanted to set up an interview. Encouraging. When I told him that I would have to leave the country for a few days to renew my Costa Rica tourist visa he told me that I should give him a call again after I had gotten that done. This was a bit annoying. There was plenty of time for an interview before I left for Panama. Now my Panama trip was limited to just the few days required to renew my visa. When I arrived in Puerto Viejo after my Panama trip I sent him an email telling him that I was back in Costa Rica and wanted to schedule an interview. He replied that I should give him a call. Getting ahold of this guy on the phone is nearly impossible. It was a pain in the ass in Samara and it was a pain in the ass again in Puerto Viejo. I never did reach him by phone from Puerto Viejo. Instead I decided to get on a bus and head to Heredia. I was going to get an interview if I had to picket his office. I emailed him again when I arrived in Heredia letting him know I was in town and that I’d like to come by his office the next day. He said I could come by any time. It’s nice that he’s flexible like that but for crying out loud but isn’t he the one who has a schedule. I told him I’d be there at 2:30.

The interview was a complete bust. I got to talk about myself for a few minutes, pitching my qualifications as an English teacher (not many) and hitting the former software engineer angle since I was applying for a position at a polytech school. I didn’t get the impression that he cared about me one way or the other. Instead I was informed that my training at TEFL International, Quepos was not good enough for his school and that I would need to take additional courses at my own expense at a teacher training school affiliated with his school. I might have bought that if he hadn’t hired a guy from TEFL International, Quepos a few weeks ago and I ignored the fact that he was pitching an affiliated school for me to give money to. Note to interviewers ... you are being interviewed too! Anyway ... that very promising prospect turned out to be very disappointing. On the bright side it appears that my resume is at least good enough to get me an interview.

Now what? I’m disappointed, a little pissed off, tired of moving around, jobless. I feel like I need a break. I know, I know, I’m in paradise traveling around doing mostly whatever I want. How could I possibly need a break? It would be nice to settle down someplace, preferably with a job, for awhile. I think I’ll go back to Quepos. I still have friends there. We’ve been keeping in touch since I left four weeks ago. It would be great to hang around people I know again ... just what I need. I like meeting people but at this point I’m a little tired of the travelers conversation. The travelers conversation consists of the following questions: Where are you from? When did you get here? How long are you staying? Do you like it here? What should I do while I’m here? Where were you before this place? Where are you going next? How long are you traveling for? Have you traveled much before? Is that your boyfriend over there? OMG. When I was in India on my first big solo trip I developed the “If you come near me you’ll regret it” look. It was necessary in India to have the look in your bag of travel tools to keep the local touts and scammers at bay. I think I have been using it unwittingly on other travelers lately. Yeah. Time for a break. I’m going to Quepos.

Posted by dfilipia 19:40 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged backpacking

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Just spent about an hour getting caught up on your travel blog.
Your a great writer! Reading about your experiences takes me right back to the south. That's a good thing! Heavy frost warning for tonight.OMG Enjoy every minute of it Dan.
Take care Catharine

by catharine vaillancourt

Good call on staying away from an all night hammock attempt! It ends poorly for you and anyone that has to spend time with you the next day...unless your next day involves only bobbing in the ocean:)
I too have developed a "stay away, I'm not interested or accessible" look...sometimes to fend off guys (I'm sure that's really why you have one too) sometimes cuz I'm really an old crotchety woman inside this younger body of mine. Glad you got back to Quepos...let me know how Spanish class goes.

by Faith

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