Costa Rica Trip (Day 1)

Okay!  Let’s try to do this today.

Justin and I left the house on Tuesday, September 30th at about the same time I would normally leave for work.  We got to the airport and checked our luggage without any problems and went to go wait for our plane.  I *love* the Savannah airport.  It’s bright and sunny and friendly, and there’s only about a dozen gates.  Plus, when we were flying out on Tuesday, it was nearly empty.

Our flight to Charlotte was uneventful, but we landed a little late and I felt panicked that we were going to miss our connecting flight.  So we buzzed through the airport as quickly as we could.  They were already boarding, but since it was a big plane, Justin took advantage of the long line to run off to the restroom—thus making me even more nervous that he wasn’t going to get back in time.  But he did and we started flying down to the San Jose airport.

The flight to San Jose was also pretty uneventful.  It was long-ish, about 4¾ hours long, but not unbearable.  Justin dozed and I read my book and we landed around 1:00 local time (2 hours ahead of EST).  We followed the signs to get to Immigration and got our stamps in our passports, collected our luggage with everybody else, withdrew some cash and exchanged it for local currency (colones, between 500-550 per $1), went through customs (Crazy easy!  Hand the man our form and run our bags through an x-ray), and out.  To get to the place where we were staying that night, the hotel recommended we use the airport taxi service to drive us, so we found the taxi booth at the end of the rental car booths and told the woman there where we wanted to go.  She found it, we paid her, and she gave us a ticket number for the taxi who would drive us.  We walked out with our ticket, a taxi man came up and took our ticket and the bag I was carrying, and put us into  his taxi (the number on the taxi matched the number on the ticket, so I was comfortable with this).  And then he drove us to Los Volcanes Hotel (or Bed and Breakfast, whichever).

He dropped us off, we walked into the hotel, got checked in, and relaxed for a while.

Okay, now let’s go back a little bit.  The trip from the airport, which, by the way, is almost as small as the Savannah airport but seems much bigger because it’s so crazy, took about five minutes.  About 90 seconds into the trip, I was very thankful that we hadn’t planned to rent a car because we would have been killed.  We drove into Alajuela, which is a smaller city than San Jose and just slightly north and west from the airport.  Probably 90% of the streets are one-way.  And people drive halfway into the intersection to see if anyone is coming before stopping.  If they stop at all.  It was insane.

And the atmosphere of the city was completely different than here in the States.  There’s the road, which is small and crowded, and then a deep trench for rainwater before you get to the sidewalk, which is probably crumbling and falling apart.  And then homes and businesses right up at the street with an iron grate or fence or gate of some kind.  Sometimes the building is set back from the street with a small courtyard, but there is always a metal fence keeping the property separate from the sidewalk and street.  There were garages that had beautiful and spotless tiles that matched the front room of the house to which they were attached.  So at first glance, because of the conditions of the road and sidewalks, it seems like the area is quite run down.  Plus there’s signage all over the place, 98% in Spanish which we didn’t understand very well, that didn’t help at all.  But behind the fences, most of the buildings were quite beautiful.

LosVolcanes.JPGLos Volcanes had a front courtyard behind a fence.  So we opened the gate and walked up a sidewalk and up the steps to the front door, which was also gated.  We didn’t know how to get in, so we called out a few times before someone came around the side of the building to let us in.  It turned out to be the manager of the hotel, so he walked us in and gave us our key.  He was incredibly helpful.  He asked if there was anything we would need in the morning, and when we told him we would need a taxi, he said that he would take care of calling it and make sure that it was there on time.  He walked us down the hallway in the front of the building and into the inner courtyard, where there was a dining area and kitchen and some seating near a fountain.  He explained that breakfast would be served there, and then walked us around the corner to our room, where he explained how the lights and air conditioning worked and that we could access the internet at the computer just outside our room.  We mentioned that we’d need to find dinner and he recommended a few places within walking distance that we could try.  And then he left us to relax a little.

The room was fantastic.  Great big window that looked out onto the interior courtyard, flat panel TV, air conditioning, big bed, large closet to store our things (with safe, though we didn’t bother), and a wall-bench where we could sit or set our things.  And the bathroom was tiled beautifully and had wonderful fixtures.  It was really lovely.  This was a huge relief because I found the place online and had only a handful of reviews and a couple website listings to base my opinion on.  The only problem we had was that there wasn’t hot water in the morning.  But I had been really scared that the place was going to be terrible—I was so relieved to find out it was so nice!

We sat around for a while just relaxing.  I read more of my book, Justin logged onto the computer to see if his work was managing without him.  They weren’t, so he spent more time working on work and poking at other things online.  Eventually we did walk out from the hotel and down the street to see if we could find something to eat.  We managed to get a little bit lost—in the sense that we weren’t entirely sure where we were in relation to where we’d started, but Justin was sure he could find his way back if we’d gone back the way we came.  It turned out we’d simply walked one block too far and we were able to find the hotel again.  And then we found a place known for its “Tex-Mex” food.  This was hilarious because it’s just like the food we call Mexican around here.  Pricing turned out to be fairly equivalent to pricing here in the States and that held through pretty much the whole trip.  I never really got the handle on it, but if I’ve got my math right, I’d order something that was 3,500 colones and it would cost about $7.

Anyway, we had a lovely dinner, found our way back to the hotel, relaxed for the rest of the evening, and went to bed.  And I felt very happy about our success at managing to make all our flights, arrive with our baggage, make it seamlessly though customs and all the way to our hotel, and even make it out to someplace for dinner.  We could do this!  We could travel!

walllights.JPG(This is much longer than I’d originally thought I’d go, so I’m going to stop there for today and pick it up again tomorrow.  Plus, my lunch is over and I’ve really got to get back to work.  But I’ll try to write more tomorrow!)