Billy Joe here. Chester and I are now in Costa Rica, having arrived last night from Atlanta. We almost missed our flight because Chester screwed up. We took turns driving overnight from Mobile to Atlanta and I was sleeping along one stretch. Well, Chester needed to get gas and he saw a gas station on the interstate that was on the opposite side of the exit. So he proceeds to pull off the interstate, cross the bridge and pull into the gas station facing the opposite way we were headed, in order to fill up. Then, he wakes me up, but forgets to tell me the car is facing the opposite direction. He lays down to sleep in the back seat as I climb in the driver’s seat. Then I drive out of the gas station in the direction the car is pointed, which was the wrong way. I didn’t notice it for about an hour until I realized the distance to Montgomery kept shrinking on the signs. I finally figured it out and turned around, but we lost about two hours. Good thing we left plenty early because we just made it to the airport in time.
I’m writing this from the hotel where we’re staying near the airport in San Jose as we wait for our driver to come and take us to Haco. We’re staying at Marriott Courtyard which is pretty much like every other one I’ve stayed at, even though we’re in a foreign country. I like the familiarity. They also have a full workout gym. Yeah, like THAT’S going to happen.
I have to tell you right off that I think my plan of moving to Costa Rica is going to work out fine because there’s a Walmart right down the street. I didn’t see a Sam’s Club, though. I thought Costa Rica was going to be all adobe houses and stuff – like Mexico, but it’s not. Look at the picture I posted. You can see these houses from the hotel. It looks like I’ll fit right in.
Another thing I noticed, being a backyard mechanic myself: most of the cars I’ve seen are nicer than the ones back home in Alabama. I thought Costa Rica would be like them pictures I seen of Cuba: 1950s cars all over, along with lots of burros and wagons pulled by donkeys. Nosiree. The transportation is quite modern here. It seems like everyone is driving a new car. Of course, this is a tourist country so they could all be tourists driving rentals.
When we got off the plane, I expected to see the usual soldiers in fatigues with rifles, like when I visited Mexico. But the soldiers weren’t around, for some reason. I haven’t seen one yet. I guess they hide from the tourists so we don’t see them.
We walked off the plane and didn’t even have to set foot outside. They have the same kind of enclosed walkways as in America, which was a surprise. We walked right into the airport and went straight to the baggage area, which was another surprise. They had a baggage carousel just like in an American airport. Except all the signs were in Costa Rican, but the carousels were numbered in American numbers. It looks like they have a different word for almost everything down here, but the numbers are the same when you see them. I did find two words that are the same, a passenger told me to know in case I needed help: doctor and hospital. We wrote those two words down, just in case. I think they kept those words the same for tourists in case they need medical help. For some reason, “help” is not the same in Costa Rican. Go figure. I’ll just wave my arms a lot, like I’m drowning if I need help. I’m sure they’ll figure it out. Oh, and the electricity stayed on the entire time I was at the airport.
Here’s a video of the airport taken by somebody else.
I was really blown away by how helpful everyone was when we walked out of the airport. There was this crowd of people standing around the exit who all wanted to help us with our bags. I guess they just come down to the airport every day to help people. Everyone wanted to help me and Chester with our luggage. Well, we made our way to a taxi (which was orange instead of yellow) and I told him to take us to the Marriott. I couldn’t figure out the taxi meter because the numbers on the meter weren’t in dollars. It was about a five-minute drive and it said 2.053. I didn’t know how much that was so I figured a $20 would cover it. The taxi driver seemed OK with that and gave me a big smile. I didn’t get his name so I just called him Jose.
Oh, I almost forgot. It’s warmer here than it was in Atlanta. It’s like fall temps in the 80s.
Our hotel room was pretty nice and had air conditioning and a flat-screen TV, just like in an Americam Marriott. But then, that’s why I like to stay at hotel chains I know. There’s a familiarity to them. Everyone speaks American here in the hotel, so far.
We had dinner in the hotel restaurant – or restaurantay, as they say, in Costa Rica. It doesn’t look like they’re too big on steaks in Costa Rica, judging from the menu. I ordered fried shrimp because I’m from Alabama and there’s nothing better than Gulf shrimp. This shrimp gave them a run for their money, though. I think it may have been imported Gulf shrimp. I was surprised pie was not on the desert menu. I guess they don’t eat much pie in Costa Rica.
Here’s a free dining tip from Billy Joe: To find out if the restaurant you want to eat at is really “fine dining,” ask if they have shrimp (called “prawns” sometimes). If they don’t, it’s not “fine dining.”
I ordered a Budweiser with dinner and I later found out it was $7 American! Somebody is making a killing. It made me consider bringing down American beer and reselling it for some extra cash. They didn’t have PBR and I don’t know what to think of that.
We watched American TV in our room and found we had internet, so that’s how I am able to post this. If you don’t hear from me for a few days as we head to Haco, you’ll know they don’t have internet there. I’ll also let you know if they have ice.
The only surprise we got at breakfast was no grits. I think the restaurant was out, for some reason. I had fresh orange juice, eggs, bacon, pancakes, and hash browns. Oh, and the local coffee is pretty good too. It may be imported.
I still haven’t seen anyone begging, even at the airport or along the street in front of the hotel. I thought the place would be crawling with them, like in Mexico. I also have yet to see a bug. If I do, I’ll have to pull out my bug zapper.
This is Billy Joe signing off.