Liberia, Costa Rica
Feb. 4, 2015
Can this really be a vacation? A vacation from what? Sanity?
Things seemed to be going oh so well. What went wrong? First I got a window seat at the last minute instead of a middle seat. Then, try not scoff at this bit of good news, my gate at the Houston airport was directly across from the gate that I landed at. Directl across! Not 35 feet. How many times has that happened to you. Try never.
The three and a half hour flight was as mellow as can be when you are squealed into a seat that was meant for an dwarfed infant. Landing, customs, and even the airport pickup to take me to my rental car went very smooth, but it was after 10 pm and all I wanted to be was snug in my bed dreaming of adventures with monkeys the next day. One small snag happened at the Budget Rental agency. Our reservation was made for March 3rd and NOT February 3rd. We laughed at the stupid mistake and the concierge said that he could still do the reservation, but that since it was not booked online he said he would have to charge me an extra $5 per day. It seemed like a fair punishment and besides I just wanted to be on the road. Then he told me that there was a $30 per day charge for rental insurance. This was not my first rodeo, so I told him that I didn't need it because my credit card paid the liability. So he called my credit card 800 just to verify what I said was right. He got them on the phone and they verified it, but when we got off he handed me a bill for $955, instead of the $365 that we had booked. He wouldn't budge so I said call me a cab.
A $20 cab ride latter and I was finally at my hotel. The pleasant night clerk couldn't find my reservation. Oh oh, you guessed it was for March. Fine I said–it was now after midnight — just give me a room and I will pay for it. He said he only had one room left for only 2 nights, not the 3 I needed, and, surprise surprise it would be $75 per night, not the $45 we had booked. I pleaded with him for some kind of common decency and got him down to $68.
Finally I was in my room. I it was hot and humid inside so turned on the a/c on full, took off my clothes and laid down on the bed. Five minutes later the electric went off. Phew, what a day. Tomorrow will surely be better.
Feb. 5, 2015
But it wasn't!
A nice breakfast was added and it was after all free. I set off to town to see what if looked like. I couldn't walk there because of all of the road construction so I took a cab. Just $5. I wanted to see downtown and buy a SIM card for my iPhone. The real phone place was closed so I headed for the market. I bought 2 SIM's, and after I paid the $4 he told they wouldn't fit in my iPhone. Nice, but today was my day, and I was not about to let $4 get in the way my vacation in paradise.
The next stop was the bank to exchange some dollars for colones. The young bank guard after wanding me and checking inside my bag, helped me get a ticket. The machine that spit out the paper ticket was a little complicated to negotiate so I was happy for the help. E784 was my number, it took me a while to figure out how the system worked, because there were a whole series of letters- not just “E”, but after some studying of the electric board above the tellers desks I determined that they were on E702. ” Just 82 people ahead of me,” I muttered in English to noone in particular. I sat down for the hour and a half wait.
I read, I figited, I played solitaire and before you knew it it was my turn. Several forms to sign, a copy of my passport and I was on my way with 132,000 colones. By then the real phone store was open and a very nice young woman helped me make the right purchase. Several forms, a copy of my passport, and on hour later I was back in the sunshine. I had indeed managed to piss away the morning so now it was time to go to the Payless Rent a Car office. Kim had booked a compact SUV for $315 for the week.
It was more difficult finding a taxi than I should have been, but after explaining where I wanted to go, negotiating for a $2 fee, my driver drove around the block and stopped in front of a Payless Shoe store. More negotiations in Spanish–we were now up to $10–and we were on our way to the airport road. A few stops to ask directions and more negotiations on price–it was further than he thought–and it was finally time to get my own set of wheels.
A very nice English speaking attendant helped me. I was the only one there so we chatted about life in Costa Rica and life in the US. Then he dropped the bomb of a price. It was to be $844! I said that there was no way I could afford that and cutting some extras we got the price to $664. I asked him to call me a cab. Back in the sunshine I surveyed my options. They were not good, so I said what the F**K and headed back into the office. Just then a mini van showed up with two couples. They were now ahead of me. I popped my head in the office and told him I decided to go for it, so when he was done with them we could finish the paperwork. He said he would call and cancel the cab.
It took the first couple over an hour to finish their negotiations and they were not happy. The second husband, who had been bitching all the while assured me that he had pre-purchased insurance so this would be quick.. Two more minivans pulles up with reservationistas. Another hour passed and these people were even less happy than the first. His pre-purchased insurance was no good, so he had to call and cancel it and then purchase new, much more expensive insurance. There was a lot of grumbling among the new arrivals as to who could be taking so long. After all, they had reservations and prepaid. They assured me they just needed to sign and get the keys. I told them the wait was because what ever your Internet price was, the real cost is double. They all grumbled a lot, but then got real quiet as the looked at their own options.
Finally it was my time. It did go fairly quickly. Several copies of passport, drivers licence, credit card and in less than a half hour I was pulling out into the sunshine in a Susuki 4×4. I turned left, and headed for the country. I found the first bar and had an ice cold Imperial beer.
Good day! Tomorrow Kim comes. Yeah!