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A Trip to Costa Rica

I left Vancouver at 11:15 pm Wednesday, and took the red eye to Houston. Flight time was just over three hours, but because of the time change I arrived just as the sun was brightening the eastern sky. . On the way I was able to watch Cassiopea high in the sky while Orion gradually emerged closer to the horizon. Lightening lit the clouds, but being in a jet 5 miles up meant that I was looking down on the explosions of light.

I transferred planes and arrived in Costa Rica to find no cell service, despite the assurances of Telus. Unlike the US or Canada wifi was impossible to find, even in the airport. That definitely put a crimp in my plans. I had emailed the details of hotels and phone numbers of people I had to call on arrival, but was unable to acces them (I get lots of emails and the iPod doesn’t store them all on the device).

The first problem was meeting a friend in Juan Santamaria Airport. She was in transit from Ecuador to Liberia, in the north of the country, and we would be sharing a house. We planned to meet when I got in, but that didn’t happen.

What to do? I asked around for the bus, walked out to the highway, asked a guy cutting weeds where to catch it and how much it cost (about a buck), and was on my way. That brought back memories. The bus driver and what used to be called the “cobrador” laughing and shooting the breeze all the way down the pista, as the highway is called. They wracked their brains for a minute or two and then assured me that they knew where I could get off the bus to get wifi access.

Traffic was awesome, just as you’d imagine. Lots of trucks, taxis, motorcycles, buses and cars. Neither the speedo nor the tach worked on the bus, so I don’t know how fast we were going, but it was slow. Still, we still had the odd overloaded and underpowered motorcycle wedged between us and passing cars. The best part was the bus driver saying to his helper “maje, que susto!” (Wow, dude, that’s scary!) as the motorcycle almost got squished between us and a car!

When we got close to San Jose the traffic got backed up a little. Street vendors wandered around selling Rubic’s cubes and cell phone chargers. That special Third World combination of sewage and exhaust raised my spirits – I’ve always felt at home in places like this.

The bus crew let me off by an internet cafe on Paseo Colon. I walked in and asked if I could use the Wifi, but was informed (in the friendly way that Ticos have) that there was, despite the big sign, no internet access here anymore. I could, however, go to the Wendy`s, 100 meters down the street. I grabbed my pack, camera and guitar and started hoofing it. At Wendy`s, surprisingly, there was again no luck, but the security guard sent me down 100 meters and over 50 to find an internet cafe.

Usually in Costa Rica finding a simple place usually involves three to four people sending you to different places. You eventually get what you need, but its good to enjoy the journey. I was lucky today – there was the internet cafe, with no wifi, but with Skype, except all the Skype computers were being used. No big deal. I hit my email, let people know I was ok, and asked my office to call Telus and fix me up. The guy sitting beside me lent me his cel phone to make a local call to the pilot I was planning to fly to the beach with, and I got that squared away. We agreed it was to late to go that day and we confirmed a 5:00 am meeting at the Pavas airport for the next day.

Now the best part was that the internet cafe was about a block and a half from the first apartment we lived in when we moved to Costa Rica in 1977. I walked by and took a picture. It felt great to be home.

The next step was finding a place to stay. I still didn`t have email access to my phone, but I remembered the Hemingway Inn and Barrio Amon. A friendly cabby told me he`d charge 2,000 colones to take me there. I told him to drop me in the neighbourhood and I`d find it, but he insisted on driving around. We passed a few embassies that I remembered, and Parque Morazon, and the Casa Amarilla. He was about to drop me on my own when we looked out the window and saw the hotel sign right in front of us.

I walked in and $35 bucks later had a room with a private bath. Humble, and the bed smelled of raid, but I guess that means no bedbugs, so I was set.

I finished my calls, tried to get get Skype working (I failed) and then went exploring. The main street that used to be a skinny traffic nightmare is now a pedestrian throughway for blocks and blocks, and at 6:00 it was absolutely packed. I walked for blocks and blocks checking stuff out. San Jose, truth be told, isn`t charming, but it was cool to check out.

Simon Bolivar
THe Liberator, Simon Bolivar

Then it was back to the hotel for a shower and blog post. Ronaldo, the hotel manager, had arranged for a taxi driver friend of his to meet me at 4:30 to go to the airport. Larry, a guy I only know from an internet pilot`s forum, had agreed to fly me to Nosara. Video and pictures to follow!

My name is Rob Chipman and I’m a realtor, pilot and all around super hero based in Vancouver, BC. I really enjoy flying, playing guitar and hockey, real estate and the Chilcotin.¬† My company is¬†Coronet Realty Ltd., located at 3582 East Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC, V5K 2A7. I have a C-150L that I own with two other pilots, based out of Pitt Meadows. Do not hesitate to contact me by email if I can help you do anything, especially if its likely to be interesting.


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