Saturday, March 31, 2012

Costa Rica Exit and Finding Helen of Troy

Sorry it has been a bit since I have updated the blog.  After we came back from Costa Rica, I just needed to take a break for a while.

I supposed I should finish off the story of our Costa Rican trip with the last day we were there.  We arrived back in San Jose on Tuesday afternoon and got set up in hotel.  After dropping us at the hotel Ruben headed home to deal with the family medical issue.  The actual medical issue is that one of his uncles has been ill for a while but in recent days the situation had turned much more grave and his uncle was expected to die within a short period of time.  As a result all members of the family were being called in to sit with his uncle during his last days.  So given the situation Ruben had to make the call he did to cancel out of the rest of the trip.  Given where I have been in life, I know the importance of having family around to help out in situations like that.

Last Tuesday Zack and I spent most of the day in San Jose wandering around the city.  It was a hard day for me as I was having extensive pain from my back and I didn’t have any pain pills with me.  I had made the call to leave all my pain pills at home because I was becoming concerned that my body was building up a dependency upon them.  A good friend of mine, Heather who had been on these same pills for a back problem of her own, told me that she had gone through some serious withdrawal symptoms when she stopped using them.  I wanted to avoid that situation.  In the end run my decision to leave the pills behind in the US was the right one.  Tuesday and Wednesday were absolute hell when it came to the amount of pain I was feeling, but by this weekend things had started to resolve themselves and my pain levels were way down.

On Tuesday evening we joined Ruben and several of his friends for a concert in Costa Rica’s National Theater.  The Alan Parsons Project had been in Costa Rica for several days performing shows and this was to be the highlight show as it was being performed indoors at the National Theater.  Having been in the National Theater before, I knew we would be in for quite a show!  The Theater is absolutely beautiful with lots of ornate decorations and beautiful paintings.  The acoustics of the place are also tremendous!  The band put on a top notch show.  The amount of energy and effort that they put into the music was phenomenal!  Not having listened to music from Alan Parsons since I was in my early 20’s there were a lot of songs with which I was unfamiliar.  However there were also a lot of the old time favorites from the early days of the band.  Regardless of whether they were new or old songs the show was great!  It definitely got me in the mood to think about seeing some concerts this summer under the stars at Red Rocks here in Denver.

Zack wasn’t exactly thrilled with the idea of sitting through an entire concert but once the music started he was very into it.  This was the first concert he had ever attended so it was a great experience for him.

The concert lasted until 10:00PM after which Zack and I headed back to the hotel and got some room service for a late dinner.  Shortly afterwards Zack was sound asleep.  The same could not be said of me as my mind was a mess of horrible distractions and my body was racked with pain each time I turned or tried to flip over.  No good!  In the end I slept fitfully for about 2 hours and then finally decided at 4:30AM to give up the quest for more sleep.  Instead I sat in front of the window and stared down at the San Jose Cityscape.  It seemed like it took forever for the sun to come up and the day to get started.  San Jose and Costa Rica in general is an early rising country.  Given the hours of day light seemed more skewed to the morning, most people are up and about by 6:00AM.

We packed up and headed out to meet Ruben who was coming by to take us to the airport.  He arrived promptly at 9:00AM which gave us 2 hours and 45 minutes to make our flight, which may seem like a lot but not with the lines at the San Jose airport.  We made it to the airport quickly enough and got there to find the normal lines I have experienced in every past trip to Costa Rica.  The line for check in on United Airlines as normal stretched out the door of the terminal.

The first step in the boarding process is to pay the Costa Rican airport authority fee.  Once done we waited in the long line in front of the United counter.  As we stood there waiting we heard an announcement that they were looking for a lot of volunteers to be bumped to a later flight because of a weight issue with the airplane.  For whatever reason 737-900 aircraft have a lower tolerance for difficult wind conditions and a full cargo load.  They were looking for 30 volunteers who would each get $350 in an airline credit.  Since the next flight was only an hour later and we didn’t have anything planned for the evening, we decided to take the later flight.  We also decided while we were standing there, that we are going to New York City for Thanksgiving again and we will use the airline credit to purchase those tickets.  We were happy with our decision to take the opportunity to be bumped as it made us a fair amount of money and our new flight was also on time.

One thing that I always like about the San Jose airport is the way the planes take off there.  Due to the heat and the high altitude of San Jose airplanes have a difficult time getting enough lift to talk off.  The solution to the problem is to take off at much higher speeds.  It took about 40 minutes to get the plane boarded and the luggage and cargo stowed.  When we got to the active runway, the pilot held the brakes of the airplane on and let the engines go to something near full blast.  All at once he let off the brakes and the airplane shot a head like a bullet out of a gun.  Down the runway we went, gaining increasing larger amounts of speed.  It is difficult to tell how fast the airplane was going but it was certainly much higher than the normal takeoff speed of 150 miles per hour.  After running down the runway for what seemed forever, the pilot quickly brought the front end of jet up in the air and we rotated off the surface like a military jet hitting its afterburners.  San Jose always provides for some of the most dramatic takeoffs that you get to experience.  It’s just like taking off from John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, though Orange County requires the dramatic takeoff mechanism because of a noise ordinance. 

The flights back home were routine.  The only issue we had at all was how long it took for us to clear immigration and customs in Houston.  It took us almost 1.5 hours to get through both immigration and customs and as a result we came pretty close to missing our flight from Houston to Denver. 

On the flight to Denver, Zack did a notable good deed.  We had the middle and window seats on the right hand side of the airplane.  There was an elderly African-American gentleman sitting next to us in the aisle seat.  You could tell just by the look on his face and his demeanor, he really wasn’t all that comfortable flying.  When the flight attendants were bringing around drinks and for-purchase snacks, I got one of the snacks for Zack since we didn’t have a chance to eat in Houston.  The gentleman next to us didn’t realize that airlines no longer give out peanuts or pretzels or whatever.  When the flight attendant came around to get our drink order, Zack heard this gentleman asking the flight attendant about something to eat.  Obviously the flight attendant didn’t have anything.  So Zack opened up his snack box and asked the gentleman if he would like the package of pretzels that came with it.  He accepted Zack’s offer.  It was a very kind gesture by Zack.

We got home with no problem.  My brother came to the airport to pick us up and we were home by 9:40PM.  We stopped at my brother’s house and transferred our luggage into his Explorer and got Finn and Lex.  The pups were exceedingly happy to see us and they were thrilled to be home.

Even though our trip didn’t exactly take place the way that we had anticipated it was still a good trip.  I feel very comfortable in Costa Rica as I have now been there either 5 or 6 times.  Next trip Zack and I will head back to Costa Rica we will make sure we have back up plans in case any emergencies occur.  I really want to spend some time in the northern part of the country and see the La Arenal volcano and Pacific Coast.  We are definitely going to do that and do that soon.  Costa Rica – Zack and I will be back!

Now that our trip to Costa Rica is over I am starting to shift gears and prep for our trip to Iceland.  As of now I haven’t yet purchased our airline tickets but my plan is to do that within the next week.  What I am starting to discover as the key to our Icelandic vacation is the rental of the proper car.  Looking through the available cars I have been able to find online, the car is going to cost as much or even more than the price of the airline tickets to fly to Iceland.  Then you add on top of that the price of gasoline in Iceland and you have a very substantially priced item.  Right now I feel that the rental of the right car/jeep is the most critical part of our vacation, so I will be spending a lot of time in the next 2 weeks researching it.

Now it is time to move onto the last subjects of the day.  The first thing I guess I should note is that our trip to Costa Rica revealed to me that I am not that far out of the main stream of life.  At times I have worried with my sense of who and what I am that I have been outside of the main stream of life.  And yet when I was in Puerto Viejo and I saw all the people there who were obviously into smoking a lot of herb or drinking their days away – every single day, I realized that though my life is tough and strenuous, I do handle it better than many other people.  That is a scary thought in a lot of ways, but yet I can take some solace from the fact that my life is OK and a lot of other people who live in a tropical paradise struggle more than I do.

The absolute last subject of the day is something that I am going to call Helen of Troy.  I suppose most of you are familiar with the story of Helen of Troy.  She was a Greek princess who was “kidnapped” or seduced from her home by Paris a prince of Troy.  The say is that the beauty of “Helen of Troy” launched a thousand ships.  As a result of her kidnapping the Trojan Wars ensued which eventually ended up with the Greeks constructing their “Trojan Horse” that they used to enter Troy, and then destroyed it.  So what the hell could I possibly be writing about that has to do with Helen of Troy?  Simple – there was a Facebook profile picture taken this afternoon that can only compare to Helen of Troy.  Rarely in my life have a found a beauty that compares to the absolute beauty any man can imagine.  In my case I have a difficult time finding a woman who compares to the beauty of my late wife Patty.  It may seem disrespectful, but I know Patty would appreciate the beauty to which I am referring. 

Today a picture captured a beauty that I haven’t seen before even though I am intimately familiar with the subject.  That is pretty much about all I can say about it.  I am stunned and amazed by what my eyes have seen.  To my friend who was the subject of this picture, you probably have no idea how your image has affected so many people – but you are truly gorgeous.  And yes – I am sure I have embarrassed the hell out of you.  Sorry!

Oh well – it is time to wrap it up for the night.  I have been sitting here writing for a long time all the while sipping vodka and “Full Throttle” energy drink.  It is nearly the witching hour for Zack to go to bed and for me to put the alcohol away and reflect upon the day.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend so far.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

No comments: