Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Journey To Costa Rica

At last our spring break trip has arrived!  My writing of this blog entry is starting on board United Flight 1565 from Houston to San Jose, Costa Rica.  Surprisingly given that so many schools are on spring break this week the flight is not crammed packed with travelers.  I would estimate that the flight is only 75% – 80% full.  Based upon the ages of people on this flight there are plenty of students on board.  I guess most people are heading to Costa Rica for pleasure!

Our trip today has come off pretty much without a hitch.  As what has become my habit, my sleep pattern last night was on and off.  Zack got to bed around 10:00PM and I went to bed around 11:00PM.  Despite getting to bed at a reasonable hour, I kept waking up every hour.  This got even worse after midnight, to the point that at 5:00AM I just decided to give up on sleep and get up. 

There was still a lot of packing that I had to do, so I got busy on that.  I had planned pretty well for this trip and had all my laundry done by Wednesday evening.  When I folded the clothes on Thursday evening I had organized them into piles and just kept them piled in my room on the top of my dresser and sofa.  Packing clothes never really takes me long at all.  The tougher stuff to pack is all the other things that we take.  In our case this usually revolves around what electronics are we going to take.  Given the amount of time we are going to spend on or near the water, I make the decision to leave my best cameras and lens at home.  No use having them stolen, dropped in water or covered in sand.  Instead this trip it was all about the GoPro - I hope to get some interesting movies out of our travels - but shall see.

Once the majority of the packing was done I got to doing other tasks that needed to be done around the house for while we were gone.  At 8:30AM we took the dogs over to my brother’s house as he will be looking out for them this week.  Nancy is coming and staying at the house while we are gone so that did eliminate a bunch of other tasks for us. 

Since my brother wasn’t going on spring break with Celinde and Cole he had offered to drive us to the airport.  (He is taking classes right now for an advanced degree and his school's spring break doesn't match Cherry Creek.)  Tim showed up promptly at 9:00AM and we were off to the airport.  Once we arrived at the airport and got checked in we discovered the only hitch to the day – the lines at security.  The main lines in the center terminal seemed to be extremely crowded.  To save time we decided to use the normally much less crowded security checkpoint at the Concourse A land bridge.  I definitely got it wrong this time as the wait at that checkpoint was very long.  Oh well – it happens!

The backup at security made us have to rush to make to our flight before boarding began.  We wanted to get something to eat from the Concourse B food court and so that pushed us a little bit more.  We were flying out of gate B15 which is at the end of the concourse so we definitely scurried a little bit to make it there before boarding.  Despite our time concern we made it there in time and got a chance to eat a little bit of our food before boarding.

After that everything pretty much went on cue.  We left Denver around 11:40AM and arrived slightly a head of schedule in Houston at 2:25PM.  This gave us a bunch of time to walk around and stretch our legs, get some lunch and take care of buying some duty free things that I was bringing to my friend Ruben who is our host in Costa Rica.  The shopping list for duty free goods was pretty short.  Ruben had asked me to buy him his favorite cologne because it costs so much more in Costa Rica.  And then I took the liberty of buying a pretty good bottle of scotch for him as Ruben is a fan of scotch.  Unfortunately for that bottle of scotch I think it will have a very short life as I am certain between Ruben and myself we probably enjoy it all this week.

Our flight from Houston to San Jose took off on time.  An actual meal was served in route, which in this day and age is practically unheard of.  I guess the difference on this flight is that it is an international flight as opposed to a flight within the country.  The flight is only 3 hours long so for an international flight it is pretty darn short.

(I am finishing the blog from our hotel room in San Jose.)

In the past when I arrived in San Jose, getting processed through immigration and customs would take a significant amount of time.  However, the infrastructure to support arrivals has definitely changed and we had no wait time at all.  Our passports and immigration papers were given the once over and before you knew it we were picking up our luggage, moving through customs and then we were walking out of the airport.  Ruben was right there waiting for us and within 2 minutes we were in his car on the way out of the airport.

It was great to see Ruben and catch up with him.  I haven’t seen him since June of 2010 and a visit was way overdue.  Ruben and I have known each other for about 7 years.  We first met in Merrillville, Indiana when we were working on a project for a client there.  Ruben and his team were one of the first teams from my employer to move the Payroll function from the US to my employer’s delivery center in Costa Rica.  The work in Merrillville was extremely difficult but Ruben guided his team to a successful transition of the work.  We became close friend through the work we did and we found that we shared many of the same irreverent viewpoints on life and many other things.  Ruben is known as the king of political incorrectness due to completely hilarious musings on life and his friends.

The ride into San Jose from the airport was uneventful by Costa Rican standards.  Yes – you can take that as you will.  Costa Rica isn’t bad in terms of the overall driving situation.  It is nothing as crazy as India that is for sure but compared to the US, it certainly is a little bit less refined.  The bottom line is I don’t think the Costa Rican police force has any officers assigned to enforcing traffic laws – short of when some one is killed.

We took in some sites of the city, ate a light dinner at a very nice Italian restaurant (as it was already 10:00PM and no one was that hungry) and then Ruben dropped us at our hotel.  Zack quickly found his way to his bed and is sound asleep and I am here typing up a storm on my computer.

Tomorrow morning we will be up early and heading out of San Jose for the Caribbean Coast.  We will travel through the mountains and through the jungle until we reach the town of Limon.  This is the capital city of the Limon province and a thriving community.  We will spend a bunch of time enjoying some of the world famous beaches located there and drinking a bunch of mojitos.  It will be an excellent start to the week.  On top of just being in Limon, I am very much looking forward to the drive and seeing the beautiful Costa Rican countryside!

All-in-all I think today has been a good start to our vacation.  Over the next 2 days I do need to find some time to get a few things done for work.  As always seems to be the case a number of fairly large work issues arose on Friday right before it was time to end for the day.

Something I noticed today is that I can tell my body has gone through a lot with my broken leg and injured back.  The amount of muscle mass lost in my legs became apparent to me as we walked for large distances to get around the airports.  I had no problem doing all the walking, carrying luggage and running to make our first flight, but I noticed it was different than it was before.  At the end of vacation I will be taking some very serious action to rebuild the overall condition of my body.  Today proved to me that I can get back to full scale physical activity.  The only thing that felt really weird was my leg where the plate has been attached to my bone.  I don’t know but it was like I could actually feel the plate today as I put large amounts of pressure on that leg.  It felt weird!

Oh – one last thing to mention.  Zack and I are staying in a Holiday Inn tonight.  What is really funny about it being a Holiday Inn – is that it is a 5 star hotel.  Not crapping you – this place is beautiful and the rooms are great.  It’s such a far cry better than the Holiday Inns we have back in the US.

Well that does it for this evening.  I am hoping to blog my way across Costa Rica throughout this week.  But that will truly depend upon the Internet access available in the several different towns we are going to be staying in and my ability to give myself some time to write every day.  Umm… I think that latter challenge is going to be harder as once we get doing something fun, it might take away my ability to concentrate on spending time writing.  Oh well – I'll just have to wait and see.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

1 comment:

Johanna said...

Hope you have a nice getaway :)