Since I’d killed my iPhone on the way to Costa Rica, I had no way of communicating once I arrived. It kinda makes me laugh to think of all the times I’ve been out with friends and didn’t have a signal because you know, T-Mobile, but I always responded that it was there when I needed it out of the country! Ha!
I had tried to download the email from the company that I used to book transportation to the hotel, but quickly realized it didn’t contain any actual instructions for finding my guide other than a local phone number. That wasn’t going to do me any good and the airport didn’t have wi-fi so I couldn’t email them.
I’d booked the ride for 8:00 pm since I didn’t know how long it would take to make it through customs. I was off the plane and through customs way ahead of everyone else and as I exited the secured area, I realized it was only 7:30. Well, I thought it was only 7:30. Lack of wi-fi meant I had no idea if the Google “phone” had auto updated the time when I arrived and I’d never done any research on their time zone.
As I exited through the door, loud speakers were blaring warnings about getting in vehicles that were not official taxis. I emerged on a sidewalk with various people lined up holding signs with names or signs that said “Taxi”. It was a lot like when I arrived in Istanbul except a significantly smaller crowd and the temp was a bit like hell only slightly more humid. I walked to the end of the sidewalk and then stopped to pull out my iPad and try to find the information about the guide. Another man approached me and asked if I needed a taxi. I told him I was waiting for my ride but I’d arrived early. He wandered off. I double checked my iPad and then put it away and tried to look like I wasn’t at all worried about what the hell l was going to do if I never found my ride. Eventually the guy who wanted to get me a taxi came back and asked me if I wanted to call my ride. I told him it was OK, I was just really early and I’m sure my ride would arrive soon. He wandered off. A few minutes later he came back and asked my name. I told him and he said he would keep an eye out for my sign. He wandered off. A few minutes later I heard someone calling me an I looked over and he was pointing at another guy who’d just arrived and was holding a Sherri Wilson sign! People in Costa Rica are so nice!
So my guide walked me over to his ginormous 15 passenger van. I wish I could have taken a picture of it, but I still hadn’t figured out how to do that with the Google “phone”. He told me he was Oscar Espinoza and that our ride was going to take about 3 hours. He asked if I wanted to stop at the grocery store first, but I was eager to get to the hotel and I had a feeling Jenni was waiting up for me!
We set off and Oscar asked me if I wanted to practice my Spanish. I told him I didn’t know much more than how to order a beer or find a bathroom so my practice ended pretty quickly. I let Oscar practice his English instead. He aid all the English he knew was from practicing with tourists. That is actually really amazing because his English was really good! Oscar was about my age but had never attended high school. He said back in the day English was not a required subject and there wasn’t any need to go to school. Now though, he has three kids and they all learned English.
As we left the city behind, it was fun to watch the cars on the road. They didn’t seem at all intimidated by the idea of lanes and kept zipping around us on both sides! He kept up a running stream of conversation. I learned all about his kids and life as a tour bus driver in Costa Rica. Then he started asking me questions. Do I drink? What do I drink? Do I like gin? Do I dance? The marimba? Was I single? It was starting to take a disturbing turn but then we began to climb into the mountains and Oscar had to concentrate.
The mountain roads reminded me a lot of the Tail of the Dragon. They were very skinny, with lots of blind curves and sharp turns. Occasionally we would cross very rickety looking skinny one-lane bridges. Thankfully, Oscar usually stopped and let anyone on the other side cross first. The higher we climbed the denser the fog became. That’s when Oscar decided to tell me about the wildlife he usually sees along the route (when it isn’t foggy!) Sloths and monkeys sounded cute. I was less excited about the coyotes, snakes and jaguars.
There were no lights on the roads, and as one point they didn’t even have reflectors. The fog was so think I could only see a couple of feet ahead of us at any given time. Oscar was a fantastic driver and got us safely to La Fortuna in just under 3 hours!
When I arrived Jenni was waiting in the reception area to greet me! It’s a good thing too, since there wasn’t anyone working there but the security guard and he didn’t speak any English! Jenni told me they’d left everything out for me and that I just needed to sign the paperwork and pick up my key. We thought about walking to our rooms but as soon as we set out it began to rain. Jenni went back to ask the security guard for a ride and they came around to pick me up.
I wish I’d been able to shoot some pictures of all of this, but the Google “phone”…