By the time the phone rang, I had already performed my ablutions, and packed. I wasn't very hungry...which meant that I wouldn't go down for breakfast or coffee (as I wanted to stay away from the public bathrooms). I had to be at the airport at 9:30am as the plane took off at 12:30 pm and was expected to be in Los Angeles around 9:00pm.
The driver (thank God!) wasn't on Tico time. He arrived promptly at 8:30 am. The ride to the airport cost $30.00...however, if I were familiar with the bus system, I could have got to the airport for less than $2.00. The only trick was that I would have had to run across the free with my suitcase in tow in order to catch the bus to Alajuela which is about 20 km from where I was staying. Now can you imagine me trying to run across a highway with a suitcase and my carry-on bag....NOT (probable)!
Heading to the airport, I asked the driver if we would pass a "soda". As I explained in an earlier blog, a "soda" is a small place usually with only 1 person to serve and cook your food. At a "soda", you can get meat, beans, rice, and a drink for under $4.00. For those who know me...I would never take a chance at a "soda"...but I did want to snap a picture of one for my readers.
At first, I started to only arrive at the airport 2 hours prior to take-off...but not much was happening at the hotel, and I am anxious to get home. Were they serious???? 3 hours....no way would it take that long to get out of this place. But I'd rather be safe than sorry...so
Even though the airport traffic was very light...the long line of people going through customs was long. I'm glad that I paid my fees at the hotel. Overall...getting out of the country is much more arduous than entering it.
Once passengers pass through the original screening, there is another line to navigate through in which carry one items are scanned. Like LAX, you remove your shoes, take off your jewelry, your belt, and take your laptops out of the bag. The difference between LAX and Costa Rica is that in Costa Rica, you wait until the guard calls you to come to a specific conveyor line. In essence, instead of heading to a line, you wait until you are motioned for.
After passing through this line, you show your passport and airline ticket to yet another guard. Now I see why it takes 3 hours to get to your flight.
THE COSTA RICAN GIFT SHOP
Because of my volunteer schedule and the fear of shopping alone, I didn't buy many souvenirs while I was in Costa Rica. After the Auto A&M Mercado experience, I was hesitant to traverse the city alone; especially at the end of my volunteer day which ended around 4:00 pm. The sun sets around 5:30 in Costa Rica...I would have only had about 45 minutes to shop...and return safely to the hotel. NOT TAKING THAT CHANCE.
I was determined to buy a few things for my family...so I did my shopping at the airport. I had about an hour before the plane was to take off.
A notable difference between boarding a plane in Costa Rica and the good ole U.S. of A, is that before you board the plane, your carry-on bag is physically searched, and the guards use a wand to make sure that you aren't carrying any illegal weapons with you. (Now this...after all the other stuff we had to go through to get this far...this might just be overkill.)
Finally settled into my seat 2D. As we're taking off...I notice that Costa Rica looks very pretty from the airplane...but then again, I guess everything looks better from a distance :-() Not that I have that many complaints about my trip.
I'm glad that I don't have a seat mate for this leg of my trip and hope that my luck holds out all the way home. I'm happily leaving "Pura Vida" for the hustle and grind of the United States.
It's a peaceful flight with no crying babies...or yacking seat mates; not that I have anything against children...as my late hubby and I had 3 of our own.
Wow! I absolutely love the warm mixed nuts American Airlines serves. I'm going to miss the warm nuts if American is bought out by another airline and run under another banner.
I ordered the chicken as my meal (after all, by this time it was afternoon). The chicken turned out to be sliced chicken breasts served over Spanish rice. I wish I had brought the bottle of hot sauce that Eduardo gave me - instead of packing it in my luggage. (On the other hand...it probably would have been confiscated before I boarded...so it's a good thing that I didn't pack it). I ate a few bites of the rice and a bit of the chicken and decided I'd wait for the ice cream or cookies (or whatever they serve for dessert) instead.
Today's dessert turned out to be vanilla ice cream with some type of carmel coated nuts. I scrapped off the topping and enjoyed the ice cream...I'm satisfied...for the moment.
Once I get to Miami, I'll have about 50 minutes to make my connection and board the plane to LAX. Even though Miami is a huge airport, I'll have plenty of time to connect..
The first leg of my trip back home is coming to an end....My ears are popping as we begin our descent. I'm also getting sleepy...but excited to be in America!
FROM MIA (Missing In Action ???) TO LAX
Going through customs in Miami is a chore..but I'm glad to be heading home. Once you deplane from San Jose, passengers must exit the airport then stand around and push your way through customs. There is no line...simply a disorganized mass of people attempting to get through one door. Once you get to the door, your carry on is searched again, your body is scanned, and you have to once again remove your shoes, jackets, belts, and laptops. You passport is checked - yet again.
After your carry on is returned, and you put your shoes and jacket back on, it's time to search for your flight number in order to find out which gate to head towards. By this time, over 40 minutes had passed. I found the sky shuttle and made it to the gate with minutes to spare.
This leg of my flight had a number of college students on it. From the snippets of conversation I heard, many are USC students majoring in some type of health science.
Finally I'm aboard a 767..never been on one before. It's definitely much better than the other jets I've flown on. For one, in first class the configuration is 2 - 1 - 2. This is the first time that I've seen this type of configuration. The seats are super wide! The seats vibrate and massage and let out into a bed. This is absolutely marvelous. NOTE TO SELF - Always try to book a 767 flight!!!
No such luck on not having a seat mate on this leg of the journey. A young woman with an outfit similar to a flight attendant's uniform is my seat mate. It turns out she is a flight attendant. Once again, this is a full flight...hopefully, she's not a "chatty Cathy".
God is definitely watching over me on this trip. A mother and her young child are traveling together...yet their seats are separate. The woman who had the window seat (next to the mother) said that she did not want to give up her seat. (Definitely no Latin courtesy from her) The mother's seat was the aisle seat in the row in front of me -- and the child seat assignment was the single seat on the same row was mine. I offered my seat -- which meant that (I hoped) the flight attendant would have to sit in the seat in the front row. The young girl would have my seat...and the mother would have the aisle seat. Voila! Problem solved...My guess was right...since the flight attendant was flying (to get from point A to point B), I could take the single seat in the middle, or sit next to "Miss 'I'm Not Changing Seats to Help You Outl". For those who know me...you know I chose the single seat. I don't really care about the window. I choose the window seat because I don't have to worry about people crossing in front of me.
Here I am...all settled in for a 5 1/2 hour flight. It's been a long day, and I'm hoping for a bit of rest.
About 5 hours into the flight, the smell of fresh baked cookies fills the air waking up most passengers who had fallen asleep (including me). The flight attendants passed through the cabin offering a choice between chocolate chip and coconut cookies. Because I'm not a big chocolate fan, I grabbed a coconut cookie...and found it to be quite delightful.
While waiting for my luggage to arrive, I call for my ride... After waiting for about 20 minutes for my luggage to appear, I searched out an airport employee. She said that I needed to go to the "Lost Baggage Counter" to see what happens. After standing in line for about 20 more minutes, I found out that my bag took the circuitous route to Los Angeles via Puerto Rica. After completing a form which had questions such as what color is your bag, and list 3 specific items in the bag:
1. Macintosh Air
2. Green journal filled with writing
3. 1 pair of strappy flat brown sandals.
According to the young woman at the counter...I would have my bag by 10:00 am tomorrow.
Looking at the bright side...at least I don't have to unpack tonight.