Friday, February 17, 2017
Costa Rica Diaries, Part 2
January 28, 2017
I’m headed to the airport – just said goodbye to Ben. I will miss him but since we only get to see each other on the weekends, this week will be like normal but with more expensive text messages and no hope of meeting my daily FitBit step goals. I fully intend on seeing Costa Rica, through the looking glass, as it were. If I wanted to commune with nature and animals and those who don’t necessarily understand me while sweating in the heavy humidity, I could simply go to Mississippi.
I’m sitting in the Delta Sky Lounge as I got to the airport very early to ensure a stress-free passage. When I showed Delta my return flight ticket for Alaska Airlines, they said, “No problem” and I fairly zipped through security arriving at my gate a full four hours ahead of my flight boarding time of midnight-thirty. The Sky Lounge is very quiet with comfy seats and great food and now that I’ve experienced it for the first time, I am hooked. Gonna go peruse the buffet. Yes, I said buffet.
January 29, 2017 (7:00 am – 1:00 pm)
Sleepless flight. I’m in row 18 and the light outside the restroom is shining in one spot and that would be directly into my face. I asked if they could turn it off, point it elsewhere or at least dim it. I never realized how many ways you can be told no. At least I caught up with my TV viewing, watching Season 9 of Big Bang Theory. It’s not as funny as it used to be. Awoke tired but with the bonus energy often afforded travelers, I was able to speed through customs like a visiting dignitary.
First impressions: cool and windy at 8:30 in the morning. Costa Rica doesn’t seem any more “foreign country” than Miami if I’m being honest. Just bought a bottle of water from a very friendly lady, paying Lord only knows what as I don’t understand the exchange rate or their currency – colonnes. For my change I received colorful bills and two rather impressive coins. These coins have personality as if they might have magical properties or allow me entry to somewhere off-path and spectacular.
I was instructed by my hosts to wait at the airport for the other attendees to arrive. Unsurprisingly I got here first. There is nowhere to sit other than this concrete bench so I guess my “roughing it” has begun. Via the wonder of Facebook Messenger, Zeke Tyrus (of the San Buenas Writer's Retreat) gave me the scoop on the one restaurant at la aero puerto; Deli Malinche, where I had a ham and cheese croissant, because I could recognize what it was and point to it, and a café con leche. Delicious. Not to take away from their culinary prowess but if I’m being honest, at this point, I would have tried to eat a boot or a dead body if you had melted cheese on it. Soy Queso!
I’m sitting here alternately reading The Tangier Diaries, as recommended by Zeke, and people watching. I just marked a great passage, “The difference between our god and theirs is us.” I’m experiencing some truth while I wait.
After several hours I am hungry again so I am attempting to order food at the restaurant. I pointed to what I wanted (it was cafeteria style) but when I tried to ask if it was spicy I couldn’t think of the word for ‘hot’. Asking if it was ‘not cold’ caused confusion. My brain took over and used the only other language with which I have any familiarity – American Sign Language. I abruptly signed ‘hot’, which is forming a claw with your dominant hand, placing the thumb and fingers at the sides of your mouth. Then you quickly turn your hand toward the other person as if removing something hot from your mouth. The servers eyes widened in fear. Afraid this choreography was going to leave me bereft of food, I smiled, pointed at what looked like tuna salad, smiled and said, “Gracias”. She did not smile back. Where, oh where, is Senora Franklin (my high school Spanish teacher) with her side pony-tail and snide attitude when I need her? Luckily I can say chicken, watermelon, bathroom, ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘I’m sorry’ in Spanish. Also, should the need arise, beer and party. I think I’m all set.