Costa Rica: Travel Days
13-15 December 2016
Well, I’m going to miss our first storm of the winter. I checked the Air Canada website this morning and found St. John’s included in the weather alert list, so this means I could rebook with no fees. When I tried to change the flight yesterday, before the alert was issued, the cost would have been about $300 (fee and fare difference). I decided to wait for today to see if the storm would fizzle, but instead, it grew to 20 cm with near-hurricane force winds.
The plane might make it in. I just wouldn’t make it to the airport.
I had a choice of three flights and took the one at six. This way, I should make it to the hotel in time to watch Monday Night Football and see the Pats defeat the Ravens.
The flight was on time from St. John’s but the luggage took a long time to show up. I headed down to the shuttle by 9:30 and called the Comfort Inn to come get me. It beats having to sit and wait for the shuttles that run on the hour or half hour. I used to stay in the Alt which meant no shuttles as it was on the terminal train route, but the cost of the room was approaching $200 a night. I got the Comfort Inn for $135.
The hotel is older than the Alt but it’s perfect for a layover. It even includes a basic breakfast which is nice.
With two days to spend in Toronto, I realized I could catch a bus, Mi-Way Route 7, from Pearson to the Square One Mall, one of the largest in the country. Even better, there was a stop in front of the Comfort Inn. The ride is about 45 minutes and there’s a lot there to occupy a day. Outside of the large mall, there are other shops like Chapters and a cinema that shows matinees.
So, after a couple of hours checking out the mall, I headed over the cinema and saw Allied. By the time I got out and back to the hotel, it was just getting dark. The next day, I took the bus in the other direction and checked out the Woodbine and Westwood Malls. Square One beats them both easily.
I was back at the hotel by noon and after a light lunch, I took the shuttle to Pearson where, for the first time, I finally made it into the International Maple Leaf Lounge.
It was an Air Canada Rouge flight to San Jose and I had gotten Rouge Plus for less than the cost of the Flex economy fare when I booked it in September. This meant I got fed and had an ipad to watch movies on. We got in on time and taxied towards the terminal and kept on going and going and going until we were back at the end of the dark runway.
Apparently, our gate hadn’t been vacated yet by one of the previous flights and we had to wait about ten minutes before we made the long taxi back to the terminal. I was one of the first off the plane and through immigration, but my luggage must have been at the bottom of the pile because there were only about twenty of us left by the time it popped up.
I had flashbacks to my arrival in Panama where immigration took a very long time and my transfer just up and left. I walked out into the crowd of people holding up signs and looked for the Eldertreks sign.
Then I heard someone call my name.
Curious, I turned around and there was the guide, Ollie, with the sign. I asked him how he knew it was me.
He told me that he knows his market.
He was worried that I had somehow made it past him, and he even checked with the hotel. I imagine he had visions of being the last one standing there with a sign.
The drive to the Park Inn Radisson took about 20 minutes and he got me checked in. He said the welcome meeting was at 6:30 the next evening. Too easy.
I got my stuff sorted in my room and was out by midnight, hoping I’d sleep in till ten.
Nope, I was up at six.
I tried to sleep more but my head was telling me it was approaching nine.
I gave up and went down to breakfast. The offering was fairly basic with eggs, rice and other hot offerings along with the usual toast, buns, juice, tea and coffee as well as some fruit and cheese.
I got a map off the front desk and headed out around ten to check out the main avenue which is primarily a pedestrian shopping street with the Mercado Market located there.
Granted, I’m very very picky now.
While I was walking around, I saw a lot of shirts with BIMBO on the front.
I had lunch at my favourite watering hole and picked up a McFlurry on my way back. It wasn’t as hot out as I expected and learned later that San Jose is actually quite high at 3845 feet. By the time I got back to the hotel, the breeze was actually a little chilly.
But certainly, not cold by any stretch of the imagination.
I was back in my room after two and took a shower before sorting out my luggage for the next day. We had been told that we’d have to leave our luggage and take a day bag to Tortuguero, so I separated everything that I would need into a day bag.
And checked out the awesome sunset over San Jose.
At 6:30, I headed down to the welcome meeting and met two of the other three women. The fourth was on a flight out of Charlotte, NC, that got turned around when the check engine light came on. She got in later in the evening no problem.
At the welcome meeting, Ollie briefly explained the tour’s major points and told us that since there were only four of us, we could take all of our luggage to Tortuguero. We also met Vanessa who would be coming along to assist Ollie. The other women are from Sydney, Nova Scotia and Oregon.
We then headed out to a local restaurant for a welcome dinner while Vanessa went to the airport to pick up our fourth member. I had the soup, chicken penne and cheesecake while everyone else had the salad, fish penne and flam. Guess I just gotta be me.
We had a great chat and I learned that BIMBO was a bread company and a sponsor for a local soccer team that was playing an important match tonight in a nearby stadium. In fact, when we got into the taxi for the ride back to the hotel, the driver had the match going on his dash display.
BIMBO later won the game.
I got back to my room and set to work putting my luggage back together. I managed to get to bed by eleven.
Tomorrow, we head out towards the Caribbean side of the country. When we asked what the weather would be like, Ollie said sunny, cloudy, rainy. Pick any one at any one time. After all, it is a rain forest.
And what’s a rain forest without rain?
A desert, I would imagine.
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