The joy and splendor of travel lost on one man

A man, a plan, a canal…Costa Rica!

So who’s up for some plantains?

We arrived tonight in San Jose. Costa Rica’s first official welcome came from its customs agent who said to us (loosely translated), “Your daughter can’t come into our country. She doesn’t look like you. You stole her. You will be arrested shortly.”

After pointing out that 1) Rae shares my last name, 2) she has a Costa Rican stamp in her passport from this past June, and 3) I’m the only one whose sleeve she’s urgently pulling on while whispering, “Dad, I have to pee NOW!” the customs agent finally let us in.

The father of one of Rae’s schoolmates picked us up at the airport and drove us to Monteverde. (After the customs incident, I now refer to him as our “getaway driver.”) Our driver, who I will call Jose, was born and raised in Monteverde. Jose was pleasantly chatty and shared various bits of Costa Rican information with us. For instance, he informed us that the Caribbean coast is a great place to buy drugs. He went on to say it is also a wonderful place to get shot by people who have taken those drugs. He bemoaned the fact that it is now illegal to talk on a cellphone while driving. Fines for speeding recently went up from $40 to $350, he added. Jose made it sound like The Man was cracking down on helpless drivers all over Costa Rica, but he later lost his case when he actually passed a police officer across a double yellow line. The lines must just be there as polite suggestions. I’m not entirely sure why the police officers are there. In Jose’s defense, he did put on his turn signal before crossing the double yellow.

We pulled into the language school where we’re staying a little after 7:00pm. Jose bid us good night and took off.

I think the apartment is going to work out well. We never actually set foot in it when we were down here in June, so I wasn’t entirely sure what it was like. It’s very spare, but very clean. Rae really likes it because it has some funky nooks and crannies. She already set up a pile of her toys in one corner. Come to think of it, Rae’s been hopped up all night. Pam and I were wondering how she was going to react to Monteverde, but when we walked to dinner she spent half the time excitedly pointing out places she remembered from our visit in June.

Tomorrow morning we’re going to head into town and get provisions. There’s a substantial supermarket about a 30 minute walk from our apartment. There’s also a great fresh market every Saturday morning. I look forward to checking it out.

All right. I’m out of here. It’s late, and I’ve still got to set up some shotgun tripwires around the place and put the bars on the windows. I didn’t haul them all the way down here just for decoration.

19 Responses to “A man, a plan, a canal…Costa Rica!”

  1. Khris

    So, how was grocery shopping? Spare no details. Sunny and blue skies here, even have the door to the store open. XOXO

  2. Janet

    So glad you made it! Looking forward to living vicariously through you three for the next few months. Fun stuff – and careful for the Fer-de-Lance! I should’ve forwarded a picture for easy identification……

  3. Nick

    Consider yourselves disowned then.

    And for crying out loud, Lynne. Any other wildly important safety information you forgot to tell me about? In this case, the thought most definitely does not count. Not to worry, though. I brought along a bunch of antibiotics in case I get sick. My doctor also gave me enough Vicodin to knock half of Costa Rica loopy in case of emergencies. And for the record, I count being bored as an emergency.

  4. Khris

    Hey Craig, I’m really glad Nick created this blog for us entertain ourselves.

  5. Craig Kaminsky

    I really thought we were going to get that couch down the stairs without busting those glass vases and stuff at the top of the stairs.

    Oh, well. That’s what Nick gets for going to Dysentery Land.

  6. Khris

    Rats! Sorry Craig. I wondered what you were yelling at me when I was loading their couch on the trailer (looks like he will have a few more holes to patch up in the stair way). But let’s be honest what can The Nick do, he’s in Honduras or someplace like that probably boiling water at the moment.

  7. Khris

    All I can say is your new house guests know how to throw a party. It’s very kind of you to let them sell the furniture for the paint. I didn’t think the orange would work in the dining room but the walls look great. I’m looking forward to the Oak St Rave next week. Glad you guys are in safe (for the time being) and sound and that Rae is having fun with it all.

  8. Sue

    Sounds like a great start — we’ll really enjoy your experiences. All the time we were there, we felt driving on the Pan American was more dangerous than Arenal, pencil vipers, coral snakes, and scorpions. Things haven’t changed. Take care and enjoy! We look forward to more.

  9. Michael B

    Welcome to your new home! Put on your BDU’s and don’t forget to check your 6… pop some smoke if you need any back up.

  10. Lynne

    Thanks for the entertaining post, Nick – I’m really looking forward to being an “Accidental Tourist” on your adventure! Say, I thought you’d said you were leaving “mid-Jan”! I’d planned to send a “jungle medicine” book along with you (always thinking like a first responder)! Do you have one already/shall I send one – or are you comfortable with whatever clinic is there (not to borrow trouble but I’m a “just in case” kind of thinker)? Tell Rae that Nisha says “Hola!” :-D

  11. Nick

    Thanks for the kind wishes.

    Stephanie, your post seems no weirder than usual.

    Catherine, your post seems no colder or more unfeeling than usual. And no, nothing’s bitten me yet. Then again, I am sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber I had shipped down here a few weeks ago.

    Pam and Rae and scratching like crazy, though. (I only had time to ship one.)

  12. Catherine

    I’m very glad you arrived safely, which is true but which I also have to say because everybody else here has said it and I would look cold and unfeeling if I didn’t. But what I really want to know is … has anything bitten you yet?

  13. stephaniewallin Wallin

    I may have just put a weird post here, but my real one says “Glad all is well!!” We’re thinking of you and looking forward to lots more entertaining updates!!! Good luck!

  14. Lincoln

    Good to hear from the other side. We never had any doubts. But then, we weren’t the ones…


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