Costa Rica

Wednesday 3:30AM EST- The dog and the cat are wondering what in the world is going on. All the lights are on in the middle of the night. My wife and I are running around the house making last minute preparations. We roust the boy out of his bed tell him it is time to get ready to go. He is excited about this trip, but also a little nervous. We check on him every few minutes to make sure he is getting ready and not just playing around.

Soon the car is loaded with our bags. A last check to make sure we have everything – toys to play with, books to read, plane tickets, passports, etc. and we are off. The house goes quiet and dark again as we take our little whirlwind with us. The animals can go back to sleep until my sister comes to take care of them while we are away.

My wife and her sister, Heather, take a trip together each summer. Sometimes it is just the two of them; sometimes other sisters or neices go along. It’s a girl thing – no guys allowed. Usually they take a cruise. Always they go somewhere tropical. This year they secretly planned to take me and our seven year old son, Calvin, along on a trip to Costa Rica. I only found out about it a few weeks ago. Another change this year is that my sister-in-law was not going. She was promised time off from work but it got revoked and some unexpected expenses at home had forced her to drop out – bummer – I like Heather.

When I learned that I was going on this trip, being a nerd, I started doing research on Costa Rica. I checked out what to do and where to go, the currency exchange rates, what to pack, what the people are like, and what foods to expect. I took German in school not Spanish so I started learning useful phrases and even found a listing of some common Costa Rican slang terms. I felt that I was pretty well prepared.

Of course having done some traveling in the past I know that one thing to keep in mind on any trip, expecially one to a foreign country, is to always expect the unexpected. Something always seems go wrong or at least is different than what you expect. You can let those things ruin your trip or you can roll with the punches and have a great time anyway. I vowed to roll and it is a good thing I did because this trip was about to go nuts even before our plane left the ground.

Wednesday 4:50AM EST – We arrive at the terminal to find a mad house. It seems that our airline, Delta, has three flights leaving within half an hour of each other and they do not have the facilities or staff to handle the rush of passengers checking in. Add to that all the other airlines also with flights leaving within minutes of each other and the security checkpoint was overwhelmed – the line literally stretched out the door of the terminal. The place is a total mess. We manage to fight our way to a kiosk and get ourselves checked in before they cut off at 5:30, but we still have to wait to get our bags checked in, then we personally have to schlep them to the baggage security area, and then we have to get ourselves through security which still has a line like you would not believe. This is a small airport – 95% of the time it is like a ghost town. Why the airport and airlines can’t work together to even out the traffic I don’t know. Did I mention I hate flying?

So we finally manage to get through security with our carry ons and our son still with us – all good. We start fast walking for the gate. We have 7 year old with us and my wife has a heart condition complete with an implanted defibrillator so we aren’t going to be running through the airport leaping over chairs and baggage like on those old O.J. Simpson commercials. We get to the gate with like 10 minutes to spare.

However, Delta, even though we are checked in and they know we are coming and they know that the security process is a total mess has already given away our seats to stand-by passengers. Although the plane is right there and has not yet started its departure, we cannot board because it is full. The staff tell us that we are out of luck, close the ramp door, and disappear for fifteen minutes or so. When they come back they cheerfully tell us (and the other three people that were similarly left behind) that there is no other flight with them or any of the other airlines that will get us to Atlanta in time to make our connecting flight to Costa Rica. They will be happy to send us to JFK in a couple hours and from there to Atlanta where we can catch the only other flight to Costa Rica that day – nine hours or better later than our original flight! For this they will have to charge us a mere $150.

Now comes the kicker. Remember I said that my sister-in-law was not going on the trip? Well, it seems that this was a lie and she was secretly going to meet us at the airport in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, as a surprise. She lives in Indiana and was flying separately on Northwest airlines. She doesn’t know that we missed our flight and won’t be there to meet her. The good folks at Northwest let my wife use their phone system to call down to the gate at Houston, page Heather who is waiting for her connection to Costa Rica, and let her know that she will be on her own in a strange country until like midnight. Kudos to Northwest!

Well, we are finally on our way. But wait, there’s more! It’s just one adventure after another on this trip. You’ll notice that there are no photos of Costa Rica on this blog. There’s a reason for that.



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6 Responses to “Costa Rica”

  1. Cutthroat Stalker (Scott C) Says:

    Costa Rica? OMG – you dog! That’s one place I’d *love* to go to. I hope it was wonderful for you (other than the plane stuff).

    • forestrat Says:

      It was a cool trip! We didn’t do any fishing though. We spent a few days in the mountains to visit a volcano and see the rain forest and then finished up at a resort along the Pacific coast. Definetely a trip not to be forgotten.


  2. flandrumhill Says:

    The golden age of air travel ended some time ago. It used to be so civilized. I wish somebody would invent the transporter they use on Star Trek.

    • forestrat Says:

      I avoid flying whenever possible. I drive or take the train. Sometimes it is the only feasible way to get where you want to go and you just have to bite the bullet. A transporter would be nice.


  3. lookingforbeauty Says:

    I’m glad to hear you had a great time – airline stuff notwithstanding.
    I travelled quite a bit for my job and came to think of airports as big bus stations and the planes as big buses in the sky.
    More recently, there’s more going wrong – flights getting cancelled, layovers, waits, etc. It seems you had your share. I’d be furious. The air fares are cheaper than they were but it’s still good money; and if you have paid for your ticket they have a huge nerve to give your places away to someone else. I can’t fathom that.
    That’s one mysterious photo at the top of this blog – mysterious!

    • forestrat Says:

      I kinda like this photo. I like playing with the light when I’m taking pictures – I use the differences between the bright sun and the shadows to isolate certain features of the subject. The more photographs I take the more aware of light I become.


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