We have arrived. After a long day of traveling and flight delays we barely made it to the rental car place before they closed at midnight. They require a $1000 deposit on a credit card (which we were not told about ahead of time) and since we don't use credit cards, this was an issue. The only credit card we have is a Discover, which is the only card they do not take. And we thought NOT having credit cards was a good thing! But lucky for us the Costa Rican people are some of the nicest on the planet. The rental car guy gave us his personal cell phone # and then called his friend at another rental car place and his friend was able to get us the same car for the same price. Few!
So after midnight we finally find ourselves in a car, with air conditioning! We look at the address of our hotel, 900 meters west of the soccer field. Um, what?? And there are no street signs anywhere in San Jose. So we find ourselves driving through the ghetto of San Jose at 1am, lost, and neither of us speak Spanish. I definitely had a "what the heck am I doing here" panic moment. But after weaving through crazy streets, we somehow stumble onto a tropical paradise, in the middle of the ghetto. As soon as we pull in they bring us 4 ice cold beers and ice cold beer mugs, immediately melting the stress of our travels away.
The next day we eat a wonderful breakfast with tons of fresh fruit and the best coffee I've ever had. We review the directions to our next destination: a treehouse in the Escazu hills, overlooking San Jose. The directions are very long and detailed...and make absolutely no sense. We end up driving in circles for a couple hours, thinking we will never find the place. We finally pull up google maps and enter the GPS coordinates and eventually stumble across the place.
We were immediately greeted by a massive pitbull and 2 other huge barking dogs. The pitbull, Goofy, has become our new best friend, and his name fits. His lopsided ears and personality match his name. We then meet Leroy and Juanita, who do speak English, and are also some of the nicest people we've ever met. They show us to the treehouse, which is a very special piece of paradise, built by Leroy. Leroy is also an expert gardener, which is evident when you sit in their yard surrounded by hummingbirds, butterflies and beautiful flowers.
Leroy and Juanita have an American staying with them named Julia, and they suggest we go to dinner when she returns. And she speaks Spanish!! Lucky for us she immediately likes us and takes us under her wing. We go to an incredible restaurant overlooking the San Jose lights and have our first Costa Rican dinner of friend plantains with black bean sauce, and sirloin cooked in a jalapeno sauce with tons of veggies.
We wake up in our treehouse and are again served a yummy breakfast full of fresh fruit and fresh eggs. Julia offers to take us to buy a GPS so we don't keep getting lost. Everyone at the stores does not speak English, so we need her as a translator, and after speaking to many people we decide to buy a Costa Rican cell phone and a pay-as-you-go SIM card, which will give us access to GPS, as well as a working phone since the people at Verizon are a bunch of worthless idiots. (We spent hours on the phone with them before leaving and they promised our phones would work here, which is not the case).
Later that evening we meet up with Julia for drinks and appetizers. We find a sports bar that is playing the Yankee game and has a delicious red beer, that tastes like Mirror Pond, on tap. We feel at home! Then we go pick Leroy up and take him to another bar to watch the soccer game between Heredia and Alajuela. Alajuela won!
The next day we were off to San Ramon, to stay in a little remote cabin on the river. We hiked down to the river only to be told later by Jorge, the groundskeeper, that we needed to wear high boots on the hike to avoid poisonous snakes and insects, oops! On our hike back up we did spot a snake, hiding in a tree branch. Jorge came to get him out and assured us he was not poisonous (at least we think that's what he was saying, he doesn't speak English).
San Ramon is very "buggy", tons of flying beetles, spiders, mosquitos. We also saw lots of frogs, lizards and hummingbirds. We hiked around Arenal volcano, which was gorgeous. Our car battery died in the parking lot, leaving us stranded. We once again were surprised by how nice Costa Ricans are, as a local young man jumped our battery and refused a tip.
Now we are in Manuel Antonio, with our new friend Julia, staying in a very nice air conditioned condo. We went to the airplane restaurant last night (El Avion) for drinks and appetizers. Then onto another bar with some strange & interesting new friends we met and had more drinks and listened to an amazing guitar player & singer. This morning we woke up to monkeys on our balcony, we fed them bananas and started our day off right! We are headed to the Manuel Antonio national park for the day.
So far we have only been robbed of our booze! Pura Vida!
Kari Pinkerton Silcox
It would be a tragedy to die, having never really lived. Which is why my husband Andy and I quit our jobs, sold our house and decided to chase our dreams. We moved to Costa Rica without a plan, and this is the story of our adventure.