Saturday, 16 July 2016

July 15 - First day in Costa Rica

We awoke early to be able to catch the 6:30 am shuttle to the Houston airport. We we able to get our boarding passes and through security in a very quick time. This was the most efficient airport security team I've seen as well as being friendly and willing to engage in conversation. We flew with United Airlines - a very no frill airline.  A 3.5 hr flight. Beverages were only offered once. Only one channel of free T.V. to watch. But it was a good flight to San Jose with very little turbulence. There was a very long line through security as several flights had arrived at the same time. It went quickly as there was 7 stations open for visitors and about the same number for residents.  We quickly found the shuttle to take us to our rental vehicle.

Rental vehicles are relatively the same price as in North America but.... the costs of the insurances per day are greater than the vehicles. If you want GPS it is an additional  $19 a day. (You can buy your own Garmin for that price) or you can get wifi for the vehicle for $16 a day. The vehicle is a Yaris. Val is going to be the driver and I the navigator. Our first difficulty  - the wifi doesn't work. After several failed attempts to connect to our phone I went back into Budget and explained we needed a new wifi connector. They suggested I turn the one I have on!!!!! It now worked fine.

We soon set out on our own. It is 3pm and we are starved and without any local currancy. We see a bank and park only to be shooed away by a security staff. We attempt the drive through ATM's but can't get it to accept our debit cards. We pull out into the street and notice another bank right beside the first and pull in quickly. We google the currancy exchange and see why we weren't successful at the ATM. We were trying to get less than $20 worth of  Costa Rica Colons instead of $200. We then experience our second complication with the rental car. We can't get all four doors locked at the same time. Val locks hers and as I shut mine I see her door lock pop open. After several car door slams in various combinations - to the amusement of the people parked next to us, Val used the key in the door and all doors locked. A safety feature perhaps? Prevents the key from being locked in the car?

The bank we are at doesn't have ATM's so we walk back to the first bank and our debt cards don't work! We go into the bank and they would give us cash but only if we used our credit card and they would charge $10US for the service. We then used our credit cards at the ATM successfully.

Starved and tired we had our first meal in Costa Rica at the McDonald's across from the bank.

Our first night is in the community of Alajuela, which is not much more than 10 minutes from the car rental location. We found the Hotel La Guardia Inn and Suites with only a few extra turns.  The La Guardia has a small pool. We park our car in a secure compound. The room is small with two single beds and a private bathroom. It is clean and has a continental breakfast in the morning. Only$46U.S. a night

 The weather is perfect. It is not to hot or humid; much nicer than humidity we experienced in Houston.

We went walking around the community but quickly played out. The community was having a small street event with  food and trinket vendors. A few local musicians were playing. We saw one young man playing strings on his skateboard, a tambourine on one foot and a rubber pail by his other foot. Another fellow was juggling bowling pins, a clown was making balloons and face painting.

The community appears to have lots of green spaces and open areas. We observed three such areas in our short walk. Several statues and some murals decorate the community. The one mural seemed kinda creepy - it seemed like the people in the background were levitating or something.

In the evening we bought a meal from a street vendor while sitting on a bench. It got dark very quickly. We stopped at a local bar and listened to a little music before we called it a night.

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