Tales from Costa Rica

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Tales From Costa Rica – Part 8

Published 04/11/2012 by julierkendrick

Well here we are, the final installment of my trip to the beautiful land of Costa Rica. You have heard about my awful journey there, the wonderful times I have had and the amazing people I met and I hope that you would now consider it somewhere you might like to visit.  I would highly recommend it of course.

So the only other thing to cover now is my journey home. For me the journey back always seems to take twice as long as the journey there. Maybe it’s because by that time I’m longing to turn into Dorothy, click my heels together and wish myself home. Sadly this is not yet possible and I am stuck with a car ride, two planes, a bus and another car ride to get home.

On Sunday morning I packed my case and tried very hard to squeeze everything back in. I don’t know about you but it never fits in as well on the return journey and I have to fight with the zip for 10 minutes or so until my fingers turn purple and I’ve broken about 3 nails. Only then does it finally close completely. We had to leave at 9.15 so that we could drop the car off and get to the airport. Annie’s flight was 5 hours earlier than mine so I would have to sit and wait for a while. I didn’t mind that, I had a good book and could write some more blog while I’m hanging around.

Before all that though, I had woken up at about 5.30 and was really glad; I didn’t want to miss another minute. I could hear Monroe moving around downstairs and I knew he would have a big pot of coffee on. I went down and sure enough there he was in his shorts with his blue cap on busying himself in the kitchen.  We exchanged good mornings and with our coffee went and sat on the porch as usual. We sat for a while in silence, both enjoying the sight of the clouds playing on the tops of the mountains, listening to the morning calls of the exotic birds and catching the odd glimpse of a red squirrel climbing the tree to steal little pieces of the bananas. This would be something that I miss greatly and I told Monroe so. He is such an interesting guy and has led a life so different from my own that I am fascinated every time he talks to me. To my surprise he turned to me and said, “You know, I will miss you too. You are a lovely lady and a very talented writer. I could listen to your tales for ages.” I was quite choked up at that. Here was I thankful that I was meeting all these fabulous people and they had been thinking the same about me. Only last night Earl had told me that I am a beautiful spirit. What lovely things to say.

At about 9am just as I had finished packing, the door flew open and Lily came running upstairs. She thought she had missed me and when she saw the car still outside she was relieved.  We had a huge hug and yes, both of us cried. I will think about Lily often. She is stunningly beautiful with a big heart and a great sense of humour. I will miss our laughs. Randomly we swapped phone cases so that we would have something of each other. Photos were taken and before I knew it we were off. 24 hours later I would be home.

Monroe and Lily

We stopped at Denny’s for breakfast and I ordered a side of pancakes as I wasn’t overly hungry. Goodness knows what they would have brought me if I had asked for a full breakfast, see the size of the pancakes in the photo below. Ha ha.

A side of pancakes

After dropping off the car and being bused to the airport, Annie booked in and we went for a final coffee. We reminisced for a while about the fab week we had spent together and all too soon she had to go and I was left alone. I remembered that on the journey out I had felt like a grown up, really for the first time and I felt it again then. That may seem strange considering I’m 42 years old but there is a reason for this.

In 1995 my father died suddenly and a few months later I started to have anxiety attacks. Over the following years this became a full blown anxiety disorder from which I have suffered greatly. 3 years ago I was also diagnosed as having rapid cycling bipolar disorder (I won’t go into what that is here, if you want to know Google will tell you). I have had long periods where being too far away from my home was a huge fear in itself and I have struggled not to let this ruin my life. I have never stopped going outside although it would have been very easy to do that sometimes but I have found it very debilitating and also very hard on my family. On top of this I have a fear of flying (now you’re thinking I’m a wreck of a woman, I know, I’ve thought it myself for many years). However, this year I was medically retired from work as a police officer and I found I was much more able to cope without so much stress. So, not one for doing things by halves I decided that this would be the year that I conquer all my fears at once. Before I could change my mind I booked this trip to Costa Rica. Four and a half thousand miles from my safe place, travelling on four planes and all this on my own. So before you throw me a pity party let’s just get back to where I left off. I was alone in the airport feeling grown up, yes? Well it was because I was feeling so proud of myself. I had done it. Yes I still had two planes left to take but I had already conquered it all. I had not had to take one anxiety tablet during the whole week. Obviously I had them with me (Trevor says my bag is like a portable pharmacy), but I didn’t need to take them.

So with my new found confidence I boarded the first plane and as we took off I quietly thanked God, the land of wonder that is Costa Rica, the beautiful people who treated me so well and I said goodbye to the old flaky Julie and looked forward to sinking into my own bed next to my wonderful, supportive, long suffering husband who was waiting for me.

Me and my wonderful husband Trevor

I just wanted to thank you all for reading this blog and for giving me so many positive comments on here, on twitter and in person; it is great to have your support. I will of course continue blogging about writing and anything else I think may interest you and in February 2013 I am going on a cruise round the Caribbean, this time with Trevor and Sam so of course I will be blogging about the whole trip, warts and all. I hope you will share it with me.

See you soon.

Julie 🙂

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Tales from Costa Rica – Part 7

Published 01/11/2012 by julierkendrick

I am so glad that you are all enjoying my travel journal, I love sharing it with you all. So here is part 7.

Saturday 27th October 2012 dawned a lovely bright morning. I was very glad that I had not come home late because I had a clear head and was ready to enjoy the day. As usual in the mornings Monroe and I sat out on the back porch drinking coffee (Costa Rican of course) and chatting. This was one of my favourite times of the day, when everyone else was still asleep and I listened to Monroe telling tales of his treasure hunting experiences. He is such an interesting guy and someone I would never have met if I hadn’t come on this trip.

A short while later, Annie rose obviously a little worse for wear and after a relatively chilled morning we decided to go up the mountain to see Helene who I later affectionately dubbed ‘crazy dog lady’.

Helene is a lovely warm hearted Austrian lady who has lived in Costa Rica for many years. During her time in this beautiful country she had grown tired of seeing so many dogs just wandering the streets, scavenging for food or getting knocked down by cars and left at the side of the road. So instead of becoming hardened to it she decided to open her house to them, provide the medical care, food and love that they need and ultimately try to get them adopted. She started out small but with so many street dogs this just grew and grew. The locals all came to know Helene and many, who can afford it send her money and food to help with their care. Over time this has become a thriving concern for Helene but she still loves each dog as if it is her own. She names every dog that comes through her door and never forgets which is which. So how many dogs do you think she looks after at one time? 10? 20? 50? Nope. not even close. She currently has 141 dogs. Yes that’s right 141. Of these 40 live in her house with her and the rest live on her land in kennels where they have freedom to roam and play.  The ones that are in her house are the ones that are very sick, very young or old or who have just had surgery (she makes sure every dog is neutered to stop the breeding problems exacerbating).

A dog lover myself with 2 lively labradors, I was really looking forward to meeting Helene and her dogs. It only took us about 20 minutes to get to her land and we knew we were in the right place from all the barking we could hear from about 100 metres away. I commented to Annie that it is a good job that Helene doesn’t have any close neighbours or they would all have been driven mad by now.

We pulled up to a large green metal gate and banged heartily setting off a gazillion barks. After a few minutes Helene pulled open the gate and we walked into canine heaven. When I say there were dogs everywhere I really am not exaggerating. Big ones, small ones, puppies, old dogs, yappy dogs, jumpy dogs, lazy dogs of every breed imaginable ran towards us to have a good sniff and to say hello. I immediately fell in love with about 8 of them and wanted to take them home and I’d only just walked through the gate. Some of the dogs were kept separate from the others for varying reasons, some because they trod on the puppies or just snapped a lot but no dog was alone, they always had a friend.

Just a few of the doggies who greeted us

Helene herself was a mass of bright red hair and big beaming smiles. She still had the tell-tale Austrian accent but her English was impeccable.  She led us into her house all the while talking to the dog and calling them by name. I noticed that the place was spotlessly clean, no poop or pee anywhere to be seen and when one dog did a little parcel Helene immediately scooped it up and disposed of it. Inside the large abode there were dogs on the sofas, lying across doorways and following us around tripping us up all the way to the den. As Helene remarked, you could not be sad in a place like that. Just one look around at all the furry faces eager to love you unconditionally has to lift your spirits and I understood then why she was such a cheerful happy person.

Helene the crazy dog lady

One big furry black dog called Pushy took a liking to me and stayed by my side the whole of our visit. He was so friendly and looked at me with his big brown doggy stare and I fell head over heels in love (I think Pushy would even give Johnny a run for his money). I asked Helene about him and she said that he was one of the dogs that would never be adopted because at 7 he was too old. “People want puppies”, she said. “The trouble with that is that when they get to about 2 or 3 they become less cute and the owners don’t want them any more so they get abandoned all over again”. I could see that Helene is fighting a losing battle but one that she is determined to fight regardless of the outcome.

Me with my beloved Pushy

When we left (without my beloved Pushy) I knew that these dogs were the lucky ones, they would get not only medical attention and food but real genuine one on one love and all from this one Austrian woman who has decided to take on the world. I can only wish her good luck and good health. What a wonderful lady.

Annie and I drove home deep in thought and got ready for our evening with Any and Norman, the fabulous Cuban couple that Annie had taken me to see on my first day.  They had invited us to dinner along with Mike and Earl and I was looking forward to spending my last evening in their company.

When we arrived and I had finished hugging Norman and trying to persuade him to squeeze into my case we followed the gorgeous smells coming from Any’s kitchen. She opened the oven and showed us the most massive shoulder of pork I had ever seen. My mouth immediately started to water so Mike and I laid the table while Norman carved the meat. We sat down and prayers were said and then Oh My Lord!! I began to eat the best meat I had ever eaten, so succulent and tender. My mouth is watering again as I type, remembering such a wonderful meal. We had flan for dessert which we had to almost physically wrestle from Mike, it being his favourite and after coffee we all went and sat in the conservatory nattering about this and that. I looked around at these wonderful people that I had only met a week ago and was amazed that in such a short time they had welcomed me into their lives and homes and made me feel like family. I was going to miss these people so much.

All too soon it was time to leave and we had a bit of a tearful goodbye. I promised to return as soon as I could and we left for our last night at Annie’s home. I never could persuade Norman to stow away with me but he belongs to Any so I will just have to get back there as soon as possible, if only for their amazing food.

Any and Norman, the best Cubans in the world

So my travels had come to and end. Or had they? Oh no, I still have an eventful journey home to tell you all about tomorrow.

Pip pip.

Julie 🙂

Tales from Costa Rica – Part 6

Published 30/10/2012 by julierkendrick

Friday 26th October 2012 dawned nice and sunny and as humid as ever. I was glad because it was Annie’s 50th birthday and we had big plans.

Zip lining was first on our list and we had arranged to be there before 8am. Funnily enough I wasn’t actually nervous which is strange considering I’m not a fan of heights, not phobic but not keen either. I think it was the thought that I was going to be doing this through the rain forest that excited me. When we arrived we were introduced to our guides, Eric and Victor, two very handsome Tico’s who teased us mercilessly throughout the experience. All in good fun, we played up to the “we throw English off the platforms” humour. We were strapped up to within an inch of our lives and shown how to zipline safely. Then we were off. The first couple of lines were great and eased us in gently, the breeze and the views were gorgeous. We had two other young men on our session they were a lovely couple called Geraldo and Roy and they were so excited to be doing this that their mood was infectious and we were all laughing and giggling at the silliest things. It was a heady experience. Between some of the lines we had a couple of quite steep walks up hills and between trees. Now if any of you have seen pictures of me you will notice that I am not the fittest person alive and I was huffing and puffing like an old steam roller. As I trundled along, holding everyone up I kept apologising but they were all so lovely and waited for the fat English chick. 😉

Half way along the route we came to the “Tarzan” swing. Now, I was not familiar with this, although had I given it any thought it would have been obvious. Roy and Geraldo threw themselves, almost literally into this with gusto and I stood back swallowing the lump that had suddenly appeared in my throat. Mmmm so I would be strapped to a single rope and thrown out over the tops of the trees. Easy. GULP! I looked around me at the happy faces and my unbelievably beautiful surroundings and decided that there was no way I was going to chicken out. So when my turn came I was strapped up and on the count of 3 thrown out into the blue. On my first swing, my breath was taken away and I realised that this was an amazing feeling. I swung back and the guides swung me out again (This was no mean feat considering the size of my rear but they did it with aplomb). This time I remembered to bend my legs and I actually soared above the treetops. On the third swing the lump left my throat and I completely enjoyed the feeling of flying above the rain forest. When I swung back for the last time and was unhooked I was shaking with the adrenalin and was so glad that I hadn’t backed out.

I was feeling pretty invincible by this point so when we came up to the “Superman” swing I was ready and raring to go.  We had to be strapped into a new harness which meant we were hooked onto the line by our feet, bum and back. The line was the longest of the experience and I couldn’t wait to get out there.  Annie went before me so that she could film me coming in at the other end and after everyone else had gone I was all harnessed in. I took some deep breaths determined to drink in every moment of this last line. As Eric let me go and I started down the line my breath was truly taken from me. The view was almost indescribable, I soared across and looking deep into the forest I could see a waterfall and the river it flowed into, I flew over the tops of the highest trees and if I had put out my hand I could have touched them. The spray from the waterfall bathed my face and the lump came back into my throat. My eyes teared up and my breath caught in my lungs. There was no greater experience of nature than this and I felt so blessed to be able to be taking part in it. I longed for a photographic memory so that I could recall every detail when I felt down as I knew that I could not feel any negativity when faced with landscape.

The experience was over and I readily hugged Eric and Victor and the other two zip liners. I felt so emotional and said to Annie at that moment I felt I had the courage to throw myself out of a plane. (I’m actually glad there wasn’t a convenient plane right there).

It is worth mentioning that almost as soon as we had finished the rains came. I feel that it waited just for me so that Mother Nature could show me the wonders that she had created in perfect light.

After the drive home, a shower and change of clothes we went to Marios (the scene of my earthquake experience  for Annie’s birthday lunch. Everyone that I had met was there (with the exception of Any and Norman, as Any was ill) and we had a wonderful time celebrating with our lovely friend. We all had some to drink but Lily, Monroe and I left at a reasonable hour leaving Annie and a couple of others to party the night away. I didn’t think I could take any more excitement for one day and sank into my bed with dreams of trees, waterfalls, good friends and fantastic food.

My time in Costa Rica was not over yet. What else did this wonderful country have in store for me?

See you tomorrow

Julie 🙂

Tales from Costa Rica – Part 5

Published 28/10/2012 by julierkendrick

Day 5 was a very interesting day. Or to put it another way WET. It was raining when we woke up and carried on throughout the morning. Now it is well known that the weather in Costa Rica is nothing if not predictable. It is warm and sunny in the morning, clouds over about noon and then starts raining at about 2pm well into the night. So keeping this in mind, Annie and I decided that today would be the day that we visited the beach in Hajo. It is about and hour and half away so we were pretty confident that we would drive through the weather and get to the beach well before the rains came.

Off we set in our little 4 x 4 along the highway. We had the Sat Nav on and life was good, albeit still wet at this point. Now the trouble with having a Sat Nav in Costa Rica is that there are no postcodes or even proper addresses, as I mentioned before in a previous post, everyone just gives directions. Telling Mrs Sat Nav to go past Charlys bar to get to the beach really doesn’t cut it in GPS world. Anyway we had typed in Hajo and picked one of the options given but about an hour into the journey we realised that we were heading in the wrong direction. Unfortunately we had just driven up to a toll and asked directions there. The woman in the booth made us pay to go through and then again to come back even though we only did a U turn. She gave us the right directions though so we put it behind us and carried on. It was still raining.

About 10 minutes later we were pulled over by the police who asked Annie for her licence and said that she had made some kind of illegal manoeuvre. He stood there for ages repeating himself before saying. “The fine is $500 but you can pay me $20. A big difference and one that left us with little choice. The police here are notoriously corrupt but as they only get paid the equivalent of $1 per hour it’s not surprising that they do this to supplement their lowly income. Having said that, of course I do not condone this and it couldn’t be more different from my days as a police officer in London. Once we paid him he then told us that we were yet again going in the wrong direction and pointed us back the way we came, yes you guessed it, through the toll once more. Oh, and it was still raining.

Finally after about 3 hours in the car we arrived at Hajo and drove down to the beach.  Yes! there was the golden sand and the deep blue sea and…. nothing else. No one sun bathed, no one sold ice cream, no one badgered you to rent a lounger. Why was this you wonder? It was STILL flipping raining. Ok then so we spent about 2 minutes looking at the beach before retiring to a local restaurant for lunch and souvenirs.

We spent a total of 1 hour in Hajo before getting back in the 4 x 4 and driving home.

Does the story end there? Nope, not really. We got lost. Again. Annie got more impatient with every turn that led nowhere. We were diverted at least three times due to works being carried out because of recent landslides. Eventually I dozed off to the sound of the rain and just hoped that when I woke up we would be on the right road home.

Once we arrived back and I climbed out of the 4 x 4 I knew I would be glad if I never had to get in it again. It was still raining.

Tomorrow is Annie’s birthday and we have an adventure planned. Zip lining.

The next blog will tell you all about it and when I get back to the UK I may even link you into the video Annie made of me.

Back soon,

Julie 🙂

 

 

 

Tales from Costa Rica – Part 4

Published 27/10/2012 by julierkendrick

Tuesday morning dawn and I’m up and ready to meet my pirate Captain. Bounding downstairs I see Annie looking despondent and she tells me that the guy who runs the tours had phoned her to cancel the trip due to bad water conditions.

Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!! It can’t be. But sadly it was true. I would not be sailing off into the sunset on the Black Pearl after all. 😥

We decided to drive into a little town called Zarcero where there is a beautiful church with quirky hedges out the front. The story goes that many years ago a homeless man started to cut the hedges to earn a little cash from the church. He was very talented and made them into little animals and arches. The locals loved it so much that when the old man died someone took over to keep his memory alive. To this day someone will always keep the hedges trimmed in the funny little shapes started by the homeless guy all those years ago.  What a lovely tale.

Zarcero church and hedges

Later that afternoon we went on a coffee tour. You can’t come to Costa Rica without going on a coffee tour.  We drove through the driving rain until we came to Naranjo a little town where the coffee tour was held. We were the only ones there and the guide, Norman, opened up just for us and took us to see the whole process from bean to cup.  He strapped a basket to my front and led us out to the coffee fields where I picked the red berries that house the beans. He showed me how to squish the berry between my thumb and finger and the bean popped out, yellow and sticky. On Norman’s instruction I ate the bean and found it very fruity and not at all like coffee.

One you have a basket full of berries they put them in a machine that strips the berry skins, leaving just the yellow beans which are then put in the roasting machine.  This is where the beautiful smells take over and as we walked into the roasting room my mouth started to water with the waves of the warm aroma that filled my sinuses. We went over to a huge metal roasting machine and watched as the freshly roasted beans were poured into a huge vat to cool. Norman thrust his hand into the boiling hot beans (which I thought was an attempt to impress me with his ability to withstand pain), now brown from roasting, and grabbed a handful blowing on them and handed a few to me. “Taste, taste” he says excitedly.  A little dubious I put the warm beans into my mouth and chewed and Oh wow!! They were crisp and crunchy and the flavour burst into your mouth like pure heaven. The were so easy to eat and not at all bitter and I had to resist plunging my own hand into the boiling bean vat and grabbing more to chew on. (I don’t think Norman would have been impressed with my ability to scream in pain like a little girl).

Once the beans were sufficiently cooled, 2 young girls scooped them into bags, sealed them up and that was that, ready to be sold. A simple but pure process. Of course I bought loads as I now felt a personal connection to those beans. Plus my husband will love the flavour.

Feeling quite happy we left the coffee tour and went to a little steakhouse called Marios where everyone knows everyone and Mario holds court going from table to table shaking hands with the men and kissing the women, he is a real latin charmer. Just as we were eating our pasta the table started to shake a little. I looked at Annie wondering why she was moving it. She looked at me probably wondering the same but then the table moved more and so did my chair. Oh my lord, an earthquake. SERIOUSLY?? I am from England, we don’t have earthquakes there. What am I supposed to do? Grab hold of a post? Lay on the floor? Run screaming into the street? I looked around the room but the diners were just holding steadily on to their tables and the waiters were catching the cutlery falling to the floor. No one outwardly panicked but I could see that the people were concerned. Within a minute it was all over and everyone went back to eating and drinking. Someone later shouted out that it had been a 6.6 which apparently is quite strong. I survived an earthquake. For the Ticos here it is just one of those things but to me a naive English chick it was a big event. I am a survivor of a real live earthquake. Well that’s what I’m going to tell my friends anyway. Ha ha.

Not long after we headed for home and our beds and as I lay there thinking back over the events of the day I realised that even without the luscious Johnny, the earth did move for me after all.

More tomorrow.

Julie 🙂

Tales from Costa Rica – Part 3

Published 26/10/2012 by julierkendrick

So, you remember the story so far? Finally arrived, no case, went to bed? Good. So I got up in the night for a pee and what was outside my bedroom door? Yaaaay my suitcase. It had been delivered at midnight, although how the guy found this house I will never know. There are no road names and few decent road signs. You just have to direct people by landmarks. i.e. turn right at Charly’s bar then go north down the pothole road and it’s the pink house on the right. Madness. But hey I was happily reunited with my clean underwear.

Showered and smelling of Molton Brown gorgeousness I came downstairs to the smell of french toast and maple syrup. I ate on the back porch looking over stunning views of the rainforest and the mountains. Absolutely breathtaking.

We then went to visit some friends of Annies who lived about half an hour away. They are Cubans who move to Miami 40 years ago and then to CR 5 years ago. They are what the locals call “Gringos”. I am told that this is not an insult but a name used to differentiate between the indigenous and those from other American countries. The Costa Ricans are called “Ticos” and the Nicaraguans “Nicos”. Any (pronounced Annie) and Norman are a lovely warm couple who are completely devoted to their 5 dogs. 2 pugs called Joey and Matilda, a large red dog of unknown breed they call Red, an Alsatian called Osso and an old black Labrador called Nina (pronounced Nine-a).

After taking us for some lunch in the local tin shack where once again the food was outstanding (this waiter was lucky enough to possess a full set of teeth), we went for a drive up the mountain to see a river that flowed down the hills and was apparently a sight to behold. We drove for about 20 minutes higher and higher up a gradient that felt as though the 4 x 4 we were in was about to tip over backwards and I was holding on for dear life much to the amusement of the two Annies. We stopped at a rickety old bridge and got out. To the dismay of Any the water was completely brown and the banks beside it had sunk into the water during the recent landslides. There had been an earthquake here about 4 weeks before I arrived (more about earthquakes next time!!) and this was some of the effect that it had had on the beautiful landscape. As we could no longer climb down to the banks we headed back and decided to call on some more friends called Mike and Earl.

Mike and Earl are realtors who live in a mansion in the clouds. No I haven’t transported you to Enid Blyton’s mind they really do live in a fantastic Spanish hacienda cut into the side of a mountain. They had it built for themselves about 7 years ago and Earl, who is a very talented painter, filled the walls with his brightly coloured art. The main focal point of this residence is the amazing back porch on which they have a suspended day-bed facing out across the mountains. However when we arrived the clouds were low and the porch was obscured. After we had been there for a while the clouds parted and I was treated to the most magnificent views that really did take my breath away. A lump formed in my throat and at that moment I was truly glad that I was there and a feeling of complete peace came over me and I realised what a stunning world we live in. I am very blessed.

We drove back to Annies with a feeling of contentment and as I went to bed that night I thought about the forthcoming trip to Tortuga the next day. In my mind Captain Jack Sparrow would be there waiting for me to sail off into the sunset and I couldn’t wait.

The next morning another disaster befell us….

See ya next time

Julie 🙂

PS Any excuse to put a pic of Johnny in my blog and I will take it 😉

Tales from Costa Rica – Part 2

Published 24/10/2012 by julierkendrick

Welcome back to the tales of my trip. We continue where we left off.

I had been put up in a lovely room in the Hilton with great food and a comfy bed. So the next morning I go to check out in order to catch my new flight to San Jose.

“That’ll be $145.00.” said the man behind the counter. I was dazzled and not just by his brilliantly white teeth. I explained that BA had paid for the room, but apparently BA hadn’t actually sent the money to the Hilton so I was liable and will have to get reimbursement from BA. Well that makes me short for my trip but they have my card details so it’s a done deal. I was treated to another blindingly white smile before I left to catch the bus.

Fast forward to the plane. I had a window seat as requested but was sitting next to a 4 year old child and his mother. I realise that they have a right to fly too but surely not next to me. To make things worse, the plane sat in the airport for 2 hours while they put some oil in the engine. Meanwhile I was getting ritually kicked and shoved by the kid and my teeth were hurting from all the gritting they were doing. Finally we took off and the mother had the brilliant idea of sitting across the aisle with her husband and putting their 3 year old daughter over with me and her brother. So, with chairs bashed, shins kicked, ribs elbowed, ear drums popped I arrived in Costa Rica. Wahooooo. Holiday begins.

The last case is collected from the carousel and yes, you guessed it, it wasn’t mine. There I stood, a lonely figure staring longingly at the metal case dispenser willing my case to pop over the top like an afterthought but no such luck. Resignedly I trudged over to the lost luggage desk and was told that my pink flowered case was still in Miami. I had spoken too soon with my effusive praise for BA. The man behind the counter, whose teeth were not at all white, told me that if I am lucky I may get it “today or tomorrow or sometime”. I was given a piece of paper with a phone number and a website to check intermittently and sent on my way to my poor friend who was patiently waiting outside.

Tired and despondent now I got into my friend Annie’s car and we drive to her house. My spirits lift on the journey as the country is beautiful. It is the greenest, hilliest place I have ever seen and as we wind our way up the mountain the land disappears into the clouds. I have never been inside a cloud before and it wasn’t quite as I expected. They have a distinctive smell, kind of metallic but also a little menthol, a heady mixture and my lungs felt truly opened. I was quite glad to see that there were no angels with their harps welcoming me to the gates of heaven just yet. If this was heaven then the roads were in dire need of attention. I added whiplash to my list of injuries sustained on the plane.

After settling in to Annie’s wooden house, meeting her roommates, Monroe and Lily and having my first cup of real Costa Rican coffee we went off again down the mountain to meet another friend, Barbara, a Scottish lady who had lived for 30 years in the USA and who now lived here. She was a fusion of accents and the most eccentric person I have ever met. She showed me round her mountainside house with its exotic daybed and brightly coloured cushions into a barely functioning kitchen and bathroom.  I was beginning to see that the motto here is “If it works it’s good”. No creature comforts to speak off but they do all seem to have internet connections and I definitely saw an iPad or two in the shacks that we had passed. (Steve Jobs is alive and well in Costa Rica). I have also seen some very precarious electrical connections which I am trying to turn a blind eye to lest I fear I may be frazzled in my sleep.

My meal that night was chicken and rice in a bar that looked more like a lean-to with a bathroom that was a cockroaches heaven. However the food was delicious and I cleaned my plate. The waiter was obviously pleased that I liked the food so much that he gave me a huge grin and showed me three very brown teeth. I considered recommending he contact the guy in Miami but decided he would silly with teeth whiter than the crockery. Barbara entertained me with tales of her daughter and life in the US and her general eccentricities and at 6pm we left for home.

Checking on line we found out that my case was…… still in Miami, so dress and underwear in the sink again and I sank into my bed.

Day two coming tomorrow.  See you then.

Julie 🙂