Costa Rica Honeymoon Day 1 – Welcome to San Jose!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The first day of our honeymoon started on Wednesday with traveling. Our flight left at noon from Albuquerque, which allowed us a pretty relaxed morning to get packed and drop our three pups off with friends who would watch them while we were gone. I thought I would be sad leaving my dachshunds behind for an entire week but it turns out I was too excited for our upcoming trip to shed a tear. We had been fortunate enough to have them around for the wedding so it was a nice break to drop them off with Auntie Farra and Tony, who love them dearly!

Our flight from Albuquerque to Dallas only lasted about two hours and had a short layover, so before we knew it we were on our way on another flight lasting four hours to San Jose, Costa Rica, which happened to be in the same timezone as Albuquerque.

We arrived in San Jose around 8 pm and it was well past sunset, which occurred around 6pm. I had the window seat so I peeked out the window trying to get glimpse of Costa Rica. The only thing I could see in the darkness was that there seemed to be homes located right beside the runway, which I thought was strange.

Once we landed and did a quick check through customs, we had to get our rental car from Alamo. They had a desk conveniently located inside the airport but I was nervous as we approached it, knowing that this was our first situation where we might need to communicate in Spanish, which I knew none of and Bryce knew a little of. The guy at the desk did not speak very good English but Bryce was able to hand him a copy of our reservation to get us set up.

On our shuttle ride from the airport to the rental car location we had our first taste of the crazy driving in Costa Rica. It seemed like the driver had to navigate through a crazy mess of cars and pedestrians and enter onto what seemed like a busy, fast highway, and the driver did all of this with no fear or hesitation.

I was immediately thankful that Bryce had chosen to rent a manual transmission vehicle because this would excuse me from all driving duties throughout the trip. I couldn’t drive a manual transmission, much less drive in Costa Rica traffic at all! The only good thing about Costa Rica driving was they drive on the same side of the road as the United States.

At the rental car location, the customer service rep knew English very well which was a relief. He tried several times to convince us to get a GPS. We thought he was just trying to do his job and up-sell us on this add-on along with several others, but it turns out he knew a little secret about the roads of Costa Rica that he probably should have shared with us; a little secret which might have convinced us to add a GPS for the vehicle that night. However, Bryce and I felt confident we could navigate the roads the way generations before us had done before GPS and smart phones: the good, old-fashioned paper map. Boy, were we wrong!

It was only a short two mile drive from the rental car location to our hotel called the Adventure Inn, so that night we did not realize what a challenge it would be to navigate the roads of Costa Rica.

Luckily that night while we were enjoying a late night snack of quesadillas in the hotel restaurant, Bryce decided to download a street map of Costa Rica off Google Maps on his smart phone. We didn’t have cell or data service on our phones in Costa Rica because we didn’t want to pay the extra costs, but we were able to connect easily with the internet anytime there was free wi-fi.

The map that Bryce downloaded off Google Maps turned out to be a lifesaver, as this map was exactly like a map you would use on your smart phone, but the map could upload streets without requiring data or wi-fi to be connected. Additionally, even without data or wi-fi, his phone’s location services – the bright blue dot or arrow you see on your smart phone’s map that locates exactly where you are at at every moment – would always work, no matter how deep in the jungle we were. In a sense, this meant we had GPS and although we couldn’t map out a list of instructions on how to get from point A to point B, we could follow where we were at on the downloaded map with the blue arrow and then navigate through the necessary streets to our destination.

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