There she was, walking out of the Juan Santamaría International Airport, purse over one shoulder, a traveling backpack over the other. I told her beforehand that as she exited the airport to look for the person with the huge grin and the flailing arms. Also, for my face. Because we’re really, really good friends. So she should have no problem identifying me. And after calling her name, she finally looked in my direction. Suddenly, it’s like Christmas morning: instant uber-jubilation, arms up for the hug, and wide smiles on both of our faces. Totally forgot to flail my arms all about, but she was still able to pick me out from the crowd, so no matter.
Priscila would be here in Costa Rica for two weeks from this moment. During her stay, we planned to cover a lot of ground as she began her search for a new home in Costa Rica: from Playas del Coco on the northern Pacific coast down to Montezuma along the Nicoya Peninsula and then over to the central Pacific coast to check out beach towns there as well. This is a scouting mission for me also as I try to decide where I want to live next in Costa Rica, having spent the past three months in Jacó, and the three months prior to that in Herradura. We’re not even yet talking about the whirlwind we are about to put ourselves into, still enjoying this very much here-and-now moment when a cabbie interrupts. After agreeing on a price (haggling is such a great thing), we walk over with him and wait as he gets his parking ticket punched for his taxi:
“Feel how heavy this is! It’s 40 pounds,” she says as I lift it off of her shoulder.
“Good grief, let me carry it for you!”
“No, I got it, McGotty.”
I momentarily feel awkward that she is toting this heavy bag while our taxi driver is pulling my light little carryon-on-wheels behind him. Only momentarily, though, because in another minute, we’re in the cab and on our way to downtown San José to spend our first day and night at the Costa Rica Backpackers Hostel. This is our pre-adventure, think-about-this-whole-thing preparation day.
What a cool little place, Costa Rica Backpackers. Neither one of us were paying the slightest bit of attention to where we were going, just letting the driver take us there so I had no idea where it was in downtown San José but that turned out to be pretty irrelevant. The hostel had a nice restaurant where we had lunch AND dinner, a very clean outside kitchen area (with free coffee) and then a bar with $5 pitchers. We rested up, did a little pamphlet gathering in their tourism center, naturally took advantage of the pitcher prices at the bar, and were in bed before 9pm in our very cool little private bunk-bed room. But not before telling ghost stories and weaving braids into each other’s hair. It was just like summer camp!
No, not on the last part. What a deal, though. Fourteen dollars ($14) a night in comfortable and superclean accommodations, hot water (which, I’m a big fan of), a pool, computers for guests to use, free wifi, and all of the other amenities. Perfect for the first night’s stay.
The next morning, we’re up at the crack of “Holy balls, it’s early” (5:15am) to catch a taxi back out to the airport for a regional flight on Sansa Air to Liberia before traveling out to our first destination, Playas del Coco.
Day One was complete.