Day 1: San Jose
We got to San Jose on time. Right outside the airport, I saw a guy holding up a piece of paper with my name on it. He told us his name is Flavio. He called Roberto (one of GO! Tours' drivers) to drive the van over, and took us to our hotel. Both Flavio and Roberto are really nice guys. You feel like they are your friends immediately. Along the drive, Flavio explained who was going to do what for our upcoming trip. Some of the transfers would be done by GO! Tours. Others would either be done by a sister company in Arenal, or be taken care of by the hotels.
Had a late lunch at a Mexican restaurant near our hotel. It was good, but boy they were not cheap. It cost just over 12,500 colones, which is $25! There was a grocery store below the restaurant. We bought 2 big bottles of water (1,090 colones each). Things were not cheap at all. I don't know how people live if the average income here is really $9,000/year like the guide book says!
1. Dave had enchilada.
2. I had tacos.
3. Beautiful Costa Rica money. 'MIL' means 'one thousand in Spanish. We kept thinking it was a million initially. 1,000 colones is ~$2. 2,000 colones is ~$4.
Flavio told us there was a festival of lights at downtown San Jose that night, so after lunch we asked the hotel to call us a taxi. It took ~15 minutes for the 'taxi' to show up, and it was not even a taxi, it was a beat up hotel shuttle bus, and they charged us $18 (yes, they charge things in USD sometimes) to go to downtown San Jose, $2 more than taxi charged us later that night when we came back to the hotel.
4. Some sculpture at downtown San Jose.
5. Across the street from the sculpture.
6. Downtown San Jose.
7. Downtown San Jose.
8. Downtown San Jose.
9. National Theater. We found out later that china town is not far from here.
10. People lined up the streets hours before the festival (which was a parade with floats, street dancers and marching bands) began.
13. The parade started around 5pm. It was certainly not Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. But it was still fun to see how locals, especially kids, loved the parade. They cheered to anything and everything, including this mini-helicopter float.
14. Another float.
Later when we were looking for a place to eat, we found a local place that had freshly fried chicken (leg quarters, wings ...), many people were eating there, but we didn't know how to order. I spotted a young Chinese guy working there. I asked him if he could order for us. He said he couldn't speak Spanish either. He asked his sister who was also working there to order for us. We got 2 leg quarters and a small bottle of coke for a total of 3,550 colones (~$7).
15. They were shooting firework outside when we were eating dinner.
16. There were so many street vendors that night. Many of them used a portable grill like this to make shish kebabs to sell.
17. A fruit stand in a VW van.
18. There were so many people that it reminded me of China.
(To be continued)