Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Costa Rica pts. 9-10: back of the plane, bitch

[02/01/09; transcribed from my trip journal]

You know, that lodge in Tortuguero really changed me. I saw a spider in the shower this morning and thought, Eh, as long as it stays where I can see it. To paraphrase those t-shirts that Vietnam vets wear, I know I'm going to heaven 'cause I've already been to Tortuguero.

After we checked out of our hotel, we got on the bus and headed towards our next destination. As usual, people on the sidewalk waved and smiled at us as we passed by, and I wondered what they really think of us tourists with our pasty white legs, clutching our bottled water and using hand sanitizer every two seconds and taking pictures of animals that are as common to them as squirrels or pigeons are to us. I will say, though, with the exception of the occasional scowler, the Ticos have been nothing but friendly and gracious.

Anyway, we drove to a town called Sarchi in the Central Valley, where they’re famous for painting oxcarts in bright colors.

Um, what?

I bought a really cute stuffed sloth and a couple of magnets. One of my fellow tourists traded a $39 portable DVD player for a beautiful handcarved rocking chair that cost $100. He even managed to talk them into shipping it to the US for free!

Next up was lunch---yup, chicken again! But they had really good dancers to watch while we ate.

A few other shots:

Jose said these bright orange trees are planted to provide shade at the coffee plantations.

This shit is bananas.

This church is made of steel.

Inside the church.


Then we visited a coffee plantation, which wasn’t really my thing, but everyone else went apeshit. These actors gave us info on the coffee bean in a humorous manner.

Mural at the plantation

Afterwards, I bought a Costa Rica shirt with a monkey on the front and a bag of chocolate-covered coffee beans.

On the drive back to San Jose, I started feeling really shitty. I had a sore throat and kept coughing, and I also felt feverish and dizzy. Once we had checked in, I took a very short nap, which didn’t help much.

I’d have to say this was my least favorite hotel on the trip.  True, the lodge in Tortuguero was bug-infested, but at least it had the benefits of an excellent location, and the grounds were very charming.  This was just a soulless Holiday Inn in the middle of San Jose.  The desk clerks were really rude, too.

I reluctantly got dressed up and headed to the fancy restaurant on the 17th floor for our farewell dinner. Despite feeling so nasty, I enjoyed our meal immensely: filet mignon, mashed potatoes, red wine, and flan. Finally, some red meat!

Jose gave a toast, and after we were done eating, everyone milled around collecting e-mail addresses and dispensing hugs. Although Roxanne was the only person on this trip that I could see hanging out with in “real life”, the people on this tour were all really nice. I got choked up saying goodbye to everyone.

I went back to my room, changed into my woobs, took two Arcedol, and climbed into bed. I’m going to read until I fall asleep. I don’t have to leave here until 3:15PM tomorrow, so there’s no need to wake up early. Hopefully the drogas and a good night’s sleep will take care of my ickiness.

I’ll really miss Costa Rica---well, not the bugs and the humidity, but the beauty of this place and the warmth of its people. This is my second favorite trip of all time, after my 2005 trip to Japan, but I’ll be so glad to get home. I wish I could fast forward to that moment tomorrow night when I exit customs and see G waiting for me!

[02/02/09; transcribed from my trip journal]

When I woke up this morning, despite the pills and almost ten hours of sleep, I felt worse. I felt so lousy, in fact, that I seriously considered finding Jose and asking him to take me to a doctor. But instead, I dragged myself into the shower, got dressed, and headed downstairs for breakfast. I wasn’t remotely hungry, but I figured I’d better eat something, since I literally don’t know where my next meal is coming from. I listlessly spooned cornflakes into my mouth, and then I arranged a late checkout at the front desk and returned to my room, where I slept some more.

At 12:30, I got up, dumped everything onto my bed, and began the arduous process of packing. I finally managed to fit everything into one suitcase, one tote bag, and my purse. I went downstairs at 1:45, checked out, and sat on the couch in the lobby and read Chalktown. About an hour later, Jose showed up and waited with me until my shuttle came. I hugged him goodbye, thanked him for all of his help, and tipped him. He’s such a great guy, and when I get my survey from the tour company, I’ll have nothing but good things to say about him.

When I got to the airport, I checked in and then found my gate. It didn’t take long, since it’s such a small airport! I had a terrible personal pizza and drink from Papa John’s ($9), and then I returned to the terminal to read. Fortunately, I was feeling better than I had that morning; not 100% to be sure, but at least I didn't feel like I was going to pass out anymore.

After boarding the plane, I was thrilled to see that I had a whole row to myself! Beaming with joy, I pulled out my book and thought, Okay, I’ll read till the end of this chapter and then lay down and sleep. But then…SHE came.

A woman tapped me on the shoulder, said, “Disculpe…” and launched into rapid-fire Spanish. I shrugged and said “No habla espanol”, and she went and got the flight attendant, who returned with her.

“She would like to know if she could sit here, because her headphone jack doesn’t work,” the flight attendant said.

God…effing…damn it!

I mean, sure, I could have said “No”, but no, I had to be all nice and agree. I stood up, she slid into the window seat, flung her purse in the middle seat, and settled in to watch the subtitled episode of “The Closer” that was playing.

Maybe she’ll leave when it’s over, I thought hopefully, but no. She did not. She stayed there for the entire flight as I silently fumed. On the plus side, she only got up once, so I was able to take a bit of a nap. The flight attendants came around with dinner, and I was glad I’d gotten Papa John’s, as bad as it was, because, yep, it was chicken and rice. I’m never eating chicken and rice again!

At LAX, I waited in line for a good thirty minutes at customs, and when I got to the counter, the officer pointed at the list of things I was declaring and said, “What kind of stuffed animal?”

“Um, a sloth.”


I gaped at him. “No, no, it’s a toy! Just a toy! Let me show you.” I started to reach down for my bag, but he held his hand up.

“Ma’am, please keep your hands on the counter.”


Finally, I was allowed to leave, and I picked up my suitcase at the conveyor belt. Out of curiosity, I peeked inside to see if my Arcedol had been confiscated, but it was still there. Woot! Then I shuffled through a loooooooong line to exit customs. I handed over my stamped form, walked out the door, and saw G waiting there.

And that’s when I was truly home.