Hi,

Yesterday we arrived in San Jose Costa Rica.

Our United Airlines flight was scheduled to depart at 7 am and our good friend Sue wanted to get up at 3 am to ensure everything went smooth, which it did.  We were sitting at the gate over an hour before they started boarding, but that was OK.  So many time’s my MO has been arriving at the airport and stressing over parking, screening, etc that this leisurely arrival was nice.  I haven’t flown in a few years and I must say the TSA were the most polite and professional I have ever seen them.

We had a layover in Houston, where our friends Dave and Claire had one as well (they live in Austin) and they had a flight that was to bring them into Costa Rica three hours before us.  So they were assigned getting the rental car.  Their connecting flight from Austin to Houston was delayed, so guess who we bumped into at the Houston airport?  Yeps, Dave and Claire.  Their connecting flight was earlier than ours, so they still got into Costa Rica almost two hours before us.

On our connecting flight from Houston to San Jose (United flight number UA 1055Y- the reason I am including a link to United so if United uses Google Alerts, they may be interested in locating who the following stewardess assigned first class that gave me such poor service so they may contact me, if they care), the steward/stewardess’ passed out the Customs and Emigration forms for us to fill out.  I didn’t have a pen and the passengers next to me had a pen that broke as they were filling out their form.  So as a United stewardess was passing, I politely requested to borrow a pen.  She stopped, turned to me and tersely said “No.”  She told a step and turned and said “Ask your neighbors”, turned her back on me a second time and then continued up the aisle.  Now up until now, overall I had been again pleasantly surprised with the service I had received from United (I came with low expectations).  They even surprised us was with a warm lunch of salad, carrots, chicken or roast beef sandwiches and brownie.  What a rude thing for her to say and what a terrible attitued.  I could understand “I’m sorry I don’t have one”, “I’m sorry it’s illegal to give passengers a pen” or any other excuse, but a terse “No” is just unacceptable from anyone that works the hospitality field.

The decent into San Jose was quite stunning.  As you get lower and can see land, the landscape is quite exciting.  There’s the ocean on one side and a wide plain with rolling hills in the background.  And the rolling hills turn into gradually climbing mountains that level out into the central plain that hosts the city of San Jose.  We arrived in San Jose and the airports fairly modern and staffed with gracious and fairly bi-lingual staff.  One thing I found really amusing was their emergency exit signs.  It shows a stick figure “running” for a door.  You immediately understand its meaning; we should adopt that up north.

The mountains as seen from San Jose airport:

The city of San Jose is pretty dense and the roads are better than anticipated.  Not well marked, but if you pay attention, the signs are there and not too hard to navigate.  Lots of police all round, but they seem to just observe and the locals seem aware of the police presence.  I felt very comfortable.  Absolutely everyone so far that we have dealt with has been very nice and eager to assist.  Their English may not be good, but my Spanish is worse and for this I am thankful.

I called Verizon about using my iPhone or cell in Costa Rica.  The iPhone was not manufactured to work here and I would need to rent a phone that they would assign my phone number to.  So I checked about my cell phone and they said that would work fine, they just needed to adjust some settings that they did remotely.  I was told to do *228 for the phone to pick up the latest cell towers before leaving the country, which I did in Houston.  I immediately lost service and haven’t been able to get it back.  It keep “Searching”.

We stayed last night and this evening at the La Gioconda House Hotel, a center city bed and breakfast run by these very nice people.

We had a great day today in the Orosi Valley.  One thing I definitely will talk about more is Miguel, of the Casa Del Sonador, house of the dreamer.  Miguel and Hermes are sons of Macedonio Quesada, one of Costa Rica’s most famous Tico carvers.  A friend of Tony, one us, had stayed with Miguel’s parents as a translator in the 1970’s and Miguel clearly remembers Leon.  What an amazing man, amazing place and amazing artist.

It’s late and I have another big day tomorrow.  I hope to have time to fill in some more of today and post as many pictures as I can of today before retiring tomorrow.

Have a great day,

ed

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