Costa Rica Begins

Published: May 18th 2013
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Chicken Towel?Chicken Towel?Chicken Towel?

A towel on our bed in the hostel that looks to me like a dressed out chicken.
Costa Rica: Day 1:
Our 6am flight from Pensacola to Atlanta went fine, other than the fact that it was 6am in the morning! We arrived in Atlanta with over an hour to spare before boaring the flight to San Jose, Costa Rica. After getting the obligatory coffee, from McDonalds, we found out they wouldn't be serving a meal during the flight, so went back to McDonalds for carryout breakfast. It turned out that they did serve a light meal consisting of a small turkey and cheese sandwich, cookies, and drinks. Unfortunately, the in-flight movie was Guilt Trip, which we had just recently rented from Redbox.

We arrived in San Jose on time, at about 11:49, their time. They are in the Central timezone like Pensacola, but they don't observe Daylight Savings Time, so the 4-hour flight took took hours on the clock. Although the lines to get through customs were rather long, they did move pretty quickly. we quickly got our bags and went through the customs scanner. Tney make you put everything you're carrying through their scanner. When we exited, we were surprised to realize we were already outside the airport building! After getting directions to our hostel
J.C. and the bedsJ.C. and the bedsJ.C. and the beds

Our hostel room with its double and twin bunk beds.
from a couple of locals, we headed down the road. It didn't seem very far on the map I had, so we opted to walk instead of grabbing a taxi. Big mistake! Either the map wasn't to scale, or it just seemed like a long ways since most of it was walking along side and crossing busy highways. Soon after we found the "new hospital" shown on my map, we found our hostel, Hostel Maleku.

I had booked this hostel because it was so close to the airport and provided free shuttle service TO the airport. Although not a bad place, with friendly and helpful staff, it just didn't seem like our typical hostels. Maleku Hostel is apparently a largish hosue that was converted to a hostel. Our room had a combination double bed with a twin on top. The room was clean enough, but besides the bed, the only other thing in the room was a bookshelf and a fan that worked but didn't swing back and forth. I should mention that the weather here is a bit warm and muggey. This is the only hostel I booked on this trip without an ensuite bathroom, but there is
Lost ManLost ManLost Man

A statue we saw just sitting in a vacant lot.
a bathroom, with shower, right across the hall. They have a small kitchen we can use, with stove and refrigerator, and a small lounge. I guess the only disappointing thing about the hostel was the fact that we have to ring in, and out, for the outside gate and they have an 11pm curfew. Both things are a bit unusual for hostels.

After stowing our gear, we got some information and directions from the receptionist and headed into the main part of town. Although the airport is San Jose's international airport, it is actually located quite a ways from San Jose, in the medium sized town of Alejuela. After a short walk, we reached the main square, on our way to the central market to find a place to eat. The main square is quite pretty, with a lot of folks strolling and sitting around, many of them feeding some of the hundreds of pigeons and squirrels. Hmm, I wonder why there are so many hanging around. We then found the main market and after checking out some of the wares and tiny eating spots, we picked one called Las Delicias del Mar. Manoli had a large and tasty
Alajuela CathedralAlajuela CathedralAlajuela Cathedral

The unusual dome of the cathedral in Alajuela.
bowl of seafood soup and I had a combination plate with fish, tortillas both fried and soft, rice, slaw, and some plantains. Manoli loved her soup and most of my plate was pretty tasty. I just wished I'd had a sauce for the rice. I noticed a lot of other customers pouring a lot of ketchup, mayonaise, and hot sauce on various dishes, so I tried that. The ketchup was a bit on the sweet side and went well with several of my items. The total bill, with a nice pineapple smoothie was 3,700 colones. Don't panic. That is about 7 dollars US. It was pretty shocking to see the prices in colones. Imagine a McDonalds family meal for ONLY 10,900... 20 bucks.

After lunch, we strolled around a bit, then stopped in the McDonalds on the square for a couple of coffees. The 2nd floor balcony was great, but the coffee was terrible! By this time, it was getting to be around 5pm, so we headed back to the hostel. After relaxing a bit, Manoli had me go back out to get some extra money from a local ATM, for our trip tomorrow. I went to one nearby ATM, but couldn't get it to work, so I returned to the hostel to find out I'd brought the wrong card. Oh well, back out again, this time to another ATM in a nearby mall. The mall was very modern and American-like, with lots of stores and a rather large food court where I got some Taco Bell stuff for dinner. I returned to the room to eat and write this blog while Manoli watched a movie on Netflix, on her Ipad.

The reason we need to be sure we have plenty of money for tomorrow, is because we are heading to Tortuguero National Park, and I'd already found out that besides a complete lack of motorized vehicles, there is also a complete lack of ATMs or even banks. In the morning, we have to catch a bus nearby into San Jose, then a taxi to a different bus station, Caribeno, where we catch a bus to Caliari, then walk 500 meters to the old bus station to catch a bus to the docks of Pavona, where we take a boat an hour and a half to Tortuguero village and National Park. We'll be staying in La Baula Lodge
Purple HousePurple HousePurple House

Actually a doctor's clinic near the plaza.
and are really looking forward to it. We'll be there for our 39th wedding anniversary and I'm hoping to find a special place to eat dinner that
night. I'll tell you more about Tortuguero when we get there.

Additional photos below
Photos: 15, Displayed: 15


Nifty McDonaldsNifty McDonalds
Nifty McDonalds

The Mcdonalds with a cool balcony on the plaza
Feeding the PigeonsFeeding the Pigeons
Feeding the Pigeons

A young Costa Rican (Tico) boy feeding pigeons in the plaza.
Seafood SoupSeafood Soup
Seafood Soup

The bowl of seafood soup (sopa de mariscos) Manoli had at the Alajuela market.
Combo PlateCombo Plate
Combo Plate

The combination plate I ate at the market.
Market StallMarket Stall
Market Stall

The market stall where we ate a late lunch.
Central MarketCentral Market
Central Market

One of the many market stalls in Alajuela
Colorful MoneyColorful Money
Colorful Money

Some of the colorful Costa Rican money (Colones)
Alajuela PlazaAlajuela Plaza
Alajuela Plaza

A good photo of the main plaza in Alajuela
Cathedral & TaxisCathedral & Taxis
Cathedral & Taxis

The cathedral of Alajuela with a long line of taxis.

19th May 2013

Happy 39th Anniversary!
Wow! It's been 39 years. Just does not seem that long.
19th May 2013

Thanks Juju
Yep, next year we're thinking of taking an Alaskan cruise for our 40th.

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