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Published: August 23rd 2007
Firstly, thanks to everyone that has left me messages, and for those that have either sent text messages or left voice messages on my mobile, I don´t seem to be able to get any network access at all, so I haven´t been able to pick them up or reply to them. This may be the case throughout Central America, so it's best to just use the internet to contact me from now on.
Well yesterday was a long day! Was up at 4am to do some last-minute clearing away my rubbish into the loft and tidying the house ready for the tenants, before getting a taxi to Heathrow at 5am. Got there before the check-in desk opened so I didn´t have to face much of a queue, and discovered that I am allowed to check 2 bags into the hold, so I didn´t need to leave so many things at home after all! Bummer! Still, I wouldn´t be able to carry all the extra stuff so I´m sure I did the right thing.
Check-in was relatively hassle free, or so I thought. As I got to the gate I suddenly realised I was missing my PSP that had been in my trouser pocket, so some kind person must have nicked it from the box in the security area whilst I was putting my walking boots back on. Still, could have been worse, he could have nicked my wallet. I don´t know what he's going to do with it when the battery runs out though, as he didn´t steal my charger! So much for having to be on my guard in Latin America!
Had a 9 hour flight to Miami, which went really quickly, although I did have a headache for most of it. As we were coming in to land I started to feel really sick, probably a combination of nerves, tiredness and the plane being really stuffy (for some reason on the newer jets, you don't get one of those air-conditioning controllers above the seat), but managed to keep the contents of my stomach inside. Queuing for an hour at passport control in Miami airport didn't help much either. It takes about 5 minutes per person to go through, and they take fingerprints and pictures of everyone's eyes(!), even if, like me, you're only in transit. Nightmare. I managed to buy some headache tablets in the airport and fortunately they worked a treat.
After a 4-hour wait for my connecting flight, I finally took off for San Jose. The flight was pretty smooth, although I was dozing when we came in to land and was woken with a jolt after one of the scariest landings I've experienced. There were gasps as the wheels thudded into the runway, and for a split second I honestly thought we were going to crash. In fact, a round of applause broke out as the plane came skidding to a halt. It was raining so I guess the runway was a bit slippery, but it certainly woke me up!
Passport control at San Jose airport was a pleasure compared to Miami. And my rucksack was already waiting for me by the carousel. Unfortunately, my 2 walking poles and my expensive self-inflating sleeping bag mat were not! They had been strapped to the outside of my rucksack and must have come loose somewhere during the journey. At this rate, I won´t need to worry about my luggage allowance on the way home - I won't have anything left!
I easily managed to get a taxi to the hotel, but the driver was a complete maniac (as all the drivers here are, I´ve since discovered). There doesn't seem to be a fast and slow lane - whenever there´s a gap, the drivers just swerve into it, and the air is filled with the sound of honking horns. I just decided to sit back and enjoy the ride, as I was too tired to be scared!
I finally got to the hotel 22 hours after leaving home. It´s a nice hotel, quite basic but perfectly comfortable, and I pretty much went straight to sleep after getting to my room.
So there you have it, the first day of my travels, and I can't believe I'm finally here. Don't worry, not all my posts are going to be this long, but internet access in the hotel is free so I may as well make use of it!
More to follow soon.
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