April 20, 2019. It has been a very long day and a much longer night waiting at Terminal 3, Gate 37B, of the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to board the red-eye Delta Flight 1388, leaving at 12:20 am, for my first trip to Costa Rica. I was so looking forward to this trip so I could see if the people are as friendly as they say, if the food is as tasty as I’ve read about, and if Costa Rica is as beautiful with pleasant year-round temperatures. I hoped that everything would be as good or better than all of the articles, newsletters, publications, and blogs that I’d immersed myself in over the past several months.
Okay, I finally arrived in Costa Rica and made it through customs without a hitch, but as it always seems to happen, first in line for ticketing to board the flight has to wait until the very end for their baggage to come off the conveyor. After I got my bags, I looked for my driver, who was holding a sign with my name on it outside of baggage claim. I felt like such a rock star!
I was digging Costa Rica already. I stayed the first night at the Autentico Hotel in San Jose, about 30 minutes from the airport in Alajuela. The hotel is rather small, but very nice and high end, with a large swimming pool and spa. Rachel, the receptionist, checked me in and was very friendly and personable. Because I arrived on an early Saturday morning, after checking in, I decided to go down to the cafeteria for breakfast. You’ve got to taste Costa Rican coffee! Wow, it’s delicious! My server was Elton, who is a kind gentleman with a pleasant smile.
After getting some well-deserved sleep, I grabbed my iPad to watch a Netflix movie because, of course, everything on TV was in Spanish. Would you believe NO Netflix? My Netflix wouldn’t work on either my cell phone or iPad. I kept getting an error message: “Network error – Unblocker or proxy,” whatever that meant. What was I going to do? Nine days in Costa Rica with no Netflix? I immediately contacted the Netflix technical advisor and expressed my frustration: “Hey, you guys have to fix this. I’m here in Costa Rica on vacation for 9 whole days and no Netflix! That’s absurd! I’ll go crazy. What am I going to do?” After channel surfing on television for a while, I came across CNN in English—yay! Although CNN is not one of my favorites, it’s either that or take a crash course in Spanish.
I eventually realized that I’m not in the United States anymore. All of the conveniences I have there may not exist here in Latin America. But little surprises were awaiting me. Read on, my friend.
Sunday morning, Day 2: Our tour group met in the hotel lobby at 7:30 am after a very delicious buffet breakfast. There were 10 of us on the tour from different parts of the world. Some were from California, like me, while a few people were from Texas, Egypt/Canada, and Pennsylvania. The tour was conducted by Christopher Howard, an expat from California who’s been doing this for more than 26 years.
We took Highway 27 to the Coastal Highway, or Costanera. We passed by many very nice, uncrowded, white sandy beaches on our way south to the Dominical – Uvita and Ojachal area on the Pacific side of Costa Rica, where we enjoyed lunch. If you’ve never tasted chicken cooked over coffee branches, you have to come to Costa Rica. We spent the night at the Rio Del Mar Resort in Dominical. When doing my research on Costa Rica, Dominical was the first place to attract my attention, and I was most impressed with it and wanted to see it for myself. They always say “don’t believe the hype”—but believe it! I fell in love with Dominical on the first day.