The day was September 4th, this was the day I finally got to go to the airport and actually get on a plane instead of just picking up a friend and having to drive back home. I bought my one way ticket, and was ready to leave.
My day began around 2:45 am. There was a detour to Logan, naturally. When we get to the airport I’m informed that I can’t enter Costa Rica without some sort of way out aka return flight or proof of onward travel. It’s about 4:30 am at this point. I begin frantically searching online with my phone as is Alan on his. The only things we could find couldn’t be booked online, and nothing was open at that time of the morning. I stared at the airport employee with a look of fear/ WTF am I supposed to do right now/ help me! Needless to say, at that point, with all that going on, and my parents watching from the distance, I entered panic mode.
This is pretty much what I looked like:
The lady at the Jetblue counter, out of pity, just asks me to pick a date and name of the bus company I’m planning on using and to which country I’d be going to. By Law, as a US citizen (and I’m pretty sure it goes for all foreigners) entering Costa Rica, you need proof that you will be leaving the country, so every 3 months I will have to exit Costa Rica for what they call a border/visa run. So I told her Friday Nov 22 on Tica Bus to Panama. She wrote a note in the system and let me board the plane. I checked my huge backpack and brought a small backpack and purse as carry on.
This was my first time on Jetblue, and I flippin loved it! Best flight attendants around, super friendly, full of charisma, and just fun. The actual plane was pretty sick too…so much LEG ROOM. The plane was fairly empty and I ended up with three seats to myself. As soon as that unbuckle seatbelt light turned off I just went for it…. sprawled out on those three seats and had myself a lovely nap. I was so tired I didn’t even wake up for the free food/beverage they hand out.
Once we land in Orlando I search for bus companies online to actually purchase my ticket of onward travel. Tica bus came through for me, and I got the bus ticket email confirmation about 15 minutes before boarding my second flight. As I was boarding my flight I was stopped and asked by two separate people if I had a return flight/onward travel so having proof of ticket was quite the relief. Apparently this is something that they have recently really started enforcing because people are just going to Costa Rica and they don’t seem to be returning home.
UPDATE: Now that I’ve been in the country for several months, I realize how Tica Bus screwed me. When I frantically called them asking for a bus ticket, they gave me a one way shuttle NON REFUNDABLE ticket to Panama which cost about $90. I didn’t know then that they were giving me their shuttle option, nor did they tell me. There are other, cheaper options, but being a panicked first time solo traveler they took advantage. I ended up going to Bocas Del Toro in December instead, and didn’t even use my ticket. Thanks Tica Bus!
ALSO: Big ups to Alan/Karina/Luis for all their help trying to find me a bus ticket. Love you guys!!
Meet Joan & Marty: my plane mates
I boarded my second and final flight from Orlando to San Jose. I was seated in between the oldest two ladies on the plane, both retirees from Florida. They were my first two friends on this little adventure. The woman to my right was named Joan Grant, she was the leader of the pack. She’s 84 yrs old, kind of resembled Rose from Titanic (the older version of Rose obvi) and leads cancer tours back in the States. Not exactly sure what that meant but I didn’t question it. My first thought was to ask her if she had cancer, but figured that was not appropriate. Her adopted grandson lives in Costa Rica and is a tour guide. They were going to visit him and join a tour. This was her 8th time visiting CR, she raved about the banana, pineapple, and coffee tours. She just had eye surgery so couldn’t really read, I filled out her immigration/customs form for her (which is how I knew her full name).
The lady to my left, Marty, was a bit more high maintenance than Joan. She was wearing some fierce blue eye shadow and eyeliner. She kind of resembled Betty White. Marty had just gotten her nails done which were longer than usual so I had to help her set her dual time zone watch, which I had never seen before. While speaking to them they both thought I said I was working in a Hospital, which they seemed really impressed by, and so I just went with it for a bit. Later on I had to give up the charade and tell them it was actually a hostel not a hospital, they weren’t as impressed but still showing enthusiam for my adventure. I wanted to ask if I could take a photo with them but wasn’t sure how’d they feel about it. I really wish I had though! I need to not be afraid of asking little things like that.
Exiting the San Jose airport was so intimidating … the taxi drivers here are nuts. Literally the SECOND you step outside there is just a long line of taxi drivers standing in single file all asking you if you need a ride at the same exact time… it was something like “taxi?? taxi aqui!…senorita, you need taxi?!” It looked something like the image below if all those people happened to be taxi drivers. Also, I exaggerate sometimes.
Diego, the hostel taxi dude picked me up, and luckily had a sign with my name on it so I was searching for that while trying to avoid the other taxi vultures.
Around 1 pm I am shown to my room at the hostel, and meet my new roomie Frank, a 39 year old tall black man with dreads. He does not look his age, looks younger for sure. He seems pretty nice, and after putting my things away and taking an extended nap, he showed me around my new hood and we grabbed something to eat. Didn’t really do much else, I think I had enough drama/excitement for one day.
Here are some pics of my hostel: