We started off in Mexico City, an early drive to the airport saw us there in good time, lucky really as we ended up at the wrong check in desk. Four out of 5 of our flights were with Iberia and we just blindly went to their desk. We weren’t far from where we needed to be so it was all fine in the end. For once, we arrived so early that we had to wait for another plane to vacate our spot.
Our airport transfer was waiting for us, we have terrible luck with those. Two days ago in Mexico our driver was a no show (he had engine trouble) and we had to go on a crazy taxi ride instead. The route to our hotel in San Jose took us along the Pan American highway and was a nice talking point engaged by our driver.
The first thing I noticed about San Jose is that everything is that all the windows are barred and all the properties seem to be gated, fenced or otherwise secured. It immediately didn’t feel like a safe haven and I wondered if it had been a mistake to embark on this trip after all. The tour we are on is operated by G Adventures who are highly rated and the hotel we arrive at is one of their regular starting points, the Soluxe El Sesteo Hotel. It’s not a bad hotel at all, comfortable and has a pool. The room isn’t as smart as the one we just left in Mexico but at least here you can drink the water. Cleaning your teeth with bottled water is not much fun. You still can’t flush toilet paper but you can’t have it all.
We arrived a little early for the evening meet up and, given the security situation and the sign in the hotel foyer saying don’t walk around with excess money, passports or credit cards we decided to get food as close to the hotel as possible. Just up the road was a McDonald’s but first of all we had to work out the road crossing situation. We adopted a similar tactic to English roads, have a good look and if you can make it, go. McDonald’s food in Costa Rica is no different to anywhere else. The visit here did highlight an issue with the currency, the prices were all in the hundreds of colons yet our smallest note had a face value of 2 Mil. We opted to use the credit card as the option was available.
Back at the Hotel we met our tour guide and the rest of the group there were 14 of us altogether and we went around the room to introduce ourselves. A mixture of Brits, Americans, Germans and Canadians. Everyone was really nice and friendly and clearly had similar expectations of the type of trip we expected. We also met Ale our tour guide or CEO as G Adventures call them. She’s a native Costa Rican with excellent English and a love of beans and rice. My first question was my confusion over the notes and the simple answer was that Mil means thousand here and it suddenly all made very obvious sense. I blame jet lag. We went as a group to a fairly local restaurant that served ‘Authentic Mexican Food’. Having just come from there the irony was not lost on me. Either way the food was really good and they kept bringing out extra side dishes for the table that were extremely good. Ale told me later that she had ended up paying for all the extras as they were not free but no one had paid for them. I made a mental note to make sure everyone would contribute.