After the all of the mad preparations for a trip (Okay, this is actually just ME I’m talking about, since no one else in the household seems to get the tiniest bit hyped up trying to cross off approximately 9,000 last-minute must-do tasks...slackers...) Getaway Day is always a production in-and-of-itself. This time, we had to get up early (at 6:20, which some of you might consider perfectly reasonable, but which falls well before the 7 a.m. that I consider the break-point for civilized behavior. I suppose I should mention that this is far better than the original nightmarish option, which had us needing to arrive at the airport at 5:30—shudder…yep, thank goodness for that later flight…) The issue was that we would be traveling internationally, and being the consummate rule-follower that I am, I wanted to follow TSA recommendations to the letter and arrive 2 hours prior to takeoff. Hence the falling-out-of-bed and scrambling-out-of-the-house routine.
Now, Husband was actually the only one of us who’d ever used our local airport…and he sort of mildly raised his eyebrows when I told him how much time I was allotting for navigating the pre-flight…hoopla. “Parking’s easy, it’s not that big, and there’s never any line at Security,” he reminded me. But in my head, I factored in “Saturday morning” and “Summer vacation” and decided to err on the side of caution, nonetheless. So, yeaaaah…in summary, we left our driveway at 7:12 (which by the way, at under-15-minutes past planned departure, totally counts as “on time” for us) and rolled up to our gate at…8:04. In case you’re wondering, this left us a cool hour-and-20-minutes to…sit around and wait…in an airport that was mostly closed and verrrry quiet. Right, where’s the nearest coffee establishment?
After that, we had a super-quick flight—barely long enough climb to cruising altitude, really—taking us to the nearby city in which we’d catch our leaving-the-country plane. That leg took about 3-1/2 hours, and my only comment is: how far has customer service slipped in this day and age, when on a flight of that length, they came by with drinks exactly ONCE, and seemingly have done away completely with the (admittedly pathetic…but better than nothing) little packets of pretzels. (Anyway, we had brought our own sustenance onboard, so pblthhhhh! There, I feel better….) In the end, it didn’t matter, because when we landed, we had arrived in our vacation paradise for the week: Costa Rica.
But hold on...we still had one more minor jaunt before we would arrive at the hotel; a van from the resort picked us up and transported us the last 20 miles or so. I have to say, I had been feeling a mite nervous about the driving conditions, having little information about…well, to be honest, about Central America in general….beforehand. Fortunately, the road was paved, and more-or-less non-scary…albeit narrow and somewhat bumpy. Along the way, our guide (not the driver, whose full attention was wisely directed through the windshield) kept up an entertaining, helpful monologue about his country. For instance, we learned that Costa Rica places a great deal of importance, and also takes a lot of pride, in its attitude toward preserving the environment.
On a completely unrelated note, he also pointed out the fields of sugar cane—a major crop in the region—and several examples of “skinny cows” (his words, and very accurate…you could really count the ribs on those suckers). Apparently, the livestock is raised completely naturally, meaning that they just…graze on grass all day…and this makes for extremely lean meat when they’re slaughtered. (Did Derek’s eyes light up like firecrackers when he heard this? You betcha. Me, I heard “lots of fresh pineapple” and was enthused as well. This played itself out amusingly when upon arrival, the teenager’s first afternoon “snack” consisted of a cheeseburger…and mine was a plate of tropical fruit.)
Thus fortified, we headed straight for the BEACH to dunk our toes in the Pacific. Although the scenery reminded me of Bodega Bay, in terms of the dark sand color, otherworldly driftwood shapes arrayed along the water, and large rocky outcroppings, there was one MAJOR difference: the water was WARM, rather than toe-numbing. We did our best to enjoy it to the fullest extent on Day 1, since we’d been told that in this part of the world, the sun sets by 6:30 p.m., rather than the 9:00 we’re used to in the Mid-Atlantic U.S. Summer. And speaking of “things we’ll have to adjust to”: a quick scan of the television revealed that there are precious few English-speaking channels available here…and (wait for it) no ESPN. I know, I know, “Big Deal”, right? But trust me, the sports-loving children threw a (mostly fake) mini-tantrum when I broke this news. I don’t know that it would matter so much, except that the MLB All-Star Game is this week, and we’ll be missing it. Soooo...I do believe this is the very first time in their young lives that we’ve taken the boys someplace that feels….like a foreign country. (You know, because the whole “Mom switching into ‘speak Spanish mode’ as soon as she disembarks from the plane” wasn’t enough of a clue…)
It was an eventful first day, I’ve gotta say. For now, we need to go to bed so we can start acclimating to the 2-hour time difference. As long as we can resist getting sucked into watching Ghostbusters…dubbed in Spanish, that is! (It's oddly compelling...and pretty doggone hilarious, believe it or not. Who needs SportsCenter?)