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Day 1 - Departure

Written on: Tuesday July 24th, 2007

A journal entry from: Central America Road Trip 2007

I seem to be having some problems with travellerspoint so I guess IŽll try this one and start at the beginning.

Got up very early to get to the airport more than 2 hours before the 8:40 flight. I had heard some mixed reports on Spirit Air about their check-in procedures but everything went through without a hitch and I was at the get in less than 15 minutes with nearly 2 hours to spare. Oh well, a little extra would have been nice (or time to eat or throw away that banana I took out the night before, which I forgot about, thanks Bruce for going back to take care of that for me) but I{d rather be very early than to be late and miss my flight.

At the other end I flew through Immigration and Customs, though baggage claim slowed me down a bit. The key is to walk fast and get in line before everyone else on your flight as those lines grow very quickly whenever a flight gets in. Even with waiting for my bags Im sure I got out of there before the folks on the back of the plane. I went upstairs to change some money because they have good rates (much better than the crooks at the change window near baggage claim) even though I had enough coins left over from my last trip to pay for the bus. Less than 30 minutes after landing I was out by the curb on the other side of the airport parking garage and less than 5 minutes after tha was on a bus for the 30 minute drive into town. I might have saved 15 minutes by taking a cab but those now cost $18 vs. only 60 cents for the bus and one of my goals on this trip is to see how cheaply I can travwel without unduly compromising comfort and safety. Besides I like to travel the same way the locals do and mix it up with them as much as I can.

One other "downside" to the bus is that it drops you off near the CocaCola Terminal downtown and you might have to spring for another couple of bucks to get the rest of thwe way to your hotel. In my case, I only had to walk a block and a half to where I planned to stay- the Hotel Nuevo Johnson ($10 per night). Admittedly not exactly the fanciest place in town, but it was clean and secure, the room temperature cool, the shower hot and the staff was very friendly. The neighborhood is not particularly safe after dark, but safe enough during the day and at night I usually take cabs anyway unless the place is really close. In this case, the Tica Bus terminal that I was planning to leave from the next night was really close and I wasnŽt spending much time in my room except to sleep and clean up anyway.

Okay, on to the day's events. As anyone who knows me already knows, I've been to SJ many times and have seen what little there is to see. The main reason I choose SJ to start off this trip (aside from the cheap airfare I got) was to enable me to catch up with friends. Unfortunately the guys I know hadn't made it over to our local watering hole, it still being early in the day so I decided to drop grab a late lunch at one of my favorite spots - the back courtyard at La Criollita - 5 courses from soup to desert for less than $5 surrounded by colorful songbirds. After stuffing my belly, I decided next to stop in on mi amiga Triany, a nice gal I know from Puntarenas, at her place of work, since it was just a block away. She seemed pleased to see me again and we caught up on old times. After a little while I excused myself and went back to the bar. Still no one there, but I decided to hang out a while since it had started to rain. Where is everyone? After a while I decided to walk back to my hotel and change into some dry clothes, cool off and take a little nap.

Dinner time and still no amigos. So I decided to go on my own to Costa Del Sol for some of their Chicken Marsala (their chicken parmagiana is pretty good too). I hear some guys talking at the next table and asked a few questions and wouldnŽt you know it, one of them turned out to be IrishDrifter a guy I know from on-line. He wasn't overly friendly though, so after downing my complementary Sambuca with coffee beans post aperitif, I headed back to the bar.

Finally a friendly face, my old pal Jeff (aka Scubabum) was there. We caught up for a while and I decided to go for a change of scene so I headed off to another bar where a lot of my crew are also known to hang out. This time when one of the guys at the bar heard who I was he wanted to tag along. I guess Prolijo's fame or infamy has spread far and wide.  His name was Tony something, from the US but Turkish and with what sounded more like an Indian accent. Wierd guy. Anyway, Tony and I and a couple of other guys whose names I've already forgotten hopped into a cab and headed over to the KL for some live music, dancing et al (with the chicas that were there, not with each other, let me get that straight). They had a cumbia band that was not bad, but it wasn't really my scene and one of the other guys there was sort of starting to bug me so Tony & I headed over to the other bar so I could introduce him to some of the other local celebrities. Unfortunately, most of the other luminaries, like VegasBob et al, still weren't evident, so there wasn't many guys I could introduce him to. But Scuba was still there, so I introduced him.

Then some of Scuba's friends showed up and things began to get interesting. The first was a nica named Ysenia, but she didn't speak any English and was very quiet anyway. Her friend's name was Linsey, which I kept forget which in turn didnŽt exactly endear me much with her. Also, I kept talking to Scuba not realizing that this girl spoke perfect english, having lived in San Diego for a while. Oh well, I wasn't really interested in her anyway.  But then this other girl shows up, Mia. What a delightful person. She also spoke great english, well sort of. She used to live in Brooklyn and I guess had watched too many Soprano episodes. She kept saying things like "Brooklyn" in a heavy brooklynese accent and "fuggedabutit", but it was was very cute the way she did it and she had a nice laugh. I might look her up the next time I'm in town but it was getting late and I was kind of tired from my early departure and the heat etc. so I called it a night and headed back to my hotel.

Cost for the day: $42,mainly because of $8 at the FLL airport for an overpriced Jamaican meat pie, coke and pencil to replace a leaky pen.