Jan 18, 2011

Ola Costa Rica

I had the chance to visit Costa Rica for 30 days on a business trip.  I was a bit worried at first since it's a spanish speaking country and I will most likley get myself un-understood (if there is such a word).  This is my second time to travel international and first to the Americas.

I left cebu nov 13 last year for an hour's ride to manila.  In manila, passengers for LA had to go through a more rigid security check (it so happened it  was the same time when the pat downs was a big issue in the US).  After I was pat down, my visa was checked again, and led to a cordoned waiting area in gate-i-no-longer-recall.  Non-LA passengers enjoyed going around gates unrestricted.  From 6pm i stayed inside the cordoned terminal and waited for my 10pm flight to LA.

I must say, Manila to LA flight is the longest ever! 14 hours mid air on a cramped fiesta class is a punishment.  If not for the downturn, i (and the rest of my colleagues) still could have enjoyed the biz class.  I had no problems with immigration upon arrival in LA, it was a breeze.  I did hurt one woman though, I was sorry for her.  The luggage I bought last minute in gaisano happend to be off balance when filled.  My luggage fell on its front side and the extended aluminum handle landed on the woman's knee.  it was embarrassing for me, really.

heading towards the exit of the tom bradley airport, an airport security officer stopped me and asked if i brought any food in my bags.  well, i said no, but i couldn't help but remember the dried mangoes in my heavy-off-balanced luggage. if i stuffed my backpack with in-flight food, i could have said yes and left it with him. he happened to be a filipino when he said "sige na."  then i knew he was kidding, it wasn't his job really coz i was past the scanners.

i headed off to terminal 6 for my 12 midnight continental flight to houston.  i didn't know it was that far, but i was told it was just a 15 minute walk. it must have took me more time to get there as I later noticed the check-in counters are on the second floor.  I was downstairs the whole time checking out arrival gates.  good thing when you are traveling alone is you get to learn to ask, when i did, a parking officer just pointed me up to take the escalator.  i was standing below continental airlines check in counter the whole time.

continental's check in counter was of a self service type.  obviously my first time, i didn't know how to do it.  a lady helped check me in all the way to san jose costa rica.  i was starving that time since i don't eat much during mid-flights.  in continental's terminal, i ate at redondo beach brewing co that served alcoholic beverages and hotdogs.  i must be very hungry that i ordered the biggest hotdog sandwich on the menu.  there i met another filipino luis.  like myself, he's bound training.  he's mid 50's and works as an electrician for an oil rig in vietnam.  he was a funny guy too and offered to take my picture.

LA to Houston is a 4 hour flight.  I arrived in george bush interncontinental airport 5am and met another filipino, this time a seafarer.  I can't believe i was still hungry after the hotdog sandwich, so i got myself a wendy's egg sandwich and hush browns.  While I was waiting at terminal E3 for my 8am San Jose Costa Rica flight, i tried to get some some sleep.  But when i saw one guy panicked after he missed his flight to Louisiana after falling asleep on the waiting lounge, i kept myself awake.  it's also in the houston airport that i first saw a bestbuy vending machine, selling ipods and digital cameras.

houston to san jose costa rica is another 4 hour flight.  my colleagues picked me up in san jose juan santamaria airport.

atlast, costa rica.  after more than 24 hours of waiting in the terminal and mid-flights, i got my feet on solid ground.  i'm safe now. =)

i called home the moment i arrived, skype does come in handy.  after, i slept the whole night, except hunger woke me up, good thing i found a banana in the fridge.

for 30 days i stayed in galiza suites in santa ana. i must say it's a nice place.

galiza by day and night
it's lovely apartment, fully furnished.  it's only this time that i loved to do my laundry.  i never got my hands wet, at all. =) we have 3 32 inch lcds with cable tv, 1 in the living room and 1 for each of the two rooms.

the toilet was hotel standards, it didn't come with a tub however.  but good enough for me.

weekdays i went to work from 2-10pm, i have to be on that shift as i need to communicate with colleagues in the philippines.  costa rica is on 14 hours late from the philippines.  weekends however was mall day.  multiplaza and paseo de las flores are fine malls too.

the one thing costa rica stands out for me, are the beautiful ladies.  even at the grocery store, i noticed one lady selling soap and based on filipino standards, she's commercial model material.  they're everywhere! newstands, souvenir shops, ticket booths, name it, costa rica's got the most beautiful ladies on earth!

btw, i was at hooters by accident.  while i was driving with a friend from multiplaza mall, our gps was kind of acting out and could not find signal, so we drove along and found an exit that led us to hooters.  and this girl greeted us, served our nachos and chicken wings. such a fine place really, need i say more? =)

i also joined our company's christmas party in Cafe Jazz, near hooters.  even after that hooters lunch, i still got myself lost. hehe my memory could have been wiped clean by this last picture. =)  costa rican's have a different way of celebrating and partying compared to filipinos.  let's just say i liked how they party.  we had buffet dinner, and unlimited drinks of what-ever's-in-the-bar.  sweet.

did i mention their driving style? costa ricans drive fast, like really fast on small roads.  i drove there fro 3 weeks and i was almost hit by a truck the size of optimus prime.  it was my mistake really, i remembered the last time i drove a car was june, could you easily lose the feel of driving in that short time.  i also fell in love with automatic transmissions. oh so easy.

I had to return to the philippines to renew my US visa.  Until it arrives, i'm stuck here longing for costa rican food, driving style, and beatiful scenes. =)

have you been to costa rica? how was your experience?

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