Monday, May 9, 2011

Unintended side trip: Costa Rica

On the way home on May 2nd, I was forced to make a small and unintended side trip.   The TACA flight I was catching to make a connection in Costa Rica was delayed on its way to Lima from Cusco.  Despite assurances to the contrary, that put us far enough behind schedule that I, and a number of other travellers, were not able to make our connecting flight to San Salvador.   

Luckily -it being their error- the airline put us up in a hotel near the airport and paid for dinner and breakfast.   Unfortunately, the hotel was near the airport. 

The international airport in San Jose is about 23 km from the city proper, and there didn't seem to be much around there other than our hotel, a small, univiting casino, a couple of chain restaurants, and the usual types of business that surround airports - shipping companies, rental lots, Denny's.

It was evening and by the time I got through taking care of all that I needed to in terms of getting ahold of those who needed to be informed in the US it was past 10 o'clock at night, too late to head into town and hope to find much of anything still open.    I had an unsatisfying dinner near the hotel, using the airline voucher, at a chain place called RostiPollo.   It was basically pollo a la brasa, but served with beans and tortillas instead of the French fries usual in Peru.

The next morning I headed off early to the airport, and in the daylight was able to get some of my first and only glimpses of Costa Rica.

One neat thing about the airport was that at the Britt stores -do they have at all of Latin America's airports?- there was a stand with a guy at each hand rolling cigars from Costa Rican tabacco.  Pretty cool if you ask me.

On the leg to San Salvador, to make a connecting flight to San Francisco, the plane was not very full, so I had three seats to myself.  Not having anyone to be disturbed should I get up, I sat by the window and was able to look down at the passing Central American geology below, something I don't usually get to do.

It was rather neat, for example, to be able to look down upon the volcanic islands and shoreline of Lake Nicaragua.

Fortunately, the rest of the trip passed without incident, even though the flight from San Salvador to San Francisco was completely full with Salvadoran families laden with bags of Pollo Campero chicken, and Peruvians grumpy at having been delayed overnight.

At one point the airline representatives offered overnight lodging and expenses, plus a $400 travel voucher, to anyone who'd volunteer to get off the flight and catch it the next day.    As much as I'd have liked to visit El Salvador, when the lady approached, I laughed and told her she was simply asking on the wrong day. Maybe next time?

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