Thursday, April 23, 2009

Two Days in San Jose and the Flight Home - Monday 4-20-2009 and Tuesday 4-21-2009

Monday and Tuesday proceed similarly. I have lunch with Nicolas at the Mercado Central (I have the fried chicken with tortillas at Soda San Cristobal for 1,950 colones both days), he tells me he is ready to leave San Jose and return to Quebec, and I do a lot of listening because he has a lot to say about everything. On Monday, he asks our waitress at Soda San Cristobal if she would like to meet him for dinner on Tuesday. She agrees. After this, he talks a lot about how excited he is for his date. When we go back to Soda San Cristobal on Tuesday for lunch, the waitress is there again and Nicolas gets a confirmation that she will meet him later that day for dinner. Monday after lunch, we walk the blocks just to the south and west of the Mercado Central. Every store front facing the avenidas and calles is occupied, the merchants selling everything from fresh produce of every color, to childrens’ toys, to cell phones, to baked goods, to clothing, lingere, and other apparel for both men and women. Crowds are thick on both days. Nicolas and I weave our way through and around groups of pedestrians. Street vendors yell out the name of vegetables to passersby, hoping to attract a buyer. Old women sit at small wooden tables covered with lottery tickets. The destitute approach the slightly better off and beg for money. Taxis and trucks honk warnings to pedestrians as they zoom down the narrow streets. I will miss San Jose and its vibrant, chaotic life. Monday afternoon, I find a souvenir doll for my aunt at a t-shirt shop in a quiet alley in the Mercado Central. Tuesday afternoon, Nicolas and I walk to a park at the Costa Rica Gran Hotel and across the street from the Teatro Nacional and enjoy the early afternoon. Throngs of people walk by – businessmen in suits carrying expensive leather cases, teenagers talking on cell phones, couples walking hand in hand, old men with worn faces wearing threadbare clothes, private school students in their uniforms, tourists with folding maps.

I bid Nicolas goodbye on Tuesday afternoon and walk back to the hostel. Monday night, I arranged for a shuttle to drive me to the airport today. The shuttle driver arrives and I bid goodbye to Juan Carlos at the front desk. On the way out of town, we pass Parque Morazan. Laura and I walked through Parque Morazan the afternoon I showed her around San Jose. Further on, we drive past the hotel where Ricardo and Fernando stayed in San Jose; I remember it from when the shuttle to Monteverde stopped there several weeks ago. The 17 kilometer drive from hostel to airport takes forty-five minutes in San Jose’s heavy afternoon traffic. The driver wishes me good journey and pats me on the arm. Checking in, immigration, and security take all of fifteen minutes together. I spend the next three hours sitting at my gate enjoying the Juan Santamaria International’s free wireless. The plane boards at 6:35PM and takes off at 7:15PM. I bid adios to Costa Rica as the countryside rushes by and the plane lifts off for Los Angeles.

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