We left Victoria BC on a balmy (by Canadian standards anyway) evening, arrived in Toronto where is was -20 celsius, were delayed there for an hour on the runway because the plane's motors were too cold to start and finally arrived in Costa Rica after travelling for 19 hours in all. We thought it would very hot here, so were totally unprepared for the chill we experienced, due to its elevation at 2500 feet!
San Jose must be the noisiest city we have ever been in, or maybe it is just where our present hotel is situated! The trains run through the centre of town and the drivers sound their horns for very long periods, obviously to warn motorists and pedestrians of their approach. These horns seem to be abnormally loud somehow, and the prolonged blaring of klaxon horns is very jarring.
Our hotel, booked over the internet is not very comfortable. It is clean and central, but sadly lacking in comfort. There is nowhere to sit comfortably and read or use computers, no proper dining room and nowhere to sit outside, so we have decided to transfer to another which we hope will be better, and is also, fortuitously closer to the eye clinic where Cherry's cataract operations are to be performed. We will need to be near the clinic for about 10 days so the comfort is an issue.
We had a wonderful surprise in the form of a Swiss friend of Alec's from his working days in Malaysia who just happened to be here on holiday.We met up with Roland Schlapfer and spent a wonderful afternoon together. He has been holidaying in Central America for many years and was able to point us in the right direction on many points of interest, which we will explore after Cherry's operation.
Our Spanish is coming on quite well, able to say a few phrases and understand a bit, We have been sampling genuine Costa Rican food (yum) and also found a really good Chinese restaurant nearby so the food front is well cared for. The local beer is very good and cheap.
Due to Alec injuring his knee on a walk up Mount Work on Vancouver Island, we are not able to do much exploring so far so very little sightseeing done, and we will not be able to do much until the eye ops are out of the way, but here are a few pictures anyway.
So far our impressions of Costa Rica are ambivalent. After so many years travelling in South East Asia, we find it comparatively expensive. There are a lot of tourists here and we think this has contributed to the high costs. Gringoes do not have a culture of haggling and will pay whatever is asked without protest, so the local people obviously will ask more and more, until the "pain threshhold" at which the tourists refuse to pay is reached. This also applies to real estate...so many foreigners pay too much for properties and now prices are almost on a par with USA and Canada.