Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Costa Rica .. Uno

(finally catching up on the writing .. this is a backdated post)

15th April

The first impression of Liberia airport is that of a huge hangar, open at both ends, containing the immigration and customs folks. Equally gigantic fans gently stir the moisture laden tropical air. The overall impression is that of arriving at a place where time has slowed down. And I mean that in a good way.

Since I had a 5 hr delay before the next flight (to San Jose), I decided to see if I could check in early at the local airline (Sansa). I did find the counter, but it was completely deserted. Actually, after the humdrum of my flights arrival had died down, the whole airport seemed to go for a siesta. I switched from shoes to flip-flops and began reading my book.

At around 4:45 (1 hr before the flight), I wandered over to the counter once more. This time a woman came out of the small office and told me that the flight would be about 45 mins late. Total baggage allowance at Sansa is 25 lb (inc hand baggage), and I was well over that. But she decided not to charge me extra.

The reason for this largesse was soon revealed. I was supposedly the ONLY passenger on that flight. The plane arrived about 1 hr late, and it was a wonder to behold. Single prop. 12 seater.  No separate cockpit. Basically the pilot gave his pre-flight instructions by turning his head to me and speaking them out loud. The good part was that I was able to peek over his shoulder during the whole landing (which was after dark), and it was really cool to watch the runway, lit up like a christmas tree, coming closer and closer.

Checked in, had a couple of margaritas, and waited for Navin. Went out to the town, got even more drunk, and woke up bright and early the next day. After some distractions, went down to the rental car place. Were given a diesel 4wd, and were sent out with some expert sounding directions which involved two crucial turns. We missed both of them ! Made our way back to the airport, changed our rental vehicle, and got a fresh set of directions. The only problem was that the turns were described, but in answer to our legitimate query about how to identify the turns, the response was that you will just have to know. Excellent.

We finally did manage to get on the highway (not bad at all, BTW). And of course, we missed the turn to Jaco. But that turned out to be OK, as we took a small byway, which was the scenic route. Stopped for a local snack at an idyllic town. Love the attitude towards life that the Ticos have. The town square had a big tent serving beer. Food stalls nearby. A festival like atmosphere. Soccer games in progress.

After enjoying (and endlessly photographing) the sunset in the company of the local dog and sundry alligators, we reached Quepos after nightfall.

Timed it well so that the Germans (who had arrived earlier) would have had ample time to buy supplies and settle down in the villa. Evil. And realized that the warning to only get 4wd vehicles was quite prudent. Managed to drive down the narrow (and extremely steep) driveway without any incident. Cold beer was waiting, and we in turn waited for the arrival of the main party from Liberia. What helped in that vigil was the 12 bottles of wine that the main party was supposed to have.

Party came, party started, and the house was divided up. Navin, Seshan and me, as the resident bachelors, were allotted spaces in the laundry room and the pantry ! Cest La Vie.