It was a very early start on a very cold morning in New York. But somehow I managed to make it in good time for my 7:15am flight – in good enough time that I even managed to leisurely purchase a yogurt and granola pot for breakfast.
My first impressions of Costa Rica as the flight came into land were very positive. It was warm, far warmer than the snow littered streets of New York, and this very much suits my natural, cold-blooded self. There are mountains too, and greenery. And if that was the impression I got near the airport, imagine what it will be like when I reach the jungle.
I ignored all the drivers coaxing me to orange taxis and instead found the local bus stop which actually made for a surprisingly comfortable and convenient ride. I even spotted my hostel from the bus which made navigation a lot easier.
A quick shower and change and I was off to sample the delights of Costa Rica’s capital. Like a lot of modern capital cities, San Jose is laid out on a grid with a large pedestrian shopping street dissecting the centre. Being blonde and tall, I knew very well that I would stick out like a problem child in Central and South America, and this became very apparent from the stares I received whilst walking around. I had a long walk and then sat in La Plaza de la Cultura munching on a sandwich and sipping ice tea.
A friendly Costa Rican man came and conversed with me about where I was from and what I was doing there. He tested my Spanish too, which is still a bit rusty I must admit, but it will get there. I did start to wonder when his friendliness slipped into him complimented my apparently grey eyes (they’re blue, I swear!) and as I needed to get back to the hostel anyway, I made my swift exit.
Back to the hostel and I was invited out for dinner by a very nice roommate. This of course ended up being a group meal of about 20 who had all been on a tour of Costa Rica together and were saying goodbye, so I felt out of place and a little awkward, but I very much appreciated the gesture.
It’s another early morning start for me to get to Monteverde, my stop-off point for 3 months or so of volunteering at El Jardin de Mariposas. I am quite nervous about turning up, but let’s just hope for the best.