Costa Rica: Departure and Day 1 San Jose

We’re in the Panama City airport on a layover on our way to San Jose, Costa Rica, when my best friend of 13 years, travel buddy, and mischief to my mayhem orders a tequila shot.

“Hey Sarah, do you really think that’s a great idea? You did try tequila at home to see if it makes you sick first, right?”


We have to get on a plane on in about 40 minutes. Looking back now, it was signs of things to come.

We’re back on to the second plane of the day bound for Costa Rica and an 12 day Contiki trip that we had been planning for months. I’m a little surprised she didn’t get fed up with me before we even made it to the airport as I daily sent her messages along the lines of “only 67 days to go!” Thankfully she stuck with me despite my obnoxious level of enthusiasm–actually happy to let me plan and research to my hearts content. Taxi to the first hotel, the tour wouldn’t formally start until 8 am the next morning. Blissfully air conditioned and with free wifi. We decided that naps were an excellent idea after we’d both phoned home to let our families know we were still alive.

That evening we wandered down to the hotel’s bar where were were meeting a few of the group who had come in a day early too. The trip manager would also be there and we’d get some info on the trip and a short orientation to the city. We all awkwardly introduced ourselves running through the usual info–name, city, and occupation. Dinner, a quick drink at the bar across the street, and then sleep for all of us.

Breakfast was our first introduction to the ubiquitous rice and beans that form the foundation to every Costa Rican meal. From there on to the coach, all of us for the first time together. 18 of us representing the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, England, Austria, Switzerland, and South Africa. We headed out of San Jose on our way to Poás Volcano National Park with a stop to see a sloth who had decided to nap beside the highway.

group day 1

All of us together on day 1! Photo credit: Gustavo Mora

Bug attacks and some struggles adjusting to the altitude and the weather, we made it to the top of the volcano. The wind picked up and we got to see the clouds pour over the volcano’s rim, covering the lake in the center of the crater. I laughed as fellow tourists chased squirrels about trying to get a good picture. Where I’m from squirrels are about as common as dogs, not exactly photo op worthy.


Weather rolling in

The rain set in as we headed back to the coach. Lunch, and a nap on the way back to the city. Despite the rain we set off on a walking tour, roaming the central market, la Plaza de la Cultura, ending at the Gold Museum. We walked the main pedestrian shopping street back to the hotel, the conversation ranging from bad English translations to one guy’s goal to try Taco Bell for the first time.


From the Gold Museum

Dinner at the hotel and then some of us went back to the pub across the road and others off to a club on the other side of the city. We stayed longer that night lured by a schizophrenic play list. It would be so bad that we’d be about to leave only to suddenly become the best play list we’d ever heard with all of our favorite sing along songs.  Nick form Australia and I sang The Killer’s Mr. Brightside loudly, psyched for the start of an adventure.

Another early morning to come, off to to Tortuguero!