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Costa Rica
Jan. Feb. 20001
What could I ever say about Costa Rica, how could I put it into words that would convey how I felt and how would you know unless you'd been there. Every day was a wonder - true, of the twenty-something countries I've now visited the majority are over developed and even then I mainly seem to be in the big cities. Getting out of the city and into cloud forests and beaches surely would seem like a wonder. Fortunately enough Sonia was such a good guide and willing to show me what her country has to offer. This was definitely one trip I'm never going to forget.

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My Central & North American Trip 2001
Costa Rica | Los Angeles | Mexico

After what seemed an eternity in the air (okay, already... it was only approximately 16 hours all told, ten to L.A., and six to San Jose with a stopover in Guatemala) we landed at San Jose International Airport. On the flight I'd started chatting with Mrs. Lai, a Taiwanese lady who'd also come from Taipei. At first I didn't recognise her as Chinese at all but it was apparent that she didn't understand Spanish (or maybe just 'my' Spanish) but on showing her the cover of my passport she realised what I was saying and replied,"ah, Taiwan!". So she couldn't understand my Spanish but she could understand my Chinese so maybe she didn't speak Spanish at all.
At the airport I helped her through customs (which seemed necessary, because
of all the food she had in her luggage destined for her son, studying in C.R.) After explaining the situation both to her and to the customs official I nipped to the exit to see if Sonia was waiting for me, she was. I tried to explain through the glass that I was helping someone in Chinese (yes, okay I did do the 'eye-thing'.)However when I went back to the customs line it seemed that the universal language of 'cash' was all that was needed to do the talking. I overheard the customs guying telling Mrs. Lai to be careful not to be seen by the video surveillance camera as she was handing over the greenbacks.Problem solved without my help I took my luggage, cleared customs and went out to were Sonia was waiting for a big hug that was well overdue.

Not having seen each other since November we had a lot to catch up on, (e-mail's good but it's still no replacement) as Sonia drove us back to her parents place in Curridabat. On the way I couldn't help (as you do) but read all the advertising billboards out loud in an over emphasized Spanish accent. I only realise it now but it makes a whole world of difference actually being able to read stuff like advertising as opposed to looking at ads in Chinese and guess from the characters you can recognise what the heck it's all about! Having been in one or two countries were it's commonplace to see 'Ladies of the street' plying trade by the roadside I wasn't so surprised when I saw girls in short dresses by the roadside but I had to ask when I saw a guy in football strip waiting in the middle of a dual carriageway what was going on. Sonia laughed and laughed when I asked. Apparently they weren't 'proffessionals', just waiting to me that there wasn't anywhere to go from or to, as we seemed to be in the countrycross the road. Just seemed toside.We arrived at Sonia's house and I was very impressed. It's a beautiful house in a pretty well to do area of San Jose. I was more impressed when I walked inside. From the outside it's a two storey buildingbut on the inside the second storey doesn't exist. The first Storey leads up to a glass covered roof with a Spanish style... doh I don't know what you call it but it's like a garden surrounded by the building. Would that be a courtyard? Maybe, a small courtyard.
I was introduced to Sonia's mum who welcomed me warmly. She's an artist and the walls of the hallway show some of her work and that of her teacher. Sonia's dad was sleeping when I arrived so Sonia showed me to my room and I took time to rest and shower after , because of time differences, what had seemed to be almost two days of travelling.

So after a few hours sleep I was awakened and made ready to go out. Sonia had planned that we all go out together to a restaurant she knows, La Cocina de la Lenia, in a trendy area of San Jose. I was introduced to her Dad, but was totally different from how I'd imagined. Sonia had told me that he was quite strict, but the man I met was very humourous and friendly. I was made to feel very welcome by Sonia's parents (well imagine, I was a little nervous... I'd travelled a third of the globe to see their daughter.)
Sonia's sister, Carmen, whom I'd met in Taipei joined us at the restaurant along with her flatmate, Lucia. In Taipei Carmen insisted in speaking English so she was fine in agreeing that while in Costa Rica I should speak as much Spanish as possible.
'La Cocina' means 'the kitchen' and the restaurant is decorated like a typical country kitchen and looks great. The atmosphere was very friendly and the waiter helped me order in Spanish without being
patronising which I was very grateful for, the food (I had Casado, which aparently is the meal that is eaten after a wedding, or something, got to check with Sonia on that one) was just great, and we had a really nice and relaxed time. The first time I'd met Sonia's family all together. if it was okay to choose another.
Senor & Senora Leon returned home, as did Carmen and Lucia and Sonia and I moved onto a bar where we met Daniar, a friend of ours from Taipei, and Adriana, another friend of Sonia's. By this time I was quite tired and although I kept up with the conversation in Spanish up
left to right,
 Lucia, Carmen,
 Mr & Mrs. Leon,
 li'l ol' me then
After the meal, we left the restaurant and Senor Leon gave me a fatherly pull into a souvenir shop and bought me a Costa Rica baseball cap. Actually he picked a floppy sun hat first but it wasn't really my style so I asked until a certain point I found I didn't have the energy to prolong it. We stayed for an hour or so and then it was really time to hit the hay. We had a long day planned out for the following day.

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