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COSTA RICA | Saturday, 18 June 2011 | Views [746]

Well, despite not having alcohol to liven things up my flights to Costa Rica weren´t without some moments of note. My flight departed from Sydney without any interference from the ash cloud of the Chile volcano. To get to my final destination, San José, Costa Rica, my travel route went all around the houses first. First stop was Honalulu. This was because for the first leg I was flying with Hawaiian Airlines. I wanted to laugh at the cabin crew for all wearing Hawaiin shirts and then I had to remind myself that they were actually Hawaiian people - that´s what they wear.

Upon arrival in Honalulu, I was hoping to get lei´d but instead Immigration took me away for questioning. I had to sit in a waiting room whilst I listened to the immigration officals behind the counter take it in turns to laugh at the name in my passport (Spaceman Africa).

They wanted to check what my plans were and whether I had the necessary documention to go with it. After my last visit to the States where I was deported, I needed to apply for permission to enter the country. I had a visa and answered all  their questions satisfactorily and they finally allowed me to enter.

I got a wee bit lost trying to find check in for the next leg which was with United Airlines to Los Angeles. I kept thinking of the line from Seinfeld when Eliane says to Jerry, ¨I love U...nited Airlines.¨ Afer running that scene through my head many times, I arrived at the departure gate to find a dead set Newman look-alike - huge overwieght guy with short black hair and glasses. The cabin crew had to give him a seat belt extension so he could buckle up, he was that big.

I arrived at LAX and I made my way to Terminal 2 for my last leg to San José. I got to the termianl and a flood of memories came rushing back. It was this very same terminal that I was escorted to my flight when I was deported. It was great back then, the officers took me to the front of each long queue thus avoiding the long and frustrating waiting time in each line. This time round I was somewhat lucky again as it was about midnight and so not many pople about and so short queues. Bonus.

My flight wasn´t due to leave until 3am but come time to board, the flight was delayed three hours due to heavy fog in LA. So I spent three hours lying on some seats just metres from where four years earlier I was sitting drinking a lemonade that the immigartion officers bought me before escorting me to my seat on the plane.

Three hours later the call came that the flight had been cancelled. The plane, coming from San José, had to be redirected to another airport because of the LA fog and apparently at the other airport the plane hit the passage way that joins the plane to the terminal and damaged the plane and so it was grounded after that.

I wasn´t too stressed or angry. By this stage I´d been travelling and /or in trnasit for 24 hours already. The airline kindly put us passengers up in a hotel - the Raddison, no less, very swish. It was quite a welcome rest, even if leaving the airport was possibly in breach of my visa requirements. Another flight was operating at 4 the next afternoon and so it was back to the airport again. This time I didn´t escape the long queues at passport control and the xray machine. Ah, well, I had plenty of time up my sleeve anyway.

I arrived in San Jose, 15 hours later than planned. The plan was for the manager of the hotel I had booked was going to come and meet me at the airport. I had left a message on my his answer phone about the change in flight details but he obviously didn´t get it because he wasn´t there to meet me. Being nearly 1am at this stage, I was alone in a new place and bombarded by touts at the airport for taxis and hotels. Not something I was really in the mood for and was actually what I wanted to avoid by organising to be picked up. 

I spent that first night behind bars. I went with an unofficial taxi to a nearby hotel. I was a wee bit worried that it might be dangerous hopping into a complete stranger´s car but It all worked out well. The hotel was no radisson, let me tell you. It was a small dive and had bars on all the windows and doors. I checked in to my room for the night and met one of the locals - a huge, like really really big mosquito.

I met with my contact Minor the next morning and he´s taken me under his wing for these first few days and then on Sunday Im heading south to start two weeks of spanish school. First impressions of Costa Rica are, wet (it´s rainy season) the people are friendly and the money is retarded. 1 Aussie dollar is about 531 Colones. I don´t know about you, but I´m a bit rusty when it comes to my 531 times table. 

Laugh, Space 8 )

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