I have only been in Costa Rica for 24 hours and I have already had to hold in tears of joy about five times.
We flew out of Newark Liberty International Airport on United Airlines at 3:40 p.m to Panama City on Thursday. The plane ride was…interesting. There was a huge family surrounding me, my sister and father, and boy did they love to talk, and talk loudly. There was one point in which an older lady was using my seat — and me — as a cushion as she was standing in the aisle chirping away. I simply tried reading my new self-help book, but my dad decided to politely ask the flight attendant to tell her that my body was not her personal support.
The layover was less than an hour from the time we landed in Panama to the time we left on Copa Airlines, so we had just enough time to grab a bite and head right onto our plane. There are two things I have to say about the second plane ride: First, it was one of the smoothest rides I have ever experienced. Second, it is amazing that in America, we were offered a teeny bag of pretzels for an almost five hour flight (with the option to purchase food, of course), while in Cental America, we were given a small plate of food for an hour flight.
We landed in San Jose and to my excitement, so did all of our bags. I was able to pack for this trip in about a half an hour (I know — I am a total procrastinator when it comes to packing) and our luggage arrived safely, so the powers were definitely working in my favor. We swept through customs and effortlessly found our prearranged driver, Chilly Willy.
Chilly Willy was quite the character as he enthusiastically told us about his life and answered any questions we had about Costa Rica. Here are a few things Chilly Willy shared:
- Costa Rica has about 60 volcanoes
- Six of the volcanoes in Costa Rica are active
- There are northern and crab-eating raccoons in Costa Rica
- Costa Rica’s literacy rate is about 97%
- Costa Rica has been a stable democracy since 1948
- We drove on a highway that stretches from America through Panama, which was originally constructed so America’s military could protect the Panama Canal
- We drove over a creek that is filled with crocodiles beyond belief (and a croc made someone his dinner not too long ago)
The most interesting thing I learned from Chilly Willy is the terms Costa Ricans use for themselves and Americans. Natives call themselves “Tikos” and they nickname Americans “Gringos” because America is naturally quite green. It is important to know that it is not a term of abuse, and that Costa Ricans are extremely welcoming. As we approached the resort, he said, “We are in Gringo Land.”
We arrived at the Los Suenos Resort around 12:00 p.m., which is two hours behind Eastern time. Our host Mr. Kopp was there to welcome us and quickly show us where we would be staying during our visit. Of course, by the time my sister and I went to bed, we were wide awake.
Finally, we fell asleep, and were pleasantly greeted by a view that must have been out of a movie.