Last year, Karen contacted me twice to plan a trip internationally. The first time, I was still dating the ex and spending most of my vacation days traveling up north to see him, so I didn’t think I could spare an extended trip where I didn’t get to see him. I forgot about her asking me to travel and went about life. A few weeks later when Karen asked me again, I was single, heartbroken, and ready to say yes to getting the hell out of town. When I inquired where she was thinking of traveling to, she said she heard great things about Costa Rica.
Luckily enough, I have travel connections to make it happen.
For nearly twenty years, my mother has worked at Pleasant Holidays, a wholesale tour operator that specializes in Hawaii. I have grown up with the folks who work there and even spent a few summers during college preparing travel documents for vacationers. It was the logical choice to book our trip at a company that has felt more like a family than a business.
As soon as I gave Karen the tour options, our vacation was booked and we had to wait nine long months for our Costa Rican adventure.
After a late night flight that had us making a brief stop in Guatemala, Karen and I landed in San José, Costa Rica. Karen had spent the short flight from Guatemala talking to a lovely woman named Laura, who gave us tips and recommendations on what to see and do while we were in San José. She was even so kind as to invite us out to dinner when we returned to San José after our country-wide tour, an invitation we completely forgot about upon return. Sorry, Laura!
Once we had our bags and collected our latest passport stamp, we met with Maria from Central American Tours who would transfer us to our hotel for the evening. With a quick drive from the airport, we checked into the Barceló Palacio San José.
Since we arrived in the morning, we had plenty of time to explore San José. A nap and a shower and we hopped in a cab to head into the city.
What can I say about San José? It was a typical city: crowded, noisy, and full of life.
We walked through the streets filled with vendors and passersby until we came to Teatro Nacional, the gorgeous national theater where we enjoyed a delicious lunch of wraps at Alma de Café. And though we weren’t allowed in the theater unless we were on a tour, we managed to sneak in and see how gorgeous the interiors were.
After lunch, Karen and I set out to see some other of the city’s landmarks including Correo Central, the main post office.
We wandered the streets and decided to head to Museo de los Niños, the local children’s museum. Though we got turned around a few times and inadvertently traveled through the Red Light District (a fact we didn’t learn until the end of the trip), we made it to the museum to discover that it was closed for a private event. So we took the opportunity to snap some pictures of the exteriors.
A friendly cabby picked us up at the museum and was kind enough to stop at a church we found along the way. Karen, being fluent in Spanish, conversed easily while I followed some of what was going on as they discussed his family life and children, all while navigating the streets of the city.
We returned to the hotel rather early, hung out on some hammocks, and, with the World Cup in full swing, settled into the bar for a few rounds of Imperial Cerveza while we watched Nigeria defeat Bosnia and Herzegovina. The champagne soon followed as we embraced our good fortune to be able to make our first trip together.
And like two little old ladies, we went to bed early.