My Summer Vacation

What a trip!

Last Monday, I left Costa Rica for the US for my birthday and to buy all the stuff and take care of business  that I can’t do in CR.  I was in California last year at this time, so this year I came to my oldest brother’s house in Florida, where we were joined by our other brother from up north.  All brothers and spouses were together for a great visit.

While waiting in CR for Uber to pick me up to bring me to the airport, I tried to print out some puzzles to do during the flights.  First, my LA Times app malfunctioned; then the connection to the printer was lost. Then the phone from the guardhouse didn’t work, and I had to run out into the street and signal the driver. Upon his arrival, I noticed that he didn’t get out to help me put my bags in the trunk; and when I sat down next to him, I noticed that he had only one arm.  “Ah!” thought I.  Driving an automatic, which is rare in CR, he proved himself quite capable.  It was only when he started calling someone on his cell-phone and steering with his knees that I got a little worried.  We made it without incident.  I didn’t know how many stars I should give him.

The flights were completely full, but smooth and on-time. I connected in Miami, which I’d never done on an international flight.  When connecting, one has to pick up one’s bags and recheck at the point of entry; usually, it’s fast, and doesn’t require going through security again. I asked the agent who stamped my passport, and he said to follow the signs to avoid security. When I did so, I found myself on a really long line going through security. I asked a young lady if I was in the correct place, and she told me that I was; she at least gave me a TSA-pre card so I could use a shorter line.  Another example of the wisdom of leaving lots of time between flights.

Prior to my departure, I had ordered several items online to be delivered to my brother’s house.  Although I ordered only those items which were unavailable to me or insanely expensive in CR (e.g., printer ink cartridges).  I guess I overdid it, and my brother and his wife were surprised at being inundated by packages. My dear brother commented that, had he known I was expecting so many packages, he would have bought a Christmas tree. I also went a little crazy while shopping for items in person once here. Since I can’t find DVDs where I live, I went to a store I’d seen here last February in order to pick up a few.  It was dumb luck that the store was in its final two days of business and in a state of chaos, yet I persevered and managed to find 12 recent movies for a little more than a $100. I also found a couple of other items on sale, so I’m praying that my luggage won’t exceed the weight limit. (I did bring an empty suitcase.)

I have spent the week hanging out with family and working online.  I’ve been accepted as an essay-scorer with a new e-learning company and am completing my training. Also, I applied for and was approved by TSA for TSA-pre, which means that I will no longer have to remove shoes, belts, etc. or wait on long lines when traveling.  I have eaten extremely well and with much greater frequency and in much greater quantities than I’m used to. I had two restaurant meals which were nothing short of exquisite; these meals were remarkable compared to any I’ve eaten stateside. Wow! Let me know if you ever go to Jacksonville, and I’ll get you the names.

As for life in CR, my most recent adventure was having a bone-density scan in Hospital San Juan de Dios in downtown San Jose. I arrived early and was served efficiently, and I realized that I was the only gringo in this massive medical center. I was proud that I had figured out how to successfully navigate the system like a local; I got the procedure ordered and done within two weeks. My joy turned to dismay when I asked when I could pick up the results—I was told to wait two months. Sigh. Now I know why the other gringos use the pay-as-you-go private system.

I’ll be flying back home this Tuesday morning with all my goodies and I’ll be back at work by Wednesday. Thanks to all who sent ecards and emails. If you called and I didn’t answer, I apologize.  Between my US and CR phones, both of which carry my magicJack number, calls rarely rang through.  Ah, the never-ending bane of technology.