Monday, February 22, 2010

Heading home

This morning, I got up around 6AM to have a shower and breakfast and last minute shopping - got a small bottle Nicaragua Rum, expensive, but it was in case I could not find one in the Panama City airport duty free shop or too expensive there. I went back to my room afterward to do the final packing. My pickup is at 8AM, and I had little time, and I asked the receptionist at the desk if she has any small denominated Colones coins and she was kind enough to dig through the piles of coins in the cash drawer as well storage locker and got me some including some old type of the coins!

There were bunch people waiting for shuttles to various places around Costa Rica, I am the only the one that is going home, a sad moment, but also a hope that someday I will come back to finish up rest of the country and Panama. There were a couple on my shuttle that are from Washington DC of all places! They are catching a domestic flight to another part of Costa Rica. They left a week after the big snow storm.

Our ride down the winding road to highway 1 was non-eventful. The highway 1, Pan-American Highway, was a two-lane road like most places it passed through in Central America, with lots truck traffic, and was interesting to see cars trying to pass the big trucks on the twisted road, our van included. Anyway we arrived at the airport around 11, which was over 4 hours before my flight to Panama City, I was hoping they have internet cafe inside, but they didn't and they sell $7 for few pages reprinted black and white of USA Today and all souvenirs are super pricey too! Everything in the airport is so expensive, like that of US price if not more. I also have to pay $26 departure tax, cash only. If not for the great amount of natural beauty, I would think twice before coming to this expensive place. After walking to every shops in the small airport (they are expanding I think), I settled into my gate area and had my lunch of sweet bread I brought this morning in Santa Elena as well some cookies. I also felt into light sleep for a while.

Then I noticed lots Canadian around my area, and I turn around to find that the gate is now for departure to Toronto, and not Panama City, so I went to check the board and they changed the gate to next door at 9, so I moved my self over and waited, then a group of big musicians (from Caribbean???) started to seating down around the empty seats around me, and I stood out like a sore thumb around them! It was almost boarding time, but I still did not see anyone at the gate, and not many people at the gate area, so when the last of musicians showed up, I offered my seat as an excuse to get out :) and went to check the board again, and this time it said the departure gate is 13 downstairs. They were already boarding when I got there.

The flight down to Panama City was less than hour, but we lost an hour due to the time change. I had time until my flight to Dulles airport so I walked the whole airport (small too, but expanding as well) looking to buy coffee and another bottle of Nicaragua rum and newspaper. There was not a single book shop and only one coffee shop, so I got couple bags for Lynn and Steve, hope it is good. There are many shops but selling pretty much of the same typical things you find in all duty free shops around all airports. I did find the rum at cheaper price than Costa Rica. With my shopping done, I went the gate to get ready for the boarding process.

The plane for US needed additional security check, but it was a joke if you ask me. Basically they put bunch chairs together acting a barrier to prevent people from come into the area, but you can just climb over the chair when no one is watching or someone just pass you something once you get through the simple bag check (no water allowed, but someone had her friend hand her water from "outside") and pat down. Anyway no one looked like terrorists, so we had a good 5 hour or so flight included dinner and drinks, again US airlines really need to improve their service instead nickel and dimes people to death with super bad service. When I got on the plane there was a little girl seating in my seat on the exit row, kids are not allowed to seat in the exit row. Not sure which idiot parents left their little daughter there, and the flight crew had to have the little girl take them to the mother, she looked a little scared with all the attention and questions, bad parents! Anyway they got some big guy to switch seat, and the poor guy now seat in the middle seat occupied both arm rests and still felt uncomfortable. Later he was able to get to an empty aisle seat.

The plane landed a little early and we boarded the old people move thingy (international arrival still using the old people mover, while everyone else use the new train system) to the immigration area. There were only two people working there for US residents, so everyone looked unhappy at the potentially long wait. Luckily I got there relatively early and waited may be 20 minutes. And my luggage came out soon after I came out the immigration, and I was cleared of custom in no time as well.

I noticed on the taxi into our gate, there didn't seen to be much of snow accumulation left and temperature felt like above freezing, so I hold out hope that my driveway will not be bad.

I went to last arrival pickup area to wait for Steve to pick me up, I stepped out for a moment to see Steve is there, and quickly went back in to put on my long sleeve shirt and rain jacket and zip up my convertible paints legs. And soon as I was done, Steve showed up, perfect timing. Not sure what time we got to my place, probably after 1AM, and we noticed someone shoveled part of my driveway! It turned out to be Steve Hodecker! He will get a bottle of rum from me for sure.

I quickly unpacked my stuff, turn the heat to automatic setting, and turn on the water heater. But I noticed the water leaked around the heater area!!! I checked the carpet and it was bit wet, anyway nothing I can do now, so time to call it a day.....

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