Maybe I did something really bad in a former life… but today yet AGAIN I am in a taxi from Puerto Limon to San Jose in Costa Rica. This is the second time in three weeks and I shall do the journey in reverse in a mere three weeks from now. It really is my least favourite airport commute and the airport itself did little to improve my mood today. After the previous jaunt of five and a half hours I was elated to be informed that the broken roads had indeed been repaired during my absence from this route and that the journey should be back to its usual three hours of single tracked, predominantly uphill, airconditioning free splendour I have known of yore. Today should be officially entitled.. be careful what you wish for.
Not knowing the roads had been repaired i requested help from the ships documentation officer Sheryl to arrange a transfer to the airport. Other entertainers were leaving the same time as me and though they had kindly offered to share the ride with me I opted to take my own car as ‘Stayton’ the cab driver had previously told me the bus the port agent usually provides would struggle up the hills and possibly make me late. Clearing immigration took longer than usual in the port and a flustered Sheryl ushered us to the gangway for our waiting transport. I jumped in the car, the others in the bus and i bid them farewell.
Hour two of the journey and my fingers and toes were positively frostbitten as the air-conditioning in the car roared through the gap between the seats and right into the back of the car. I was bursting for the toilet and had inadvertently chosen the only leg of the route to have no gas stations or convenience to voice this issue to ‘Bidal’ my driver for today. Squirming and cross legged I thought of other things for as long as I could until he veered perilously across both carriageways at the last minute to a gas station we had both missed on first sight due to the low lying clouds over the rainforest today. Shivery and full of fluid I bounded deftly to the first sign of a public convenience and hurriedly tore at my trousers in search of relief. It was only then I noticed the less than salubrious conditions of the restrooms and figured if it was my lot in life to contract the Zika virus it was likely to happen right here. Needless to say this influenced the expediency at which I completed the task in hand and I headed straight back out into the car park and the sideways rain to discover no Bidal and the car all locked. I had my handbag with me and though for a millisecond I thought he’d done a runner with my things and stranded me here it subsequently occurred to me pretty rapidly that 15 pairs of control pants and 250 Jayne Curry CDs probably wouldn’t get him very far and most certainly wouldn’t be worth leaving his car behind for even if it was a little battered to say the least. He’d spoken to me very little on the journey so far. Mainly just enough to tell me that he spoke un pocito english and that he wanted to practise every day because he wanted an American girlfriend, much to his mothers dismay apparently. When he asked me my origins and I told him Manchester England (the closest point of international recognition I find) he seemed dismayed that I neither supported Manchester United or Manchester City but instead I tried to explain to him who Burnley FC were. As a Real Madrid supporter, Burnley football team are unlikely to make it onto Bidal’s radar anytime soon and despite my best efforts to convince him they were the best football team in the world he remained unconvinced.
Currently, I was gazing across the busy highway (all two lanes of it, but nevertheless pretty perilous) and thought about this vein of connectivity between one coast and the other upon which I appear to be spending an undue amount of time of late. Rainforest lines either side of the road for the majority of the journey, interspersed by the the occasional Banana plantation and more than a handful of what seem to be soda shacks. Every couple of miles there a wooden building nestled amongst the plant life offering its soft drinks as though thats all there is to consume here. And they wouldn’t be far off the truth, My first journey chronicled in a blog of many moons ago describes how many times we stopped en route at gas stations and these soda shacks in search of bottled water to quench our thirsts on the most humid of days, to be told they sold only sodas. After three attempts I gave in and bought a coke (not even any diet available) and spent the rest of the journey with a mouth like Gandhi’s sandals. Ever since I have always brought my own water with me.. hence the need for the frequent comfort breaks.
My day dream was interrupted by what only could be described at a cookie monster-esque
“Hellloooooo” and there and then I spun around to see Bidal pulling his trousers up and fiddling with his belt. Obviously also in a hurry not to have his behind bitten by a mosquito he had apparently also hurriedly exited the convenience next to mine and failed to properly fashion himself in the process. I think I was as startled by his booming protestation as I was about the fact he was only half dressed. The sesame street greeting seemingly somewhat out of character for him considering he’s said barely two words to me the whole journey.
I settled back in to the car, a little damp but at least having had the ability to stretch my legs and watched the forest whizz by as we ascended the gradient we had previously been climbing over the last hour or so. On the outskirts of San Jose I am accustomed to the driver taking a right turn and a detour through the back streets of the city, traversing the shacks and houses to avoid the bustle and congestion of the metropolis. Cookie monster seemed oblivious to this route and headed straight into the centre of the mess where we then subsequently spent the best part of an hour creeping through the conjestion.
Tired, a little frazzled and naffed off I drifted off into a daze thinking about Steve who was out shopping in Manchester for clothes for his upcoming golf trip, thinking about how long he’d spend in the shopping centre before he lost his patience and went home without me there to keep firing alternatives into the fitting room that he would not have considered should I have proffered them on the shop floor. It was about that point Bidal shouted
“AIRPORT 20 MINUTES”
at the top of his voice and I was convinced as I tried to return to my own skin I had just literally jumped out of that some strange shenanigans may have occurred in that bathroom cubicle that had transformed the quiet nervous Bidal into a raving lunatic. What IS it with me and half crazy taxi drivers??? I must bring out the odd in them. I’m the common denominator it must be me.
As I write this I am again looking around the plane for a bathroom because of my rather strange experience in San Jose airport. My flight was delayed an hour which gave me time to grab a bite to eat and I headed for the food court I was familiar with from my visit here three weeks ago. As I dragged my luggage through the departure lounge I thought to myself ‘I really could do with something fresh and healthy. But last time there was only a sandwich shop and a KFC. What I’d give for a Chinese right now” and as I rounded the corner I discovered to my delight that the KFC was now indeed a Chinese.
$20 lighter and a decidedly miserable looking bowl of noodles later I headed disappointed to the gate area to Skype Steve before the recommencement of my travels and to pick up a bottle of water or two for my flight. I have been battling a cold and cough the past week or so and aeroplanes dehydrate me even more than ever.
Boarding pass scanned and heading down the airbridge to the aircraft we were all stopped individually and our bags searched again. We’d all cleared security as is regulation for any international flight so this was a little odd to say the least.
“you can’t take that water on the flight” the scrawny security guard barked at me.
“I bought it here in the airport” I replied
“It doesn’t matter” he offered
“but I bought it just there… in that shop” i retorted, more than a little confused.
“it doesn’t MATTER” he returned. Obviously not happy with me. “you can’t TAKE IT” So I took it back, held up the entire line and drank the whole thing right before his eyes.
Everything in me wanted to say ….”Yes I can… I’ll take it in my BELLY” but I thought better of it as he was already clearly less than amused at my gall at questioning his reasoning.
I just smiled, handed him the empty bottle and pootled off down the airbridge to my seat,
I have been to the toilet three times already. We’ve been in the air an hour.