The 24 hour journey
I had to leave Antigua at 5am because the next airport shuttle would be too late. It didn't matter. I preferred to get up early and pay 10 dollars, then sleep in for another hour and pay 40 or 50 for a private ride. An old chap who took his airport transfers very seriously (neatly stacked piles of receipts in his glove compartment) picked me up in his big bus. We rattled around the streets to another hotel and picked up one other passenger who was drunk out of her skull. It took about an hour to get to the airport and that was early on a Sunday morning with no traffic.
It always amazes me how awake people are when I check in for early morning flights. I did have the sense to double check my ruck sack was being checked through all the way to Toronto. I had my doubts I would see my bag almost 24 hours later, even though I was assured it was travelling with me to Toronto. I was doing my first flight Guatemala City to San Jose with Avianca and then I had a 9 hour layover in San Jose, before catching my Air Canada flight early evening to Toronto. I'd told them at check-in I'd booked the whole flight package with Air Canada and that seemed to connect all of the dots. Fingers crossed.
It was amusing to think what had taken 3 weeks by road and boat, was going to take 1 1/2 hours by air! The Avianca plane hadn't been cleaned, but I can honestly say it was one of the best flights ever in terms of friendly air crew and value for money. BA aside, I don't think I've ever had free food and free drinks on such a short flight. It was very pleasant - and refreshing!
Now, what to do with myself for 9 hours. I had a nagging feeling I was going to have to pay 29 dollars departure tax before leaving San Jose for Toronto, so that was rolling around in the back of my mind. The downside of reading too much on the internet. If I'd thought about it properly, I would've clocked all departure taxes are included in a flight package, but, anyway... Out of 1230 dollars, I had 50 left. I'd done everything on the trip I'd wanted to do - and much, much more! And I hadn't starved! I think the hot and humid weather helped suppress the appetite - an all round winner. I had about 16 dollars in Nicaraguan Cordoba and about 16 dollars in Costa Rican Colones. I wanted to get rid of both. The 29 dollars still in my head, I went a little crazy buying my favourite Costa Rican fruit chocolates, a couple of bags of coffee and a bag of gourmet coffee bean chocolates (amongst other things) and spent over 100 dollars using some of my Canadian dollars and breaking into that 29 dollars I was saving, leaving me with 24. I was like "damn" even though I knew I would have paid any departure tax by now, but still... Funny how these things stay with you and it all works out in the end, as you'll see... It was time for lunch and I was determined to get rid of my 6000 Colones. I'd read San Jose airport was ridiculously expensive and I paid 20 dollars for a Smash Burger, fries and pepsi. I'd used another 4 dollars so down to 20 now. By this point, I was thinking I could pay the departure tax on my card... Then the final thing I wanted to do was to see if I could change my Cordoba. I lost about 6 dollars in the transaction, but ended up with 9, thus making my final dollar total 29. And no, I didn't need it in the end, yet it was strangely comforting to know I had it just in case.
After that, I found a quiet spot in the airport departure lounge, settled in and read half of The Happiness Project on my beloved Kindle, whilst watching the ebb and flow of passengers boarding and departing 4 flights.
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Blogging is an amazing concept so here I am giving it a whirl. You'll get words. You'll get pics. Sometimes a vid or two. You'll get tongue in cheek, the odd humble opinion and an honest insight into my travels and writing life. Maybe even a few gems along the way. I'll be musing on home turf as I see more and more of the UK and sharing my experiences further afield on holidays and adventurous trips across the globe.