A ten and a half hour flight whisked us away from a cold February in London Gatwick to the tropical heat of San José airport in Alajuela.  It took a long two hours queuing to go through Customs – Saturday and Sunday are the busiest days and definitely best avoided, if you have the choice.  With a 7 hour time difference, in theory, we had an afternoon to explore, but in practice, we did little more than explore the beautiful hotel and its grounds before an early supper and some rest before a 5am start the next day.  The glittering lights of Alajuela spread out before us from our hotel in the mountains outside San José and promised an infinite parade of possibilities to explore in the country below.

We had chosen to be drive on this trip rather than self-drive.  There was no difference in cost and with a packed itinerary and little opportunity to deviate from it, it seemed like the most relaxing option.  Good choice – the roads from San José airport up into the mountains would not have been at all easy to navigate and there seemed to be very few road signs.  We set off in the dark, clutching our freshly baked banana bread and a little tub of totally tropical fruit salad and met with José, who drove us safely to meet our transfer to Tortugero stopping to explore San José centre a little on the way, which was kind.  We could have spent a day exploring San José – there is a beautiful Catholic Church and a couple of museums – but valuable time is probably much better spent here immersing yourself in the natural world.  José spoke no English and we speak no Spanish, but none of that mattered when you hold the power of Google Translate in your hand.  These days, it no longer matters how you speak a language and make yourself understood, it only matters what you choose to say, which is, finally, just how it should be, I think?

Foodie Firsts:
Refreshing coconut milk, sipped through a straw from a whole coconut.
Red snapper – served whole on a bed of coleslaw.
Fajitas – Costa Rica style (tiny!)
Freshly baked banana bread – handed to us as we set of before dawn.
Costa Rican coffee – it’s warm and mellow – a very friendly tasting brew.

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