Sunday, August 31, 2008

Day Trippin’

We have a new car! My days of driving the big, blue, monster truck with its intimidating stick shift are over (the truck is probably as thrilled about this as I am!). We now have a shiny 2000 Montero Sport parked in our driveway. Unlike Washington, we don’t have hundreds of used car dealerships within a 30 mile radius, so it was a real labor of love to bring our new baby home.

The car was waiting for us in a suburb of San Jose, which is a difficult seven hour drive from where we live. Patrick and I determined that rather than driving both ways to collect our car (which would have required an overnight stay), we should fly to the capitol in the morning and drive the new car back together in the afternoon – it would be a day trip extraordinaire!

Our local airport in the coastal town of Golfito is difficult to describe, particularly to those accustomed to Skycap and X-ray machines. The airport is actually just a landing strip and outdoor waiting area – more like a bus stop than an airport. We arrived at 6:00 a.m. for a 6:40 flight and had plenty of time to spare (the ticket counter staff had not yet checked in for work). Instead of luggage, we sheepishly checked in an empty cooler for the grocery shopping we were looking forward to later in the day. Because the 12-seater prop planes are small and can carry only a limited load, each passenger must “weigh in”-- on the baggage scale no less! Maybe it’s me, but I much prefer the mandatory shoe-check.

Upon landing in San Jose after the scenic (and noisy) 45 minute flight, Patrick and I followed our normal routine and headed straight for the complimentary shuttle bus to Denny’s restaurant (which is connected to both a 24-hour casino and Best Western hotel). We must have looked famished (or maybe it was the empty cooler that gave us away), but the shuttle bus driver knew instantly that it wasn’t the hotel, but Denny’s we wanted. It may sound crazy, but when you’re deprived of normal breakfast food for an extended period, Denny’s hash browns, sausages, and pancakes actually taste good!

With full, happy stomachs, we took a taxi to the car dealership to finalize our purchase. After spending an hour signing legal papers (every major transaction here needs a lawyer’s stamp of approval), we were the proud owners of a used car from Alabama that cost $7,000 more than we would have paid for it in the States – and we were ecstatic! Considering taxes on car purchases here are upwards of 75%, we had actually found a pretty good deal.

We rolled off the lot and headed straight for – more food! With its large gringo population, San Jose has a number of high-quality grocery stores that could be confused for your neighborhood Safeway (well, almost). We strolled the aisles with mouths watering, filling our limited cooler space with a carefully made selection of goodies: English muffins, smoked salmon, strawberries, cheeses, granola, Eggo waffles, pine nuts, Rib eye steak, dried sausage, champagne…

Our drive back to San Gabriel in our new car was smooth, comfortable, cool (air conditioning – Hooray!), and tuneful (a stereo – Hooray!), and we arrived home to find everything still in working order (the running water is back – Hooray!!). In celebration of our most successful day trip, we held a festive mimosa and eggs-benedict brunch that even Denny’s would be hard-pressed to top :)

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