“RING RING!! RING RING!!”

Corissa’s first thoughts: “Oh no!” (thinking of both of our families) “What’s happened?” Then a split second of clarity – no one had this number. Who’s calling?

After two short rings, the hotel phone was silent.

What time was it?? 4:54 a.m.

Welcome to DAY 2.

It was a good thing we went to bed early the night before. We needed that sleep, both of us falling almost immediately into deep, dreamless sleep. Our alarms (yes, both phones AND iPad – we wanted to make sure we’d wake up in time for the cabbie) were set for 5:30 a.m., giving us an hour to get ready, grab some light breakfast in the hotel lobby, and load our packs and climb into the taxi for our return run to the Tralapa bus station.

We did not arrange a wake-up call from the hotel…we still don’t know who called our room at 4:54 a.m. But didn’t matter…now we were awake. Might as well embrace the early start.

It didn’t take us long to get ready and out of the room. We were told that breakfast only started at 7 a.m. but that there would be fruit and bread set out already at 6 a.m. Perfect.

We were pleased to find not only bread and fruit, but ham, cheese, yogurt, cereal, coffee, tea, and juices set out…now we were glad for the early morning start, as we would sit and enjoy the fare, without rushing.

A great thing about eating in CR (and this may relate to other tropical locales) is that we find we don’t eat as much as we did back in Canada. We don’t need to. It doesn’t take much to fill us. And the flavours? There is no comparison to freshness here and freshness back in Canada. One can actually taste it – the flavours of fruits and vegetables actually BURST in one’s mouth.

Our cabbie – the one we hired from the night before – came at exactly 6:25 a.m. – 5 minutes early. Wow. Not like we’ve experienced previously with “Latin time.”

After pleasantries and greetings, we loaded up and boarded the cab for the return trip deep into San Jose. This time, he knew exactly where to go, and got us there in record time.

We stood in line for our tickets. Two people working at the window…one issuing the tickets, one collecting the money. There were only 6 or 7 others in front of us in line, and we thought since there were 2 staff, we’d have our tickets within a few minutes. Not so much. Latin time.

Half hour later, tickets in hand (and yes, we got a couple of the last ones!), we sat down to wait. Another thirty minutes until departure.

Jesse was feeling very overwhelmed again, and questioning what he got himself into – what WE had gotten ourselves into. If it had been offered to him, he would have jumped on the first plane back to North America. But Corissa knew that he could push through it, work through it, and that he would be glad he had. It’s just that the process is often tough…filled with doubt and uncertainty.

We people watched as we waited. There was only one other Gringa (definition: North America/European woman. Gringo = male) coming aboard our bus. And we were the only ones with luggage (aka: our backpacks)…everyone else was carrying on handbags or shopping bags or small backpacks.

The bus pulled into its spot, backwards. Tight spot, but CR bus drivers are talented! Remember learning how to parallel park, that three-point turn?? (Which actually takes some of us closer to ten!) He maneuvered that bus so well and so smoothly and so perfectly with one sweeping move.

The ticket holders all got up, and stood in line for their chance at their preferred seats. Seats were issued on each ticket, but in CR, it’s first come, first serve as to the seating arrangements.

But it didn’t matter to us! We were on the 8a.m. bus to our destination! The next one was scheduled to leave at 10a.m. – which would mean 2 less hours to enjoy our new home if we wouldn’t have made this one.

Since we had to stow our packs, we had to wait until the very end to get on the bus, as the bus terminal staff had to issue us tags for our packs. We watched everyone get on before us…and were doubtful there would be any spaces available where we could sit together. This heightened Jesse’s apprehension and nervousness. At one point, Corissa suggested that one of us could wait outside the bus for the staff attendant and one of us could go save seats, but neither were options for Jesse. So we waited and watched our seating options dwindle.

Finally it was our turn to board the bus, and thankfully, two rows from the back there was still two seats together. It was either that or sit in the very back row (the back row has seats that stretch across the width of the bus) with a couple transporting huge bags of onions.

We decided to try and rest during the 6-hour bus ride. It was very warm, but we were able to open the window beside us to get the air flowing to our faces. Yes, the air wasn’t so fresh at times, especially at first, driving out of the city. But at least it was air that was moving.

About an hour into the ride, the bus was shaken with a huge BANG! A collective sigh from the passengers ensued. Flat tire! It took the driver a good half hour of slow driving to find a spot where he could safely pull over.

What now?!

He called Tralapa, and was told another bus was coming to pick us up. Yet that would be in another hour or so.

For that hour (which turned into almost 90 minutes) our goal was to be comfortable and find el baño – which was paramount to our comfort!

We managed to find el baño, and to help in our state of comfort, we struck up conversation with the Gringa. She teaches English as a Second Language in San Jose, and was on her way to Playa Flamingo to meet up with friends. Since both of us are interested in TESL, we asked questions like: Where are you working? How soon after completing your TESL did you find work? How did you find work? What is the going wage for American TESL teachers here in CR? She was a wealth of information, and gave us ideas and tips.

As she and Corissa were walking back from el baño, we saw the new bus come to our rescue! We were on our way!

We were on the road a couple of hours when we stopped in MonteVerde, just for everyone to use el baño. Ten or so minutes later, everyone was back on board and ready to get going. As our bus pulled out of the stop, we saw the 10a.m. bus pull in. Geesh. We could have been on that one, slept in…and avoided the whole flat tire fiasco. But – hey! – we came here to learn to breathe deeply and live “Pura Vida!” so no regretting our decision 🙂

As we kept onward to our destination, we could feel, rather than see, that we were getting closer to the coast. The air was definitely warmer and less humid. Corissa thought that the humidity levels would increase, since the Southern CR Coast is very humid, but not so. The Guanacaste province/state of CR is the driest region in CR.

Our rental agent told us to be asked to be dropped off at Super Massai (most convenience stores are called “Super”-something), and then to walk to the rental office, which was supposed to be right across the street. “You can’t miss it!” she said.

We stopped at Super Massai, but could not see the 2-storey white building that housed the rental office.

“Is this the only Super Massai in Flamingo?”

“Si si! Super Massai!”

“But is this the only one?”

“Si si! Look Super Massai!”

Leery, we got out. Pulled our packs out of the bus and loaded them into a shopping cart. But now what?

A worker at Super Massai came out. We asked if he knew where the rental office was, but his reply was not promising: “No hablo Inglés. No entiendo! Ummm…momento, momento.”

So we waited “momento” as that’s all we could do.

He came out with a Gringo. We explained that we were looking for a certain rental office, and he pointed us – very clearly! – in the right direction. Off we went in the direction he told us, and lo and behold, about 100 yards down, behind brush and trees, we came upon the rental office.

We met the rental officers, signed papers, then loaded our packs into the back of one of their small SUVs…then made our way back to Super Massai so we could load up on groceries. It was hard to decide what to purchase, but we found everything we needed for at least a few days.

It was also hard to shop on empty stomachs! We hadn’t eaten anything since our very light breakfast at the hotel that morning around 6a.m., and now it was pushing 4p.m.

As we drove to our rental unit, Corissa’s heart dropped. It was only about a 10 minute drive, but the further we drove from Flamingo area, the less populated it became. We arrived in our town – and found it to be a very small village. A Tico village. Very few Gringos. Nothing against that, but Corissa knew that the amenities would be scarce – and wondered how Jesse would work through this development.

Corissa’s travelling experiences have helped her to take things in stride and to discover that things are OK when they are very different than what she’s used to. Jesse hasn’t had much experience in this yet.

We got to our complex and were given keys to and shown our suite. Jesse had hardly spoken a word the entire day…and Corissa was beginning to be seriously worried about him. So she tried to do things as natural and basic as she could: “Let’s find the bed – yes, it’s clean. No sign of bed bugs. The bathroom is clean and functional. Ok. Let’s put the groceries away and start supper. Jesse: you can cut up the peppers and onions. I’ll defrost the chicken. We’ll make fajitas.”

And so we made and ate supper, had a shower together, then climbed into bed – and it was all of 7p.m.

One of the things that has helped Corissa relax while traveling is to watch a movie or something familiar before bed…which one did Jesse pick? Mr. Deeds 🙂

And that was the end of DAY 2.

(The pic is of Super Massai. Wish we could take credit for it, but totally forgot to takes pics in all our nervousness! It’s from http://cr.worldmapz.com/photo/225_en.htm )