Saturday evening, after 7+ hours inside a couple of Airbus 319s, Becky and I arrived in Costa Rica. We collected our bags and headed through immigration and customs.
Before leaving the airport we picked up a few Colones, Costa Rican’s currency. A pocket full of Colones is not an absolute necessity in Costa Rica. Many businesses accept both US Dollars and Colones. The US Dollar is widely used in Costa Rica. However, there are a few places where dollars are not taken. Having some Colones in the pocket is a good idea. At an ATM, with a few finger strokes, I withdrew 15,000 Colones. It was only two bills, but we were now flush with the local currency. Or so I thought. I had slipped a digit in the currency exchange calculations and the 15,000 Colones I had withdrawn was merely $27 USD. In Costa Rica, $27 USD would not get us very far. Airport ATM foibles, it seems, are an arrival ritual for us. But at least we are making progress. Last year, in Chile, Becky tried to withdraw the Chilean peso equivalent of 82 cents at the Santiago airport ATM.
As the airport taxi took us through San Jose to our hotel, we saw streets packed with horn honking and flag waving cars. Costa Rica’s national elections were on Sunday, the following day. Flags on the cars represented support for various political parties. Election Day is a big thing in democratic Costa Rica. In 1948, after allegations of voter fraud, Costa Rica’s military took over the government after a short and bloody civil war. In the following eighteen months, a military junta ruled as a new Assembly was elected and a new Costa Rican Constitution was produced. The junta then disbanded the military and stepped aside. To this day, Costa Rica has no military and the democratic elections are celebrated throughout the country.
Our stop in San Jose would be short. Early the next morning, we were off to the Pacuare River for a two-day rafting trip.