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Journal Entries for 2005-01 Costa Rica
OVERALL SUMMARY: This wasn't our first trip out of the good old U.S.A., but it was the first trip to a country without English being the main language. Carl knows more Spanish words than I do, but that doesn't mean much. He's better at interpolating and using sign language, though. He expected more people to speak a little English, but we had many cab drivers who didn't speak any more English than we spoke Spanish. We found that it worked best to have a business card, preferably with a map on it, for the hotel or wherever we wanted to go. The hotel personnel generally spoke pretty good English. No problems there. Hotel rooms averaged about $50-$60, which included hot water, private baths, continental breakfasts and ceiling fans or AC. We always checked before we made reservations. All the hotels mostly had 2 twin beds. Some had doubles, but they weren't always available. We just pushed the beds together and I fell into the crack once in awhile. Oh, well, we managed. It sure was good to get back to our nice big bed at home. We had TV, except in Tortuguero, and it was a mix of English stations with Spanish subtitles and Spanish stations. Not much American news, so we had to get caught up on that. We ate mostly Costa Rican food, which was very good. Most meals were about $2-$3. We got around by bus ($0.35), taxis (about $1/mile) and private tours ($120/day).

The people in San Jose and Tortuguero were very friendly and helpful, not as friendly in Quepos. We didn't do any real cooking on this trip like we have in the past. We did buy some chicken, but when we went to use it, it was bad. We think it was not good when we bought it. The markets were all open and most seem to use ice instead of keeping the meat frozen with refrigeration. So, we ate a lot more of the local food, which was very good and pretty inexpensive. The cars and roads were in better shape than Carl remembered from his previous visits, but crime seems to have increased. The homes in most areas are surrounded by fences, many topped with razor wire and bars on just about all the windows, businesses and homes. The countryside is beautiful with coffee, banana and pineapple plantations. The flowers are fantastic, bomeliads all over the place.

All in all, we had another great adventure, but we're glad to be home, too. It takes a lot of work trying to constantly understand and communicate with another language. We take too many of our creature comforts for granted. While it was interesting and fun to experience such a different culture, it's good to be back to America, where we know what's going on.
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