It suddenly hit me that perhaps this trip wouldn't be as simple as I'd thought. Here I was, still in my home country, and even this check-in would be a challenge. Luckily, it went just fine, except for the lady retracting her offer of a free emergency row seat after learning I didn't speak Spanish. (Later, when I saw the amount of leg room an emergency row seat got, I instantly regretted not practicing since school.) When the lady handed me my boarding pass, she told me the plane boarded at 10:08...which was a little less than 15 minutes away. Being me, I'd been running too late to eat breakfast this morning and had planned to get a breakfast burrito from the Chipotle in the airport (yes, this exists, and it is DELICIOUS). However, it looked like that wouldn't happen. Right when I started to get worked up about the prospect of a 4 hour flight on an empty stomach, I remembered that unlike shitty American flights, this airline served a meal for every flight. For the mothereffin win.
A shuttle and two escalators later, I was at my gate. The flight attendants were already giving out instructions, and much to my chagrin, they were only saying them in Spanish. However, about two minutes later, a large group of white people in matching red Christian missionary t-shirts showed up, and the attendants started adding directions in English as an afterthought. To me, the red t-shirts might as well have been superhero costumes. I'd never been so happy to see white people in my life.
I'd been unenthused to see there were a bunch of crying babies at my gate, and I was downright despondent when I boarded the plane and learned I'd be sitting smack dab next to one. However, she turned out to be the lesser of two evils as I was attacked by what smelled like a whole can of her mother's perfume. Yes, can...like the kind they sell at Wal-Mart with the word "musk" in the name. Ugh. I found myself wishing I could open my little window for some air -- or to jump out of -- to help with the smell. To make matters worse, the plane was heated. This would normally be a nice change from the arctic blasts on American flights, but in this case it only intensified the smell. Jesus be some smelling salts. Or a gas mask. About two hours later, the food came, and although it was delicious, my stomach was too queasy to enjoy it. Even worse, they offered alcohol as a standard option with the meal, but alas, I couldn't partake. Agua, por favor! After finally getting off that plane ("give me free!") and an uneventful plane transfer in El Salvador later, I arrived at the San Jose airport.
As I was gathering my bags, I noticed a money exchange station, and figured now was as good a time as any to see what these colones were talking about. I'd only brought $400 in cash with me, for two reasons: 1) I have been challenging myself not to spend too much, considering I have a finite amount of money, and 2) I (arrogantly) assumed the American dollar would go far here. That's usually how it is in Latin America, right? So, I trotted my happy behind to the counter and cautiously told the man I'd like to exchange $100. "You will get a better rate if you exchange $200," he says. This sounded sketchy to me -- do exchange rates vary by amount exchanged? I didn't think they did...but since I'd done absolutely no research on the subject (what a traveler I am), I replied, "...okaaaaaay..." and slid him another $100. In return, he handed me a stack of colorful bills. "Here you are, ma'am, 89,446 colones."
|Look at all these muunnnniiieesss!|