Several months ago, I remarked to my niece, Dawn, that Nick and I had not seen her and her husband for several years. Rather than them returning to Connecticut to visit us, or us visiting them in Texas, I asked if there was anywhere they’d like to go that the four of us might enjoy together. They suggested Costa Rica. As Coast Rica was on Nick’s Bucket List, we decided to meet there.
We chose a Caravan Tour for many reasons. Nick and I have taken many trips for which we did all our own planning, including making hotel reservations and renting cars. I didn’t want to do that again. Caravan has been running Costa Rican tours since the 1950s. My friend Mary took their tour and recommended it. Among the elements we liked were that all meals were included, so we wouldn’t have to find transportation to restaurants. Also, because their tour was shorter than those of other companies, Dawn and David wouldn’t have to use all of their vacation days. Caravan’s price was right, too.
Day 1 Thursday, March 17
In order to get a direct flight, we had to leave from Newark Airport. We awoke at 2 AM, and our driver arrived at 4:30. The roads are certainly peaceful and uncrowded at that hour! At the airport, the United employee was certain we had made a mistake by requesting a window and an aisle seat, because a stranger would be sitting between us. I assured her that Nick wanted the window seat and I wanted to be on the aisle, and the stranger in the middle would just have to cope! The “stranger” was a young man who was going to Costa Rica for a bachelor party. This was his first flight since his two-year-old daughter was born, and he remarked that the word she said most was “NO!” Having been a teacher of two-year-olds, I asked him what he would typically say when his daughter start to do something unsafe. His answer was, “No, no.” I told him that she was using the word that she heard most often. I suggested that instead of telling her what not to do, he might try telling her what he wanted her to do, such as “Chairs are for sitting on,” or “We need to touch the dog gently.” He looked at me with amazement and said my approach was so logical. After that, “Mrs. Pisarro” started her vacation.
The Caravan van met us at San Jose Airport and took us to our hotel, Barcelo Palacio, where we met our tour guide, Cinthia. Cinthia told us that Dawn and David had already arrived. We want to find them, but because we hadn’t had food for about 8 hours, Cinthia suggested that we could get a snack at the bar by the pool. Off we went. At the bar we found our companions, who had the same idea we did. After hugs and kisses, we relaxed, sitting among tropical trees next to the peaceful pool. The air temperature was about 75 degrees. Dawn and I both remarked that we would be very happy if the temperature would stay in that range.
Caravan made sure that our hotel rooms would be near each other. We made our way upstairs and before we knew it, it was time for dinner. The large dining room had many foods available including main courses, salads, veggies, fresh fruit, and desserts. Everything was available buffet style. In my blog about our trip to France, I described the food in great detail. However, Costa Rican cuisine basically features rice and beans, and plantains; it ranged from adequate to okay to good. I’d rate the first night’s food adequate, but Nick thinks I’m being generous. We agree that it was the least satisfying of all the meals of the trip.
After dinner, we met our entire travel group at an orientation meeting. We were among forty-four travelers from all parts of the US. The youngest in the group were nine and eleven, traveling with their parents and grandparents, and the oldest were in their late eighties. We would depart at 7:30 AM the next morning for Poás Volcano.