Other posts in series:
Costa Rica Trip Review: Hotel & Flight Planning
Costa Rica Trip Review: Day 1
Costa Rica Trip Review: Day 2 Part 1- The Rental Car Drama Continues
Costa Rica Trip Review: Day 3
Costa Rica Trip Review: Day 4 – Part 1 – Getting to Manuel Antonio
Costa Rica Trip Review: Day 4 Part 2 – Manuel Antonio National Park and Beaches
Costa Rica Trip Review: Day 5 Volcan Poas and La Paz Waterfall Gardens
Costa Rica Trip Review: Day 6 Arenal Volcano, Arenal Hanging Bridges, and The Arenal Lodge
Having finally squared away our transportation it was time to get on with our plans for the day. The plan was to find a grocery store to stock the kitchen in our room. Most days we planned on just bringing sandwiches and snacks with us to maximize the time at our destinations and to save a little cash.
We hit the road in search of a grocery store. Unfortunately I forgot my camera at the hotel, so I don’t have any pictures from day 2, but I will have plenty for all the other days. Within a couple hundred yards onto the freeway we hit a toll station. I was caught off guard and frantically trying to read the signs (which were in Spanish) to figure out which of the 10 lanes I should be in. By the time I realized I was in one of the Quick Pass lanes it was too late to move over the 3 lanes I needed to go to get to a manual tollbooth! Whoops. For those who aren’t familiar with toll roads, there are usually a few lanes on the outside that you can just cruise right through if you have a transponder on your car that the tollbooth wirelessly reads and charges the appropriate toll.
I noticed that the lane next to me (which was also Quick Pass) had a man in the booth. I had to back up a little and squeeze in, but I made it. When I pulled up to the booth I apologized to the worker. He just stood there and gave me that look that just screamed, “you moron, what are doing?” The guy then proceeded to try to tell me that I needed to be several lanes further over. Yeah, pretty much impossible to get over when you have 10-20 cars already backed up at each toll!
After a minute of me trying to get him to just let me pay him the toll, he just began to laugh. I should point out that he was laughing at me and not with me. He could clearly see how flustered I was and got a kick out of it. I’m sure I would have laughed at me too had the roles been reversed!
On the way to get groceries we stopped at the bank to exchange our money. Security is taken very serious at Costa Rican banks in comparison to the States. At the bank there is an armed guard to go through before entering the bank. I was scanned with a medal detector wand and asked to remove my hat before entering the bank. Apparently I look more threatening than my wife. She was let in without being scanned. We took our place in line and within 30 seconds the security guard came running over to me and tapped me on my shoulder. Apparently when he had me take it off at the door he meant for me to leave it off. Ooops. I thought it was just part of his security check.
I never did find out if it was just a security thing or if that is a cultural thing, but for the rest of the trip I made sure to remove my hat in all public buildings just in case.
That evening we returned to the hotel in time for a free light dinner. The Residence Inn routinely offers free dinner 2-3 nights of the week. That night was “Comfort Food Night” and we enjoyed a buffet of fried chicken wings, onion rings, fresh salad, fresh local grown pineapple, and a pile of Famous Amos cookies. It was pretty darn good and the fact that it was free makes it even better!
We went to bed full that night anticipating day 3 which was scheduled to be our first day hiking up in the mountains and exploring the crater of an old volcano!