Generally, we have had good luck with our world travels, though there have been some hiccups along the way. We didn’t expect anything out of the ordinary on our flight to San Jose, Costa Rica.
Heavy thunderstorms were bearing down on the Dallas – Fort Worth airport as we arrived, so we were mentally ready for a flight delay. A minor mechanical issue, delayed catering, and the thunderstorms did mean we spent an hour or so on the runway before taking off. The flight itself was uneventful, but on arrival, we had a go around, when the runway was not empty when our pilot made his approach. The prior flight had not yet exited the runway, so we got a second tour of San Jose by air before safely landing and pulling up to the gate. We were not able to deplane immediately, as there was a short delay before the jet bridge could be extended. We soon found out why.
There was a power outage at the San Jose airport. Locals reported this is a somewhat frequent occurrence.
We got off the plane and headed to immigration where we found that the power outage had caused a problem with the immigration system computers and they were not able to reboot the system. All immigration was stopped, and several planeloads of people were in the queue, zigzagging through the line markers like an amusement park line.
We managed to make it to the end of the queue, but most of our plane and those who arrived after us snaked down the hallways outside the immigration hall. It was an hour and 15 minutes before the computer system came online and the agents began processing arriving passengers again. Customer service staff at the airport handed out water bottles and turned on fans to cool the crowd, doing their best to keep the chaos to a minimum, but it was a long hot wait.
With no phones or electronics allowed in the immigration hall, Boy was restless. I challenged him to count the seconds, telling him if he got to 5000 I would give him a dollar. He got the dollar, and I thought I might have to pay up twice.
Once processing started up again, the line moved rather quickly, but it was still nearly 3 hours, in all, before we got to baggage claim and were able to leave the airport. That was one of the longest immigrations we have had, yet.
As every plane had been delayed, the arrival hall was busier than usual, with car drivers, tour operators, and relatives trying to collect 5 or 6 plane loads of arriving passengers. Leaving the chaos of the arrival hall, we arranged a taxi and set off to our hotel. We had decided to stay at an airport hotel, for convenience, while we were in San Jose, as our main stay in Costa Rica would be in the rainforest.
We had planned to spend our arriving afternoon in the city of San Jose, visiting the Plaza Central and Museo del Oro, but by the time we left the airport, the museum was closed. Instead, after a quick stop at a local grocery for supplies we went to the hotel swimming pool. San Jose city center would have to wait for another day.
The hotel did have an indoor garden and turtle pond which entertained Boy for the evening. It also has internet, so he was thrilled.
An Indoor Garden at the hotel
On our return to San Jose, before leaving the country, we were finally able to make it to the city center.
It was raining, again, so we stepped into a busy, local cafe for lunch, that was packed with office workers. Scanning the menu, we chose Tico (Costa Rican) specialties of arroz con pollo, plantains and empanadas.
As the rain slowed we saw the National Theatre, and then headed underground to the Museos Banco Central de Costa Rica, the museums of the national bank.
This inverted pyramid is one of the only underground buildings in Costa Rica. These bank vaults are home to the Museo del Oro, which has an outstanding collection of precolumbian gold and archeology and the Numismatic (money) museum. The Numismatic museum presented a display of the history of Costa Rican money and a surprisingly good interactive exhibit on personal finance and money management in both Spanish and English that kept Boy interested through a lengthy discussion of investing, saving and budgeting.
Brains engaged it was back in a taxi and out of the rain to our hotel.