Tuesday, October 19, 2010

gypsy cab, plane, plane, taxi, bus, taxi

We got to JFK in record time. At one point, I think the driver was doing 80 on Atlantic Avenue, barreling down the empty black street, hitting all the lights perfectly. We had to arrive two hours prior to our departure, but I was starting to imagine the news reports about the car accident in my head. I asked him to slow down. He did so gladly and I tipped him $5. It had only taken 15 minutes from our door to the airport's curbside drop-off point—shattering all previous records.

The rest of the city was still asleep, but the airport bustled. We waited in some lines, took off our shoes, and showed some people in uniform our documents. The next thing we knew we were in Costa Rica. Deb and I tried to catch some zzzzs on our two flights and we'd maybe gotten a couple hours between us. Once we got there, we waited in some extra lines: immigration and customs. We were approved as tourists by rubber stamps and hopped into a taxi to the bus station.

In the hazy, sleepiness of the new day, the culture shock of being in another country takes on a dreamlike quality. The billboards are all in Spanish, people seem to drive differently, more aggressively, the air is thicker, and the plants are foreign and tropical. I was fading in and out as our driver manuevered through the narrow streets in the city center. There were lots of colorful, gated storefronts on both sides of our speeding taxi. We arrived at the bus station, and Deb used her mastery of the Spanish language to secure us a couple bus tickets and the next leg of today's journey.

I remember lush, green hills and getting a Coca-Cola at a small market in the mountains. After minutes turned into hours, our bus ride eventually ended. Deb got us a ride with a local cabbie who knew our destination. "You know Jack?" he asked. No, but we were keen to meet the innkeeper.

More green blurs and intermittent naps ensued. And as the last light of day was fading to grey, we climbed, at long last, out of the cab and into our little oasis of jungle paradise.

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