Denver to Oklahoma City to Houston to…

Sunset at 42,000 feet

Denver to Oklahoma  City to Houston…are we there yet? Not yet…to San Jose, Costa Rica

A brand new year and what better way to celebrate than to travel? Jeff and I, and Pokey and Gumby, of course, are heading for our favorite vacation destination (or as Jeff calls it, “home.”) Yes, we are going back to Costa Rica.

Our day started bright and early with Tom, our personal chauffeur, arriving at 7:30 a.m. We load bags into the car and since we are flying Southwest Airlines and don’t have to pay for checked luggage we each have a suitcase. We could have packed, and I mean packed, everything into one carry-on sized bag, but we’ve packed like normal people; which means we’ve probably over packed. For example, we’re only going to be away for 10 days and I packed 2 pair of shorts.

As Tom zooms along down I-25, the three of us chat until I say, “Wasn’t that the exit to the airport??”  Tom says, “Yes” and then “OH!”  We take the next exit and zoom back the way we came. We’re off to a good start.

Tom drops us off and heads home while we go inside to get our boarding passes. Normally we would  do this online ahead of time, but since this is an international flight we have to do it at the airport. Unfortunately the little self service kiosk hates Jeff’s passport. It’s a brand new passport so maybe that’s the issue? I try mine and, nope, it hates my passport, too. The airport is super busy with people everywhere. We make our way past about 100 or so people lined up to drop off their bags at the SW counter and go to the Help Desk. Unbelievably there are only 2 people in line here and wow! we get checked in right away, we’re TSA pre-approved, leave our bags with the counter person and walk toward security. Holy mackerel – the security lines are inundated so we walk to the A concourse security area. When we get there, they have only one line open, instead of three and tell us all to walk in single file. How strange.  A TSA sniffer dog walks by. We get up to the security officer very quickly and learn that the dog is specially trained and everyone in line is automatically pre-approved. No one has to take off their shoes, remove their laptops from their bags or anything. I told Jeff, “Welcome back to the 1990’s!”

We aren’t quite sure how or why we booked this trip this way, but our first flight is from Denver to Oklahoma City. It is an hour and 30 minutes long. When we land in Oklahoma City, we don’t get off the plane. We and 40 other passengers are taking this same plane on to Houston. Once everyone else deplanes we move around the cabin and we all switch seats. Some people head immediately for the exit rows; Jeff and I just move up two rows. (I’ve read somewhere that you should always try to sit within 5 rows of an exit to give yourself a fighting chance of getting off safely if there is an emergency.)

We are so lucky. The flight from OK to Houston is not full and though it is just over an hour long (even shorter than our first flight) we are happy to have our own row. We have some of our healthy snacks – carrots, celery and apples. We land in Houston and walk to catch our third, and final, flight. This one, to San Jose, Costa Rica is about 3 and a half hours long. I’m happy that our last flight is the longest.

Again I’m doing my happy dance! The plane isn’t full and we have our own row. Yippee! I think everyone passed by our empty middle seat because Marco, the one-year old behind us, was pitching a hissy fit as people were boarding. I  make a note to myself to borrow a screaming fussy child to sit in our row until the cabin doors are closed.

On all of our flights we give the flight crew a thank you note and a bag of fancy chocolates. These treats are “no strings attached” – just a simple thanks to people who work very hard in a flying tube. On the first flight they were very excited and one flight attendant came to tell us “No one ever gives us cards!”  On the second flight, before everyone got off, they made a loudspeaker announcement that there were “two very special people on this flight who gave us candy and a nice card. Thank you so much, Marjorie and Jeff!!” And on this flight (Houston to Costa Rica) I order a beer for Jeff and a gin and tonic for myself and the steward won’t take my credit card. Very nice. I went up to the galley a few minutes ago to tell him the chocolates were no strings attached and thanked him again for the free drinks. He whispered to me that if I hadn’t tried to give him my credit card he would have charged me! Another note to self. LOL

We are getting our immigration paperwork filled out… Here we are. Getting through customs was a breeze. Because we had sat in the 5th row from the front of the plane we were among the first off and among the first in the customs line. Another plane landed when we did and there are 3-400 people in line behind us.

While I waited for our luggage, Jeff went to the liquor store. Costa Rica is the only country we know where you can buy duty free liquor and take it into the country from the airport. And the airport has the very best liquor prices! He came back to wait for our second bag and I went to the ATM. Success! I was super happy to get my 100,000 colones (about $200  USD) because the last time we were here my card kept getting rejected and it was days before I had any cash.

Suitcases, backpacks, 3 bottles of wine, a pocket full of colones (pronounced:ka-low-nays) and we head out. To exit the airport you have to load all of your luggage, except the wine, into an x-ray machine. All done.  We cross the street across from all the taxi drivers offering us rides and see the Holiday Inn shuttle pull up. What great timing! In no time at all we are checked in – I had forgotten that our room is free because I used points to book it. Yeah!

Before we left Colorado I had arranged our packing so everything we need for tonight and tomorrow morning is in the top of one suitcase, no need to get into the big compartment or the other suitcase at all.

Time for bed…hope to see you tomorrow.


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