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2015- Rainforest Revisit - Part one - Flying to San Jose

Goals and Getting There


View 2014-St Croix & 2015 Compo and Doc Martin & 2015 Costa Rica (plus 1996 and 2008) & 2014 - Visit to Vermont & 2014 - Texas on greatgrandmaR's travel map.

Reasons for Going and Getting There- August

When Southwest started flying from BWI to San Jose Costa Rica, I thought maybe I could go to see the turtle nesting - 19 years before, it wasn't the turtle nesting season. We saw the rainforest ecosystem and many of the animals, and we could do that again.
Baby spider monkeys 1996

Baby spider monkeys 1996

But unfortunately, my health has deteriorated to the point where this was physically impossible for me to walk through the mud and sand out to the beach where the turtles come ashore. I now have two things on my bucket list which I will probably never do - scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef and see the turtle nesting in Costa Rica.

We again booked the land portion through Pat Hewitt at Costa Rica Travel Exchange (www.LoveCostaRica.com) but it was little more difficult for him because of my limited mobility and the fact that I am using a scooter to get around. So while his trip that he booked for us in 1996 was great, there were some problems with this one. This time I did not take any guidebooks - I did all my research on the internet. I did get the Costa Rica maps downloaded into my GPS. We both had digital cameras and between the two of us we took almost 1600 photos - three or four times the number we took on our first trip. The Jade Museum, The National Theater, the Serpentarium and the Gold Museum. I was successful with everything except the Serpentarium

The round trip Southwest tickets for two old people cost $1186.66.

Beginnings Early August
Yesterday I printed out the Travel directions (about tipping, the fee for leaving the country, where to get money and other important matters), and also printed out the information on the hotels. Then last night my internet stopped working. I cycled the modem twice with no luck, so I went to bed. This morning the same. Called Verizon and they wanted my account number (which was in a distant folder) and wanted me to look at the connection to the wall jack. The wall jack is behind the computer desk in the study. No can do. So they said they would get back to me - maybe today - maybe tomorrow. Lindy came and got me packed. Bob was mostly packed already. I convinced him to use a smaller, soft side bag as the big brown bag when packed weighs about 40 lbs. (18 kg). That way he can take a smaller amount to Tortuguero.

I tried using my phone for the internet, and I can do that if I have to. I tried to get the GPS to locate Costa Rica, but it resisted. I was editing photos (deleting duplicates) and the internet came back about 3. They called us about 6 to tell us. (A robocall)

I checked the GPS and decided it did not have Costa Rica maps, so I bought those maps. I was finishing printing out things and found that I needed dark or black clothes for the turtles and I normally do not take dark clothes to hot sunny climates. But I put in a navy shirt and I did have navy pants. I also started looking at the cemeteries in Costa Rica. There are a couple of interesting ones.

August 6th
Bob changed his mind about taking a smaller suitcase. But he put a smaller bag in the bigger bag.

I was mostly packed except that I thought we should have binoculars. I know we have some but Bob could not find them. I guess we will use the telephoto camera lenses as binoculars. I was moving some files around to make more room on my hard drive when I got one of those pop-up pages which said I had a virus and should call for a certified Microsoft technician. But since I couldn't close the page I thought it was probably a scam, so I called the Geek squad and they confirmed. I had to forcibly shut down the computer.

August 7th,
This morning Channel 5 was in Leonardtown. I watched some of it. I also tried to print out a boarding pass, but could not because it is an international flight. The airline (SW) wants us there three hours in advance which means 5:30 in the morning

I took a shower, after which I put my hairbrush in my suitcase. I turned the computer off while I got the shower and it was not off when I was done. So I had to forcibly shut it off. So I de-installed Crash Plan which seemed to create problems, and now the computer seems to work better.
main street of town in the rain

main street of town in the rain


We left about two - in the rain. It was quite cool. I had the hotel on the GPS but of course she wanted us to go a different way than what we usually go. And I thought I could get to the hotel (the Wingate Inn by Wyndham, which is now a Holiday Inn Express and Suites.) by going around Aviation Boulevard as usual. Not. I did not know that the hotel was behind the Hilton Garden Inn - we saw that but did not see the Wyndham. So we went around in circles before I finally got out my phone and saw where it was. I booked this hotel because I wanted to stay someplace where I could park near the airport for free. Previously I stayed at the Hampton Inn, but they started to charge for parking. At the Windham, we could leave our car for free for 10 days with no charge. Check in worked OK. But they had trouble coding the keys, and Bob's got demagnetized. The room had a
small fridge and microwave

small fridge and microwave


me in the mirror at the hotel

me in the mirror at the hotel


We could walk to Bob Evans for dinner as it is in the same area as this hotel and the Hilton Garden Inn When we checked in, The room was 56 deg F - freezing. I do not have warm clothes to deal with this. Maybe I will take down the curtains and wrap myself in them!! Bob turned on the heat. The lights sputtered, and when I logged on to the wi-fi the computer said it was a bad network There was no list of TV stations. The shuttle goes on the hour and half hour so to be there at 5:30 we take the 5:00 shuttle. Breakfast starts at 7 but there is continental breakfast at 4 am.
crepes at Bob Evans

crepes at Bob Evans

Saturday August 8th
Last night, I shut down the computer about 9 and went to bed. Bob had turned on the heat so it wasn't quite as cold and I did not have to resort to taking down the curtains for warmth. Bob refused to ask for a wake-up call (which to be fair sometimes does not come) and insisted on trying to set the clock radio for 4 am instead of getting the wind-up alarm clock out of the suitcase. The clock-radio often doesn't work either as either the wrong 12 hours is selected or something else goes wrong. I was nervous about it and woke up and looked the clock at 1:30 and again at 3:30. I turned over at 4:15. And that waked up Bob - the clock radio alarm didn't go off. We got out to the lobby at the required 10 minutes before the 5 am shuttle. I snatched a mini-blueberry muffin from the buffet and we all (the van was completely full - all seats taken and two people standing) piled into the van. The majority of them were Southwest pilots and one was a flight attendant. The only civilians (other than ourselves) were a family of five and a lady who was apparently the wife of a pilot who was carrying a large picture.

The van parked and Bob got our five bags unloaded. I walked over to the curb check (which I did not think we could use because of the scooter) and asked for a wheelchair. The lady said she would call for one, and I sat in the chair that was there. Bob consolidated the bags and we went inside. I told the wheelchair lady that I could not curb check and we would need help with checking the scooter. There were very long lines at the counter to check in, even though it was only 5:15 am.
Lines at SW

Lines at SW


She came back and said she found someone to help. I think she went into the back and got a supervisor who had to open a station up. He did not really appear to know what he was doing. The station next to him processed three people while he did just us. But he did get the bags checked. The scooter bag weighed 76 lbs and my bag was 36 lbs.

The wheelchair lady next went to security (she jumped all the lines). I was again nearly strangled taking off my hat, camera, passport case, pocketbook and camera vest. Bob had to take off his belt. And even though I went through the scanner they still had to pat down my arms and legs. Apparently my arms and legs make a hot spot on the scanner. I told the scanner lady that it was just fat.

Our gate was to be B5. We were at the gate by 5:45. Bob tipped the wheelchair lady $10.00. The whole check-in had only taken half an hour. And there was NO ONE THERE BUT US. Bob went and got me a banana and a bagel and filled the water bottles. He bought himself some fruit flavored candy. Our flight was not even on the departures board.
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Were we in the wrong place? A long time went by before anyone else was there. Finally other people started to show up. There was another lady in a wheelchair with her daughter - I think they were originally from Costa Rica, and the old lady was coming home. There were families with a lot of kids. There were many announcements about how we could not board unless we had the red "Doc OK" on our boarding pass and that we also had to have a boarding priority

The gate agent was in training and he started to get us lined up and then he asked his trainer a question and she took off running down the gangway and after bit he followed. We were to have started boarding at 7:45 but he didn't get us lined up until about 8:05 and both gate agents were gone (with everyone standing in line) for 5 minutes. They took the other lady first and then took us. I was not seated until about 8:10. There was a whole group of people in kryptonite color T shirts from the Severna Park United Methodist Church who apparently were going down on a Mission. The back of their shirts said Costa Rica VIM 2015
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We did not push back from the gate until 20 minutes after our supposed departure time of 8:30 and we did not actually take off until 9:15. We went right over
U. S. Naval Academy after  take-off

U. S. Naval Academy after take-off


and then we were above the clouds for a good bit of the time. We went over some land that was neatly laid out in squares (with an occasional triangle).
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I thought it was Cuba, but Bob didn't think Cuba would be that organized. We went over some islands which looked almost like the Bahamas.
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They handed out the immigration and customs forms and said to wait until we could all go over them together and Bob didn't wait (neither did I). I made a mistake on my form by putting my occupation in the place for residence. Bob did OK on immigration, but on customs he got his name backward (in the wrong place) and he also answered some of the questions wrong. We got corrected forms. I did notice when we were at Customs that some people were sent back to fill in their forms again.
Costa Rica

Costa Rica


I went to the bathroom just before they shut the forward bathroom down so the pilots could all use it. We didn't talk to the lady in the aisle seat until about the end of the trip - she turned out to be a German who had lived in Costa Rica for a time and was coming down to visit family
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We landed almost on time (11:30 central non-daylight time). We waited for the second wheelchair. We jumped the immigration line, and then went to get our bags. We got mine and then Bobs and then he walked off to another carousel to see if the scooter was oversized luggage. In the meantime the scooter came on the original carousel and some nice airport baggage handler got it off the line for me and packed all the rest of the bags on a cart. The wheelchair guy had gone off with Bob, but he was paying attention and came back. We were able to wave at Bob that we had all the bags and then to go through customs. The SW flight attendant said the fruit flavored candy could not come in and indeed the package looked like it was dried fruit, but Bob left it in his pocket, and no one said anything.

Pat made arrangements with Coach Costa Rica to pick us up at the airport and take us to the hotel, so after we cleared customs, the two guys (one pushing the wheelchair and one pushing the luggage) went out past all kinds of people holding signs until I saw one that said Beasley and he seemed to be expecting me in a wheelchair. He said something to the other guys and so we walked quickly out of the airport and into the garage where the guy with the van ( Mario Fernandez) stopped on the way to pay the parking. All five of us arrived at the van by 12:15.
Loading the Luggie

Loading the Luggie


Bob tipped the luggage guy $3, the wheelchair guy $5.00. As we drove into the city I talked to Mario and he gave me his card. He said he has been doing guided tours since 1991 and he worked for a transport service when he didn't have tours. We discussed having him drive us around on the 11th. The hotel that we stayed in this time was the Holiday Inn Aurola in the center of San Jose which cost $111.50 per night and included breakfast.
Hotel exterior

Hotel exterior


We stored our luggage there while we were on the trip to Tortuguero. We arrived at the hotel and they gave me a wheelchair and loaded the luggage on a cart. (I did not know whether to tip Mario $5 or $10 but Bob picked $5.00). We went to check in and went through all the procedures and then they said we were early to check in and would have to wait for our room to be ready.
Lobby -stairs up to the bar (over the gift shop)

Lobby -stairs up to the bar (over the gift shop)


I was getting hungry (they gave us peanuts, pretzels and cheese nips on the plane, but that was hardly lunch), so I asked if we could eat while we waited. That seemed to be a new concept to him.

I footed the wheelchair around - I found the Greyhound tour desk and the visitor information desk - neither of them with any persons to answer questions. I ended up going into the first/ground floor restaurant which turned out to be the breakfast room. When they said it would be at least 40 minutes until we could check in, I asked again if we could eat there first. But Bob was worried about the luggage. They said they could just take it up to our room. So that was what I told them to do. I also got a city map from the desk
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It turned out that we were ordering off the room service menu. Bob said that the restaurant restrooms were like the Waldorf Astoria, but the restaurant service was like Faulty Towers. And indeed the guy who took our orders did remind me quite a bit of the waiter in Faulty Towers. I ordered a
quesidilla - 5,440 col

quesidilla - 5,440 col

Extra stuff that comes with a quesidilla

Extra stuff that comes with a quesidilla


Iced tea -1,343 col

Iced tea -1,343 col


and Bob had a
Tuna sandwich

Tuna sandwich


Bob also wanted more than a little glass of water, so I flagged someone down and asked for a bigger glass. They didn't have bigger glasses but they said how about a pitcher. We said that would be terrific. They brought a carafe with a lot of ice.

Bob then asked for a banana split and I just wanted ice cream. But while the order taking waiter could do banana split, he could not get the idea that I just wanted ice cream, so I got a banana split too
Partly eaten banana split 2,709 col

Partly eaten banana split 2,709 col

I was looking at the map and using my phone to get a better map when I got an email from AT&T that I had incurred $100 roaming charges. So I called and activated a roaming package which I had discontinued when we got back from England, and also put the phone to operate on the hotel wi-fi

The bill came to 19,459.99 Col. or $36.00. We asked if we could put it on our room bill but the desk did not know our room number (although they really must have done to take our luggage up to it)., so we just paid with a credit card.They showed us how to use the elevator (you need a room key)
Elevator selfie

Elevator selfie


and we went to the room which was on the 5th floor. We were checked in by 2:30 - so half an hour early
Mirror and desk

Mirror and desk

Beds

Beds


I was pretty much not inclined to do much other than try to get the internet and take out my nightgown and pills.
View from the 5th floor

View from the 5th floor

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Bob asked about the park across the street which we could see from our room so I did look that up on the internet.
Parque Morazán

Parque Morazán


So we have been watching Bones in Spanish, and getting organized.
Restaurant

Restaurant


We went up to the restaurant on the 17th floor for dinner. I had
Chicken Morocco

Chicken Morocco


which came with a white gravy and nuts and raisins, but the chicken itself was kind of tough so I didn't eat much of it. Bob had
broccoli and giant shrimp

broccoli and giant shrimp


which he mostly finished.
They both came with mixed vegetables (a lot of very nice broccoli, carrots, squash etc) and actual mashed potatoes not from flakes. The waiter kept Bob's water glass filled and mine too. I am much thirstier than usual.
Looking out over the city at night

Looking out over the city at night


While we were eating, we could see from the streets below that it was raining or had rained. We saw a trash truck picking up trash while blocking all traffic. And lots of buses.
View from the 17th floor

View from the 17th floor


We were told on the way from the airport that San Jose was going to consolidate all the bus stations. Before, we would go to the airport and get the bus from there to town, ending up in the Coca Cola district. That bus station is apparently going to go away. It seems like that would be OK for the inter-city buses but I fail to see how this would work for the city buses. Bob went to bed and went to sleep. We didn't watch TV. I went to bed about 11:00.

Posted by greatgrandmaR 16:00 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged airport san_jose Comments (6)

2015- Rainforest Revisit -Part Two - The Gold Museum

The First Goal

2015 August 9 Gold Museum

When we were in San Jose in 1996, the Gold Museum was closed on Monday and we were only in San Jose on Monday. So this time, I made sure we were in San Jose durineek when it would be open. Now it is open every day.

We went to breakfast, which was a buffet.
Bob at the buffet

Bob at the buffet


They had coffee, tea (hot), two kinds of juice and water, eggs cooked to order,
fruit

fruit


Selection of bread and rolls

Selection of bread and rolls


pico gallo

pico gallo


stewed bananas

stewed bananas


fish

fish


sausage

sausage


ham, cheese

ham, cheese


and bread to toast. I had a banana, a piece of pineapple, an egg over easy, tea and a few rolls.
Eggs, potato, sweet biscuit and pineapple

Eggs, potato, sweet biscuit and pineapple


After we ate, I saw that the man was now at the tourist information desk at the front near the gift shop so I asked him some questions.
outside of the gift shop and bar

outside of the gift shop and bar


I thought he said that the hop on hop off bus was only $9.00 so I filed that idea away for future reference. He said the Gold Museum and the National Theatre were just three blocks straight down the street. So we went back to the room and re-organized. I tried to get my GPS and my phone in a little bum bag but it was a struggle. So I stuffed two water bottles, an umbrella, a raincoat, the GPS and my phone in my pocketbook. We took the GPS outside to see if it would get the satellites, and eventually it did. We set off with me on the scooter to go the three blocks to the Gold Museum which the internet said opened at 9:00 (half an hour before when the internet said was the opening for the National Theatre).
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Passing the park on my scooter - San José

Passing the park on my scooter - San José


San Jose is not a very mobility device friendly city. When there are ramps, they are quite steep and often have a curb of asphalt at the end. (From re-paving the streets and not redoing the sidewalk.) Also the street we were on had a lot of large paving stones which are very jolty.
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Occasionally there would be a street with no ramps at all and Bob would have to lift the scooter into the street and then back onto the sidewalk on the other side. But we persisted. And we got to the Plaza of Culture, which was where the Gold Museum was underground..
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Ventilation stacks for the Gold museum

Ventilation stacks for the Gold museum


Looking down into the plaza from the street

Looking down into the plaza from the street


metal sculpture outside the Gold Museum which was there in 1996

metal sculpture outside the Gold Museum which was there in 1996


..and went down the ramp arriving about 9:05.
The Gold Museum, is the country’s only underground construction, and was designed specifically to accommodate a museum. Shaped like an inverted pyramid, it has three architectural levels (with elevators) that reach a depth of 12 meters below street level. The construction materials for this building include concrete for the walls, Costa Rican marble for the floors, and rain tree (cenízaro) for the handrails (the rain tree is a precious Costa Rican wood currently considered an endangered species). In addition, the exhibition gallery floors are made of small pieces of sura or tall guava, another semiprecious Costa Rican wood.
Vehicle ramp down to the plaza

Vehicle ramp down to the plaza


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And it wasn't open. The internet had said 9:00, but the sign at the museum said 9:15. Now, it is apparently open every day from 9:15 to 5:00. The first Wednesday of every month the hours are 11:00 to 5:00 and local residents get in free on those days. It was just as well because Bob was having trouble taking photos -- it took us a little while but the problem was that he had it set on the timer setting instead of single photo. By the time we figured it out, it was 9:15.
El Museo del Oro Precolombino «Álvaro Vargas Echeverría (sign)

El Museo del Oro Precolombino «Álvaro Vargas Echeverría (sign)


The gate guard had four padlocks to remove from the gate, and we went in. Bob got the tickets (more for non-ticos of course - $11 each for us)
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and then he had to go through security. I didn't. There was no way I could have done it anyway - they just waved me around the metal detector. They said we could take photos without flash. Flash doesn't work that well for stuff in glass cases anyway. The museum was very interesting - it takes up Costa Rican life where the Jade Museum leaves off - about 800 A.D. (so if possible - do the Jade Museum first). There were 1,600 pieces of pre-Columbian gold dating from 500 to 1500 AD. They also had large life sized models showing how the gold would have been worn and how the gold was used in the life of the indigenous people.

The exhibits included the various ways of working the gold. The technological complexity of producing metal objects meant that metallurgy required the participation of multiple artisans in the manufacturing process. The exact division of labor is not known, but it is likely that some workers collected raw materials and others provided fuel supplies and maintained the ovens at the proper temperature: all working in coordination with the gold Artisans. Knowledge provided by pottery specialists or their direct participation in making cores, was of particular importance to the metallurgical technology developed by these societies. Within pre-Hispanic metallurgy, casting accounted for the majority of the objects.
Artisans smelting the gold

Artisans smelting the gold


Hammered gold

Hammered gold


The gold items were mostly smaller than the ones we saw in Peru but the animals were more realistic. You could easily wear a lot of them as gold charms
Small realistic gold figures

Small realistic gold figures


Spaniards coming to take the gold

Spaniards coming to take the gold


Gold in the Gold Museum

Gold in the Gold Museum

Exhibit at the Gold Museum

Exhibit at the Gold Museum


I think Bob and I saw totally different things. He went to the music section
parts of instruments

parts of instruments


instruments

instruments


Musical instruments

Musical instruments


Music after 'contact' (with the Spaniards)

Music after 'contact' (with the Spaniards)


Bob also did the burial section.
Women's activities

Women's activities


Traditionally indigenous women have performed important functions in ritual activities. Before taking up these functions a woman must pass through a training process overseen by female specialists, a process which includes fasting sessions and learning the sacred stories. In funeral ceremonies among the Bribri, one woman is in charge of preparing the chocolate drink and organizing the other women in making the chicha (fermented maize liquor) and the food consumed over the days of the ritual. Documentary sources from the sixteenth century confirm that women were chieftains, healers and warriors. In indigenous groups today, women continue to fulfill specific roles within birth and death rituals...Preparing the corpse was the first in a series of ritual actions necessary for a proper burial. The complexity of these funerary activities required made the participation of trained specialists essential to the rite. The person who arranged the body or bones in packages, the singers, the dancers, and the master of ceremonies these were all specialized hierarchical offices.
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Burial practices

Burial practices


I spent some time at the rain forest display with little gold animals in a case. You were to pick the animal and the gold figure that went with it and if you pressed both buttons at the same time, a floodlight would light up that animal.
Buttons to push to light up the models

Buttons to push to light up the models


Deer lit up

Deer lit up


Jaguar, bat, toucan, and loro bird to match

Jaguar, bat, toucan, and loro bird to match


One of my favorite parts of these exhibits was about the Healers. The exhibit had the older man seated in the hammock instructing a younger man who isn't in my photo. The sign said Healers were the specialists charged with performing rites of healing, which were sessions of singing or chanting in which various objects and medicinal plants were used. This ancient tradition constitutes the most active legacy among indigenous peoples. In most cases the role of healer is the only traditional leadership post which continues to be fill to the present day. Shamans enjoyed great prestige and power in their communities. Their sacred character stemmed from their extensive knowledge of ancestral history and myths. One of their functions was to control the economic and political activities of their people. Furthermore, Shamans carried out rituals which enabled them to ascend to higher planes of reality and enter into contact with supernatural forces with whom they interceded in order to assure the welfare of the community of of an individual.
Shaman-Healer

Shaman-Healer


Warriors "When the Indians go to battle...they wear large seashells...and certain gold ornaments in particular some large pieces on their heads and other parts of their persons... in addition to this they have rings of gold in their ears and in their nose hanging over their lower face." Account of Gonzalo Ferndindex de Oviedo, sixteenth century Spanish chronicler.
Warriors

Warriors


There were also the inevitable pre-Columbian objects of pottery and stone, from different geographical regions of the country: vessels in various forms, objects, statues and utensils, used in the daily and ceremonial life of the people. Some of the pottery even depicted women
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rattle-human figure with a headdress

rattle-human figure with a headdress


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After we finished up with the gold, we skipped the money section,
Jaime Solera Bennett Numismatics Museum

Jaime Solera Bennett Numismatics Museum


and went back up to the top floor and looked at the gift shop where they sold coffee, mugs and clothing items.
Gold museum shop

Gold museum shop

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Then we went back up the ramp to the street level
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Posted by greatgrandmaR 00:00 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged museum gold Comments (0)

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