Costa Rica Bound
As negotiated in my contract with World Vision and the Global Rapid Response Team (GRRT), I was Costa Rica bound from Haiti. With my six suitcases, I boarded my flight in Santo Domingo after my self extraction on December 10. My route took me through Miami, where at that time, I had to collect all my luggage and recheck it. No such thing as checking through back in 2010.
In Miami, I was asked what was my purpose in Costa Rica. First mistake, telling them I was being based there and moving to Costa Rica. I had to have proof of a flight out of Costa Rica within the next three months. Fortunately, I did have this as I had plans for a trip home for Christmas. After some discussions with the American Airlines staff, I was given my boarding pass and ready to fly to San Jose.
The flight from Miami to San Jose is a short two and a half hours. After doing this flight often on subsequent trips, that two and a half hours sometimes felt like two and a half days.
Arrival in San Jose
When we landed in San Jose’s San Juan Santamaria International Airport, it was a beautiful dry December evening. Although, it was much cooler than the 35 degree temperatures I was used to in Haiti.
There were no complications entering the country through immigration. Once I had collected my six suitcases, they were put through an x-ray machine prior to exiting the terminal. Once customs was satisfied I had nothing hidden, I was passed through and exited the airport.
Waiting for me outside was a WV contracted taxi driver, Don Rodolpho (Don is the same as Mr.). Now, I was still in the infancy of learning Spanish, so our conversation was very limited. During my last two months in Haiti, I had started using Rosetta Stone to learn Spanish. I also befriended some people from the Dominican Republic, but that was mistake #2. Do not try to learn Spanish from Dominican Republic…they speak very fast and put words together.
Don Rodolpho took me to my first accommodations in San Jose, the Casa Conde Apart Hotel. This was a very nice and luxurious aparthotel. I knew I would not be here for very long as I had started my house hunting prior to leaving Haiti. This would be a launch pad before the New Year and base of initial operations.
World Vision Latin American and Caribbean Office
Before departing Haiti, I had been in constant contact with the WV Regional office in San Jose. The Latin American and Caribbean Office, LACRO, was located in Calle Blancos, an area of San Jose. My main point of contact was the GRRT Administration Officer, Marcela. If you recall, I had previously met Marcela when I first arrived in Dominican Republic on my CARE deployment.
Don Rodolpho picked me up on December 13 from the Casa Conda and took me into the LACRO office. At the office, Marcela was waiting for my arrival. She was very happy that she would no longer be the only GRRT member based in Costa Rica, although Marcela is a Costa Rican. The big GRRT boss, Ian, had left Costa Rica several months prior.
Marcela introduced me to all the LACRO staff in Costa Rica and explained to me that there were in reality two regional offices. The other office, the main regional leadership office, is in Panama City, Panama. To this day, I still cannot figure out why World Vision needed two regional offices. Eventually a third office would be added, but that is another story.
I had set an appointment to see a house just outside of San Jose in a place called San Ramon de Tres Rios. This was a beautiful home in the mountains on a coffee plantation that would suit my family. This being a family posting and at that time, my family was ready to move to Costa Rica.
Marcela made arrangements for us to go and see the property in San Ramon de Tres Rios for the afternoon of the 13. From the office, it took us approximately 40 minutes to arrive at the house. We were met by the owner of the home and given the tour. The home itself was situated in a small valley in the middle of the coffee plantation. The property was huge and completely fenced in.
The house was very unique, build of circles. It had a gym and a pool, which I thought were great additions to this family home. The rent was right for me as well, not that it mattered much, WV would be paying it, but I still had a limit on family housing. It was agreed that I would take possession and move in in early January when I returned from my Christmas trip home.
My Son Arrives
Now that I had secured a home, my eldest son was ready to come and visit me in Costa Rica. The plan was that he would come down for a week and we would spend some time getting to know the area and preparing the house.
Still living in the Casa Conde until I left for Canada, Kaithan arrived in Costa Rica on December 14. Although I had been provided a vehicle, I was not ready to drive to the airport to pick him up. Don Rodolpho drove me the night Kaithan arrived. This was a new adventure, as at that time, the airport had to exit points. Not sure which one Kaithan would exit was a 50/50 guess. As one would guess, he exited the one we were not covering!
After pointing Kaithan out to Don Rodolpho, he quickly moved around and was able to get Kaithan and bring him to me. Once we were all together, we returned back to the hotel and began planning our activities for the next week.
Next Story – First Week in Costa Rica