Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Welcome Home

For the second consecutive Christmas, our family guested in Costa Rica. The ten days went by quickly, as vacations tend to do. We stayed in Jaco Beach on the Pacific Coast at the Club del Mar resort. You won't find a nicer staff anywhere on the planet.

After four straight days of tropical rain which led to a bazillion calories of food and drink, I was ready for some sun. Tuesday, I was awakened by a lawnmower coiffing the grounds outside of our garden condo, it was a welcome sound, as it meant that it was no longer raining. I jumped up, awakened the husband and tadpoles, threw on my swimsuit, sucked in my gut, grabbed my book and soaked up a healthy dose of Vitamin D (and some daiquiris). We had great weather the rest of the week. The husband and tadpoles went ziplining...I passed. The male youngling took a two-hour private surf lesson, the little kahuna is a natural. The female youngling and I played competitive pool volleyball...while the boys went on a horseback ride. Nothing says family fun like whacking a volleyball at each other. The people of Costa Rica are some of the nicest in the world, you go from being treated like a special guest to being treated like an adored family member. There were warm embraces as we said goodbye (and yes, the warmest went to my favorite bartender). Visit, just stay clear of San any big city it's dirty and higher in crime.

Our flight home on December 27th was just two days after the crotch bomber incident, so air travel was even more inconvenient. We arrived at the San Jose airport (we spent our last night in San Jose, as Jaco is about two hours away) at 10:30 am for a 1:45 pm flight. The lines were long, travelers were tired and confused. Between the flaming nutsack and all of the snow in the states, there were more than a few delays. Continental Airlines out of Costa Rica would not allow *any* liquids or make-up powders in your carry-on bag. So, after waiting in line to pay the exit travel tax of $26 and then waiting in line to check our bags at the airline counter, we were scrambling to locate all of our carefully packed ziploc bags of liquids and powder make-up in our carry-on bags to place them in our suitcases. I said a little prayer for my baggie full of cherished lip glosses to make it back to me unscathed, it did. I will say that the Continental Airlines counter agent, Roger, was both kind and professional. He noted that our seats were not together and moved us around so that our family of four had and entire row to ourselves (the flight was not full).

Bags checked, through security and still about two hours before our flight, we decided to peruse the gift shop where the most popular t-shirt read "Costa Rica No Army", we grabbed some food court fare and made our way to the gate. They made us all show our boarding passes and passports once again at the gate counter, then they lined us all up and checked our carry-on baggage for contraband. They confiscated all liquids that they found, pissing off (mostly women) left and right. After that we were all frisked in the bridge, just before boarding the plane. Our flight left about 40 minutes late, due to the new security measures and in spite of our early arrival to the airport.

Our 737 was equipped with Directv programing, the television screens are located in the back of the seat in front of you, the charge is $6 per person. The tadpoles and husband enjoyed this feature on the flight to Costa Rica, I slept. However, this time, due to new security measures, there was NO in-flight entertainment allowed on this or any International flights entering the US. Apparently, there is a map option that shows you (with accuracy) what you are flying over. To be honest, I think the husband was more upset than the kids were. No worries, after a couple of Bacardi and diets he went to sleepytown. Other changes in security, that we experienced, have since been relaxed: 1) not being able to get out of your seat the last hour of the flight 2) not being allowed to have *anything* on your lap during the last hour (including a book, also the tray tables had to be word on what happened if you were traveling with a baby...I guess you would've had to hold junior over your head) 3) no blankets or pillows

I guess the TSA realized that punishing patrons with ridiculous new regulations isn't the best policy against real threats. I'm a US citizen with a passport, traveling with my family...until a domestic terrorist blows up an aircraft with his wife and kids on board, you can leave us alone.

In closing I'd just like to say: I love my country very much. The freedoms that we have here are something to be celebrated. The opportunities for success in our country are longed for in others. Our comforts are taken for granted...when the Customs Agent said "welcome home" I felt warm and fuzzy all over.

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