Tina and I were going to spend New Year's Eve a little differently this year. Our return flight to Costa Rica left San Francisco in the evening on Dec 31st and arrived early morning on the 1st. Not surprisingly, the airfares were good for that itinerary and we're not big NY Eve partiers anyway. We figured it would be the best time to travel to avoid the holiday rush. We were partially correct.
We took BART from the suburbs back to San Francisco Int'l Airport on New Year's Eve, arriving at about 5:20pm. SFO was like a ghost town. It is normally a very busy place but this evening was a rare exception. We checked in at the Frontier Airlines desk and headed for our gate. There was NO line at the security checkpoint and we breezed right through. Fortunately, the restaurants were still open and we got some dinner while waiting for our 7:20pm flight to Denver.
Despite the fact that the airport was nearly deserted, out flight to Denver was packed - almost every seat occupied. The flight was uneventful and we landed a little bit early at a VERY cold Denver airport. I believe the flight crew said the temperature was already in the teens. The jetway was so cold we could see our breath, as we hurried to get in the terminal.
Unlike SFO, the Denver airport was a buzz of activity. Apparently, lots of people are willing to fly on New Year's Eve. Once again, our flight from Denver to San Jose, Costa Rica was very full. We boarded, then sat at the gate. About 20 minutes after our scheduled departure time, a few more passengers trickled in. There were some connecting flights that got in late and our flight was being held for those passengers - plus 2-3 flight attendants that needed to be on our plane. I suspect the flight was held more for the flight attendants than the passengers. By the time all the delayed passengers finally boarded, the plane was, again, almost completely full.
The flight was scheduled to leave Denver at 11:55pm but we were about an hour late taking off. As we sat there in our seats, waiting for additional passengers and crew, one of the flight attendants started the New Year's countdown over the PA system. There was a cheer as the countdown reached zero, then everyone went back to their subdued, "when are we gonna get outta here" mode. Pretty anti-climactic.
Tina and I have been on red-eye flights quite a few times but this one, for some reason, seemed particularly uncomfortable. I even splurged and bought a red wine, thinking it would help me to get some sleep. All it did was upset my stomach. It was really bad wine. I guess the fact that it came in a can should have been a clue...
The highlight of the flight was our conversations with the man who was in the window seat in our row of three. He had a delightful British accent and he was the coach of a soccer team from Colorado Christian Academy. The coaches and the team were headed to Costa Rica for a mission trip. They would be playing some local teams and conducting a sports camp for local youth. We had some interesting general and theological discussions with the coach. Tina had even more extensive discussions with him, since she was in the middle seat and it was easier for them to hear each other.
After a long and uncomfortable night, we arrived in San Jose about 7am. We waited through the lines at the Immigration and Customs processes. Of course, THIS time we made sure we checked our passports to see how many days the agent put on our visa. He gave us 90 (the max) but all we really needed was 8. We would be leaving the country in a week, to move to Panama.
We walked just outside the airport to catch one of the red cabs (not the orange ones that service the airport). Being the savvy "locals" that we are, we knew the orange cabs are more expensive. We flagged down a red taxi van (needed the space for all our luggage) and negotiated a ride out to Atenas (about a 30-35 minute drive).
Once we reached our apartment, we just crashed out. We woke up in the late afternoon and realized we had almost no food in the apartment. We walked into town, reaching the grocery store about 5:45pm.
We were hoping the store would be open, even though it was a holiday. It was. However, it was going to close at 6pm. We did some speed shopping and exited with about 6-8 bags of groceries. Getting all that home wouldn't be fun. However, the Lord blessed us once again. Some new tenants at our apartment complex just happened to be leaving the store at the same time, via cab. They already had 3 people in the small cab but offered to take all our groceries back to their apartment, so we could walk home unencumbered. Wow, isn't it amazing how God is even in the little details of life...
Posted by Mark