Thursday, July 10, 2008

Our flight went without incident.  Leaving the San jose airport (in Alejuela) was more interesting, however.  We retrieved a total of 17 bags, and used one of those airport carts.  Once outside the doors, Jim chose a cabby and followed him to his cab with Kiera and two of the large duffles, behind a cement wall partition to the street. 

Val and I had the remainder of the bags, including the cart.  I stopped on the sidewalk just out side of the airport door to look which way Jim went.  I forgot that all travelers are fair game for the cabby free-for-all.  

Cabbies know the words "You need help?" in english, then start talking rapidly in spanish, while trying to grab your luggage and take it toward their cab. Anyone can try for your business, so it is not unusual to have three cabbies hollering at you in spanish.  I said no and waved them each away, as is the custom.  Their manager said in english, "You cannot take the cart out of the airport, ma'am."  I said "Pardonne" which I think is french instead of spanish; "Desculpeme" is the proper word for apologizing in this case.  I stood still with the cart and other bags and asked Val to find her Dad.  Then the cabbies started trying to remove my luggage from the cart again.  I had to grab one guy's arm and say "Stop!" The manager again addressed me.  I said, "I understand, but I'm not going to tip three people".  By then Val was back with Jim who redirected them and led me to where his cab was.  

It's a little overwhelming and intimidating to get hit with this when you first step out of the airport if you're not prepared.  I guess a US woman with a load of luggage and a confused look on her face looks like a good financial opportunity.  It doesn't matter how we dress or act, our language, hairstyles, clothing, shoes and other accessories clue people in to our foreign origins, as do clues from our body language.  In addition, for a country where the life style is laid back, being on Costa Rica Time as they say, this moment of urgency and rushing from the locals comes as a bit of a surprise.  We laughed about it later and decided to try to be better prepared next time.



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