Thursday, October 2, 2008

The San Jose Trip

Sit back folks and listen to our tale of whoa.
The plan was to leave early Monday morning and meet up with two other couples between Dominical and San Isidro. Before we left we received a call from Mike. His wife was pretty sick with some sort of yucky bug and they were not going to be able to make it.

No problem.
Joel and Krista were the ones who knew the San Jose area. They had lived there for almost a year while attending a language school. Without them we probably would not go. We dropped the kids off at grandpa's and headed out for Joel and Krista's.
We passed the road which leads to their place and had to double back but we found it. We were probably 1-2 hours behind our planned schedule but no problem we were not in a hurry. Everyone was bummed about Starla and were praying for her. We had to make a quick doggie pick up and drop off then we would be hitting the road for real.
D & I were looking forward to getting to know this interesting young missionary couple who were escorting us to the big city. They have traveled all over the world and obviously had a lot of experience in getting around large bustling foreign cities.
The long slow climb up the mountain seemed to be going rather quickly as the gals chatted in the back an the guys were chewing the fat up front. It was just the four of us and we were looking forward to a good trip.

The road we were driving on has a bad reputation (which it lives up to) for being prone to landslides, washed out road areas with 1,000' drops and insane drivers passing semi-trucks on blind curves. One of the popular names of this route is Cero de Muerte or "Mountain of death". I guess every country or state has a "road of death" or "Mountain of Death" but I could say that I believe this to be the most appropriate name for this route. The road is currently the quickest route from southern zone to San Jose so it is the route of choice.

So, as we began our decline down the other side of the mountain I remembered this speed trap that my dad had told me about. You know, the whole way up the mountain you are struggling to reach the posted speed limit and as soon as you begin to get a little bit of gravity on your side BAM! Nailed by the man. And yes, that is exactly what happened.
The kindly officer standing in the middle of the road with a radar gun waved me over to the side. Now in the US you get a ticket. That is just the way it goes. You may be able to talk your way out of it but more than likely you are gonna get a ticket. Well here things are a bit different. The police here make very, very low wages and really all they want is a little extra beer money. The officer began asking me after he came over to the window what I did for a living and if me getting a ticket would be bad for me if I tried to leave the country. What? What the heck was this guy talking about. Then he begins asking "colones (Costa Rican Currency) or dollars, colones or dollars?". Okay, he wants cash. He even asked me if this was okay. I said no, It was not ok but he did not understand. I got out of there with 10 less bucks in my pocket and a deep desire to be able to speak better spanish.

The remainder of our trip was all downhill now both figuratively and literally right? Well, that would be only half right. Our first real stop was at EPA a Home Depot-ish place for a few misc. items then we would drop our stuff off at the hostile we were staying at and re-group over a good cup of coffee and possibly a fresh pastry.

Well, being the savvy travelers we are we decided to put our valuables under the rear seat of the truck. You would have thought that we would have done this before we got into the parking lot but, the parking area was guarded and has a check in and check out gate that monitors the vehicles coming and going. Safe right? Joel for some reason (he had told us later that he never does this sort of thing) left his bag in the truck (under the seat and not visible) which was holding his computer, passport!! and credit cards. I have become accustomed to carrying a man-bag with all of my stuff so D and I just left our clothes bag (my brand new High Sierra super sweet backpack).
We all went into the store after making sure our stuff was secure and the vehicle was locked. D and I were looking at a variety of things so we went off on our own. Joel and Krista looked around for a few moments than went outside and hung out at the outdoor furniture area. Krista said later that she saw some security guys near the vehicle and walked over toward them but no one addressed her or acted like something was going on so she just walked back towards the front of the building. After D and I were finished shopping we met J and K and headed towards the truck. I unlocked the front and opened the back door the same time as Krista. We both lifted the rear seat at the same time and were shocked at what was not there.


She looked at me, I looked at her and we both gasped.
"It happened again!" she said. They had just been ripped off a month earlier.

In retrospect we figure we were being watched maybe even followed before we arrived at EPA. We should have either stashed or stuff way before we got into the parking lot or just brought it in with us. The crooks jammed a screwdriver into the passenger side door and cranked it until it unlocked. The interesting thing is that I inadvertently left my iPod sitting in a pocket in the dashboard and it was still there. There was also some loose cash which had fallen out of my pocket sitting on the front seat and it was still there. These guys knew what they wanted in the vehicle and where it was. Kind of creepy.

The rest of the day found us filing reports and talking with investigators. D met up with an old H.S. friend who currently resides in San Jose with her husband as missionaries. J and K called credit card companies from their home and we could see some of the charges being racked up in real time. A few of us manly men went to a few of the places the crooks had been to but they were already closed.
We extended our stay another day and made the trip back with no real hassle.
Thank God that he is our protector. Who know how things might have turned out?


Aaron said...

A man bag! I will have to buy Aaron one.

Marty Phillips said...

Bummer with the stolen stuff.

Marty Phillips said...

See You Mid Feb...We bought our Tickets.

Lord Servant said...

Wow, what a day. It makes me realize how I take "safety" for granted each day. Take care!

snowshoe_rabbit said...

Thanks! ya, May and I are pretty excited, needless to say... Sounds like you all are having quite the adventures down there. That stinks about the stolen stuff. I expected to get stuff stolen when I was traveling in Europe last summer, but managed to make it back with most of my junk. Hope you are feelin' better by now!

Aaron said...

So, what's happened lately?