From Costa Rica to México

Flight to Playa del Carmen

Travel can be tricky in Costa Rica during the green season. Roads can get washed out, so you have to plan for potential delays. With that in mind, I made the five-hour trek from Playas del Coco to San José a couple of days before my flight to México. That way, I wouldn’t be freaking out, desperately trying to get to the airport. I’ve run for so many planes before. It’s nice to take it easy once in a while.

Playas del Coco beach with green hills
The hills around Coco Beach really greened up after the rains started. I will miss all my friends and my daily walks here.

On my way to San José

Costa Rica has two international airports. The one in Liberia is right next to Playas del Coco, but flights are mostly just to the USA. If you want to fly anywhere else, you must go through the bigger airport in San José. I thought about traveling through the US to México to avoid driving all the way to San José, but the flights took longer, cost more, and required COVID testing. Those tests are not cheap. No thanks.

I had this grand plan of taking the bus for crazy cheap to San José. However, I would have had to take a taxi to the bus stop. Ride the bus for six hours. And then either change busses to get to my hotel near the airport or get another taxi. I have a LOT of luggage, so I sucked it up and paid for a shuttle from the apartment in Coco to the hotel in San José. Door to door. Worth it!

The shuttles are way cool in that they all go to the same meeting point a few hours away from the original pickup point. Here you get the chance to pee (thank goodness!), stretch, and get some munchies. You then switch vehicles and the vehicle you were in heads back the way it came with different passengers. This is so great for the drivers because they are refreshed and end up back home without having to drive for too long. Brilliant.

Gallo Pinto… Isn’t that a spotted rooster?

We ran into a lot of construction traffic but made it to my hotel in San José with no worries. The hotel had a very nice pool that I headed to immediately after eating some crazy delicious Indian food (so, so good!). It was cold and rainy, but that rarely stops me from taking a dip. No one joined me. Weird.

The next day started out with the most amazing breakfast at the hotel. Included!!! Beans and rice. Eggs. Fresh fruit. Thick coffee. Noms! Costa Rican coffee is the best! After breakfast, I went back inside to organize my luggage a bit more and make sure nothing was over the weight limit. I really have too much stuff. Sigh.

Pool party!

I headed out to the pool only to discover an immense birthday party with tons of kids. Shrieking and splashing and being all kid-like. Nope. I people watched for a bit to reaffirm that I did, in fact, make the right decision about never having children. Yup. Good job me!

Giant cacti in San Jose
The gardens at my hotel in San José were amazing! This is the biggest cacti I have ever seen.

Unfortunately for the partygoers, it started raining. Like a lot. They moved the party indoors, so no worries. The rain just poured down. It was so cool to watch! The hotel had all these covered walkways so you could wander around in the pouring rain checking out the gardens, without getting wet. People kept trying to help me, thinking I was lost. Costa Ricans are so nice.

Are we doing 50 in a 30?

I specifically picked that hotel because it had an airport shuttle. Too bad my flight was at 7:30am because the shuttle service didn’t start until 5:15am. They thought I might make my international flight… maybe. The lack of confidence did not comfort me. Sometimes it takes 30 minutes to check your luggage, go through the passport check queue, make your way through security, and find your gate. Sometimes it takes three hours. You might make it…

I ordered a taxi instead. Unfortunately, I ordered it online, and they sent a confirmation of receipt of a request and not an actual confirmation. My 4am taxi did not show. After anxiously waiting for a bit, I had the hotel order me another one. That guy was there so fast! And drove me like a bat out of hell to the airport. Who needs speed limits?

It took me 40 minutes to make it through all the airport steps, and the queues were really filling up. I think if I had waited, I would have been in trouble. Coffee and breakfast in one of the airport lounges, then on to the flight. No troubles and no issues. Everyone was wearing a mask and being very respectful. It was a stark difference from my flight from Houston to Costa Rica.

Tons of leg room in the Exit Row
I got so much leg room in the Exit Row! It was a really nice plane for being a budget airline.

Please let me in. I’ll be good, promise.

I heard México was really trying to discourage illegal immigration of US citizens in their beautiful country by stamping shorter tourist visas (for longer stays; they want you to get a resident visa which requires you to pay taxes). Technically “perpetual tourism” isn’t illegal, but it’s definitely sidestepping the process they want you to follow. My apartment lease in Playa del Carmen is for 178 days, so I really needed the full six month stamp. Border runs are expensive. I printed out everything I thought I might need to let immigration know that I would not overstay my visa. Airbnb agreements and flight out of México to the Dominican Republic. I got 180 days!

I had grand plans again to take the bus from the airport in Cancun to the tourist stop in Playa and then take a taxi to my apartment. But so much luggage. I sucked it up again and rented a shuttle. Door to door service is really very nice.

Rainbow over Playa del Carmen
Check out that rainbow over Playa del Carmen! It’s not a bad view from my apartment.

The apartment is massive and lovely and on the 3rd floor (1st floor is floor zero so the 200 rooms are on the 3rd floor). Unfortunately, the pool is tiny and I don’t think many people use it. I already miss the pool and all my friends from Playa del Coco. I had a really great time there. México should be fun, though. Did I mention that a hurricane passed by, and it’s just the beginning of hurricane season…? It’s an Adventure!

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1 Comment

  1. Enjoy your stay in Mexico! Looking forward to hearing of your adventures

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