06-Jul-2002 -- Diane and I were on our way to Santiago, Chile to meet a family member. The beginning leg of our flight had a several-hour stop in San Jose, Costa Rica. I had a very small hope in the back of my mind that we might be able to visit this confluence. But, so many obstacles seemed to stand in our path. We are not international travelers. My Spanish is largely unpracticed for over 30 years. Would we be able to find transportation?
The airport in San Jose is very small. We had explored all the shops and waiting areas within about 20 minutes. Remembering the famous quote from Benjamin Franklin’s “Poor Richard’s Almanac,” “Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” I screwed up my courage and asked about leaving the airport.
We met a nice lady at the Immigration desk, filled out a paper, paid a small fee and got the first stamps on our passports. Soon we found ourselves outside the airport and being accosted by offers for taxi service. Luckily we met Sergio Diaz who would be our taxi driver. After some talking with him, some co-workers and me, a fare was agreed upon and we set off.
Diane speaks no Spanish. I speak English and some Spanish. Sergio spoke Spanish and some English. It must have appeared quite comical to the imaginary “fly on the wall” to hear our conversation about latitude and longitude and lines crossing and imaginary points on the surface of the earth. My most commonly used Spanish phrase was “No se como decir esto.” (I don’t know how to say it.) Sergio’s most commonly used English phrase was “Oh really!”
Eventually we found ourselves in a rural area on a two-track road at the top of a steep hill. A quick consultation with a local man gave Sergio the confidence that there was an outlet road and that our microbus taxi would be able to descend and exit the other side. We descended into a most beautiful spot – a small stream, verdure all around, beautiful flowers. Splendid!
The confluence was just on the other side of a fence. No one was home to ask permission to enter, so we took photos and left. It was a great day! Thanks to Sergio. Thanks to the Degree Confluence Project for giving us a reason to explore. A bad day exploring is better than any other day!