From Green to White via Margarita’s Guest House

I think Margarita’s Guesthouse is the best-kept secret near the San Jose airport.  I only heard about it thanks to a chance encounter with Jimmy, a retired New York firefighter who sat down next to us on the flight down to San Jose.

The lines on his face told the story of an interesting life.  I asked, “How did you end up moving to Costa Rica?”  I got the story of his life, a wife who left after the kids had grown, children still in America.  He’d worked in Panama as a young man and thought what the heck, so he left New York, and settled in Costa Rica twenty years ago.  He’d just been back to New York to see his daughter.

He said, “You should stay at Margarita’s Guesthouse, she’s only ten minutes from the airport and she has the best food.  I have dinner there every night.”

“We already have reservations at a hotel in San Jose, but maybe on the flight back we could stop there.”

Two weeks before our flight home I looked up Margarita’s Guesthouse on the internet. It was in Alejuella, just ten minutes from the airport.  A room cost $30 per night for just breakfast, or for $40 one can get three meals included.  I sent an email inquiring about a room and mentioned that Jimmy had recommended her.

I didn’t hear anything back so I called Margarite.  She answered right away in excellent English.  “Certainly you can have a room or two.”

“Do you want my credit card number or anything?”


So I just gave her my name and email address.  I didn’t get a confirmation email, so when we left on a Sunday driving down, down, down towards San Jose I was nervous, but surely she won’t leave us out on the street.

The GPS guided us there with hardly a hitch, we even managed to stay on paved roads.  We knew there would be tolls so I had my colones ready at each toll booth.  When we got to Alejuella the traffic really picked up.  Motorcycles eaved in and out of the cars and trucks.  When the road changed to one lane it was punch and shove, if you were polite and let people in, you’d just stay in the same spot forever.

GPS said, “You’ve arrived at your destination.”  We turned left and parked.  We got out of the car, but couldn’t find any entrance to the building surrounded by gates.

I’d just gotten out my cell phone to call Margarita when my brother called from across the street, “Come over here.”

There was a lovely little sign, saying ring the bell:

When we rang the bell Margarita came out to meet us.  She helped us get settled in our rooms.  She wasn’t busy so we each got our own room with a private bath.  She said, “Come upstairs at 6:00 for dinner.”

The front was busy with traffic, and houses lined the street, with gates, but her house was an oasis of green. The tables looked out on a luchious backyard.

When I walked out in the backyard and turned my head up I saw huge bananas trees blooming above me.

We stayed in this beautiful oasis for two nights, and then we headed to the airport to return our wonderful Wild Rider car at 6:30 am.  No one could give us any details about how to return the car.  Other guests said they wouldn’t drive in Costa Rica.  My instructions said to return the rental car to the second level of the parking garage, only we didn’t see any parking garages.  A taxi cab driver was standing next to what looked like a parking lot for rental cars.  When I told him my instructions, he said, yes just take a ticket and drive it in there.  We left the ticket and the keys in the car as instructed.  There were carts for our luggage right there.  We loaded everything up and went in to get our tickets.  Soon we were up in the air headed away from the green.

Our flight first took us up over Costa Rica then across the gulf to Houston where we went through customs and changed planes.  Then it was up in the air again to Denver, the white squares show us heading to the Denver airport, but our journey didn’t end there.  After an hour on the ground in Denver, our plane continued on to Minneapolis where we arrived after dark.

We didn’t get to enjoy pristine white of a Minnesota winter until the next morning.

I hadn’t been in winter for seven years and I was pleasantly surprised by its beauty and the warmth of my down coat.  The house I stayed at had wonder insulation and on a cold night, a fire in the fireplace made everything warm and cozy.

My brother complained, “You’re only here for eight days, I’ve got six more weeks until spring even starts.”

Tomorrow I’m headed for Tokyo.  I’m not looking forward to twelve and a half hours in the plane,  after a short visit there I’m off to Australia again.  Gotta fly while you can.


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