Finally my information kit from Cross Cultural Solutions has arrived. This big fat hunk of a parcel is, to put it delicately, fully LOADED… It has a letter from the programme manager for Costa Rica, Molly outlining all the important things that need to be done before embarking on the trip, a T-Shirt which I am supposed to be wearing when I land in San Jose, an international volunteer suitcase tag, information booklet about Cross Cultural Solutions, Participants handbook for volunteering in Cartago, Volunteer abroad Programme Handbook, and the all important Placement guide.
It will take me some time to digest all this barrage of information, but it is for sure damn exciting. However to slightly dampen this excitement, I have to pay the programme fees before October and to tell you the truth, it is no small a sum. I have been saving for a few months now and I hope to save enough by the end of September to account for the entire fees plus any additional expenses. But it has been tough… In the World’s most expensive city, saving a huge chunk of your salary every month amounts to finding yourself without a penny at the middle of the month every month. Huuff!!
As far as flight tickets to Costa Rica are concerned, that was a super nightmare for me. There are no direct flights from London to San Jose, so one stopover is imminent. This one stop can be in any country in Europe, Latin America or North America… Now, that there is a massive source of confusion and anxiety for me. I mean you can always brag about visiting a particular country if you can transit through it. My dilemma was how to choose the one among these gazillion countries about which I can brag about in drunken ecstasy later. After much deliberation, I decided to take the easy way out… I allowed money to do the talking for me.
Holders of Indian passport need visas to visit almost every country in this planet. My situation is slightly different because of my UK resident permit. I need visas too visit some countries such as the US and Israel but I don’t need visas to visit others such as Costa Rica. Also, while transiting through the Eurozone countries, I am exempt from getting a visa if my transit duration is less than 24 hours. Now, to go to Costa Rica, I had two options, pay less and transit through the US or pay more and transit through Spain. But, to make matters interesting, US transit visa costs around £140 while I can transit for free in Spain. Thus, overall the cost for transiting through the US was going to be much more. So, finally after much calculations and timing adjustments, I found a flight that suits me. I am flying Iberia from London to Madrid and from there Iberia again to San Jose.
Finding the perfect flight is difficult and it is always a big trade off between money, time and patience. One great flight booking aggregator that I used for this trip is Expedia. I used others as well such as ebookers and Opodo and it is always a good idea to look at all of them to find the best possible deal.
That’s it for today… Stay tuned for more from my great trip to the land between two oceans: Costa Rica