Costa Rica Blog

On meeting President Oscar Arias, President elect Laura Chinchilla and Hillary Clinton

Posted by Steve Linder on Fri, Mar, 05, 2010

I guess yesterday was one of those lucky days you stumble upon without effort.  Here's the story.

The folks at International Living asked me to check out venues to hold an upcoming event in Costa Rica scheduled for August.  I'd already checked out the San Jose Palacio and the Ramada Plaza Herradura on a previous trip so this time I was headed to the Intercontinental Hotel in Escazu

I arrived at a hotel fortified with at least 100 police manning barricades, security check points, car inspection facilities and about 50 police motorcycles parked like a synchronized swimming display.  I thought to myself that this show of police might be unnerving to attendees at an International Living event but I proceeded on.  I obviously had no clue as to what was going on.  I was waived to the first check point and I think my new Panama hat must have made me look official, granting me a wave through and a smile.  Next I had to pass through the car inspection station.  Mirrors were rolled under my car, a dog hopped in the trunk to sniff around while a very attractive police woman asked to inspect the inside of the vehicle.  I had to get out while the complete inspection took place.  Next I was wanded with a Garrett metal detecting wand, a device guaranteed to find my pocket full of colone coins.  Once it was established that I was not armed (other than the ones up my sleeve) I was allowed back into my car to proceed to the parking lot.  Again I thought this seemed excessive but I guess the Intercontinental Hotel maintains a higher standard than the Adventure Inn, where I am used to staying. 

There were at least 6 TV crews including CNN international and all the local Costa Rican news networks.  Again not at all aware of what was going on there, I proceeded into the hotel and headed to the business office.  I reviewed their conference facilities as well as the contract, terms and requirements. it was then that the director of event sales explained who their guests of honor were that day.  I then headed back into the lobby to grab a few pictures of the facilities to send to the event manager at International Living.

Bad Idea....  Seems they really don't want civilians taking pictures of a hotel when it is full of ministerios, presidentes y extranjero personas importantes.  I acknowledged the request to skip the photos but managed to get a few in prior to realizing what a blow to international security such a thing might be. 

As I was ready to leave, I caught view of a large group of official looking officials in the veranda conference area milling about.  Large rolling racks holding delicious looking plates of food had been rolling in that direction along with a very nice looking portable bar.  It was just at that moment when I thought to myself "a couple was recently able to crash a White House dinner" and that I could probably do so as well.  Here was my plan, my chance for fame, my coming out.  As I moved toward the entry to the veranda, two OIJ police (the equivalent to our FBI) stalked toward me.  In a split second moment of indecision I thought of running into the veranda.  It was that moment that I saw my life pass before me, a vision of my body being riddled by bullets from automatic weapons holding me in the air even after my entire lower torso had been cut free by gunfire.  It was then that it struck me that it was probably not such a good idea after all.  Meeting the Presidents, Hillary and the OIJ would have to wait until next time.