I'm not convinced sleeping until just after midnight counts as "sleeping right through". Midnight here is 6am GMT. Damn you, jet lag. A couple of hours messing around on the iPad and I fell back to sleep, only to wake up again about 6am local time, after much prodding from Helen. But this is not a terrible time to be awake: we've been informed that life in Costa Rica wakes at dawn, and finishes early.
What definitely wakes at dawn is the wildlife. Our shower room has an open bit of wall at the top - we think this room is part of a new wing, and not rightly finished just yet - and through it we heard a remarkable amount and volume of many different bird songs. Quite bizarre really.
The shower itself has two outlets: one at foot level, and one at regulation above-head level. There are three taps. Helen informed me first that they all just turn on the bottom outlet, but then after investigation she'd worked out that the left tap is cold, the right tap hot, and the middle tap switches where the water comes from. Apparently this is a temporary arrangement, as when I go in the left tap spits out scalding hot water, as does the right. There is much experimentation before a usable temperature is found, which then turns freezing cold in an instant mid-wash. Muchos grr.
Right. Breakfast. I'm expecting egg-based dishes, Helen thinks something more simple, perhaps just some cold cuts. Turns out there's a full menu with loads of choice, in a lovely sunny courtyard out back. This is excellent.
There's a big sign, in case you don't know where you are.
There's a big statue of Juan Santamaria, the founder of modern Costa Rica or something. Here, a man calls to us and we almost bat him away with a "no, we're not buying anything and we don't need a taxi" bit of brusqueness, but he actually just wants us to take a photo of him posing with the cannon.
This is Grecia. He's famous because he was rescued with only half a beak, and they 3D printed a prosthetic one, and got some adhesives scientists to figure out how to keep it on. He has some spares in case it falls off though.
Caiman. The crocodiles next door were unseen.
This guy was sitting down and bouncing his torso the whole time. He was next to the cage of invalid animals with broken wings and stuff, who regularly fall out of their trees when trying to move. It's quite sad.
One of our many lizard chaperones.
That's a sloth. He looks like that the whole time.
There are two ocelots. They are beautiful.
Very daft ostrich with its head in a food bucket.
This guy isn't captive. He was just flying about having fun. I didn't get any better photos because FIVE other people were in my way, Helen being one of them. Go look at her instagram.
The large-testicled tuffeted eared marmoset. There were loads of these, and some tamarin. They were hyperactive and loads of fun. And large testicled.
I AM A VERY PROUD OWL.
Always bloody plotting.
So, yes, a beer. Solo la cerveza. After which we leave, just in time for a bus to go past - the wrong way - piloted by the friendly driver from this morning. He recognises us and gives us a hoot and flashes his lights. What a guy!
Across the way is another bus stop to go back. There's already two people there which we take as a good sign, and sure enough a bus turns up after a few minutes. I pay, in Spanish again, and now have way too many coins. It's more crowded than this morning and 10 minutes into the journey, on a road full of garden centres, we run into trouble: a small accident ahead has left a car sprawled across the road and nothing big can pass. After loads of people give up and walk, including a guy on crutches, those of us left onboard are treated to a reversing bus, doing a three point turn, and a diversion through the badlands of outer Alajuela.
There don't seem to be any badlands, mind. Everything seems pretty safe and cosmopolitan and affluent. Perhaps a country with no military can afford to give all its citizens a decent standard of living?
Back in Alajuela we walk to the hotel, this time noticing that there's a shoe shop almost every other business. Honestly there's like 50 or so, there must be. After a bit of chilling we head back out to go to a restaurant for Tex Mex food, a vicious margarita and some local beer. It is all excellent. Well, the beer is OK, but the food is fantastic.