We first started realizing it when people were boarding the plane (as we sat high and mighty in 1st class) and all of the Costa Ricans kept coming up to her or saying hello. I thought, “either this lady is famous or just really, really popular. She literally* knows every person in Costa Rica.”
Well, luckily we had our handy dandy smart phone and Neil looked online & said, “she’s the president of Costa Rica.”
I made Neil take this clandestine pic, but I was still a doubting Tomas. (see woman pouring over the Washington Post in the background).
She slept most of the flight (must be exhausting running a country), so I didn’t get a chance to verify…. until she woke up and everyone kept coming up to her & asking for her autograph & picture.
So… finally… after Neil kept poking me in the ribs…. I tapped her on the shoulder and the only thing that came to my mind to say was, “are you the president?” She laughed and confirmed. She was indeed the head of state for the nation we were flying into.
Strange world in 1st class.
We had a short conversation, in which she told me to get out of San Jose as it is not “the most beautiful place that Costa Rica has to offer,” and then she plowed back into the Post.
She was whisked off by her entourage when the plane landed but, for that short flight she was just eating bowls of Rocky Road ice cream with the rest of us avian bourgeois.
In retrospect, I wish I had come up with something a little punchier (or more intelligent or at least flattering) than “are you the president?” But, in my defense: the touristy guy next to her most definitely did NOT catch on that she was the first woman president of this Central American nation and kept stumbling over her to hit the loo and I just didn’t expect a president to be flyin’ solo on a random commercial flight from Florida.
It would have been helpful if they would have had pictures of her (like this one in San Jose) covering the walls of the Miami airport. Then I would have been more prepared.
* I think this is as good a time as any to break this news to you: the definition of literally in the dictionary has been amended to include virtually. I literally had a cow when I learned this.