Well, thanks to an unfortunate flight delay, Delta got me to Atlanta too late to make my flight to Costa Rica last night. So I made the best of my night in Atlanta — which, much to their customer service credit, Delta took care of with no prompting from me — by catching up with an old musical compadre.
Early this morning I was back at ATL, and made it to Costa Rica this time — a few minutes early even. Carolina Hines, one of the conference organizers for EXPOSOL where I’m speaking, picked me up and whisked me off to a meeting with officials from CAMTIC, the Costa Rican Chamber of Information and Communication Technologies. From there we shot back to the hotel so I could check in, change clothes and place a quick call home via softphone. The hotel is positively luxurious, and even more importantly the internet connection is great!
It was very refreshing to talk about free software with Carolina as we drove around town — her background is psychology, not software. She’s super-passionate about free software but she understands well that for so many people around the world, free software is a tool for human freedom far beyond code, programming, and infrastructure. She advocates and brings free software to human rights groups throughout Central America and to places where the chief concern is not how to contribute back to a free software community, but how to use the software to secure basic human freedoms and break cycles of poverty. (Sure puts a lot of intracommunity disagreements into perspective, doesn’t it?)
Then it was off to a lovely cafe on the other side of town to have frozen cappuccino (NOM) and dinner (a hearts of palm salad wrap, NOM) with some members of the local free software community. We had a fantastic conversation about all things Fedora, about each of the attendee’s work in free software, and about Drupal which it turns out is as popular here as everywhere else I’ve been.
Everyone has been incredibly nice since I got here. Thankfully most of them speak good English, since I have no Spanish. It seems like it’s quite easy to get around Costa Rica with just English, but I still dislike the feeling of not having a smidge of local language. Maybe before my next visit?
Leo, one of the guys I met at dinner, gave me a ride back to the hotel and we talked about the car-centric culture in Costa Rica, working from home, and collaborating across wide time zone differences. Tomorrow I give my speech, and thankfully the conference is here at the hotel so I don’t have to be anyone’s burden to taxi around town. 🙂
I catch an early morning flight out on Friday — no rest for the wicked! — which should get me back to Washington DC at around rush hour time. Yay! So I planned a boondoggle around that issue. Instead of sitting in traffic for two hours to get home, I’m taking the Metro into Georgetown to have dinner with my dad and his wife.
I guess all these meals and ritzy and exotic places around the hemisphere would classify me as a jetsetter — if I weren’t such a schlub!