The hills of San Jose, Costa Rica reminded me of looking at Tijuana from home in San Diego County. For some reason they also made me miss Thailand and my pal there, Pariny. Though only having been there a couple times, it had come to feel familiar and had already grown in my heart as the symbolic start of that crazy life plunge I had taken and was finally deep in.
There was always so much to figure out and a new excitement when starting to notice how much I already had. Finding my way toward being more laid back, I was proud of myself for embracing the idea of doing the best I could with what I had in ways such as being happy to wash laundry in the sink while full-well knowing they wouldn’t get as clean as I wanted. Also for exchanging US dollars into colones at the airport with the knowledge that, while the conversion rate would suck, it would be worth it to cover a little time in order to get my bearings and fin a place with better rates.
I was also slowly learning how to embrace self-care moments (instead of falling into the past reaction of feeling guilty) in experiences such as enjoying a mental break when being around those who spoke the same first language and, even more importantly, understand each other’s sense of humor. One of my favorite lessons was how most of the people I was likely to become close to were going to be less locals, as I had first thought, and more other travelers. They were the ones more likely to be in the same state of exploring, openess and learning. Another aha moment was how that lead me to realize just how much my future travel was likely to be impacted by those new friends, whether traveling together or visiting each other in our homelands.
When first getting into the country, it had been a surprise to experience a step back in mindset in the way that I noticed myself get a wee bit miserable, impatient and frustrated before realizing what I was doing and changing back over to moving slower in order to think things through, giving myself plenty of time and have an “oh well” attitude in regard to going with the flow. Any traveler can tell you just how often things go wrong when traveling. It haden’t taken long to be reminded of that and just how little control I had.
We all have our strengths and weaknesses. One of the ways adjusting to a new country had proven to present a little extra challenge for me was in the not realizing how much I was spending before grasping the conversion rate. It was invigorating once starting to figure it out but that moment didn’t typically come until a week or two after spending what I’d imagine to be close to twice as much as I would after. Extra not fun when dealing with bank drama. Once again, always something with travel…
The family of the Airbnb we stayed at that first night when leaving the Envision Festival had been amazing. By the time I left, I felt like I had been adopted. Thank God given that there had been a major miscommunication with my friends that had lead to my being unintentionally ditched the next morning. A blunder that was about to cost me a day and more unexpected expense. Fun, fun.
While I wouldn’t have chosen it as so, it was nice to still be there to have my moldy laundry done for a minimal fee (that I offered) and enjoy their company as they insisted I stay for lunch while while sharing stories about their daughters, a professor and a teacher, living in the US. I even helped the wonderful woman hosting me to add a translation app that was soon to be my main translation tool from that point on as well. I’ve had many travelers tell me how the best moments almost always come when unexpected. Spending time with that family was one of those moments.
Nervous about time once finally prying myself away somewhere around 3 PM, I finally caught an hour and 20 min bus ride (OMG that bus hurt my boobs) that ran late and caused me to miss the next one. Well, the next one I thought I was supposed to take. Not a happy camper, and definitely not in the mood to socialize, I chose a chill hostel for the night across from another fun and social option I had been considering directly across in order to decompress and write. A great thought until reality consumed that time with taking care of other stressful work and responsibilities from back at home. While that didn’t help my mood, what did was the sweet kitty who had been giving me love until accidentally rolling off my lap and onto it’s back. Fur-babies can always save me.
It wasn’t the best night but I did end up having the entire dorm room to myself. Exciting until realizing that I was too grouchy and wound up to sleep until 4 AM.
The next day, I kept the hot mess of it all going when unknowingly getting myself to the wrong bus terminal (which, in a positive twist, did actually end up giving me the chance to see more of the city with all that UBERing) before making it to the right one. It was kind of nice in the nostalgic way of reminding me of so many of the other cities I had gotten stuck in when in Thailand. For some reason I had always found a little romance and magic in those hot-mess moments.
A few hours in once having finally taken off on the right bus, I was loving the change in scenery to the much more lush green of tropical rain forest as we neared the Caribbean side of the country. Besides getting a little nervous when my stomach started to hurt for a bit (not to mention it getting uncomfortably hot toward the end of the ride) I was finding my way back to a bit of homeostasis. Especially once reaching the Rhasta-themed bus terminal in Puerto Viejo. Looking around at stray but healthy-looking dogs that I swore were smiling, my smile was back again as well. I had made it to what was to be my temporary home in Costa Rica.