I’m going to be very honest – leaving was difficult. I was excited, of course. I had planned well, I knew I was going to hang out in 30 degree weather soon, and I certainly love an adventure. But for the hours leading up to leaving for the airport, I cried. A LOT. I think there’s a decent chance poor Adam thought I had lost my marbles because I was just going about my business as usual, but sobbing uncontrollably at the same time. This was made extra poignant by the fact that I am extremely logical and don’t spend a lot of time crying. Seriously, it was weird.
So, why all of the tears, you might be wondering. Well, as much as I love adventure, I also really love my family. I knew the girls would have loved Costa Rica, but the nature of the trip made it impossible to bring them along. I would miss them, but because of our custody situation, I’ve at least gotten used to being away from them, as much as I dislike it (they’re actually really cool people that I love hanging out with). But Linden…well, he’s just a baby. Adam and I have left him with my Mom overnight, but I’ve never really been away from him for any length of time. And that boy loves his Momma. But, to further my strife, I’ve actually never been away from Adam for more than 36 hours. The one time I tried, I ended up flying him in almost the moment I got to where I was going! I really love that dude. Seriously. He’s one of the best people I’ve ever met, and such a joy to be around. So, I cried. A LOT.
I decided to leave for the airport a bit early because I figured I’d be better off sobbing in the airport like a crazy person than walking around the house crying. So I got on my N95, hopped in an Uber, and started my journey.
Once I arrived at the (virtually empty) airport, I noticed that there were no agents at the desks and nobody at the informational kiosk. No problem, there’s a self check-in! But, no. It would not let me check in, no matter how hard I tried. So, I tried doing it online. Nope. Went to an agent in another section for information and he told me that the air Canada agents would be at the desk by 3:45. FYI, my flight was at 5:45, and they asked me to arrive three hours early! I thought I would try one more time online and, to my surprise and delight, IT WORKED! No. False alarm. It checked me in, but the boarding pass it sent said it giant letters, “THIS IS NOT A VALID BOARDING PASS”. Gee, thanks. So, it was just a waiting game to get things sorted. All part of the adventure.
While I was waiting, I was approached by a man who was also having trouble checking in, but more because he couldn’t figure out the app or the kiosk. I love helping people as much as I possibly can, so it was definitely a welcome distraction. As I helped him navigate the system, I realized that he had the same name as one of my best friends and took it as a good omen that everything was going to be just fine. I managed to help him check in and get his boarding pass and had a nice long conversation to pass the time until the agents were available to check me in.
As it turns out, the reason I couldn’t check in was because I was on an international flight and that requires an in-person check-in. I’m going to assume I missed that key bit of information in an email somewhere because I was distracted by all of the buttons saying, “CHECK IN ONLINE”. Aaaaaanyway, check in and security were a breeze and I had plenty of time before my first flight to Toronto to get a lot of work done (because, why relax when you can be productive?!).
A short flight later and we were in Toronto, BUT with such a short turnaround between the first flight landing and the second flight boarding that I had to speed-walk to the gate to get the just before boarding. Somehow though, even with only barely making it, I managed to have interactions with two very, very cranky people. The first was a lady in line behind me who was loudly complaining about the people in front of us holding us up because they weren’t prepared and that boarding this late was absolutely unacceptable. I very cheerfully reminded her that boarding wasn’t supposed to even start for five minutes, so we were still ahead of time and soon she’d be on a beach, so wouldn’t have to worry about it! After trying to fight me on it for a minute, she looked at her boarding pass and promptly decided that it was time to go for a drink.
Right after that, we started to board, but by zones (zone one boards first, then zone two, etc. I was at the front of the line for zone three when I heard someone yelling, “Hey lady! Hey! GO!” I looked back to see why someone would be so rudely yelling at another person when I realized that he was talking to me. “Hey, get moving! You’re holding everyone up!” I very cheerfully alerted him to the fact that we were, in fact, in the line for zones 3-6 and they were currently boarding zone 1. At least the people behind me seemed suitably appalled. Sigh…
On the plane, I hit the jackpot – a whole row to myself (for the second time that day)! I took a few minutes as we got to altitude to play some of the cool travel-related in-flight games and then laid myself flat across the empty seats for a much-needed nap, as I was coming up on 24 hours awake. Unfortunately, the turbulence meant very short naps and I eventually gave up on sleeping and hooked myself up to WiFi for the last two hours of the flight.
The landing was smooth, and the blast of hot, tropical air when I stepped off of the plane was like paradise. I made my way to immigration, scanned my health pass QR code (currently required by the Costa Rican government due to covid) and saw a look of worry pass over the agent’s face followed by, “Ummmmmm…you speak Spanish?” I told him as best I could that I only speak a little bit of Spanish, but I guess I said it well enough that he thought I was underselling my abilities because he proceeded to give me a long string of instructions in Spanish! I heard him say that they needed more information…I needed to leave and get on the bus…I needed to go to the office to get things fixed…then I needed to come back to immigration. I repeated everything back slowly to make sure we were on the same page and then navigated my way, in broken Spanish, to the office where I found out that my vaccine passport hadn’t been uploaded properly. Easy peasy. A quick scan and it was all fixed up, I was through immigration and customs, and I was ready to find my way to my shuttle and make it to Jaco!
I still had a couple of hours before the shuttle I’d booked was due to arrive, so I thought it was time to get myself some food. I walked through a sea of friendly fellas offering me taxis and found a little cafeteria where I could grab some salad and a beer. Once I sat down, I checked my shuttle reservation and realized that it had been pushed to the next day. With zero intention of living at the airport, I got help from a very kind man who got me a driver that would take me to Jaco for a good price. So, off I went in a car with a stranger in a foreign country (Don’t worry Mom – I got all of his information and made sure someone had it in case anything bad happened).
The drive to Jaco was quite something. Immediately, the scenery was breathtaking and I was solidly pleased about my decision to travel. To make things even better, my driver spoke some English and I had been practicing Spanish, so we were able to communicate to some degree. To make things even better, one of the first things he asked me was whether or not I liked beer. Of course, my answer was yes, and he stopped so I could get beer for the drive! Yes, you read that right. I definitely verified whether or not drinking was allowed in the passenger’s seat and then we were off on our merry way, me with a delicious, cold beer in hand.
We chatted as we went, doing our best to communicate (sometimes with the help of Google Translate) and somewhere along the way it came up that I was a photographer. About 20 minutes later, he yelled, “Pictures! You take pictures! Stop here at the river!” and let me out at a beautiful, picturesque overpass with a river flowing below, a few shorebirds, and two MASSIVE CROCODILES. My girls had sent me off with a list of wildlife to spot and I already had one check off before even reaching my destination!
After a beautiful drive down the coast, we reached Jaco, I popped in to the condo for a bit, walked downtown to pick up my rental car, made an appearance on The Jenn Hayward Show to talk about the trip, checked in with the family, grabbed a bite to eat and then promptly passed out from deep (but happy) exhaustion ready for a new day of adventures.