Back to the US

I slowly tick off the ‘lasts’ in Costa Rica. My last evening volunteer shift. My last time out surfing. My last home cooked meal from Randy. Before I know it, it’s my last day at Wild Sun Rescue Center.

My last day paddle surfing the reef break at Lajas. That’s Ezra and Nick already in the water.

May 26 to 28th, Sunday – Tuesday

When you do everything together with a small group of people, you start to feel like family. When I come down the stairs from my room with my fully loaded backpack to the common area, emotions are high. I last experienced this kind of togetherness work-camping at Badlands National Park in 2013. That was also a small work crew in an isolated area with few distractions.

Most of the Wild Sun crew, circa mid April

I hitch a ride in the rescue center van to Proyecto Hostel in nearby Montezuma. This isn’t the first time I’ve stayed here, this is where I spent the night before my visa run 3 weeks ago. Sadly, it rains almost continuously the two days I’m here this time. Proyecto sits right on the ocean and at the shore is a beautiful tide pool formed by rocks that is so relaxing to hang at when the tide is out. Hammocks hang everywhere, offering a fantastic view, or they would if it wasn’t raining (this photo is from my stay 3 weeks ago).

That calm water surrounded by rock is the tide pool

My last night though, the rain pauses near sunset, and those of us staying at the hostel are treated to a beautiful sunset rainbow.

The next morning, it’s time to travel to San Jose, where my flight leaves early on the 29th.

Nick also flies out tomorrow, and we meet up at 6 am to start the long bus and ferry trip. I get to see Jeremy one more time as he brings Nick in the van, and I thank him for starting Wild Sun and doing such a wonderful thing for the local wildlife. It turns out I left one day too early, the first of the scarlet macaw chicks hatched the day after I left the center!

Before the eggs hatched, photo by Ezra Mendales. It was a quick capture because it’s important not to disturb them too much!

Montezuma is located on the Pacific coast, San Jose is in the interior. It feels like it should take a long time to cross half a country, but Costa Rica is tiny compared to the US. Nick and I get on the bus in Montezuma which takes us farther up the Gulf of Nicoya. To be honest, I’m not sure exactly at what town we cross the gulf on the ferry. The bus drives up onto the boat, and we get out and have a snack and watch from the deck. Rain is moving in again, and it shrouds the hilly landscape.

Sure enough it starts misting while we’re on the ferry, but not hard enough to go inside.

At this point I’m so use to being damp that I hardly notice. It’s been so humid for so long now that my clothes are starting to smell musty despite being clean and pulling them out of my bag every night, it’s a good thing I’m headed back to Phoenix where the dry air should take care of this problem. The ferry also has jaunty Spanish dance music playing, which lifts my spirits.

On the east side of the gulf we get back on the bus, which drives into the nearest city, where we need to switch buses to continue to San Jose. Again, I don’t really know what’s going on, and I’m thankful that Nick has done this trip before and knows enough Spanish to get by. I’ve already decided that when I come back to Costa Rica someday, I’m going to learn some Spanish beforehand. When I was coming here, paying for the local airline to take me directly to Tambor was convenient and I didn’t need to know a word of the language to get to Wild Sun, but it was also kind of pricey. Meanwhile, taking the bus and ferry for a total of 7 hours of travel comes to less than $30. A pretty good deal.

The San Jose International Airport is actually located in Alajuela, a cute little tourist town.

We arrive around 1 pm and stop first to check in at our hostel, Mitamon Airport Hostel, about a 5 minute drive from the airport. After that we enjoy a surprisingly good late lunch at a local BBQ joint before heading to the center of town. I only get to see the Cathedral of Alajuela from the outside, but it does look majestic.

Early in the evening we go to the nearby cinema to watch the latest Marvel movie, which is being shown dubbed, and in English with Spanish subtitles. We opt for the later. For a foreign country, it’s surprising to me how much in Costa Rica is familiar. I recognize a lot of restaurant and hotel names, a lot of the same products I buy in the US are available here. It has undoubtedly made this trip more comfortable, but is a little sad too. I wonder what it was like before everything got so westernized, if that’s the right term (correct me if I’m wrong). Nick first visited Costa Rica 10 years ago, and he says a lot has changed during that time.

I go to bed early since my flight is early. The sound of rain on the tin roof of the hostel lulls me to sleep.

May 29th and 30th, Wednesday & Thursday

Many of the people who work at the San Jose Airport speak English, which is fortunate for me because Nick’s flight isn’t until the afternoon so I’m on my own now. Getting through security and to my gate is relatively easy, and around 7 am my plane takes off on time. Not that I can see much because (not surprisingly) it’s raining. I’ve loved Costa Rica and am glad I stayed a few weeks into the rainy season to watch everything turn lush and green, but now I’m ready for some sun again!

My first plane takes me to Miami over the Gulf of Mexico. I don’t know what this island chain is, but it’s so pretty from up above. Seeing how the ocean changes hue as the water depth changes is really neat.

On the plane from Miami to Phoenix, we cross over some small thunderstorms, and I witness a rainbow from above. Also really cool!

By the time I collect my pack from baggage claim, it’s getting late in the afternoon. Theoretically I could go pick Bertha and Tribble up from the storage lot still today, but if anything is wrong it’ll be too late to do much about it. Instead, I call an Uber to take me to a nearby hotel, and enjoy air conditioning in my room for the first time in months. Actually I have to turn the A/C off after a bit, because I’m so use to being hot all the time that I get too cold! I also unpack everything in my bag to get rid of the musty smell in my clothes. It feels so good to be truly dry again.

I’m at River Crossing Storage & RV at 9 am the next morning when the office opens. I’ve been asked by several people if I worried at all, leaving my home and everything I own in the hands of a storage lot for 3 months. Honestly, I rarely thought about it at all while I was in Costa Rica. Maybe twice a month the thought would enter my mind: “I wonder how the truck and trailer are doing…”, but I never dwelt on it or let it affect my mood. It wasn’t really until the plane ride back yesterday that I spent any time thinking on it, and that was mostly to decide whether I should go get them yesterday or today.

There are things in life you can control, and things you can’t.

We have no control over what happens to our RVs and vehicles if we decide to leave them in a storage lot, and for some people that’s a very scary thought. For me, it’s kind of freeing. It’s out of my hands – so why dwell on the ‘could be’s’? What I COULD control was all the stuff leading up to driving away from that lot back in February. So I did my research and picked, not the cheapest place, but the best rated one. I spent hours deciding what should come with me and what should stay. I developed a rapport with the managers of the lot to ensure I was leaving my home in good hands. I spent the whole morning before leaving carefully putting everything in it’s place and preparing truck and trailer for an extended time away.

And I still forgot something, I’m only human after all.

I did not unhook the battery in Bertha before I left and it wasn’t exactly a new battery. I walk out with one of the managers, keys in hand. She’s covered in dust from the desert wind the past couple months. With trepidation I open the door, insert the key and turn…

And she starts right up. Everything looks and sounds completely normal, pretty amazing for an 18 year old truck with 195,000 miles and the original engine. The only thing that’s off is the front passenger tire is low on air. Not flat, but low enough that driving on it would probably damage it. Fortunately the storage lot’s maintenance man is around, and he gets out his compressor and fills it up. This is why it was a good idea to wait until regular working hours to pick up the rig, if I’d come last night there wouldn’t have been anyone around to help with the tire.

Leaving the storage facility, time to get back on the road!

In surprisingly little time, I’ve got the Hiker Trailer hitched and Bertha’s nose pointed north. The high in Phoenix today is in the 90’s and I’d rather avoid temps like that if possible (and this being Arizona and not Costa Rica, that’s definitely possible). I zip on up 17 and in a few hours am boondocking outside Flagstaff at over 6,500 feet with a view of snow at the top of Humphrey’s Peak. Ahh, it’s good to be home!

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At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and travel full-time before retirement, and share stories of my adventures (and misadventures) to inspire future nomads and armchair travelers alike. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.


  1. Roxanne Charlson on June 20, 2019 at 6:42 pm

    Welcome home, Becky! Have a great summer!

    • Becky on June 26, 2019 at 1:41 pm

      Thanks Roxanne!

  2. Christi on June 20, 2019 at 10:55 am

    Hey Becky! Love your posts! My daughter is going to apply for Wild Sun next year!

    Just another example of how you inspire us – I was in Colorado this month for business and took some extra time to go to Leadville. You posted about it some time ago and I put it on my bucket list. Well worth the trip! Thank you for continuing to inspire us all!!


    • Becky on June 26, 2019 at 1:41 pm

      Cool! I hope she enjoys her experience as much as I did.

      I’m glad you’re finding IO inspiring, Leadville is such a neat place.

  3. Ed in Reno on June 19, 2019 at 7:33 pm

    Nice trip Becky! The islands are Cayos Aguardiente and Cayos Avalos approx 100 miles due south of Havana Cuba. 21.5676397,-82.2013131 You flew over Cuba about 10 minutes after you took that photo. As a diver, I am always looking down from airplanes….(smiley face) I dove in Panama a few years back, on Coiba island off the pacific coast.

    • Becky on June 26, 2019 at 1:39 pm

      I’ve learned something new today, thanks Ed!

  4. Seana in AZ on June 19, 2019 at 7:24 pm

    Ahhh you cut your hair!! Haha looks badass 🙂 are you still in AZ? Im camping up by williams and would live to say hi! Glad you returned safely with wonderful memories 🙂

    • Becky on June 26, 2019 at 1:39 pm

      Thanks Seana! Nope, I was only in AZ for a few days, had plans to meet up with Xscapers friends in Colorado. Maybe next time!

  5. Diana Graham on June 19, 2019 at 6:08 pm

    I so enjoy your blog!

    • Becky on June 26, 2019 at 1:38 pm

      Thanks for reading Diana!

  6. Shredder on June 19, 2019 at 12:01 pm

    Glad you’re back from a great adventure! Looking forward to your future posts!

    • Becky on June 19, 2019 at 4:31 pm

      Thanks Shredder!

  7. Jay Dee on June 19, 2019 at 11:43 am

    Re: Group pic———

    Were I 20 years younger (OK…maybe 30….LOL), …….and as a GUY………I’d make a beeline for that rescue place. =) “Surf City” come true. LOL

    • Becky on June 19, 2019 at 4:31 pm

      Oh yes, there were plenty of jokes about that at Wild Sun, particularly from the male volunteers. It seems more women are drawn to wildlife rescue, I’m not sure why. Although when I left the ratio was more even, we had four new male volunteers come in May.

  8. Deb ( on June 19, 2019 at 10:20 am

    The Duolingo app is a great place to learn Spanish.

    • Becky on June 19, 2019 at 4:29 pm

      Yes, several people have recommended it to me now. 🙂

  9. Michael McShane on June 19, 2019 at 9:27 am

    Welcome back. Thanks for sharing your adventures.

    • Becky on June 19, 2019 at 4:28 pm

      Thanks Michael, and you’re welcome.

  10. John on June 19, 2019 at 9:17 am

    Not “Westernized” but “Americanized”, would be a more apt descriptive word. We have done it not just to Costa Rica but to much of the rest of the world as well. I have watched the change in Europe from the way it was in the early 60’s to what it has become today.

    • Becky on June 19, 2019 at 4:28 pm

      Ahh, yes that might be a better term John.

  11. Rhonda Markham on June 19, 2019 at 7:20 am

    What a wonderful experience you had in Costa Rica! Your photos have been beautiful and commentary has been delightful to read…thank you so much. Now you can reacclimate yourself to your sweet little home and begin travels anew. Happy to see you made it back safe and sound….Rhonda

    • Becky on June 19, 2019 at 4:26 pm

      Thank you Rhonda and I’m glad you enjoyed this adventure! It’s been great stretching Tribble’s legs (wheels?) and there are indeed plenty of new adventures to write about.

  12. Terri on June 19, 2019 at 7:10 am

    I am so glad for you that you were able to have this experience, and just think, it was made possible in part to the fact that you are living nomadically and inexpensively! I can only imagine the culture shock you faced coming back into the US. I know my brother and sister in law came back from their overland trip through South America for my nephew’s wedding and stayed in the US for a month and they said it was like overload when they would go into Wal-mart and other places. Ah, Flagstaff….beautiful Flagstaff…. I miss it. (Oh, and love the hair!!)
    Terri recently posted..Why, hello there! (READ: the blog is not dead.)My Profile

    • Becky on June 19, 2019 at 4:24 pm

      It was strange coming back to the US after being in Costa Rica! It’s funny really, it’s rather like the feeling I get when going from camping alone to camping with a group of people (or vice versa), but amplified. Which kind of makes sense, they’re both a form of culture shock when you think about it.

      Flagstaff was beautiful, I hope you get the chance to visit again someday.

      And thanks, one of the managers at Wild Sun did it with her partner’s beard trimmer, lol! That was an interesting afternoon…

  13. Y Knowles on June 19, 2019 at 6:24 am

    Welcome back. So glad you had a great trip to Costa Rica!

    • Becky on June 19, 2019 at 4:19 pm

      Thanks Y K!

  14. Jodee Gravel on June 18, 2019 at 9:57 pm

    I can feel how “aired out” you feel getting out of the humidity 🙂 Beautiful pics of the final sunset and the clouds from the plane.

    • Becky on June 19, 2019 at 4:19 pm

      Heat I can stand but that persistent humidity really does me in! Glad you enjoyed these photos.

  15. Linda Sand on June 18, 2019 at 3:33 pm

    Welcome home. Love the new hairstyle!

    • Becky on June 19, 2019 at 4:18 pm

      Thanks Linda! It’s so easy to take care of.

  16. RGupnorth on June 18, 2019 at 1:39 pm

    Nice trip summary – your back in a nice area of CO.

    • Becky on June 19, 2019 at 4:18 pm

      I sure am RG! And I’m here at the right time of year – it’s so green and pretty.

  17. Rob on June 18, 2019 at 11:35 am

    Welcome back.

    • Becky on June 19, 2019 at 4:17 pm

      Thanks Rob!

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