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.
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.
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).
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!
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.
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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