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  • Writer's pictureJoanna

Ciao Ciao Pura Vida

Updated: Jun 22, 2022

So that was it… the finale for Costa Rica.

It just seemed like such an abrupt ending to a somewhat incredible month-long adventure. It had all gone by so quickly. Ya… some crappy times were had, but I refuse to allow those to overcast the good times. They were abundant.

I left Manuel Antonio in the mid-afternoon and headed towards Santa Ana, near the San Jose airport, to meet up with Caroline, Joni and Liam for our last supper.

We were all leaving the following day.

I decided not to mess around with my trip back to San Jose… and I diligently followed the recommended directions of both Waze and Google Maps. It would be so typical… and just my luck… to be lost in the jungle after dark again or bogged down in some random river, the night before I have to return the vehicle and fly away.

I knew my limits.

I didn’t always know how to remain within then, but I knew them.

Par for the course, I had to stop at the Tarcoles bridge again in order to charge my phone.

Of course I did.

This time I was less interested in crocodiles, and more concerned about getting to a percentage that would see me through to the city limits.

The struggle is real.

This family has really become my touchstone throughout my entire journey. If I wasn’t following them, they were following me… and eventually we just started working our travelling plans around where we could meet up next.

Lunch, dinner, drinks, ice cream, beach excursions, sightseeing… we did it all… and we would compare notes on what we’d experienced… as well as where we were going. I really grew to love this little family and came to depend on them always being around the next corner. They were always a mere text or town away… through all my trials and tribulations… and many troubles.

We all met in Tortuguero… when my computer had only just decided to begin its demise… and off we went from there.

… and don’t even get me started on my bestie, Liam!

Over a four week period, I watched this wee baby sprout into a toddler. His favourite toy became my pink, sparkle phone case… He spent hours either gnawing on it or throwing it on to the ground, repetitively. I probably should not have encouraged excessive phone use at such a young age, but who am I to deny a cherub of anything?

We opted for Italian… recapped on our journeys, stuffed ourselves to glutinousness… and then made our heavy hearted farewells. I promised to visit Germany for the Christmas markets, and they assured me Vancouver was next on their list of destinations.

It is always sad saying goodbye to those that you’ve met along the way. Travel can broaden your horizons, diversify your experiences and has the ability to make you more multiculturally competent… but it never makes saying goodbye easy. When you’re travelling, you really do meet some of the most fabulous people. They‘re the ones that make your experience unforgettable.

… sigh… I spent the night in a nearby “guest house”, so to speak. I can’t really come up with a more fitting or professional name for it.

Definitely not a hotel… nor was it a BnB… it was more along the lines of a small room in someone’s old house. Three of the walls in the room had been painted bright pink and the front window was adorned with shimmering gold curtains. It was a simple house- with a communal bathroom, lounge and kitchen. I believe the man running the place might have owned it / lived there… as I did get a quick glance into a very disheveled room with a fridge in the corner.

The place was in desperate need of a woman’s touch… and you could tell there was not a lot of love put into it.

Money maker? Yes.

Labour of love? No.

There were dried-up orange peels on the floor of my room. The door wouldn’t close properly. I had to sit sideways on the toilet to avoid my knees smashing into the wall. There was only one thin sheet separating me from the old, lumpy mattress, and it was not fitted.

… AND a spider bit my eyelid in the night.

I wasn’t overly impressed with anything… but I also had to keep reminding myself I had only paid $23.

… and it was only one night…

I was up early and made my way to the Payless Location, where I was brimming with joy to be finally handing over the keys… and ridding myself of rental vehicles for the forseeable future.

Yes… there had been good times.

(mostly with Bird)

Yes… there had been bad.


The attendant at the rental location, was a little perturbed that I had not contacted their office as soon as my vehicle had been broken into.

Yes… hindsight? Oversight.

I realize I was probably in the wrong for not alerting them to the damage done to the passenger side door lock, butin my defence… I was not in the frame of mind, at the time, to be thinking about anything except the police, the scoundrel and myself.

I was lucky. They only charged me $17 for driving my replacement vehicle to Monteverde. It was not exactly the exorbitant amount I was expecting.

A much needed bonus.

I guess if one were to concentrate solely on the bright side of life, then one might have to begrudgingly admit that my luggage would’ve been significantly heavier had I been made to pack my camera and computer.

Sunshine amid gloom.

Though… for the first time in my life, I must say I would’ve preferred the heavier pack. ☹️

Despite everything I have given away, or left in random locations along my journey… or lost… or had stolen… my pack is still ridiculously heavy. I fear there is still more to go. Many of my clothes will never again, see Canadian skies or soil.

Sometimes I get the feeling I’m starring in some kind of B-grade theatrical sitcom. A comic twist on dramatic adventure. I’m just not sure how much more sensational farce I can fit into one simple holiday! For the leading role, the pay is shit

I am now more cautious than probably necessary with all my other belonging… especially the important bits.

It’s like I’m stuck on a defective loop of continual assurance.

Passport ✔️

Wallet ✔️

Phone ✔️

Repeat… Repeat again…

I keep envisioning losing it all… and finding myself at an absolute loss of what I would do. My original plan to escape a crocodile attack seems like it would be easier to execute.

It would be devastating.

I have decided to dedicate an entire article (or book) to making traveling theft proof. How one can avoid being robbed and/or swindled… how to prevent losing identification/information… how to handle it and what one can do to make it easier if it happens…

My brain is in overdrive.

There will be light at the end of this tunnel. I am determined to create a positive outcome.

My flight was only 52 minutes from San Jose to Panama City… but came with its share of enough turbulence to scare us all more than a little.

Even our landing was rocky, as we teetered and tottered on the runway… and I couldn’t help but imagine how ludicrously symbolic of my misadventures it would have been, had we just tipped right over.

We didn’t.

Welcome to Panama and the beginning of incredible luck…


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