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  • Writer's pictureJoanna

Livin' la COVID Loca

My day began like any other… had a meeting in the morning, ran some errands around town, swept and mopped my floors, packed up a last few last minute items (typical)… then jumped into my parents vehicle and took off into Coquitlam to catch the skytrain headed for Vancouver.

I had dinner with my cousins in Yaletown... and was a little concerned about the gluten I digested, as it hasn't been sitting well with me lately and I'm suspecting intolerance! If I'm wrong, I'm wrong. If I'm right... I'm about to embark on a pretty crappy flight.

PS ~ I still managed to pack too much and already, this dumb pack is too heavy for me to haul around. I think it's time I explore the grown-up wheels option.

As I mentioned previously, I was absolutely filled with trepidation, anxiety and fear of the COVID unknown. I was 100% positive I would be stopped at check-in and refused boarding, due to missing documentation. It was stressful, to say the least and it was consuming me.

What if I didn’t do my research?

What if I missed something crucial?

What if I'm not allowed on the plane?

I felt I had thoroughly researched the entry requirements for Costa Rica, but admittedly I had only just skimmed over the prerequisites for Mexico, as I was only using it as a temporary layover. An hour and a half, to be precise.

I had competed my online Costa Rican health form, I had my official QR code from both countries confirming my health. I am double vaccinated with more than a few pieces of proof. My passport is valid… I have airline tickets showing I will be leaving the country within 90 days. What else could I possibly need?? … beside a stupid COVID test… and although there was chatter in the lineups, I highly doubted it was required, considering people are fleeing Canada for Mexico right now, due to our vaccination rules and requirements.

But… what do I know?

Vancouver Airport was eerily quiet. So was the train to get there. Dead.

It was genuinely creepy.

At one point, I glanced up at the International departures board and there were about 5 flights scheduled to leave.

Nothing was open. Nary a convenient shop. Nary a lounge.

Me no likey.

Give me back normal.

As it turned out, my worry was unnecessary. The girl at the front desk of Aeromexico was (new, for one) very appreciative that I had every single piece of documentation she needed.

Sigh of relief.

Goodbye luggage… off I go.

Fingers still crossed.

My red eye was meh.

The first leg of Aeromexico was nothing to write home about, although I’m aware that’s exactly what I’m doing right now. Regardless of how many preventative pills I popped, my restless legs were at an all time low/high and the nerves that shot through them continued on for about 3 hours, preventing me from getting an ounce of a good night sleep. As much as a good night sleep is impossible, cramped into economy class.

The stewardesses seemed in a hurry to get us fed and then forget about us. They would pass by us all so quickly each time, they actually forgot our line of seats for earbuds, food AND drink! When we called attention to the neglect, it seemed to annoy them to have to bring the carts all the way back. Lots of eye rolls and sighs of frustration. They were constantly bumping into each of us, as they raced down the aisles. We were an obvious inconvenience for them. At one point, desperately needing to stretch my legs, I got up and made my way to the back of the plane. I was thirsty and it seemed a good opportunity to walk, go to the lavatory and get a glass of water. The stewardess was seated in their back compartment, consumed with her phone, and suddenly startled by my presence. Without budging, she motioned at the water, indicating I could pour it myself and go.


I made it to Mexico City… in the nick of time!

The authorities left us sitting on the tarmac for far too long, considering I had a connecting flight in an hour and a half. It didn’t end up mattering though… as my connection was delayed for some reason I am still unsure about. I thought they mentioned the weather, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary from where I was standing. They left us all in limbo, sprawled on the floor, confused, exhausted and waiting for boarding gates to open. We hung on every word coming over the loud speaker, though it was hardly decipherable. Approximately every 5 minutes or so, an extremely loud and muffled announcement would be made... in both English and Spanish, leaving us all a little bit more confused than we had been. The only thing I could really figure out from the message, was it was mandatory to wear your mask at all times.

Ya… nay danger.

I hate masks. I wore one the entire time. Vancouver / Mexico / Costa Rica... done.

Finally we boarded and we were all Costa Rica bound! The crew on this leg was much kinder and much more attentive!

So…the big question… What’s it like to travel right now during COVID?

  • This mask sucks.

  • The constant reminders to wear your mask sucks. It’s never ending. Signage, loud speakers, television reminders… it's everywhere you turn.

Once we landed in San Jose, we all had to wind our way through a series of about 14 cue barrier lanes. There was a sign at the very beginning of the line, warning us it might be 45-55 minutes until we were through.

... and 45-55 minutes, it was. But I’m here.

I met a few nice people while we waited. A couple of Americans standing behind me couldn’t believe this was my first time traveling since the pandemic. I, too, am baffled. They bought a place down here in January and this is their 7th time here so far this year!!!! WTF?

As soon as I successfully passed three bouts of customs, I collected my pack and made my way outside. I had originally asked the hotel to arrange a taxi for me, but considering I was 4 hours late, I didn’t put much faith into finding a “Joanna McBride” sign waiting for me outside. I just jumped in a taxi and headed to my home for the next two nights. The Fleur de Lys. I booked it because it was bright pink. AND it seemed nice. It appears to be located in the heart of a pretty cool part of San Jose... not that I would know, as I passed out as soon as I got into my room.

Did I mention my taxi driver was a cross between Evil Knieval and Mario Andretti?

Very impressive... kinda... maybe more scary as we dodged and weaved our way through dangerous traffic.

At first, I felt quite guilty for wanting to sleep… with the ‘get out and explore’ nagging away at me the whole time…but finally I put my mind at rest, knowing I was here for the next few weeks and could definitely afford a nap right now. Plus, the gluten I'd had wasn't sitting well with me and I needed some down time, lying down...

Out cold.

I did wake up and made my way to a nearby local restaurant called Nuestra Tierra. As I write this, I am here right now and there is a 2-man band playing at the front. The main guy is abnormally enthusiastic about his evening gig... and they have been jiving and drumming to a variety of Costa Rican upbeat tunes… as well as some old time show tunes. Right now, they are smack dab in the middle of Frank Sinatra’s "New York! New York!" and he is doing his best to lip sync in time with the sound of Ol' Blue Eyes…

Some of the other staff in the restaurant are making fun of him and crooning (howling) alongside for fun, but he doesn’t miss a beat. Not one beat.

I ordered a lovely glass of cheap wine and a tortilla aliñada, which was described as an exquisite webbed corn tortilla with sour cream and cheese. I also ordered corn on the cob, much persuaded and deceived by the delightful menu photos. It appeared to be sweet, plump, bright yellow and smothered with butter.

No. None of those things.

It was definitely not Chilliwack corn… that’s an affirmative.

It was more like cow corn… not that I’ve eaten cow corn, but that’s my assumption for the day.

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