I step off the plane in beautiful Costa Rica and proceed to immigration to receive my first stamp in my passport. Afer nearly an hour of winding back and forth through the line, I step up to the counter and speak with an immigration officer and receive my stamp. Next up is to retrieve my luggage...or so I think. I anxiously watch as the conveyor belts go around and around and around until it becomes apparent that my luggage hasn't made it to Costa Rica with me. I dreadfully walk over to the customer service desk where I have my first experience speaking Spanish outside of the US as well as my first experience with the "Pura Vida" way of life. After just a few seconds, I realize life here is indeed much more laid back and that my lost luggage isn't a big concern of theirs. The customer service representative simply slides me (and the others from Detroit) a form, asks me to fill it out, and continues to text on her cell phone. I fill out the form, slide it back, and quickly adapt to the "Pura Vida" way of living and think "there's no sense stressing because there's nothing I can do about it" and I begin towards the exit.
I exit the dark airport to find a large group of taxi drivers fighting for customers and chauffeurs holding signs with names on them. Yep...one of those is for me! I make my way through the crowd, constantly warding off the barrage of taxi drivers begging for my service, and find the Tico (Costa Rican) holding my name who is taking me to my hostel. The drive from San José to Turrialba is beautiful but it takes much longer than expected due to severe weather (more about this in a future post). After a long day of airports, flights, and car rides, I arrive at the hostel with only the clothes on my back and whatever was in my carry-on backpack. Seeing as I have no clothes or toiletries (always take the essentials in your carry-on) and have no idea when or if I'll get my luggage, I decide to go to the grocery store in town to pick up some essentials. The hostel owner, hostel manager, and two Dutch guests also need to go to the store so we all jump in the owners truck and head down into town. We arrive at Maxi Pali, a grocery chain owned by Walmart, and part ways to do our shopping. I roam the aisles looking for essentials and some snacks. While waiting to leave, everything suddenly goes black. The power has gone out. This is fairly common here (and in developing countries) especially with the weather recently. Eventually, we pile back into the truck with groceries in hand and head back to the hostel. I take a nice hot shower in my private room then fall asleep to the sound of torrential rain on the metal roof.
Fast forward 2 to 3 days later and a German lady from the hostel and I are standing in our raincoats at the bus stop in the torrential downpour waiting to go down into town to explore. While waiting for the bus, a green truck slowly drives by and yells something out the window. Neither she nor I understand what the males said so we point to the hostel which is across the street so they could speak to a native. I see the truck slowly pull into the driveway and two males step out of the truck. The passenger walks towards the back of the truck and I see him begin to grab something out of the bed. Lo and behold I recognize the object and it's my backpack! What a coincidence that we are standing outside waiting for the bus at the exact time they're trying to locate me and the hostel. I walk across the flooded street and happily sign for my luggage. While this isn't how I wanted to start my first solo trip abroad, it's a great reminder that some things are out of your control and being flexible is a part of traveling. ¡Pura Vida!