4/14-15: The Difficult Departure
This is always the hardest post of my blogs…leaving Paradise. We awoke to a brilliant sunrise in Flamingo and ate our fresh fruit and sipped cups of smooth coffee on the patio of the resort. We were soaking in the nature, the views, the aroma like it was water to a parched throat.
We moved to the lobby to discuss our plans to travel to San Jose where we met up with a couple who had been staying at the resort, Carmen and Peggy. They were from Massachusetts (Carmen by way of Italy) and, as we found out, enjoyed travelling to the exotic and adventurous lands. Carmen told me of his hobbies of creating harpoons and stained glass works, while Peggy and Jackie discussed our plans for the hotel boutique. Before we knew it, 2 hours had passed and Jackie and I had still not closed our suitcase.
Gathering our belongings and sealing up the room, I move the bags to the Hyundai and said our goodbyes to Joseph, Willy and Raquel, thanking them for their hospitality and gracious manners to us and the other residents. Knowing that our investment in the resort was in good hands, we head out for the Central Valley. There was a 4 hour drive ahead of us to San Jose, and a short stay at the airport hotel before boarding the 1:00 AM flight home.
The drive was indicative of the natural diversity of Costa Rica. Driving from Flamingo to Nicoya, the dry heat made its mark on the landscape, scorching the low grasses and allowing the succulents to remain green despite the dry season. Our arrival at Puntarenas begins our ascension into the Central Range, switchbacks through the jungles mixed with clouds, mist, rain and filtered sun. At the crest, we see the valley of San Jose, Escazu, Alajuela, Heredia, and the entire of the Central Valley. The slow decline down ends at our hotel across from the Juan Santamaria airport in San Jose.
The font desk agent, Fabian greeted us warmly at the front desk and checked us into our suite. It will be a short stay of only 8 hours before we have to catch the shuttle to the airport. I return the rental vehicle to the agency across the street and head back to the hotel for an attempt at a nap, which is not coming easily.
At 6:00, Jackie and I decided to walk over to a Denny’s (the All-American Restaurant) for a bite to eat, breakfast fare for me, dinner fare for Jackie. After our meal, we head back to the hotel in an attempt to get some rest before our departure. A couple of hours is the best we can capture, so we shower, assemble our luggage and head to the lobby for the shuttle. The lobby holds a luggage scale which we use to weigh our one check-in…it is now 50 lbs., although we have added nothing to the 40 lb. bag from our departure other than a stick of deodorant. Obviously, the scale is miscalculated.
The shuttle took us too quickly to the airport where we purchased our exit visas and headed to the Spirit counter to check in. Our bag still weighed above the 40 lb. limit and we had to pay the $25 surcharge, but if the extra cargo was warmth and memories, it was money well spent. The 1:00 AM flight was on time and not filled, so we found empty rows to try to get some room to sleep, but unfortunately, Jackie’s empty row was quickly filled with a young student travelling to Boston who had a fear of flying. Jackie comforted her to sleep, but lost her free row to lay down to sleep. She tried to join my row, but the sleep did not come easily.
A couple of hours later, we arrived in Ft. Lauderdale to clear Customs, which went without a hitch. But we had to re-enter TSA and the line at that time of the morning spanned twice the length of the terminal. Since we had time before our connector, we had the luxury of patience, albeit weary patience. I wish I could say the same of the others in line. It was a sad reminder that we were, in fact, back in the U.S.
Clearing TSA, and boarding our flight to O’Hare, it is now obvious that reality is happening. My legs are covered with trousers, and my feet are covered with socks and loafers…something foreign for 13 days…Jackie is carrying a sweater. So sad.
My local Chicago supervisor, Bethany, meets us at the airport for the drive to the office in Elmhurst where I got a few hours of work completed before heading back to Indiana. Jackie and I rescued our dogs from the kennel with the howls from Dip and the constant licks from Gadget, ecstatic to see their Mommy and Daddy. The remainder of the drive home was filled with wagging tails and grateful puppies, but knowing we are going to get the cold shoulders from our cats, who were cared for by Courtney and George, but abandoned by us…they will come around at feeding time.
4/17/13: While waiting to proofread and publish this blog, the reality of life in the U.S has hit with full force. Work is work, and I arrive to a full mailbox, voicemails ad nauseum, and hope that a week will be enough to get through it. But more sadly than that, an American tradition, the Boston Marathon was crippled by a bomber, our local schools are being terrorized by threats of violence to match Sandy Hook, and mail is being intercepted to a Senator and the President laced with Ricin. And the Congress fails to pass an ordinance to require background checks on the purchase of firearms.
For 13 days I was able to escape the violence, the threats, the fear, the political division and enjoy the peace and beauty God has designed for us. Soon enough, it will not be for a couple of weeks, but for my lifetime. I pray I will survive the short time until it is reality.