Empty airports, red eye, the single few chairs occupied by closed eye travelers awaiting their boarding. The airport this morning hadn’t even begun to bustle with the flicker of life, distant planes landing and empty stalls, specifically where I want to acquire my boarding pass. I wait and flip through a book that a beautiful girl I know had given me. The Power of Habit, deconstruction of our most inherent capacity, the under workings of why we react, our habits. Unmotivated, sleepy, the reading is stunted, I look around and see other glassy eyed people, a few from a church going on their mission trip, “Belize in hope!” it says on their shirts, other unassuming individuals trying to fight against their heavy eyelids.
After acquiring the boarding pass, I make it to the plane with a friend, and we begin our Costa Rican journey. I build up a steady underlying layer of anxiety in the plane seat, knees rammed up against the seat in front of me, I try to sleep but end up merely increasing the soreness in my neck. My travel buddy snores next to me, I look upon in envy. Around me, the cabin is dark, a light here and there marks other people who either find their minds best honed in the dark, or perhaps unable to sleep. I listen to music and close my eyes.
When I arrive in the airport, It’s not perfectly obvious I am outside the states, everything is as it should be, the restrooms are down the hall, people of all nationalities walk around. After taking a few turns through the immigration system, I can see towering green mountains surrounding the airport of San Jose. A police woman walks outside wearing reflective aviator glasses, looking badass and reminding me of a female version of the T1000 from Terminator 2 in his cop suit.
One stamp on my passport later, and a shuttle to the car rental place, and I am overcome by the different-ness of where I am. We drive past a park, people playing soccer, little horses slowly making laps around it with excited kids on their backs, cars veering every which way to get to where they need to be. The roads are chaos. It’s aggressive, instinctual driving, I knew this was going to have a slight learning curve, but as always I am very excited to partake. We laugh as I dart through cars and traffic, I woulda inspired serious road rage home but here it seems to be how it goes.
Language barriers slow the car rental process, my phone doesn’t work and I can’t get my confirmation number for the car, I use their computer slightly terrified that every password I enter is being recorded to be used to steal my identity. We show the clerk our map that shows the location of the bed & breakfast where we are to stay, it was the wrong place, he corrects us and we’re off. The freeway is a bit scrunched, there are tons of motorcycles, and the vehicles are a mix of brand new with very old, some that I was amazed to see functioning at all.
We arrive in a neighborhood, everything is behind iron gates, fenced in, I look at my pal and we wonder if we’ve entered a warzone. We hypothesize about past riots after soccer games, or government coups, and after talking with the homeowner he un-excitedly reveals to us that the neighborhood is very safe, and that it’s just the style. The b&b is cool, banana tree and hammocks in the backyard, random people here and there.
We take to the streets after settling to grab a bite, everyone looks at us like we’re the weirdos, I kinda like it. After walking through a restaurant with some unspectacular looking grub, we find ourselves an Argentinian empanada place, we communicate with meaningful gestures with its proprietor, she takes a few of the bills in my hand as I panic to try and recollect the exchange hoping she didn’t just take a small fortune, it checks out and we eat the most delicious deep fried meal I’d ever had, with a blueberry drink that tasted like shit.