Bad Country

The vast majority of these next seven months I will spend traveling alone, however, my last week in Costa Rica I was fortunate enough to have a travel buddy. Brandon flew in from Colorado and met up with me in San Jose for a cross-country Costa Rican road trip. The first half of the week was fairly smooth with the exception of me constantly fighting with the GPS, him getting bit by a scorpion and me subsequently having a panic attack because of a newly discovered scorpion phobia. Overall, it was nice to have a friend along for the ride and a welcome change of pace from traveling alone.

There was one day, though, where everything seemed to go wrong. Halfway through the week, we half-heartedly left the cloud forests of Monteverde for a six-hour long drive to the coast of Mal Pais. For those who don’t know, Mal Pais translates into Bad Country. My dad jokingly sent a text stating he hoped the place was better than the name. Unfortunately, in the first 24 hours, the translation was spot on.

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Over the treetops in Monteverde, our favorite stop on the road trip

The drive, surprisingly, was fine and unlike the first day of the road trip, I did not take us over an hour off the intended route (while I will 100% admit that I am a horrible navigator, I still blame that on the GPS). After hours of Latin music and Rihanna, who Costa Ricans seem to love, we finally pulled up to a beautiful beach house in the sleepy surfer town. We were shown around the house and informed that both the laundry machine and the TV were broken. That was no big deal, however, when I pulled out my phone to send a whatsapp to my parents stating that I was safely in the next destination, I realized that the WIFI was also broken. Given the fact that I needed to finish the online component of my teaching certification, finalize plans for Cuba and tell my parents that I was safe meant that not having WIFI was a bit of a problem. No worries, we were told, someone would be over to fix it soon.

About twenty minutes later, as we were getting ready for dinner, a middle-aged man showed up and started working on the WIFI. The man spoke no English, only Spanish, and so I was the designated translator, not that I knew much vocabulary related to the internet or technology. Essentially, I was useless but I was trying. And so was he – desperately. To be honest, though, it was clear that he had absolutely NO IDEA what he was doing. He kept pulling up Japanese anime cartoons that described how to fix Internet routers. They weren’t helping. He kept trying and trying but the signal wasn’t working. He got so desperate that he called over his two kids, ages nine and six, to serve as translators because apparently I wasn’t doing a good enough job. Finally, several attempts later, something worked. His relief was mixed with shock as we had full WIFI signal and drove off to dinner.

After returning from dinner, I walked by the laundry room and noticed that it was completely flooded. Not sure what to do, Brandon started sweeping out the water while I called the caretakers of the house. Within minutes, they were there grabbing the broom out of his hands and shooing us away. A little while later, they came back and informed us that the laundry machine now worked but the air conditioner was leaking from the ceiling. They would be back tomorrow to fix it. Cool.

In the middle of the night it started to rain. Due to the rain (which didn’t seem too strong) the power went out. With the power went the AC and throughout the remainder of the night the interior of the house heated up to the toasty 90 some degrees outside. Of course, WIFI also turned off with the power.

At some point the next morning, the power came back on and the laundry room had flooded again. We left for breakfast only to be flagged down on the gravel road leaving the house that there was a problem on the street ahead. Not sure what it was, we continued only to see a huge semi truck had sunk into the ground from the rain and was stuck on the road blocking the only exit to the main street. Awesome. Thanks to Brandon’s incredible driving skills, though, we were able to drive up the side of the road on a slight hill and narrowly pass the truck to get to the street. By narrowly pass the truck, I mean really narrowly pass.

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The conveniently stuck pick up truck that blocked the only exit into town

The truck would stay blocking the road for another day and the laundry room continued to flood frequently for the remainder of our stay. Looking back at all of the speed bumps of the first 24 hours in Mal Pais, though, we both realized how little of a deal they all were. In fact, as each ‘problem’ came up we laughed and wondered what would be thrown at us next. None of these were serious issues only minor inconveniences that we are less accustomed to in the States. It was a great lesson for both of us on how to go with the flow, problem solve and laugh at the little stuff.

Overall, the road trip was great. We explored places and did things that I likely wouldn’t have done on my own. Now, I’m back on my own and ready to take on the next several months solo!

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