On my last night in San Juan del Sur, I tried to juggle spending time with all of my newly made friends. It didn't work.
It's been difficult here, trying to bring different friend circles together, when they may have no interest in meeting each other. I began to question whether I was being too much of a people-pleaser.
The day I left to head back to Costa Rica was emotional. I'd traveled the night before on a rocky truck ride to Evan and Nic's surf ranch and caught a ride into town on their way to the beach that morning. Watching Sage and Brent pack their bags to head to the volcano killed me. I was jealous I could no longer join the adventure, furious that I was returning to work and winter weather, and devastated that I might never see my new friends again.
Goodbyes in tow, I made my rounds quickly and found a taxi. The local bus would've taken a day to get to my destination and I needed to reach la frontera and Liberia before dusk.
When I reached the border, the customs agent asked to see my ticket. I had no idea what he was talking about. I put on a innocent smile and explained I didn't have a ticket, and that I didn't know how to get one. I was confused and beginning to scare. Was I going to be taken away? Sent back to Nicaragua? Arrested? What ticket is he talking about!?
Since Nicaragua was a last minute trip, I didn't do as much research as I did with Costa Rica and didn't realize that the visitor regulations were a bit more strict than Nica. I needed to show my return ticket and prove that I would depart Costa Rica at some point, although I didn't do that when I flew in. What's funny is I did indeed have a return ticket but didn't have it with me, and at the moment didn't understand that the exit ticket was what the customs agent was referring to.
Well, by the grace of the universe he decided to stamp my passport and let me go through anyway. Great security. It must've been the dimples! Sweating profusely from fear, nerves, and the rising afternoon temperature, I reentered Costa Rica, feeling like a veteran traveler. I knew the right bus stop and route necessary, and (from earlier experiences being stranded with Adaobi), knew which hotels and hostels to try out for the night.
I found a single room in a nice garden just before dusk and had enough time to run and grab a bite. At that moment Mother Nature brought her wrath, and my glee towards safely crossing the border by myself quickly turned to pain, tears, and nausea. I rushed outside to find food and painkillers and rolled myself in a ball that night, alone, missing it all already.
I barely slept that night. Anxiety filled my spirit. Will I miss my plane? Do I want to miss my plane? Should I move here?
The Costa Rican morning quickly came and I grabbed some fruit for my trip. I exchanged the last of my money before getting on the bus. Pura Vida!, I yelled. Wishing all those at the bus station, who I came to know so well, good health.
At the airport I ran into a guy I met when I first arrived. He went to Nicoya for a surf camp and apparently banged his head and got a concussion while out there. They had to transport him via helicopter to a better healthcare facility. He seemed all good now. It was nice to be recognized after such a while. It was even nicer to have someone to share my sadness with.
The end was here. It was as if someone had just died. I felt empty. Knots in my stomach, I locked eyes with dirt-ridden backpackers, who could read my pain. I didn't want to ever return home. How crazy is that? Is that normal?
I came to Costa Rica for a much needed vacation: a break from an overworked job I wasn't crazy about, a stress reliever from having just moved apartments again, and to satisfy my latest travel itch. Instead I got a confidence check. I got an impromptu trip to Nicaragua. A taste of lands where people are happy with their country and grateful for the small things. An opportunity to bond with amazing people. An opportunity to hike and swim and surf and ride and explore the wonders of our Earth.
I've grown immensely. Choosing to see the good in all and eliminating negativity for as long as possible. Sometimes I think it's quite a utopian notion but I'm willing to ride it out.
I know it's ultimately my choice to go home. We always have choices and we let society pressure us into making decisions as per their standards. We seek to satisfy our families, bosses, loved ones, and even strangers... But what about us? What about me?
Sometimes I think this trip cleared my head. Other times I think it made things foggy.