It’s 5:51a.m. on our first morning in Montezuma, and I’m up, my mind racing with the excitement of our adventure yesterday and awareness of our surroundings.
To be clear, I’m usually up well before this at home, and it’s an hour earlier here anyway. But still. In terms of hours-of-sleep-that-would-be-normal, I should still be sleeping, like Max and the boys.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t start this out at the beginning, the beginning of our travel day yesterday, when Oliver woke us up at 3:30 a.m., puking all over our suitcase. We didn’t have to leave for our flight until 6:00, but we were goners, victims of pre-travel insomnia. We tried to sleep for a half-hour or so, then gave up. Max had remembered that we still needed to pack our passports, so the pre-travel insomnia was not in vain, but Robert was sleeping in our study. When we got him up, I went to grab the passports, and…que sorpresa! The passports weren’t in the file. I felt my heart leap, and immediately began consoling myself: It’s a five-week vacation, so what if we miss a week or two waiting for new ones? But, dang, were we panicked. I recalled that we had taken them to the post office to get Jules’s passport, and I couldn’t be sure that I had put them back in the file.
To cram a whole lotta agony into a short story, we found them in only about 15 minutes, and still got to the airport with time to spare.
The flights were delayed, but relatively uneventful. The plane was full of loud Gringos wearing gaudy floral T-shirts, headed for the resorts near the airport, and I was reminded that Costa Rica is not the remote place it was when I lived there. I noticed my mental attachments, my grasping for the second home of my memories, a place that doesn’t exist anymore. The kids were generally great. Jules—normally the happiest kid in town—sure is wiggly on a plane. He’s a full-time job for the two of us, so we’re glad that Liam is so happy to just sit there and read or watch a DVDWe were all exhausted by the time we got in our rental car and started out on the 5 hour drive to Montezuma.
Driving away from the airport was completely surreal. I lived here for a whole year in ’94, but haven’t been back now in nine years. Everything—the chickens in the road, the trucks passing on curves at 80 miles an hour, the hours of driving on dirt roads, the cat calls from men lingering on sidewalks—it was all completely comfortable and familiar, and brand new at the same time. I felt memories awakening, felt connected to a time in my life when I was bold and unattached, but at the same time more insecure and much more ignorant. To pass the time, I instinctively scanned the tree tops for monkeys, the mango trees for ripe fruit. The dust piled up on our skin and clothes, and I remembered the feeling, remembered learning to do it the Tico way, to close the bus windows even in the face of the stifling heat, to avoid being covered with dust.
The kids were AWESOME. They barely complained, dozed on and off (mostly off). I was so grateful, because if my aching butt was any indication of how they must have felt being bounced around in the back, they were really being stoic. At about 6:00, after 12 hours of traveling, we stopped at a “soda” near a ferry dock, and watched the sunset. There were no other foreigners there, and it felt good after the party boat that our airplane had been. We spoke lots of Spanish, and the kids ran around with the Tico kids, completely welcomed. When I returned from the ladies’ room after dinner, I found Jules in the arms of the waitress, who giggled and babbled at him, trying to get him to smile. As we left, the woman at the table next to us told us it was nice to meet us, and wished that God be with us on our way. The manager waved from the other side of the restaurant. And I felt vaguely like I had finally come home.
So this morning, we awoke full of questions for Khalida and Asan, everything from the normal kinds of questions you’d want to ask one of your closest friends you hadn’t seen in a year, to Where is the milk kept? to How does it feel to be locals here again? One moment at a time. My excitement is carrying me away.