My dear friend Caleb talks about traveling as oftentimes being “type-2 fun” in which “type-1 fun” is fun where you are having fun at that moment and you are aware of the fun as it is happening. Type-2 fun is the kind of fun that’s experiential and sometimes difficult, but recounted later with increasing “do you remember when…? That was insane”s. Fully agreed.
I also find traveling as the kind of fun where you look for those moments where you recognize that something is happening and it’s not going to happen in your life again. That’s why I travel, why I live abroad, and why I meander.
Meagan arrived late on Friday night to check out bits of Querétaro before we journeyed to Mexico City to fly to Costa Rica. Our hostel stay in Mexico City was pleasant, and James Bond was filming his next film a block away. So that’s a one-time experience. Related: I love urban metro systems. The Mexico City Metro is definitely type-2 fun.
We flew into San Jose on Monday. Arriving to San Jose, as I recalled from last time but was again reminded, is type-2 fun. It’s an exercise in complete chaos.
Last time I flew into San Jose (alone, with a few-year lapse in my Spanish usage), my arrival went something like this.
Cabbie: Need a ride?
Me: Okie dokie.
Cabbie: Where to?
Me: The bus station in Alajuela, which will take me to La Fortuna.
Cabbie: Yeah, OK, except it’s a holiday, so none of the buses are running.
Me [unaware, naive]: aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhggguhhohgod
Cabbie: No problem. I’ll drive you around for 45 minutes making you think I’m taking you into San Jose.
Me: Okie dokie.
Much time passes.
Me: I am unaware or unsure of what to do or how to proceed.
Cabbie: No problem! I’ll take you to this dirty and terrifying hostel in a terrible part of town and abandon you in the middle of a thunderstorm. Also, I will tell you that you need to give me the equivalent of US$120 before I will let you out of my cab.|
Me [robbed, naive]: aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhggguhhohgod
For the record, the remainder of that trip to Costa Rica was incredible, but I was understandably apprehensive. We eventually found a cab that took us to the wrong bus station, then another to the side of the Pan-Am Highway, instructing us to just hang out for an hour and a half and flap our hands at the bus that would come by labeled “Monteverde.” Somehow, it worked, and we wound our way to through mountains to Monteverde.
Immediately off the bus I fell into a large, cement culvert. My bag landed atop me, piled and bleeding a bit.
We woke up and took a bus into the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.
Cloud forests are not rain forests. They sit at elevation in a foggy mist 90% of the time, leading to super green foliage and striking flowers. The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve sort of straddle a mountain range from which, on a clear day, one can see both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Our day was foggy, but a moment which will never happen again occurred near the peaks, where one could stand on one side, serene and calm, and then move to the other, where 40 mph winds rushed up the western side of the range.
We meandered our way to the bus, but first stopped at a hummingbird preserve off to the side,where we encountered another once-in-a-lifetime experience. Those birds cared not at all about flying into our hair or feeding inches from our face because THEREWASSUGARWATERTOBEFOUND. They wove in and out, between our heads, sometimes four or five on one feeder.
In the afternoon, we toured a coffee/sugarcane/cocoa plantation, at the end of which one was able to drink lots and lots of coffee, so I was in a happy place. We ate cocoa nibs crushed with cinnamon, clove, chile, and sugar. That’s the pura vida we were looking for.
Tomorrow at 6:00 AM we’ll hop a bus to the highway and then hopefully flag down someone driving to Liberia because there are more moments to encounter. Life is good.