Costa Rica: Day 12 San Jose & Departure

At least the morning started slow.

Since it wasn’t a long trip from Manuel Antonio back to San Jose, we didn’t head out until closer to noon. Instead we started the day back on the beach. We went into the national park and got to relax on their stunning white sand beaches. I swam a bit but mostly went and explored the rock pools along the side of the lagoon. The sun was ferociously hot, and Sarah and I ended up opting to head back to the hotel a little earlier than everyone else. That way we could clean up and pack up slowly and in air conditioned comfort.

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The beach in the national park.

The rest of the group joined us in ones and twos. The last members arriving only after trying to take the route along a spit of land back to the public beach but being turned around by signs warning of attacking crocodiles. Cleaned up and packed up we all got back on the bus for the drive back towards reality.

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Part of our group on the beach. Photo credit: Dabney Jean

Most of us slept or watched the scenery go by. Though I had been fine for most of the trip, I managed to get a cold just as we hit the outskirts of San Jose. We said a tearful good bye to Gustavo and Felix at the hotel, some of us heading off for different accommodations, most of us staying on for one more night.

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Our last dinner together.

We went to the bar across the street one last time. The food was excellent–something we hadn’t tried the previous two times we had been there. The play list was the same. Nick from Australia and I sang the Killer’s Mr. Brightside again, the same way we’d done the first night of the trip. We had all come full circle. It was hard not to wish that the next morning we would just start again at day one.

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Our bill for the night! This is in Costa Rican Colon, but seeing numbers like that on a bar tab will still stop your heart until you do the currency conversion.

Some went off to sleep (early morning flights) and some came over for one more night of Bar Don Julio. Sarah and I discussed how we should actually open a hostel on the beach and name it The Embassy, and have a Bar Don Julio as part of it. We’d serve community dinners right on the beach and the bar would have a shot menu of 18 shots named for all 18 people on our trip. I haven’t quite given up on this dream. Maybe one day I will be back and I’ll make Bar Don Julio a reality.

A new day dawned but Sarah and I weren’t flying out until the afternoon. A lazy morning where we really just wanted to get on our plane and go. It felt weird just hanging around with nothing to do. We saw people from our group sporadically through out the morning, and then again at the airport. There had been flight problems for a few people earlier, so some ended up flying back to Panama City with us.

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Cheryl in the San Jose airport. Photo credit: Cheryl Chong

Connecting out of Panama, we left the last of our group for different destinations. Sarah slept on the flight home, I read my book–something that I hadn’t done much of during the trip. Wheels down in Toronto. Customs, baggage claim, and then the 40 minute trip back home. Sarah would be back at the airport the next morning to fly out to Alberta where she lives most of the time. We had heard that Calgary had gotten snow while we were away and she was not looking forward to the climate shift. I would at least have the weekend to re-adjust before it was back to work and back to my real life once again.

I truly did fall in love with Costa Rica on this trip, and so did Sarah. When we’re not having great days we still talk about going back. We still laugh about the things we did and talk about the people we met. As I write this I am thinking once again about my beach, complete with black sand and crashing waves. Behind me is my hostel and bar, and inside of it a community of travelers who have come to love this place as much as I have. It’s a wonderful fantasy, but more than that, it is how Costa Rica actually feels. Don’t believe me? Go see for yourself how amazing it truly is.

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