As our plane began to descend, an excited energy pulsated through the cabin.
We all dutifully complied with the flight attendants’ request to put our tray tables and seat backs up to their upright and locked positions.
Costa Rica, here I come!
I’d been planning my Costa Rican summer adventure for months, and, finally, it was a reality.
Not so fast.
The excitement was short-lived when, suddenly, the Captain’s voice came over the loudspeaker.
“Folks, we are being re-routed to San Jose. The airport at Liberia is closed due to a large hole in the runway.”
WHAAAT?!! No, no, no, this was not in the plans. Hello, I had a shuttle scheduled to pick me up and take me to my rental in Tamarindo. I had a beach to walk on, seafood to eat and sunsets to view.
The man seated next to me was just as indignant.
“Why don’t they have more than one runway?” he complained to his wife.
I took a deep breath and refrained from a know-it-all response about how when I had traveled to Costa Rica some 20 years ago there was no airport in Liberia. We had flown in a six-seater single-engine plane and landed in a field.
And then I realized my internal dialogue was just as annoying as my neighbor’s external complaints.
Although I am seemingly laid back, I have a *slight* issue with control.
I love to plan. I can create a strategy for just about anything. I’m good at figuring stuff out.
What I’m not so good at – and what I’m learning to be better at – is leaning into uncertainty. And trusting everything is going to be OK.
So I had a little Come-to-Jesus (CTJ) with myself as I impatiently stalked the baggage claim area for our flight’s bags.
“I am grateful we are safe. I am grateful for this opportunity to practice patience and letting go of control. Yes, plans got derailed, but you will get there, Kate, and you are really lucky to even have this experience.”
That wouldn’t be my only CTJ over the next eight hours.
Planes, buses and automobiles
I won’t bore you with the all the nitty-gritty details, but here is the CliffsNotes version. Arrived in San Jose. Waited 45 minutes on tarmac to deplane. Made it through Immigration in record time only to wait two hours for our bags to be unloaded to baggage claim. Breezed through Customs. Took a four-hour bus ride with passengers from other re-routed flights to the airport in Liberia. Caught a shuttle from Liberia for an hour plus ride to my rental. Found out the original unit I rented had flooded so I was moved to another condo.
Oops. Probably more detail than you needed, but you get the point.
Making the best of it
Eight hours of additional travel gave me some unexpected reflection time.
My biggest revelation? Clearly I needed more experience in relaxing into uncertainty. I do believe that challenging people and experiences shine a light on the the areas where we need to grow the most.
Truthfully, it wasn’t so bad.
I had a fun exchange with a group from Chicago on the four-hour bus ride. We were seated in the front rows and had the best views of the lush scenery, gorgeous sunset and the daring motorcyclists sharing the two-lane highway.
A woman from Australia rode with me in the van to Tamarindo. She decided to relocate to Costa Rica — sight unseen — from Bali. Her plane had been re-routed to El Salvador. So, it could have been worse. Again, gratitude.
Costa Ricans have a saying, “Pura Vida,” which literally means pure life. But it’s much more than words – it’s truly a way of living in the present, not getting stressed out and going with the flow.
My entry into Costa Rica was a trial-by-fire into Pura Vida living, but a great reminder of why I embarked on this adventure.
To slow down. To be more present. To be in nature. To have an experience.
So, here’s to the Pura Vida life. I’m sure there will be more lessons served up in patience, trust and being grateful.
But for now, I’m going to enjoy walks on the beach, glorious sunsets and stuffing my face with ceviche.