An Atlien Abroad
Two airplane bottles of Buffalo Trace and the plane lifts off out of the Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. Costa Rica bound for an extended stay amongst the Ticos and tequila. Moments ago, we were running for our terminal and now Josh and I are lounging several thousand feet in the air enjoying our first round of drinks. 6 months of waiting and now we're only 6 hours away from landing in the Costa Rican capital, San Jose. Cheers to big sandwiches in beautiful places.
Flying spirit is truly a spiritual experience; transcendence, acceptance of death, decent drink specials and the thrill of landing safely. "In my purest form, I'm nothing but a breeze", Peter Webb sings into my headphones as we descend into the Fort Lauderdale airstrip reminding me of how quickly we come and how quickly we go, an eerie reminder on a plane ride.
Airports are a strange piece of the space-time continuum. Everyone is running on their own internal clock fueled by caffeine, booze and a hint of sleep deprivation. We all are dressed in our air travel's best until the flight was canceled due to volcanic activity. Hint hint. Which is why we found ourselves in a five hundred person line waiting to receive our judgment at the hands of the all too faithful head of spirit airlines. All we can do is wait. Ain't nothing but time and money. Now a trip to Panama City, Panama after a half hour session of good cop bad cop with the spirit airline attendant. "Would you rather fly straight through a volcanic eruption?" She stated half-heartedly while she waited on her second manager to help accommodate our predicament. They informed us that our flight departs at 11:45 pm to Panama City, Panama.
Andy, our driver, to the beach from the airport, drove like a bat out of hell and laughed like an enthusiastic hyena. We landed on the deck of the Dania Beach Bar and Grill and before we knew it we were knuckle deep in a bucket of beer hatching a plan to make it from Panama to Playa Uvita, Costa Rica. The trek amounted to nine and a half hours by car, so triple that when you've got to take several different buses and make it through a border crossing. Then back to the airport.
Airports kiosks are a capitalist's wet dream. Consumption is the only commodity. Neck pillows, light sabers, water bottles there is no difference. Now there is even composite nostalgia on the television screens. Thank The Today Show. Also, I'm pretty sure I witnessed a woman masquerading as an infant's mother. It's not kidnapping it's just repurposing someone else's child.
After hours of wandering the airport, eating overpriced chillis and sleeping on the airport floor we finally made it onto our tightly packed spirit plane to Panama. Luckily in our interim, we met fellow weary travelers displaced by spirit; Katie and her seven-year-old Phoenix. They became our unofficial interpreters and Panamanian guides.
We landed in PC around 3 am hailed a taxi and made our way to the Albrook Outdoor Mall and bus station. There are rundown cinderblock buildings next to framed out high rises. It's easy to tell money is coming in, but it still has a foothold on the past. From there we hopped on a bus to David at 5 am. This was the first comfortable seat and a good bit of sleep we got since we started our journey at 5:30 am the previous day.
We awoke at a bus stop half way between PC and David for a breakfast break. I had a hearty helping of scrambled eggs and a chicken and cheese empanada.
Katie and Phoenix are a true blessing. Josh and I would have found our way, but they gave our adventure the guidance it needed. Originally from Atlanta, Katie has been living in Costa Rica for many years working as a real estate consultant. Her daughter Phoenix is a beautifully bright spirit; outgoing, generous and very curious.
Well rested and ready to take on the rest of our journey, we arrived in David around 8:30 pm and immediately hopped on a "buseta," that took us the rest of the way to the border where we jumped through the usual hoops of customs. After the long trek traversing the entire country of Panama, we had arrived at the Costa Rican border! A truly triumphant moment. Glory glory hallelujah!
We acquired our bus tickets that would take us to Playa Uvita and then had our first Costa Rican meal in the no man's land between the two countries. Fish, rice, and black beans never tasted so good. Now we wait for the bus that will take us to our new homestead for the next three months.
Written by Stephen Wilkins (@damngladtomeetcha)