First Costa Rica Post: The Journey There (Drama and All)

**I am posting this a few days after I wrote it because of a delay in wifi acquisition.**

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20 July 2015

Well, I am on the plane to Costa Rica as I type this! I said I’d blog, so here I am! The good news is that I already have a travel story to tell; the bad news is that I have the story because of a crazy dramatic experience!

Because I know how verbose I can be, I’ll get right to it so this post doesn’t end up taking you five hours to read!

I need to skip all the emotional stuff about leaving and the next chapter and all that for now because I just can’t really process it all at the moment. So I will start with the airport, which is where the drama ensued.

Mom, Dad, and I went to the airport super early because I was checking so many bags. Now, I need to mention that the other day I sent an email to the group of new teachers who are also arriving in Costa Rica to see how many bags everyone else was bringing. One girl mentioned that she was flying United, and there was an embargo on San José, which meant she could only bring three checked bags (my plan was to bring four). I checked the United web site (from my phone, an important detail that will come into play later in this post), and I called to find out if the embargo applied to me as well. At first the woman on the phone said I could only bring two bags, but when I was incredulous, she was all, “oh never mind, you just have to pay $150 for extra bags.” I continued to check on my phone, and the web site continued to tell me it was $150 per extra bag. It said nothing about an embargo. In hindsight, perhaps I should have researched more, but c’est la vie, right?

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Proof that it says nothing about an embargo.

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And I have the correct date and flight info!

So we went to the kiosk and began the checking in process. And, sure enough, it would only let me check three bags. I asked a United representative, and she explained the embargo. I said I got what she was saying, but I was frustrated that there was nothing about it when I checked online and called (and I had just checked online in the car on the way to the airport, so it was up-to-date information). We started to go to a repacking table to reorganize my stuff, when the woman said to give her my boarding pass. She rescanned it, and it let her print out a fourth tag. She was all, “I didn’t do this, but you have an extra tag.” I thought she was my favorite person of all time. As it turns out, she is now my biggest nemesis.

So, instead of repacking my bags, we went to the bag drop line and started giving them my bags. Everything was going along swimmingly until we got to the Fourth Bag. Fourth Bag would not scan. Mind you, bags 1, 2, and 3 had already gone down the belt into the great abyss. But alas, Fourth Bag remained.

A United attendant came over to help, and she seemed confident that she could straighten things out. She disappeared for a while, and when she re-emerged, she had my fourth tag and a plan! Once again, I thought I had met my favorite person of all time. And once again I was wrong.

When she realized I had four claim tags, her evil twin presented herself. She basically yelled at me about the embargo, which I explained I knew about, but the kiosk gave me the fourth tag. She scolded me for not paying for Fourth Bag, and I explained that the kiosk didn’t make me. She angrily stormed away, and when she angrily stormed back, she ripped off my baggage tag with reckless abandon and told me they could not check Fourth Bag. Apparently our next move was to go to baggage services and have them recall my bags so I could start the repacking process. Mind you, the suitcase that was not checked is the one with most of my clothes. Those are probably a little bit important.

Before going to baggage services, however, I felt compelled to speak to the supervisor and at least express how frustrated I was that the web site didn’t have the embargo listed.

**end of typing on the plane; now I’m writing this from the couch in my new apartamento!**

The supervisor at the airport didn’t believe me that the embargo wasn’t listed, and he proceeded to pull up united.com to show me in black and white. I explained that I checked from my phone (because really, who uses a computer anymore??), and he snidely insisted that I was on the wrong page. The woman took my phone and tried to find the embaro notice on the mobile page, but she finally admitted that it was nowhere to be found. Finally I stormed away in tears, muttering something like, “I just need to not be near you right now!”

We moved down to baggage services and put in a request to get my bags pulled back upstairs. The woman there was extremely nice, despite the fact that I was in tears and probably not at my most polite. She recalled the bags and said they’d take about an hour to come back, so we found a spot to sit and wait by the carousel. Well, to make a long story short, we waited over an hour and they never came. I started getting more and more stressed because our time buffer was quickly shrinking. Let’s not forget I still hadn’t gone through security (it was 4:45 and boarding was supposed to start at 5:20). Needless to say, I was extremely sweaty.

I finally decided to just leave my last suitcase (which was pretty much more than half my clothes) and get on the plane. I had no other choice. I said a tearful good-bye to my parents (who were total champs through this whole ordeal, by the way) and headed up to security. But alas, the drama did not end there!

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The good-bye selfie! You totally can’t tell how stressed we were!

“There’s no way that carry-on will fit,” the security lady said to me. “You need to check it.”

UGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! She wouldn’t even let me on the security line. I basically just felt helpless and just stood there. My parents were coming up the escalator as I hyperventilated, and we did a little brainstorming. We had a smaller tote bag (thank you, Fusco!) that was basically empty, so I just opened all my bags and did a crazy triage-type reorganization session on the floor. I made some bad decisions like bringing my iPad but not my Kindle, not taking a sketchbook, and not grabbing at least one shrinkwrapped bag of clothes from my bigger bag (which means I currently have no shirts, sweaters, bathing suits, workout clothes, or rain gear). But hey, I did what I could do, picked up my belongings (breaking the handle on my tote bag in the process), and sweatily got in line for security.

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The bag that I took instead of my carry-on suitcase! Thank goodness for packing cubes!

The rest is history, as they say. I made the plane with time to spare, and the best part was meeting another Lincoln teacher at the gate. We were in the same row and chatted during the flight, so that was exciting. It made me feel better to have someone with me, especially because once we landed in Costa Rica, I immediately started sweating again and got all nervous like I always do during the first couple days of travel. Fortunately, my new friend Tracey speaks great Spanish (although she says otherwise) and safely navigated our way to the hotel.

That was pretty much the end of my crazy and dramatic day. It was stressful for sure, but I keep reminding myself that it’s all just part of the adventure. I will survive without the stuff I don’t have (or buy cheap replacements to hold me over. The fact remains that I am meeting great people, teaching in what seems to be an amazing school, practicing my Spanish, and doing the one thing I’ve always wanted to do. The rest is just details.

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13 thoughts on “First Costa Rica Post: The Journey There (Drama and All)

  1. I have an idea if i still come down in Sept and I usually only bring 1 checked bag if somehow we can meet up at the airport and then give you that bag you had to leave behind? I should know in a week or 2 if Im still coming and dates. I know Ill be flying into San Jose.

  2. Oh my goodness!! I was almost crying, too, and I’m only reading about it! Talk about frustrating! But I love your attitude, way to look at the bright side. You’ve got this!

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