And then the wheels came off…

Costa Rica Sunset

Have you ever had one of those moments where you wish you could rewind time? I don’t have them often as I mostly believe every experience is a learning curve. Or at least I’ve conditioned myself into thinking that, so I don’t go into a full-on meltdown every time something catastrophic happens.

I stood shaking and crying next to our work landrover, staring through a hole with jagged edges – the place a window should be. The glassy crystals lay across the seat, covering my very normal looking rain jacket but something was very wrong with this picture.

Having crossed Nicaragua’s border in the early hours we were tired, so tired. We were making our way back to our Costa Rica office having been on the road for nine hours. A quick loo stop was the plan and maybe some food but I dived out of the car at an innocuous roadside restaurant about an hour outside San Jose. When I came back my colleagues had left the locked car to sit outside and order food, metres away. I was gone minutes, but it only takes minutes, seconds even for someone to change the course of your whole future.

My stomach churned as I realised my bag was still in the locked car and alongside it a pick-up truck filled with men, five of them. I’d seen these men before, at the border earlier that morning, each wearing a neon t-shirt. Lime green, neon pink – I’d chuckled to myself about their lurid fashion statements. In hindsight more like bright deadly animals, poison dart frogs, warning their victims. As I walked to the car, the pick-up truck sped off and that’s when I found myself staring through the hole where a window once was. My bag was gone as I knew it would be.

The bag that never left my side, was now winging it’s way on a Costa Rican highway with new owners undoubtedly delighted with their catch. You see that bag had everything in: my past, present and future. Not just expensive metallic objects, they were things filled with content from the rural communities I’d been staying with. They were my lifeline to escape my current prison-like existence and they were my future. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, a friend, or someone I’ve bored with my life plans then you’ll already know I’d planned to travel and freelance. Donating my time and experience to the community projects I came across was my future, or so I thought.

I made the tough decision to leave Costa Rica, deflated and exhausted. Maybe that wasn’t the right thing to do, but it felt like it was. I’m always looking for signs just to check I’m heading in the right direction. All the signs seemed to be telling me to go home, regroup and rethink.

11 Comments on “And then the wheels came off…

  1. Oh no. Oh dear. So sorry to hear about that! Good to have you back though, for a while. The wheels are not truly off. I am sure you will regroup and emerge stronger!

    Sadly though, it is the kind of thing that one just has to expect in that kind of a situation. Not because you can’t trust people, or because you are in a new Land, but because adventure means that unknown unknowns will happen. There are the highs that are higher than any high, and the deepest darkest lows. You have been brave so far, just for starting this. You’ll be braver from now on.

    As I have always said, if I can ever help, do let me know.

    • Thank you! Yes you’re right and I’d been blessed with amazing luck for so long. I’m ok now and excited about my new direction. Keeping my fingers crossed and believing in fate! That’s very kind of you and I’m looking forward to catching up now I’m back.

  2. I am so so sorry to hear this Jo but agreed with Sami, it’s nice to have you back. Gutted for you as I can only imagine how much the contents of that bag meant to and symbolised for you.

    Please let me know if I can do anything.

    • Well I know you speak from experience Nirave and it is totally gutting. So many personal things too that can never be replaced. But what it has shown me is there are so many people around me cheering me on and for that I’m so grateful!

  3. i know this sounds quite trite but you’re safe. Are you planning on a return to the UK? Stay safe and keep dreaming and travelling x

    • I’m back Marc and after two years of living away I’m staying put for a bit. But the wanderlust won’t keep me still for too long I’m sure! x

  4. Oh, wow. 🙁
    I can understand a bit about the “personal things” part.
    I didn’t really travel like you, but I was on vacation with my motorbike, 3 weeks on my own and I collected bits and pieces where ever I was staying, keeping everything in the cases on my motorbike, they had locks and people were so nice all the time so I was sure nothing would happen overnight.
    And then one morning the whole motorbike was gone with all the little things I collected and I only have the memories now. Then I flew home instead of riding home. *sigh*

    • That awful empty feeling when you realise everything has gone! Sorry you felt that too. Has it made you act any differently?

      • A terrible feeling, yes. For some days I felt like it was somehow my fault…
        Well, I haven’t been on vacation with a motorbike since, but I have been away taking public transport, with only a backpack. I try to have all necessary things with me (money, credit card, contact lenses *g*) but I throw my backpack into the luggage compartment like everybody else and trust that noone getting off earlier than me takes it.
        So no, I think I don’t act any different…
        But in future (with a motorbike) I will take all things with me and not leave anything on it during the night.
        Hope you are doing OK with your health! Best wishes! 🙂

        • You’ve done well to remain so trusting! This was my 4th incident – 3 at home in the UK & I do believe the vast majority of people are inherently good, I’m definitely more cautious.

          • I think if 4 incidents had happened to me I would be a bit worried too… Keeping my fingers crossed, that you already had your share and that nothing will ever happen to you again. 🙂

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