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.