April 2 through May 1, 2022
Vagabond: A person who moves from place to place without a permanent home and often without a regular means of support.
We crossed into Costa Rica from Nicaragua in April. At this point we had been exploring in Francine for nearly five months. The road had become our life and did not feel like travel any more. I had gotten used to my daily routine of researching where to sleep, eat, use a toilet, shower, do laundry, etc. We were always on the move, figuring it out as we cruised. I guess you could say we had truly transformed into vagabonds.
So, it made it interesting when we met friends and family for two full weeks of resort style chilling. I did not realize how strange it would feel to stop moving and researching every move. I was a bit stressed (OK maybe a lot stressed) about the thought of eating out often and spending more money than had become our norm, especially in the most expensive country in Central America. We had mastered our cheap camper meals to sustain long-term travel. However, our dear friends and family were on week-long vacations in Costa Rican towns with great restaurants and did not deserve to eat my rice and beans dishes (kindly, they all indulged in letting me cook a couple times). It totally made sense. I just was not prepared for how it would feel. It was a culture shock. Luckily, this crew already knows I’m loco and were patient as I worked through the adjustment of letting go of control. Runs along beautiful beaches and trails helped to calm the farm. Despite the challenge, it was incredible to enjoy beaches and Pura Vida with these beautiful people. Oh, and air conditioning! How we missed air conditioning!!!
We wandered from beach to beach, checking the surf and playing with energetic kiddos. We lazed by pools catching up on days gone by and reminiscing our long histories together. We felt love and gratitude that these people would spend their time off and money to visit us along the journey. It is the raw and honest friendships and conversations with these people that make us love them so. We also had a delightful random meet up with Irish John in Monteverde and reaffirmed he would be a friend forever (the night at the Magician Lounge in Nicaragua was the first sign we were meant to be).
Several of us took scars away as memories. Surfing beat up some of the boys, and a blue bottle jellyfish left lasting marks on me. While swimming in Tamarindo I felt a sting on my left arm and torso and looked down to see bright blue tentacles clinging to my flesh. Will was (fortunately) near enough to see my panic and swam over to unravel the beast from my body and rush me to the lifeguard stand to address the stings. I added to the scar collection by wiping out on a run a couple days later. I think Costa Rica wanted to make a lasting impression.
Not one hour after saying farewell to family and resort comfort, Francine decided to quit on the side of the road near Quepos. It was Saturday afternoon, and everything was closed until Monday. While Will called a brother for help, I ran up and down the highway in the rain, finally using broken Spanish to flag a taxi driver who kindly connected me with a mechanic. Hours later we were happy to confirm it was only a fuse. We hadn’t planned to stay in Quepos, but Francine decided we should explore for a couple days. We found a free place to park by the ocean. The sound of the waves breaking and rain pattering on the roof made us feel at home again. We met a local named Charlie who took us on a hike through the jungle that ended at a secluded picturesque beach.
With a new fuse we continued driving the skinny roads through banana plantations and palm oil farms. We hit the lush and beautiful oceanside towns of Dominical and Uvita. Crashing waves were our constant lullaby. Double rainbows highlighted the sky on rainy jungle beach walks. We swam under waterfalls. Our footsteps in the sand sent crabs scrambling in every direction. Sunsets and sloths stopped us in our tracks.
We met expats Randy and Greg at a wine bar. They were an amusing American duo and we camped in Francine at Randy’s for the night hearing crazy stories about working in submarines and marrying the same woman twice. It was back to life on the road, and we didn’t stay any place very long.
Looking back on the time we spent with friends and family, we realize we have become the Cousin Eddy from National Lampoons Christmas Vacation (“Yep, that there is an RV…It’s a good looking vehicle ain’t it.”). Never have I identified so much with someone who made me cringe for decades. We have learned we are comfortable in motion and living in our car. The luxury of resorts with AC and amenities don’t feel normal at this stage in our journey.
With new-found pride in becoming a Vagabond, I’ll sign off with this beautiful quote that hits home:
Motion is deep within me
I move with the rails
With the planes
I move with the rising steps to see
The next level come into view
And feel its ecstasy