behind the scenes....
A little geography and science lesson: Puerto Jimenez is located on the Osa Peninsula and in the Corcovado National Park, aka, one of the most biodiverse places on earth. Expect to hang out with all kind of birds (toucans!), monkeys, sloths, dolphins, whales, (...sharks), sea turtles, all kind of insects. (Not so) fun fact: it is also known as "Crocodile Bay", and my neighbour got bitten by a croco two weeks ago. Let's not forget to also give special credits to the rooster who made sure I was up this morning at 4:30am, and the bats who chose the roof of my house of all places to have a party last night (Bats are loud.) They say it's all part of the adventure, and I agree. (Sort of)
A little background... what is WORKAwAY?
My WORwAwAY experience
Monday, November 28th - 1pm
Back in the car, with Costa Rican Colones in my wallet, my driver takes me to what he thinks is "Osa Natural". He goes out to see if there is someone there and a gringo-looking (aka red-hair like me!) guy comes out (At this stage, I see hope!) As much as I love to live the full immersion experience, I'm relieved to find someone that speaks English. Even better, who knows my workaway hosts!! He explains that the laboratory (where I'm supposed to be staying) has moved to a different part of town, and that this is the old location. That's when he drops (the bomb....) "But your hosts are in San Jose right now, they told me they were going away for a few days" I FROZE. What?! It was 3pm. It was getting dark. I was literally in the middle of the jungle, and had no idea where to go. My hosts didn't tell me they were not going to be here when I arrived, and didn't tell me where they had left the keys either (had they left the keys!) Thankfully, my new gringo-friend had my hosts' phone number and managed to speak to her. She explained where the keys were, and he offered to take me there, so I hopped in his car and we drove down to the house where I would be staying. It's a pretty big house with dormitory type beds upstairs. All fun and games if you are sharing the experience with someone, but at this stage, it was raining very heavily, It was getting dark and I was going to be spending the night there alone.
I had only just walked into the house and gringo-friend was about to leave. Panicking at the idea of being there by myself, I asked if I could join him in whatever he was going to do since I didn't know anyone. He was super chill and invited me into his home, where I met his Costa Rican girlfriend, son and dad. They make chocolate for a living, and are absolutely passionate about the whole process. They told me all about their business, how they make chocolate, made me taste all kind of delicious products and showed me around their garden. Which was awesome, but I wish half my brain wasn't worrying so much about my housing situation at the time so I could had enjoyed it more. All I kept thinking was: "It's going to get dark in 2 hours, you have no idea where the town is or what it looks like, you need to buy food, make sure you find your way back to the house, and most importantly..... was there even electricity in the house? Light? Running water? I didn't have time to check any of those things in the two minutes I spent inside! As stupid as this may sound, my priority was to get a sim card: which would allow me to call my hosts, call for help if needed, call gringo-friend, etc.
Gringo-friend drove me to the sim-card place and helped me buy the appropriate one, etc, before leaving. I walked to the supermarket which was surprisingly civilized! I bought a fews tomatoes, cucumber, avocado and some bread. I figured a salad was the easiest option, at least I could prepare that using my swiss army knife, even if there wasn't any equipment in the house.
Step 192971: Finding my way back to the house. I had been walking for the past 20 minutes in the jungle, still no sign of the house, it was raining very heavily, I was soaked, not so much civilization around and it was getting really dark. I was getting exponentially worried. A car drove by and I stopped them to ask for directions. They said I must had walked past it as I was way too far. They offered me a ride, so the passenger (a 80ish yo!) hopped off and jumped in the back of the pick up truck! I hope I can jump on the back of pick up trucks when I'm 80 too. Costa Ricans are clearly doing something right to keep fit. Once in the car, they keep telling me how "muy peligroso" (very dangerous) it is for a woman to be walking alone where I was. (Thanks guys, not helping!) They drop me off at the house and I suddenly feel very relieved to see the house that I felt so anxious about 2 hours earlier (it's all a matter of perspective).
Step 29712: I walked into the house pep talking myself. "You've got this! At least you have a roof over your head now". I tried the light switch: no light. At this point, it was already very dark so had to use a lamp torch (Always pack a lamp torch!) to try every single light switch praying that one would work. Eventually I found a plug upstairs that worked, and managed to turn on a light. So you have to choose: charging your phone and being the dark or light! Next: was there water? It was very hot (30 degrees) so before anything I jumped in the shower to refresh. Obviously, no hot water. But hey, at least there is running water! (starting to see the positive in the little things!) The shower is half broken so only a few drops fall out but it will do. At this stage, it's very very dark everywhere except for the bedroom upstairs. And I can't be bothered to head down with a torch to prepare some dinner. So dinner is a protein bar (the last one I had packed before leaving!). I take a first bite and that's when it hits me (problem number 189§27§19): This is going to make me really thirsty. Oh no. WATER. I knew that water here was not drinkable, so I thank god for the half empty (or half full?) bottle of water left in my bag. Will save it for when I am very thirsty and head to the supermarket in the morning to buy some more. Against all odds, I see that there is a (locked) wifi connection. I try to look for the rooter with a torch and fail. I try a random password, and it works! It's all about the mini victories! At this stage, I get to FaceTime not-so worried family, and my brother suggests that I collect rain water! Good idea. Cookie points for the little bro.
I walked down the stairs with my torch when I realize that the wooden stairs are completely wet, but with no light, it's difficult to spot where the water is coming from. I give up and go back upstairs, who needs water anyway. Continuing the pep talk, "Just go to sleep, wait for the morning when there is light, then you will be able to figure everything else out", I lie down for about 5 minutes, when a loud noise makes me jump. It sounds like it's flying, and it sounds like it's in the room. I unplug my phone charger to turn on the light (remember.... had to choose between the two!) but can't see anything. Go back to bed. I try to imagine what animal this could be: rats? but it sounds like a a bird too... oh no... a bat. That's what it is! As long as the bat is not in my room, I don't care. I recorded the noise to ask locals in the morning, out of curiosity. Long story short, the bat invited its other bat friends, and it sounded like there wasn't just one anymore but about 20 having a party right above my head. Thankfully I had packed sleeping pills.
As I lay there, I replay the past few hours in my head, and realize how helpful, friendly, and laid back everyone was. A lot of things could had gone wrong, but it didn't. Traveling makes you stronger, it's all part of the game!