The solo traveler is never truly alone. Especially here, as it turns out, where there are so many of us. After the slightly stressful planning and reservation kerfuffle, I wandered my way through the dizying maze of the hostel and found the bar/restaurant/pool table/non-enclosed general hang out area. I kid you not the only way to get to this area is up a metal staircase, through a couches/charge your electronics area, up another set of stairs, and through a bathroom/shower area. I almost mistook the entrance way as another stall.
I plopped down at one of the wooden tables with a map and my journal. Writing and reflecting and the perspective of a map calmed me down enough to notice how freaking happy I was. It’s warm here. 27-30 degrees Celsius according to the Europeans/Canadians. I don’t really think in Celsius so I’m not entirely sure what that means – but lets call it the “most amazing niche temperature.” Definition: I’m not sweating in the least AND it’s perfectly warm enough for shorts and a t-shirt – which means a lot coming from always-and-forever-cold me. I think this country understands me.
In the background was the chatter of groups and the bartenders blasting Tupac. It had gotten dark quickly and I was in no mood to attempt to navigate this city on my own at night. I thought I would find a group going out that I could tag along with, but instead we all seemed to just stay in. There were a bajillion Canadians. A few Americans. There was the electrical engineer fascinated by wind turbines, putting off his PhD to travel. There was a peace corp volunteer originally from northern Virginia, touring the country outside of her district with a friend on break. A girl at the beginning of a long tour through South America. Vacation. Fun. It quickly became apparent that San Jose, and especially this hostel, were just transportation via points to the country at large. All of us had either flown in that day or were leaving to go home the next morning. Until late in the night we drank and pretended to salsa dance and compared itineraries and told stories of New Year’s past. Instant best friends from every direction. I know a lot of people fear the unknown when traveling, but finding commonality, not divisions, has been the hallmark of my travel experience.
I made it!
Mike dropped me off before dawn, driving through chilly pouring rain to Dulles airport. When the plane took off it immediately entered the rain clouds and didn’t lose them until several hours later when we were out of the US. But here it is sunny and warm, exactly as hoped.
Lesson 1: I probably should have planned better. woops.
Lesson 2: Everything still works itself out, as I also predicted. Hence the non-planning
Other people planned – so I just used their plans until I could make my own. I befriened Sasha at the airport as Taxi drivers looking for hire bombarded me from every direction. I caught her shuttle to the hostel I am now staying at, Pangea, complete with mazes of hallways, a pool, bar, and mysterious wifi. And, through several frustrating hours jumping between the public computers and the nice coordinator-of-things-spanish-speaking woman downstairs, I am headed to the west coast tomorrow by way of the Pacuare river (woo class III-V rapids!). Ringing in the new year on the Caribbean.
Now, off to food and non figuring out what I am going to things!