The Costa Rica Lesson: Awwwwwww They Got Me
It could start with "you never think it can happen to you," or "just when you thought it was safe." But why go out that way or for that matter come in that way, it's as cliche as an American tourist getting yapped for his belongings on a trip to foreign country.
A red-headed graduate student who couldn't be more American if she was Betsy Ross' daughter's daughter's daughter's daughter, was sitting there talking to me. More aptly talking at me, more specifically, not shutting up. Uh-huh, yeah, damn that's messed up is all this blogger could manage to retort.
She talked about her work in psychology and feigned embarrasment went I pointed out that she had on flip-flops that said "Harvard," and a key chain necklace that said, guess what "Harvard." Oh yeah, someone had broke into the Hostel I had just arrived at in San Jose, Costa Rica and stole her passport and she was killing time on her way to Vietnam via South Dakota.
I said to myself that's pretty crazy: the passport being stolen story as well, but the girl, certainly. I'm glad nothing remotely resembling that is going to happen to me, I'm a globtrotter, a world traveler a...
The lame conference on Commodities and Chinese relations with Latin American governments and the state-owned mines they own is sadly at an end and I'm headed on one of the most beautiful Fridays in recent memory to the famous Jaco Beach on the Pacific coast of this lovely quaint, currency 500/1 - completely-backed-by American-military-country. The bus to Jaco pulls up for boarding and people rush to put their luggage in the hull of the monstorous municpal bus that looks more like a tour bus.
Ahh, no way I'm putting my bags down there, sheeeeeeeeet, not me. Savvy yank that guy is right? So what do I do? I get on, speak a little Spanish, I'm in my zone, I'm getting ready for four straight days of God-knows-what-tropical-fun and what do I do? I pull out my digital camera like a dummy tourist from middle America. You know, the quintessential, "do they serve tacos in Costa Rica?" Yeah that kind.
I start taking self portraits as the bus pulls off, feeling my self, fun for pennies on the dollar, oh yeah. My black Samsonite leather computer bag is on the top shelf above where I'm sitting, phone, laptop, all the power cords, cuffllinks and a DVD from blockbuster enclosed. I might as well have been a Harvard girl.
We're only 20 clicks from the beach, from wireless, phoneless freedom via the wireless connection on a month-old Dell fresh off the assembly line. I was planning to hook it up and surf the net as soon as I got to my condo. Bandit to Jabulani: Uh, no you're not.
While I was looking out the window musing at the greenest hills I've ever seen in my life and the mango trees with ripe, juicy products hanging like sweaty jugs - of fruit juice you pervs - it must have jumped off, something slick, James Bondish. I'm talking Michael Jackson smooth criminal. I should have known what was up 45 minutes into the trip when I couldn't see the strap from my bag anymore, but it didn't register.
We stop, I look up on the shelf. Panic. Awwww they got me. First step anger, broken cuss-laden Spanish, black English; a real estate agent from South Carolina with the same "damn that's messed up," look on his face that I had for the Harvard girl the night before.
Come to find out five collegues had the same hubris and put their stuff below in the belly of the Bus beast. Yes, Gone.
And suddenly I didn't feel so bad. I, after all still had my passport, credit cards and a whole lot of Colones on my person and a pre-paid condo waiting on me. Some of those people were stuck where they stood with nothing anyone could do but loan them 500 colones to call the embassy and then their folks.
Yep, the beach, healed those wounds quick.
Fast Forward. (Presumbably to the point of this friggin post, right?)
GET TRAVEL INSURANCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
When I return home and reality strikes, I will be out $750 bucks in supplies and will have bought the "Great Debaters" from Blockbuster, when I could have just gotten beyond my imperialist arrogance and copped $54 for two weeks of travel insurance from any of the companies on the commercials we hate on tv or any one of these sites:
Here's also a bit from my Wisebread sistren Nora Dunn on parameters on TI that I neglected to mention due to the dearth of exactitude in my rant/narrative/testimonial.
It's a lesson for me, an expensive lesson, but a lesson. I do plan on going back to Costa Rica. I loved it but next time I'm springing for some TI and not the Rapper T.I. either, even though I hear he has lots and lots of guns.
Because despite reading numerous travel guides and Wikipedia entries about Costa Rica being the number one destination for passport theives, I put my stuff on the top rack of a public bus to a beach bum paradise. I should be reading your blog.
Hasta La Vista.