Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Costa Rica: Ups & Downs of Travel

by Donna L. Watkins

The ups and downs of this trip have been a real test of my faith in God's provision and watch care over me. This is only one example:

© Donna L. Watkins - At Museo de los Ninos, Costa Rica
Before leaving I spent time looking through my tourist guide and online trying to determine where I would love to be for my rainforest time in Costa Rica. I wanted so badly to book it before leaving since I have never taken off for a trip without all plans made. Many people do so, but I don't like to spend vacation time deciding what to do, it's high season in Costa Rica now, and I knew school would be intense, so I really wanted it off my mind.

However! My insides told me to wait. I knew the Costa Rica Language Academy could get discounts on lodging, etc. so I figured it would save me money waiting. What a surprise when I asked them and they didn't even know where the lodge was or anything about it. Of course, I'm not your "typical tourist traveler" by any means. DOWN!

So, I emailed Randal to see if he could get a better rate than what was online, which was $88 a day. He called and asked for a student rate since I was in school and had a student card and they told him it would be $55 a day. That included three meals a day, entrance to the reserve, a guided tour, and the sales tax which can be from 13-16%. How excited I was! UP!

Now would they have the dates I needed? I found out what the time factors were on my homestay and gave Randal the dates. When he called back they said that the student rate didn't really apply to my circumstances. DOWN!

My sweet husband explained how much I loved Costa Rica and anytime somebody asks me what my favorite place in the world is, I say the rainforest of Costa Rica. He also told them I do travel journals online and take photographs and they would get quite a bit of promotion if I got to spend the time with them. Isn't he just marvelous? They approved the rate. UP!

However, they didn't have any cabins or houses available at La Selva Biological Station, so it would be at the River Station. From what I could tell online, that meant dormitory housing. Since I wanted to write and have solitude after the school and city, that didn't fit. I haven't slept much with the city noises, so I certainly wouldn't sleep well with the possibility of 5 other people snoring. I told Randal to cancel it. DOWN!

I then thought that maybe the school calling from within the country could do something. They are more than willing to book travel for the students so I put my request in for one of the girls to call. She said that she can usually get a better rate when they talk directly to the lodges. UP!

The next day she told me that they had nothing till April in a private room. DOWN!

At the same time Randal was calling to cancel the reservation for the dormitory room, but when he talked with them, they said that it was a private room and private bath and the rate was definitely $55. UP!

It seemed too good to be true. With all the ups and downs I actually couldn't believe it. Randal said he had asked many questions and was sure it was definitely private. The transport there and back was $180. Randal didn't want me taking the buses since baggage is commonly stolen and 4-5 hours with a suitcase on my lap would not be a good thing. I couldn't see paying that much for the trip because I knew it was very high because they weren't in the transport business. DOWN!

So again I asked the school to check on transportation so I could travel for less. They agreed it was a very expensive rate. She called and they told her it was $30 each way to the nearby town of Puerto Viejo Sarapiqui. UP!

I told her to book it for the dates I'd be there. She called and they had made a mistake. There are two Puerto Viejo towns and apparently the person wasn't listening to which one it was. This one is not well traveled so they didn't offer service there. DOWN!

Again I had an inside feeling that there was a better way. I don't like to waste money. It's part of my Pa. Dutch upbringing. So, I put Randal on hold for confirming the transport and asked the husband at my homestay about it. You see, he had recently retired from being a driver, so I figured he might know of somebody who would like the job and I could get a better rate. He said he would check. He told me the following day that he had found somebody. UP!

I'm all set for the rainforest time and I intend to keep studying while I am there. I have been reading the New Testament while I am here and Jesus' sermon on the mount has definitely been on a playback loop in my mind where He talks about not worrying about tomorrow and how God will take care of us if He's taking care of the lilies of the field.

It's very humbling to think that there is a destiny in life and that if we can let ourselves relax a bit, we may find that life is a whole lot easier than we think. Maria, my homestay wife, is a very tranquil person. She's been absolutely perfect. She's into natural foods with lots of fruits and vegetables. I knew vegetarian wouldn't be a problem since it was a common thing at the school, but to have somebody that doesn't make fried foods or sugar sweets has been such a big blessing.

As my husband says from one of his favorite TV programs while he was growing up, "I love it when a plan comes together." (A Team if you're wondering :-)

View all Costa Rica photo albums.

No comments:

Share This Post