Have you ever gone from one place to another and not really known how you got there? Like from home to the office, or mile 3-7 of a 10 mile run, something like that. As if the body has gone through the motions and shown up for the ride but your mind has stayed mentally absent from attending a moment of the day. That’s exactly how I feel.
I’m on flight 2 of 3 on my 16 hour and 42 minute journey home, (It will eventually become 18 hours, more on that later). I know how I got from La Hacienda Panilla in Costa Rica to the Airport, pure survival mode. But from that airport to this flight is a giant blur, maybe I need a nap. The day began at 3:30am. 4 of us would make the hour and twenty minute taxi ride to the airport and from there- our homes. Well, the 4am taxi never showed. At 4:30 we signal for help. At 4:30 Amanda has the brilliant idea to call the gate keeper and request permission to let our taxi into the “palace”. Mind you, Costa Rica is lovely but missing our flights would result in one thing, not getting home. The gate keeper says, “Ahhh, si, si, si, esta aqui (yep, the taxi is there), I will let him in, so sorry, so sorry senorita”. 15 minutes later no taxi. We call the gate keeper. “Ahhh, si, si, si, so sorry, so sorry, the taxi went to the hotel, not for you”. Wonderful, we let some other taxi into the palace grounds but he scooped up another set of people needing a ride. No ride for us.
Now 5am, my flight leaves in an hour and 50 minutes, I’m still a little hopeful. An hour 20 minute drive would give me 30 minutes to spare if we left PRONTO. We called another taxi and he assured us he could have us there PRONTO and would be here PRONTO. At 5:12 am we set off for the airport in what would become the ride of our lives. I’m talking full on NASCAR racing on the dirt roads of Costa Rica. We ran chickens, school children, and dogs off the road. At one point we were head on facing a bus at 100k an hour (dirt road) around a turn. All of us scream and took cover. We landed the right 2 wheels of the taxi in the soft sand of the shoulder and proceeded to tail slide, spin out, and piss our pants. Brian put on a seat belt, Mailika grabbed her video camera to document her death in case it ends that way, and Amanda and I held onto the “oh $h!t bars”. You know those bars that are fixed to the seats or sides of a jeep in case you flip, those. Not sure to cry or laugh, we all laughed at our speed and adventure up and over the tiny hills of Guanacaste.
We “barely” survived, I mean arrived, at 6:10am. That was 58 minutes of dare devil driving compared to the usual hour twenty. We flew, the taxi man talked on the cell phone, even stopped at a friend’s house to change drivers (don’t ask). Honestly, I thought we would be written up on Slow Twitch or some other Triathlete website as the headline, “four pros lose their lives in an over turned taxi on the way to the airport”. No joke, but I had 38 minutes till my flight, 28 minutes after I begged a man in the departure tax line to let me in front of him in hopes I get to my check in on time.. Lets just sum this up… I did not make my flight and would not be making it till March 21st, a month later. The thought of training in beautiful Costa Rica for a month crossed my mind, but thoughts of Kainoa paraded through even faster, I wanted home. 90 minutes of my best Spanglish had me on the next flight to Texas, then LA. That’s where I am now, on a flight to LA.
I really have no idea how I made it from that airport to this plane. Maybe I drank bad water. I do remember something, clearly not a dream because the man is on my flight and reminded me of this when I took my seat. Tomorrow I have to have no fruits (another story for another day), so I ordered a double sized smoothie loaded with LOTS of fruits. The man in front of me, a complete stranger, ordered who knows what. The counter help girl placed his food on the counter and I literally stuck my fingers in his bowl and took out a nut. It never really struck me that I don’t know the man, that the food was his, I was waiting for a double fruit smoothie. He looks at me, I look at him, then the light clicked on…DING DING DING, I stole a stranger’s peanut! I apologize repeatedly, offer to buy him another bowl of whatever that was, and tell him how jet lagged I am, again so sorry. He tells me to relax, where he is from that sort of thing is cool. I tell him, “I’m from Hawaii, we share everything so I’m cool, but I’m on the mainland and this sort of thing scares me here, places here people shoot people for things like this”. He laughs and tells me he is from a beach in Florida. “Fantastic, beach boys get it” I tell him. Then he offers me more. We got a laugh despite my embarrassment and desperate need for sleep. Anyways, I just boarded this plane and on the way to my seat I pass him relaxing with some nuts in first class. He tells me, “Hey I know you, you owe me a nut”. I tell him, “Sure, Ill have them send some up to first class for you”, We both laugh, now I am ready to be home where it’s safe to take your neighbors food from trees, gardens, and plates without fear of being shot in an airport.
I should land in LA in a few more hours. From there who knows when I land home. The Costa Rican airport could only get me as far as LA. I settled for that for a grand total of $150 bucks rather than being retained in the country I love second only to an island I love, till March 21st. I’m going to try really hard to get on a plane to Kona, it’s that or swim home across the Pacific. Sometimes I wonder how I ever make it from point A to point B in my daily life. Perhaps stealing peanuts causes me enough humor to stay awake through the daily moments that just sort of happen.
Several hours later…
My flight from Texas landed, I missed the 5pm flight I was hoping to get on and wound up with a departure ticket for 9am tomorrow morning. Holding my ticket the way a child holds broccoli, I don’t want it. I know it’s good for me but it’s not what I want, I wanted home tonight. The tears almost flow when I ask if there is any other airline anywhere in California going to Kona tonight. She tells me in 20 minutes American Air has a flight. I run 4 gates away as fast as I can, literally causing people to cheer for me as if I am in the race of my life. Never mind my luggage; I don’t know where it is anyway. With 14 minutes to spare I run to the check in counter (ignoring the massive line of people) and beg to get on the flight. The man tells me it’s boarding, I tell him I can run. He tells me the most outrageous price for a last minute ticket and I begin to cry. I have to get Kainoa tonight from his dad, I promised him I would be there to pick him up. A mother never promises a child a promise she can’t keep. Without even thinking I pass my credit card to the man and say, “please hurry”. Some would count it a loss of lots of money or the opportunity to party in LA for a night. To me, it was keeping a promise to the boy who counts on me more than anyone. Now I need to sell my truck to pay off that flight! (Slight exaggeration).
With the ticket in my hand I run through the lolly gaggers possibly faster than my best mile time. I arrive to the gate, boarding-departing-but still on the run way. I cry, I beg, I do the thing girls do that sometimes make a man’s strong heart get soft so they side with us, and I get on the plane. Now I’m happily over the Pacific, on the way to my son. Tomorrow I’ll wake up and this will be another one of my travel stories, the one that cost me a lot of dollars but saved a little boy from being let down by his mom….
The final flight home, adios LA...ALOHA KONA!
Next up for this travel loving, adventure seeking, triathlon racing momma is San Juan 70.3. In 3 weeks I get to do this giant trip across the USA all over again. Truly, I love it. I’m excited the next 3 weeks at home I will have lots of training to focus on, lots of lessons learned to grow from, and more goals to keep the motivation thriving. Of course, there is that 4 year old alongside me to keep it all balanced…