It’s 6am in Playa Jacó Costa Rica. I’m hanging from a chair swing in the outdoor kitchen of Casajungla Hostel, overlooking their thick jungle of a garden. Even the colorful potted plants rebel from their pots, their roots dangling out from the bottoms; their leaves swooping and barely brushing the ground like giant ape arms. A chorus of unfamiliar bird melodies and screeches surround the hostel like surround sound speakers. Two large toads hop loudly after each other in the wet leaves behind me, stopping suspiciously after each hop to check they are still undiscovered. I’m jet-lagged, otherwise 6am is not typically my time of day. But I’m grateful to get a couple hours of daylight before the heat and the humidity take over.
A mosquito just took the liberty of biting each one of my toes on my right foot; I’m not kidding, the little guy didn’t miss a toe. It’s tingling and swelling. The trade off of being in a tropical paradise is you share it with biting things. Apparently my upcoming destination of San Vito is home sweet home to no less than 7 types of deadly snakes. I am recommended to wear tall rubber boots and always carry a cell phone in the unfortunate event that I am victim to a bite.
At this point you may be wondering, wtf is Gressa doing in Costa Rica in the middle of a world-wide pandemic? I thought she was in Berlin? Last time we spoke, I was quarantined with my au pair family in the brunt thickness of winter. I had just escaped an awkward roommate situation, and was preparing myself for bear-like hibernation and isolation in Zehlendorf. I can imagine that you might be confused. Let me catch you up.
Turns out, after almost a month of a heated back and forth debate between me and the ausländerbehörde (foreigners authority building), I have technically been working here illegally as an au pair and therefore was “kindly” asked to leave the European Union. In other words, I have been deported. I realize this sounds dramatic, and I guess it kind of is. But since my attempts to attain my visa were snuffed by the pandemic, and I was here on a legal and quite innocent basis, it didn’t occur to me that actual deportation was in the cards. At maximum I had prepared myself for a light scolding.
I was given two weeks to organize a flight and a plan, and in that short time I decided with the help and support of friends and family, that I would stay far from the United States and embark on an adventure in Costa Rica (at least for 3 months until I can return to Germany, but who knows where I’ll be by then). And that is exactly where I am now. Hanging from my swinging chair in the bohemian outdoor kitchen of my hostel. This is my 2nd day waking up in Costa Rica. Last night I stayed close to the airport in San José. So far I have been alone in the hostels, and therefore greeted with enthusiasm and treated quite royally. Yesterday morning the owner of my hostel, a tall middle aged man with a white Fedora and kind brown eyes, offered me a free ride in his jeep to the bus station in return for a good review on hostelworld, saving me almost 50 dollars and a big hassle of tracking down a taxi. I learned on our drive that he is an expat from Quebec and came here in 2015 upon purchasing a hotel. Since the pandemic, he said he’s had to sell the hotel and is now just the owner of the hostel until things pick back up. I noticed on the way to the bus station, in the streets of San José almost everyone wears a mask. According to the Fedora wearing hostel owner, the covid situation in Costa Rica wasn’t that bad up until July when there was an inflow of migrants from Panama. As a contrast from reckless, rebellious Berlin, it’s odd to see everyone compliantly wearing their masks even walking alone in the humid streets. On my bus to Jacó, I passed a mother and her two small children sitting completely alone at a bus stop in the middle of nowhere, and all of them wore masks.
In Berlin it was admittedly too easy to forget about the world pandemic roaring outside of the city. With all of its persistent public events and lack of social distancing in parks. No one likes to be told what to do in Berlin, it’s probably a part of the reason I feel so at home there.
It’s now 9am here and I’ve finished a large breakfast of rice and beans, a salty omelette, and two watery cups of coffee. Check out is at 11 and I am told there is a mountain I must go to by one of the free hostel bikes before leaving Jacó.
I will be back before long to share updates of my forced life adventure. Until then, Pura Vida.