It’s been almost a month now since I left Ireland and started my great adventure.
I knew leaving home, travel was not the easy, cushy option but being on the road again has brought to light some of the peaks and pits once again.
There is no two ways about it, travel is the best experience ever and you grow and evolve so much as a person, but it is also hard work! The highs far outweigh the lows for me but there are times when it can be overwhelming.
One such case happened in San Jose, Costa Rica. We arrived from La Fortuna to get a bus to Puerto Viejo. We got delayed on the route with roadworks so we did miss the 2pm bus but we did think there was another bus at 4pm. On arriving to the bus station, we were told we had just missed the bus but also that there were no other buses for that day. Annoyed but not the worst thing ever, we would have to spend the night in San Jose and get a bus the next morning. But from there started the scam.
We were told that there was a bus from another station about 10 minutes away but it was leaving in 15 minutes so we would have to be quick. We were also told that a bus strike was happening so there would be no other buses for 4 days, this was our only chance of leaving San Jose that day.
A taxi man had appeared and offered to bring us to the other station which we were happy to go to. On route there was lots of traffic so he said he’d call the bus station to see if there were any tickets left (as everyone was trying to get out of the city before the strike). Surprise, there were no tickets left! He tried a few other companies but same story.
Honestly, writing this now, it makes me feel sick. It was the most obvious thing and so foolish to believe his story, he had it so sown up and there were so many people involved. It was also the pressure and the sense of urgency at the time that neither of us wanted to spend 4 days in San Jose. Also he was super nice and seemed really genuine. He also had his teenage son with him who seemed so sweet and nerdy (all round fools we were!).
Anyway on went the saga and then he offered to bring us to another bus station about an hour from San Jose and we could get a bus from there. At that time we were both really confused and not sure what to do but we had agreed a price & went for it.
Of course when we got there, he pretty much doubled the price and totally scammed us out of so much money. We were stuck at that stage and had no option, it was the most horrible feeling in the world and both myself and my friend were so upset and so down and out. Honestly after the incident, I really felt like just packing things in and heading home. Costa Rica is expensive but it was a disgusting amount of money (I’m not even going to say how much we paid) and the worst part was, by the time we got to Limon, we couldn’t even get a bus to Puerto Viejo as it was too late!
It was such a low moment, and the worst part was that neither my friend or I are usually fooled or sucked in so easily by these things, we’ve travelled before but I think we let our guard down in Costa Rica. We were expecting things to be so easy in Costa Rica and that it was way more catered for tourists (which it is) and I suppose we just relaxed a bit too much and assumed everyone to be so nice and helpful and not out to scam us as the place is so much more developed and the standard of living and wages are so much higher (stupid mistake!).
Eventually we got to Puerto Viejo and just put the incident behind us and made the most of our last stop in Costa Rica, and it didn’t disappoint. Puerto Viejo is amazing and although all we wanted to do was keep going to Panama and get the hell out of Costa Rica, I’m glad we persevered and stayed here for the few nights. It is a slice of laid back, Carribean paradise.
Although we were way to trusting and gullible, I don’t want to change who I am as a person and instantly assume the worst in people I meet travelling (as in people offering to help) because he was just one bad egg among many, many amazing people we have met so far who have been genuinely lovely and helpful. I’m also glad we didn’t go with our initial harsh reaction to get out of Costa Rica.
Learnings from the experience are,
- To take a few moments to breathe and get a sense of the situation
- Talk to someone else and ask them for help or advice
- Walk away and come back after a few minutes
- If something seems odd, trust the feeling and listen to it
- Don’t jump into the first solution, there is always time and no major panic
- Don’t tarnish everyone/thing with the same brush
It’s unfortunate it happened, but again we cannot control other people and what that guy chooses to do is his own freewill choice and he has to live with his actions whether he has any conscious or not. I don’t know anything about his life and I can only hope that he truly needed the money to help his family or a personal situation. Who knows…
There is a reason the universe sent this lesson our way and in any future, funny situations I will be taking my time!!