The story how I almost didn’t make it to Costa Rica.

I almost didn’t make it to Costa Rica. It is quiet embarrassing but I guess it is what it is. When I wanted to check in for my flight to San Jose the checkin agent asked me for my passport and my return ticket. I told her that I didn’t have a return ticket and also didn’t need one. She said that based on her system I would either need a visa or a return ticket to be permitted in the country and that she couldn’t check me in without one of both. I quickly went on the German page of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and had to find out that it indeed stated a visa or a return ticket as a requirement.

Now what you have to know is that the airline is responsible to comply with the respective immigration rules of the country per nationality and if they carry a passenger with inadequate documents they are obliged to transport the passenger back to his point of origin on their expense. For sure I should know that since I have worked in the airline industry and these topics have even been part of the final exams which I used to hold in my function as a member of the committee at the Chamber of Commerce for International Airline Professionals during their final exams.

Well, I continued with my story hoping to just sneak through. I told her that I just checked the site and it said that I only need my passport. She went off to check with her supervisor. Mhhh, what if they would take the note seriously and they wouldn’t let me on? Unfortunately I was not traveling on fully flexible tickets anymore but on non-refundable and non-changable which means in case I miss the flight due to my own mistake I would end up buying a new ticket. So I went online and started looking for flights as a back up solution in case they would persist on the ticket – which she eventually did after a long time of back and forth with her supervisor. She told me I had five minutes left before they would close the flight. Good that I had started the search already. So I started booking a random ticket to Panama which was quite cheap.

I was almost done with the booking when she said she was sorry but they couldn’t take me anymore – flight was closed. Shit! I actually missed my flight. I guess there was no excuse – I just messed it up…

When she returned I continued with my story. I played the still nice but a bit angry and non-understanding customer which was not taken on the flight because of “their mistake”. Good that I had not outed myself as an former airline employee 😳. I showed her my booking which I had now done only to satisfy them. What I of course didn’t tell her was that while I booked it I saw that I had to call the call center to confirm the booking by doing the payment via phone as a foreigner – if not my booking would be cancelled after 24h. Perfect, exactly what I needed 😉. I guess she felt a bit sorry, searched for an alternative and finally put me on a flight via Los Angeles and Dallas to San Jose. And for the mistreatment she also gave me a seat in the emergency row. I am a lucky…! Or as the Kiwi’s just know: She’ll be right! 😂 Hahahahaha… #ilovemylife.

As a side note – when I finally arrived in Costa Rica after 22h travel time nobody cared about my return ticket and the immigration officer just gave me a visa for 90 days.

Arriving in Costa Rica.

I have to admit going to Costa Rica was again going out of my comfort zone – at least a little bit. It is amazing how quickly you get used to certain things again. My life in Vancouver was easy. Everything was convenient with all possible amenities, safe and in a place where I could speak my second mother tongue knowing that I do understand 100% and can also express anything I want to in a very precise way. Now I had to adopt to a new environment again, a different safety level, a language which don’t fully understand anymore and in which I even have trouble expressing the simplest things and on top integrating in a host family again. The last time I had to do this is quite a while ago.

Well, anyways. As always if you move out of your comfort zone it’s worth it. After a few hick ups on my arrival I arrived at my family. La mama, Ana, and her daughter Jasline. They are great hosts and very supportive with me and my Spanish. My residence for the next weeks.

And a few impressions from my hood – Santo Domingo.

 

My school is great as well and since it is low season I was lucky to be in my course by myself for the first week. That of course helped a lot. And additionally to the four hours I also have to private hours every day on top. It’s really helpful but extremely exhausting. So far I have therefore also not seen much more than the school and my daily 2km walk to and back from the school.

La escuela

 

My classroom

It’s amazing on how much Spanish is still buried underneath a lot of other stuff in my head. But I can also tell that I am not 18 anymore. I remember learning during university was simpler. I definitely need longer to remember things. I don’t want to know how often I have looked up the word arrive in the last week and I can still not remember it.

Also a sign that I am learning Spanish in a different time is the vocabulary I am picking and looking up. While during my school and university time it was very much focused on “fiestas”, school, work, the future and similar things it is now “I don’t know what the future will bring”, “no plans”, the love to mountains, hiking, camping, being a pilot (piloto) and the great feeling of unemployment 😂 #ilovemylife

Florian, el estudiante. The hard-working student on his way to the school.

 

Well and then there was hurricane Otto as well. The southernmost hurricane to hit Central America since records began. Even in San Jose the alert level was set on yellow which meant that the school stayed close on Thursday when the storm hit the coast. A tragic happening for Costa Rica where until now 9 people lost their lives and the destruction in some areas in unbelievable. Some areas received a month worth of rain in a few hours. It is therefore amazing to see how caring the Ticos are. I do live right across the street from the Red Cross. Today was the fourth day in a row where a massive truck was filled by the residents of Santo Domingo with water, food, hygienic amenities and more. There were actually queues of people who delivered articles. My host mother also helped loading the truck the entire Sunday. Amazing to see what sense of community exists.

So much as a first impression. On the weekend a trip to the park Manuel Antonio.

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