22 Oct 2009

Returning back home from Costa Rica

Posted by walterheck

The trip back home was going to be one of the craziest I’ve ever done. I was leaving from San Jose Airport on Friday night, Flying to Ft. Lauderdale. There I had a layover that I could luckily fill up by meeting a couchsurfer. She was a 60-something year old woman called Alice. She was very nice, and showed me around Ft. Lauderdale after having breakfast with me at a nice place at the side of the marina.

We also visited another couchsurfer in town, and by the time she had to drop me off back at the airport, I was sad to leave Ft. Lauderdale after only a couple of hours. What I love so much about couchsurfing is that the surfers come from all walks of life, yet they are all open-minded. That means that you can ask them the questions you would normally be afraid to offend someone with without too many problems. In this case, Alice was is black  woman that grew up in the southern states in the 50’s. For me as a dutch person (i.e. not American, it was an exceptional chance to get a first-person perspective on what that was like. She patiently answered all questions I had, even though some were pretty hard for her. This woman actually had a burning cross in her family’s front yard at some time!

After this unexpectedly amazing day, I headed for my next destination: Las Vegas (once more!). Obviously it would have been too straightforward to fly straight there, so the plane made a detour over Detroit (but we did’n’t have to leave the airplane there). Now, you guys already know that my first two encounters with Vegas were’n’t the best I had ever had. The first time got cut short because Kenny got kicked out of the hotel and had to appear in court, the second time I broke my ankle. Now, the third time I was arriving at the 4th of July at 1 am or so, only to find out they lost my backpack! The airline employees were just ending their shift and in no mood to help me (or be friendly for that matter). They even told me that their airline did’n’t fly to Europe, so even if they would recover my bag, I would have a serious problem getting it back to me. So, after actually getting mad at them I left the airport with just my day pack. For the record: I don’t get mad easily at personnel working for some big corporation, but these people were an exception as they did’n’t seem to care 1 bit about losing 75% of everything I own on this planet.

I wandered around Vegas for a bit, and then met up with Mandy who I had surfed with before. She had agreed to be the recipient of some components to fix my netbook, so I picked them up and we had a drink before she went home and I headed back to the airport.

Next destination (It was now Sunday morning, are you keeping up?): Atlanta, Georgia. My good friend Ben’s hometown, and when I told him about it, he connected me with one of his friends who is also a couchsurfer. She picked me up from the airport and we hung out for the duration of my layover. She had stabbed a knife through her hand (yes, all the way through, by herself, by accident) the day before, so I helped her do some groceries at the farmers market and we went out for dinner with some of her friends. Another cool layover. When she brought me back to the airport, I decided to go to the office of the airline that had brought me to Vegas and lost my backpack (they just happened to have an office there as well) to see if they knew anything more. This time, the lady was very friendly and understanding, but she couldn’t even find a registration in the computer system of the whole missing backpack. That did’n’t really make me feel better about the whole thing.

It was time for the flight no. 5 bringing me to airport no. 6 on this trip, this time to London. The flight was smooth and by now I had sort of settled with the idea of never seeing my backpack again. So, when I got to London Heathrow, I just had my handluggage and was kinda happy I did’n’t have to wait for the luggage belt. I got some money from the ATM and got on the metro to the international railway station, from where I had a connecting train to Holland. It’s around a 1 hour ride on the tube to get there. Just as I was walking in the railway station, my phone rings. I couldn’t really make up who exactly was calling me, but a man said: ‘you forgot to pick up your luggage’. Confused, it took me a second to ask him where he was calling from. ‘London Heathrow’, the voice said, dropping my jaw to the ground. I explained to him that he must have called the wrong person, since a previous airline lost my backpack so there was no luggage for me at heathrow. ‘No, it’s yours’ he said, ‘I’m lookign straight at it’. In pure disbelief, I asked him to describe the luggage. What followed was an exact description of my backpack. What the @%@$?!?!? How did that get there? The guy asked me to come pick it up, but I told him I couldn’t because turning back to the airport would mean missing my train. Besides, noone told me my luggage was on that plane, so I felt that I wasn’t responsible for getting it back to me. The man (and this is why I love the British) was superhelpful and we came up with several ways to get my backpack back to me. In the end, he told me that even though he was not allowed to put it on a plane, he would make sure that it would get on a plane to schiphol leaving a few hours later. Since my train ticket was valid for any train station in Holland anyway, I decided to accept that and go and pick it up that same day. Besides, my sister was arriving there too that evening and I figured I could meet up with her for the last leg of the trip home.

Unfortunately, I was a bit stupid at Brussels station, where I made a mistake changing trains, resulting in a 1 hour delay. I made it to Schiphol after my sister already left and after my backpack had already arrived. The rain cover on the pack was completely destroyed. Oh well, I had it back, that was all that mattered! This had been yet another amazing display of Karma: even though at some point I was sure I would never see my backpack again, it somehow magically made it’s way back to NL, even before I arrived there!

I don’t know who is responsible for making this magic happen, since these flights were two completely separate flights with different airlines. I just told the lady of the first airline at Atlanta airport that my final destination was London, but I don’t remember giving her my flight details. I presume it was her, who went an exceptional ways out of her way to reunite me and my backpack. Whoever it was, I am eternally grateful to them for caring for something they did’n’t necessarily have to do!

So, on Monday night around midnight I arrived home after a 72 hour transit. It was strange to be slung back into Euro-culture after 2 months of Costa Rica. Time for the next stream of adventures around Europe.

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4 Responses to “Returning back home from Costa Rica”

  1. Heya, that was very very great adventure you you had all this trip! Very exciting to read about your experience!
    And one can see: Despite all trouble and bad news, the world IS a fine and lovely place, mankind a friendly surrounding.
    Thank you for sharing!



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