“Only God Knows if We Will Return”
This was painted on the plexiglass wall between our bus driver this morning and the passengers. Actually, it said "Solo Dios sabe si volveremos" up there, but I should have prayed about what I was reading a bit more than I did!
Today was my very first trip on a public bus in a foreign country WITH all five kiddos. My anxiety level was pretty high. I don't generally do all that well in situations where I am a bit unsure. I was unsure of where the station really was (in spite of lots of guidance from the Pilot), didn't know if we could all sit together (not great with 3 that are 8 and under) and realizing 5 minutes into the trip that I had NO backup plan if anyone got motion sick…anyone mostly being me.
We left the house a little late, stopped by a local pulperia (convenience store) for a bottle of water and high-tailed it to the bus station. We were on time. I saw the bus line. I had my cash. The bus came, we boarded and it was all good! WHEW! Bucket list item checked off the list.
But when we got to San Jose, my husband wasn't at the stop where we were supposed to meet. So we went to the mall nearby and waited for him. Our backup plan was to meet in the food court every 30 minutes, on the hour and half hour. When 10am came and went with no sign of him, I got a bit worried. By 10:03am, I was calling someone he'd met that morning to make sure he was ok and heard the guy quote the same "backup plan" on the phone. Oh, and did I mention we only have ONE cell phone between us and I had it? Yeppers.
By 10:15am, I started to panic a little, but by 10:25am, I was already trying to think about what I would do when the police found my husband beaten to a pulp and how I'd tell the children and whether I'd stay here with them or go back to Florida. (I tend to go a bit overboard when I panic…I think it stems from my time as a military wife.) But, thankfully, the most handsome man in the world walked through the mall entrance at about 10:32am and I was SO relieved. It was the Pilot.
By this time, we'd all been awake at least 4 hours and the children were HUNGRY, but nothing was open yet. The US chain fast food places were well represented: Wendy's, Subway, Quiznos, McDonalds, Taco Bell, etc. You'd think we'd been gone for months the way the children were salivating over chicken nuggets and a Subway sandwich. Without having a solid plan, we spent WAAAAAAY too much on lunch. What should have cost us no more than about $15 US dollars cost us about double. Maybe more, but I was too scared to do the tally.
The good news about the time at the mall was that I was able to pick up a few things I hadn't seen locally. After a slightly pricey ice cream treat and a two year old tantrum, it was time to head to the bus stop to pick up our ride home. Or so we thought.
Thunder was rumbling in the distance and a few rain drops fell from the sky as we made our way to the bus stop shortly before 2pm. Bus after bus after bus stopped but none were for our destination. The rain got a bit harder. Still no sign of "our" bus. Then, the sky REALLY started falling. As I sat beside 2 nuns with their umbrellas trying to shield us from the spray from traffic that was speeding by (less than 10 feet from our bench), the little stream that was the runoff from the rain turned into what I describe as mini-class 5 rapids! Water began rushing past us that was about 4 inches deep…icky, dirty, oil tainted street water washing over and under my Teva clad feet. NOT my favorite moment of the day or that of my husband wearing socks and dress leather shoes. yipee.
And to top things off, we saw OUR bus drive right by…one hour into our wait. The Pilot was NOT happy. The kids were getting cranky. So what would any sane family do in this situation? We left the inadequate shelter in the pouring rain, headed back into the mall looking like drowned rats and called our local cab driver to drive 30 minutes to pick us up and take us HOME!
One bright spot in our delayed departure was that it gave me a chance to go to a bigger version of our local grocery store and we found one of our most wanted items: CHOCOLATE CHIPS!!! I thought our 2nd daughter was going to have perma-smile. :o) It was a painful 2640 colones (and current exchange rate is 499 colones to $1) which made them over $5!!! I'm fooling myself if I think we'll go through them slowly.
But, our cab driver showed up, took us home and after showers to wash off the road slime, my husband and I felt MUCH better. We have NO plans to do anything like that again.
Lessons learned: having a plan can save time, money and muchos frustrations; one of our girls, who shall remain nameless, doesn't hold onto her rain jacket as well as she should (and now is without one because it got left on the bus); when a bus has a slogan about only God knowing if we'll return, I should take it as a sign to start praying!
P.S. No pic for the post. I was both too wet to take out the camera and a bit too timid about letting anyone at the bus stop know I had a decent camera! Maybe I'll post the one pic I took on the bus trip out of town when it's not so fresh on my mind!