Skipping (Through) Central America- Part 3
Costa Rica, Supernova Bliss, and Here Until There
Pulling out of Nicaragua, we were sad to leave yet another country underexplored, but by this time we were on a pretty tight schedule and were eager to meet up with more of our friends. We’d made promises to meet up with our Supernova Bliss, who we’d first met in Mexico, as well as Here Until There, another couple travelling with a Four Wheel Camper who we had been following online since the outset of their odyssey South.
We were also looking forward to taking advantage of some of the great opportunities for free, wild camping and challenging 4x4 tracks we’d heard so much about.
What we found in Costa Rica, other than our friends, were prices similar to or more than we’d pay in the US, well developed roads, big commercial malls, and the horrific traffic of San Jose. As for safety, they don’t even arm their police and the country has no military force. I’m not sure if that means we’re in more danger, or less, but it was certainly a change after the rest of Central America and the ubiquitous shotgun toting grocery store guard.
We also found a pretty good selection of very good craft beer, but at $3+ for each one FROM THE GROCERY STORE we could only afford to sample a few..
Upon crossing the border we really only had three things to get done, and about a week to do them: Meet up with Supernova Bliss, meet up with Here Until There, and then put our rig into storage before flying out.. first up-
We first met Mark, Victoria, and their son Joey when they pulled into our camp at a public swimming hole along the shores of Lake Baccalar Mexico. We had such a good time talking, playing with Joey, and cooking together that we extended our stay several days longer than we had planned. We met them later in Belize and spent even more time playing with Joey and working on our rigs together. Mark is an engineer and has a lot of great ideas, so I like to take advantage of his brain whenever I can.
Before meeting Supernova, we had actually noticed their truck in San Cristobal a few months earlier. Their little blue Tacoma and camper stood out to me immediately because Mark had also built a custom bed to replace his stock one, giving them room for plenty of boxes and outside storage, just like us. The Utah plates were pretty rare in that part of Mexico as well.
Mark and Victoria originally met in the Black Rock desert during Burning Man and have been inseparable ever since. Once Joey was born they decided to take a break from corporate/suburban life, sold their house, and hit the road. They set out with an open mind, searching for a place to live a simpler life and raise Joey (and maybe a few brothers or sisters.. 😊).
We had a ton of fun catching up with these guys, falling right back into our old routine of playing, cooking, and working on the trucks. We found them staying in an adorable little one-room apartment on the small farm of an American ex-pat.
We spent a couple days exploring the gardens, pond, and fruit trees, and making friends with the pigs and dogs every good farm has. All these things are fun, but they’re a ton more fun with an inquisitive and outspoken toddler in tow. Joey adds so much to our experience when we’re around that spending time with these guys always makes us re-think our decision to put off having kids of our own..
After a sad goodbye to Supernova Bliss, we pulled out of their little farm paradise to head into the mountains and meet up with another couple who until then had only been internet-friends.
Pete and Natasha were one of the couples who were on the road about a year before us. We avidly read their blog, along with the Vagabroads and Travel Amateurs as they all struck out on the adventure we were still only planning. We read with jealousy as these people we admired and envied so much somehow met each other, and engaged in shenanigans we wanted nothing more than to be a part of.
We communicate quite a bit online, asking for general travel and Four Wheel Camper advice, liking and sharing each other’s posts, and of course- backing each other up whenever an internet comment thread goes bad. We hadn’t yet met in real life, but Sunny and Karin, as well as Mark and Victoria regaled us with plenty of stories.
Pete and Natasha left Tennessee with their dog Malta in a big Ford truck and Four Wheel Camper long before us, but they were welcomed by life on the road and found that moving quickly just wasn’t their thing. Lucky for us, that allowed us to catch up with them, despite not moving terribly quickly ourselves.
Like us, these guys are mountain people. We met them at their camp high above San Jose, at nearly 9k feet of elevation. Just the day before I’d been working on the truck shirtless in the Costa Rican sun; now we found ourselves wearing our puffy jackets and knit hats. After hugs and all the excited “happy to finally meet you” babbling, we cracked a few of those expensive Costa Rican craft beers and settled around the fire enjoying the much cooler weather, thin air, and thick chili Pete had made for us.
Since Taylor and I had so little time left in the country (and maybe because we had a few too many of those expensive beers the night before) we all stayed close to camp the following day, just getting to know each other, talking campers, and soaking up the cold weather. Oh, and telling off that damn dog Malta. She really thinks a lot of herself.. 😊
Saying Goodbye to Our Home
We would have loved to spend more time with Pete and Natasha. Getting a camper caravan going does sound epically cool, but we had to be in San Jose the next day to start packing up our road-life before storing the truck and heading back to Oregon.
We parked along some railroad tracks near a Denny’s because not all campsites are spectacular- some are just convenient. As we sorted through our stuff, and crammed the things we thought we couldn’t live without into backpacks, we had feelings that were very similar to those we had when first setting out on our trip.
We worried that we were making a bad decision by leaving. What if we were somehow making a mistake? Our life on the road had become very comfortable to us and we fought to quell a twinge of panic as we faced the reality of leaving it behind. That comfort though, is one of the biggest reasons we’d chosen to take the opportunity to take a break for a while. For us, to make a trip like this worth the sacrifices we’re making, everyday should be a new adventure. If we slip too deeply into a routine, we stop looking for all the things life on the road has to teach us and instead just pass the time from one day to another.
I bought the Chevy when I was 18. We’ve been together longer than Taylor and I. Leaving it alone, with our home sitting abandoned in the back, was actually a lot harder than I thought it would be. We both swallowed a few tears as we walked away from the only constant we’ve had for the last eight months, but we think the chance to see family and take a break is just what we need. It’ll help us appreciate life on the road and live our lives the way they deserve to be lived- with a wonder and a hunger for each new day, and a passion to learn whatever we can in the time we have.