After 17 hours of torrential downpours with no let up at all, I posted on Facebook that I was used to rain, being a Florida girl and all. But this “wet season” in Costa Rica was quite a surprise, even to me.
Not so, it seems. A local ex-pat alerted us in HER comment to my post that a tropical storm was headed our way. This was more than their normal low season rainfall.
My daughters live in Nosara, Costa Rica and we were there to visit for the first time since they moved in mid-August. We took three flights–the last one on a Costa Rican single prop 12-seater–and then had to take ground transportation for another hour and a half. The last sixty kilometers of which was on gravel roads. Filled with pot holes. Deep ones. Blocked by bulls.
We arrived at their CASA, a Costa Rican dinner hot and ready on the table for us. Rice, beans, chicken and wine. The ocean pounded on the shore behind the stand of tropical foliage off their back patio, and a soft rain accompanied it all. They actually did it and now live in paradise, I thought.
The CASITA on the property where they live was our “hotel room,” complete with a hammock on the front porch. Over the next two days, our girls rented a car and showed us the local sights as well as introduced us to some of their new friends. Both locals and more ex-pats.
Then the heavens opened to deliver rain like I have never experienced. Only to find out, quite by accident, that we were in the path of Tropical Storm Nate.
Why “by accident,” you might ask? One of the reasons my daughters moved to CR was to disconnect. I just didn’t realize they meant COMPLETELY. No radio, no TV (Netflix only, thank you very much), no close neighbors. And then the power went out, the landline was dead, no water, no cell service, no Internet. For 36 hours.
Yes, I’d say the disconnect was complete.
We sat together in the dark in the CASA and listened to the ferocity of the rain. That’s all we could do.
What do you do in a foreign country, when you don’t have any “normal” connections with emergency services, friends, community? We weren’t in a hotel where we could go check at the front desk to find out what is happening. And since they hadn’t been in the country long, they had no extra batteries, no flashlights to put them in anyway, no rain gear, no extra provisions. Luckily, a gas stove kept us in hot meals, especially since we had to eat the food thawing in the dark refrigerator, anyway.
Over 20 people died in Costa Rica during Nate, mostly from mudslides and falling trees. Roads and bridges were washed out, including the ones that were supposed to take us out of town in another 48 hours.
We did get out in time to get back to the airport, which seems like a miracle in hindsight. It’s taken me over a week to process what happened, and how my perceptions have changed about my loved ones living in such a remote part of this tropical wonderland.
When our children are young and under our wings, we hold all the cards in keeping them safe. Once they are adults, all those cards go back in the box and we have to watch from the gallery as they play their own hands. Win or lose.
As for my future traveling to see them, I’ll send some plane tickets next year to come home and visit me here. I have flashlights.