It's always an adventure, isn't it. That's what we tell our kids when things don't happen like we plan them. Today we had one of those adventures.
We were finishing up our week of vacation where we enjoyed a wonderful week of rest in a little community called Playa Bejuco. Last Saturday, the bus dropped us off right in the middle of nowhere, somewhere on the west coast of Costa Rica. Things seemed kind of sketchy, but the bus was gone, and with nothing but banana and mango trees surrounding us and a faded sign that read "Playa Bejuco," we followed the instructions given to us in an e-mail and walked with our three kids and luggage down the dirt road. We rounded a bend in the road and spotted the office which was about one-third of a mile away from the main road, and we proceeded to check in. A guy with a cart attached to his bicycle loaded our stuff into his cart and led us away from the office. We walked some more, another half mile or so, into the very nice community called Costa del Sol. We settled into our comfortable vacation home and enjoyed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, microwave popcorn, and Pepsi for our first dinner of the week.
We found the gated community to be very tranquil and enjoyable. With two swimming pools and a private beach, we spent most of our time in water. We napped in the afternoons, enjoying the treat of air conditioning in the hot beach climate. We finally discovered Netflix and were able to enjoy some new movies as a family. We treated ourselves a couple times to the open air restaurant of a local hotel, which was about ten minutes away from our home, listening to the waves and smelling the smells of the ocean. Most of the time, our meals came from food we either brought with us or bought at the mini-super that we found outside our community.
Then today, we started our journey home. The shop-keeper at the mini-super, a supposed expert on the bus schedule, assured us that the bus would pick us up at the same place we were dropped off. We loaded our luggage into the back of a pick-up truck that belonged to a neighbor who drove us to the bus stop. We unloaded and before the guy drove off, he said he had his fingers crossed, hoping we could get on our bus, since this is one of the busiest travel days of the year and the buses are packed.
At the bus stop, an old tin-covered three-walled structure, there were several other men and one lady waiting for buses to wherever they were going. Their bus came, and we found ourselves alone as a family, enjoying a nicely overcast, not so hot day. We waited and waited. Several buses came by that we thought were ours, but they sped by. At last we were sure we spotted our bus in the distance roaring down the road. Timbrel walked down the road a ways in order to flag down the driver, waving our tickets frantically in the air. The bus, clearly marked, and about an hour and a half late, sped by leaving us in the diesel exhaust and dust. That's when Jimbo turned to the kids and announced that an adventure was beginning.
We didn't quite know what to do, and had no other option, except to wait for another bus; a bus that would stop for every person who flagged it down, a bus that would take hours longer, a bus we weren't sure was even coming. But what else could we do? We then prayed for God to provide a bus. About 15 minutes later, with Micah getting a bit more cranky, and the sun getting a little more intense, the pick-up truck that dropped us off came pulling up. They were going to get supplies at a town down the road when they saw us, and so they offered us a ride. This town, about 15 km away, would provide a better chance of getting a bus, since it was a town, and not a stop in the middle of no where. We agreed.
Once again, we loaded up. We arrived in the little town, and made our way to the bus station. The station was packed with people. The man dropped us off, wished us luck, and he was off to the local grocery store. We carried our stuff over to the ticket window and tried to communicate that our bus passed us without stopping. The lady behind the window smiled and then proceeded to explain that the bus does not stop at little stops like ours, and that we needed to catch it here. We had missed our 12 o'clock bus. The next bus would arrive at this station at 3 p.m., but there may not be room for us, since there were other ticketed passengers waiting.
We spotted a restaurant across the street, and we were getting hungry. We had about an hour until our bus arrived, and so we went and enjoyed a much appreciated hot meal. The kids, with food in their bellies, were much happier. We went back to the station a little before 3, and waited about 10 minutes. The bus showed up, and it was packed. A bus employee got out and began loading other passenger's luggage under the bus. I approached him with our tickets for the noon bus. He looked at them and told us to wait. He went and spoke with the driver and came back to explain there were only two seats left. We asked if we could go ahead and get on and explained that our kids would just sit on our laps. He agreed and began tagging our bags and throwing them under the bus.
We walked to the door and gave him our tickets. He looked up and he asked where our other ticket was. We were confused, because we had just counted four, which was all we needed. He showed them to us, and there were only three. The bus was ready to pull out, and he motioned for us to go ahead and board. He told us to hold our kids, so the automatic censor would count only three. So we rushed aboard, tripping the censor three times. We thought we were good; at least we were on board, and we were only taking up two seats out of our four we had purchased. Jimbo had Micah and Madeline in his lap about four rows behind Timbrel, who had Kayden in her lap. Praise God for providing a bus!
We rode the bus for two and a half hours back to San Jose. Jimbo couldn't make it holding Madeline and a fidgety baby, so Timbrel got the privilege of Madeline so Jimbo could wrestle with Micah. Being blessed again, the man in front of Jimbo had a little dog in his lap. That made for a good distraction whenever Micah started to whine.
We arrived in San Jose and unloaded. The employee who loaded our bags began to explain that we needed to pay for the ticket we didn't have. I pulled out the receipt, which clearly showed we had purchased four tickets. That was not good enough. He needed a paper ticket because he had to turn in those tickets and he was accountable for them. Not sure what to do, I asked to speak with his boss. It was getting dark as we waded through the crowded station to a barred window, where he motioned to an older gentleman to help us. He explained the situation, and the man behind the window took a good look at us. He told the employee that he could accept our receipts as our ticket and told us we were free to go. So we grabbed our bags before anyone could change their mind, and flagged a taxi. We made it home around 6:15. Another adventure over. Another answered prayer.