The Stewardess’s Diary – 4:15 p.m.
Finally, some real time off.
I flew into Liberia and booked myself a long weekend alone, on purpose, as a way to kill my loneliness demon. Ugh… It would have been more accurate to say that I didn’t resent loneliness as much as I was afraid to end up alone for the rest of my life.
Happiness was part luck and part planning, no?
I had to put myself in situations where I could entertain myself, solo or otherwise. Maybe it was true that we were more open to new experiences when traveling alone.
With that reasoning guiding my steps, I traveled to a tiny coastal town in Costa Rica. I didn’t have any plans, but an hour ago, when I arrived at my Airbnb, the owner recommended I try surf lessons.
It would give me a chance to wear the brand new bikini I’d bought after my splendid weekend in Cancun with the gorgeous blondes. They had certainly given my self-esteem a boost.
But now, looking at the tiny red pieces of fabric in front of me, on the bed, I doubted myself. Can I pull it off? My eyes went from the business card the Tico owner had left me an hour ago to my brand new bikini. Yeah, I can do it. I can do it!
I grabbed the business card and sat down on the bed before getting a hold of the corded phone. I punched in the numbers to the local surf school. The line started ringing at the other end.
“¿Hola?” a male voice answered.
“¡Hola! ¿Habla inglés?” I asked, half-expecting the man to speak English. Costa Rica had become so commercialized over the past few decades. It only made sense for them to cater to English-speaking tourists, especially surf shops.
“Yes, of course. How may I help you?”
“I’d like to sign up for surf lessons. Do you have anything for tomorrow?”
“Private or group lessons?”
“I’m by myself, but I’ve never surfed before. A group lesson for beginners would be ideal if you still have spots available.”
“Let me have a look,” the man said before going silent. I could hear women giggling in the store, not too far from the phone.
He came back to the phone a minute later. “Yeah, I’ve got room with a group that heads out of town tomorrow morning. It’s a half-day lesson, but out-of-town, so you’d be gone for the full day. Would that work for you?”
“Sure,” I replied, hoping it wasn’t just going to be couples on a romantic getaway together. He relayed the price and meeting-point information I needed, and I agreed to show up the following morning at 8 a.m. sharp.
Beach bag packed with my sunscreen, a book, towel, T-shirt, banana, bottle of water, ham and cheese sandwich, and just enough colones, their local currency, to pay for my surf lesson, I left my rental apartment and headed into town, large sunglasses protecting my eyes from the already bright and hot sun. I wore my red bikini, covered by a sarong I’d purchased in Thailand a few months ago.
The flip-flopping sounds of my sandals scared a few large lizards as I headed down my quiet side street to meet the main road that would lead me to town. Although the main road itself was paved, its asphalt surface ended sharply just as the road slanted into deep dirt ditches on both sides. Cars with miscellaneous, miss-matched colored parts and hanging bumpers whizzed by me, often honking first. Good thing I’ve got less than a mile to walk. I watched my step, avoiding broken Imperial beer bottle fragments and other trash that lined the ditch while still taking in the beauty of the large fuchsia flowers that dotted nearby trees.
I arrived at the meeting point ten minutes early, which was good, but I didn’t have anything other than my book to keep me occupied. I’d left my phone along with all of my valuables in my apartment.
A white minibus with worn-out surfboards strapped to the top finally arrived at 8:05 a.m. A tanned and short Tico got off and greeted the group of foreigners that had gathered near me.
“¡Hola Mae! Hi, guys! Soy José,” he said. “Ready for your surf lesson?” Excited cheers resonated around me.
I let the other passengers board first, then gave my name along with my payment to the young man. When I walked onto the bus, I counted eight other passengers, ranging from late teens to mid-thirties, all seated in pairs.
I nonetheless smiled at those who made eye contact with me, then found a seat at the back of the bus.