When we decided to go to Costa Rica on a weeklong vacation we joked that with so much Covid going around we could get stuck. In our hypothetical world, it was not the worst place to be stranded. Beautiful beaches, warm weather, lovely people. Pura Vida. And then it happened and now it’s not so funny. Getting into the country from our home in Denver was easy but getting out was not. A positive Covid test, and then another, and now the government tells me I can’t leave until January 23.
We didn’t know for sure if we would make the trip until 9 p.m. the night before our departure. I scrambled to take one last covid test. Finally found one at an urgent care. After a third negative outcome we took the risk. We are vaccinated and boosted so why worry? On our arrival in Liberia, we had to fill out our details on an app. We gave our passport information and our vaccine status, identified the name of our hotel and showed proof of a return trip. If someone wasn’t vaccinated, they needed to show proof of travel insurance. We then received a QR code, and after an arduous three hours in immigration we were freed into the country. We commented on how travel was more of a pain these days but were convinced the most challenging part of the journey was behind us.
I realize this is a first world problem. Not everyone is able to travel. We had a wonderful week in Tamarindo. We basked in the sun and surf and visited a volcano. We saw monkeys and glorious sunsets. Early in our trip, I had a day where I was under the weather. It happens every time I’m in a hot climate and go in and out from the heat to the air conditioning. For 24 hours I had a bit of a cold. In the before times this wouldn’t have even given me pause. But since Covid every sniffle, every cough, makes me reach for my forehead to see if I have a fever. There was no temperature, no aches and pains, no sore throat, no worries. Until I tested positive on my way out the door and was told I could not leave.
On a day trip to Arenal volcano, we met a man named Conner from New York who came to Costa Rica for an electronic music festival. On the day before it was supposed to begin, the concert was abruptly cancelled due to covid concerns. All of his friends changed their plans and he was alone on vacation. He was understandably disappointed. I suggested he make the best of it. There were lots of people to meet and fun places to go. Don’t feel sorry for yourself, I told him. Now I find myself trying to take my own advice and make the best of a difficult situation.
While I quarantine I’m staying in a sprawling hacienda like hotel along a highway in Liberia. It has a western feel with a stagecoach in the front and a pool in the back. Breakfast is included for $47.75 a night. It seems to be a popular place for local families to get together. I hear only Spanish. It’s a far cry from the pricey Airbnb resort in Tamarindo which was geared toward tourists from America and Canada. I am settled in and look outside my room to the most beautiful pink, white and red ginger. It’s a peaceful place to write and rest.
While I try to stay positive (no pun intended) in quarantine, I question the point of keeping me in Costa Rica for eight days when I have no symptoms and had my sniffles almost a week ago. It feels like overreach. I have done what I’m supposed to do. I got vaccinated and boosted yet I still got Covid. Omicron is rampant back home. Some of my friends say they just want to get it and get over with it. Being stranded is in the back of everyone’s mind who travels. My girlfriend in Mexico says she’s hearing stories similar to mine among tourists who are getting stuck there. In our third year of Covid shouldn’t we be able to get away, and know we can get back home?