Day 2 (March 5):
San Jose, Costa Rica
That damn alarm on my phone breaks the comfortable silence in my hotel room at the Hemingway Inn. It’s a crisp 3:30 am. Yes, I set it. But, that shrill noise at such an early hour hits me like nails on a chalkboard. I convince myself to roll out of bed to prep my red back pack for the 6 hour bus ride from San Jose, Costa Rica to Paso Canoas (the border of Costa Rica/Panamá). A quick shower and a return to what have become my “travel clothes”—khaki cargo shorts, a grey t-shirt, a black long sleeved thermal, and running shoes (because you never know when you may need them)—is all I need before I head out the door. I walk through the lobby and the attendant who has been picked to work the graveyard shift quickly jumps up from his nap on the lobby couch (I’ve found that this is a common scene when traveling at early hours). “Necesito un taxi a la estación de TRACOPA (I need a taxi to the TRACOPA station)” I ask in a way that pays respect to the rigor of his grueling early morning schedule. He smashes a few buttons on the lobby telephone and within five minutes I hear the horn of the taxi signaling for me to jump in.
The taxi dumps me out in front of the TRACOPA bus station at 5:00 am. The terminal doesn’t open until 5:30 am, but there is already a small crowd of workers gathering in front of the main entrance. We all stand about exchanging small bits of chatter until the metal station gates creak open at 5:30 am on the dot. In between the small talk I find myself just standing there with my hands in the pockets of my khaki cargo shorts…simply taking in the beauty of the moment.
There’s something about the early morning—that hour just before sunrise—that feels the same no matter where you travel. The scenery may change and the small details too, but that feeling remains constant. Standing outside, waiting for the day to begin, the town has yet to awaken and the early morning envelopes your senses. The calls of the morning birds let you know that the sun is about to peek out from beyond the horizon. A crisp, cool air collects on your skin. When I close my eyes I’m transported back to the many early mornings that I spent walking from my mother’s house in Adamsburg to my job building swimming pools for Ray’s Pool Service at the end of our street. I’m reminded of my brief stint tending my Uncle’s farm as I saved money to buy my first pedal bike. If you’ve ever worked in manual labor you are probably familiar with this sensation. I can feel the day waiting on the horizon as I sit outside of the TRACOPA station: the metal shutters still locked tight around their storefronts and the street dogs sleeping snugly against the warm concrete walls. That feeling carries affect and it can take you back to so many places if you can capture it. Standing there with my hands in my pockets, I just enjoy the vivid memories in those thirty minutes before the rush of the day washes it all away.