celestial light over a tree in a canyon

The view from the balcony outside my room

I didn’t sleep much last night, although I’ve learned enough about not sleeping that at least I didn’t stress about it while I was doing it. Multiple books on insomnia have taught me that when you’re not sleeping, you only make it worse if you start getting stressed about not sleeping. I would have rather slept, but I understood that I was anxious and I knew all the reasons why I was anxious and so I just tried to remember to breathe, worked on being mindful, let my thoughts drift away on clouds…

And then woke up again, wondering if I’d remembered to pack tissues for the plane. Or enough pairs of socks. Or my floss. Or whether my backpack was going to be too big to be a personal item or whether I should see if I could borrow a bigger piece of luggage from someone, maybe Jamie. Before 8AM, because that’s when Greg was coming to give me a ride to the airport. And thinking of 8AM, would I have time to give Sophie a good walk and take a shower and eat a good breakfast, or was one of those things going to have to fall by the wayside? And if so, which one?

And then I’d remember that I was being mindful and not worrying, and I’d work on some square breathing, where you breathe in for 4, hold for 4, out for 4, hold for 4, in for 4, etc. (When you consider breathing exercises, you’ll notice that most of them have you breathing in a lot less than you actually hold or breathe out — square breathing, for example, lets you get one second of air for every three seconds of not-air. It’s nature’s best high, because a tiny bit of mild hypoxia — aka oxygen deprivation — causes euphoria. Too much hypoxia causes death, of course, but a little of it is practically spiritual.)

Anyway, morning eventually rolled around. I tried to cram in sufficient dog walk, a good breakfast, a shower, plus some rethinking of packing decisions, and my anxiety level hovered somewhere around medium high. High enough that I was always aware of it, but not high enough to be disabling. It stayed that way until I opened the door to Greg’s car and discovered a packet of tissues on the floor almost under the passenger seat. I immediately remembered my middle of the night wish for tissues, realized that I hadn’t brought any, and asked Greg if I could have the ones I’d found. He said sure, and all my worries pretty much dissolved. Those tissues felt like the universe taking care of me. They were magical.

The rest of the day passed in travel, boring in the way that travel can be, also magical in the way that travel is. I looked out the windows of the plane a lot and thought about how amazing it really is that we can just jump on a plane and go SO far away, and yet at the same time, I wanted more leg room, I wanted to change positions, I wanted no one sitting next to me, I wanted it to all be over sooner. I stood in long lines at the airport to get through customs and immigration, waited for my bag for what felt like forever, and tried to appreciate that I was doing those things in a country I’d never been to before. It didn’t stop the lines from being tedious, though.

A driver picked me up right outside the airport, holding a sign with my name on it. He didn’t speak a lot of English, but he had his phone set up so that when he talked, it automatically translated for him. Whoa! That did feel magical. He told me about the nearby volcanoes releasing gases that formed clouds over the city, the neighborhoods we drove through, pointed out the nearest restaurants and the American style shopping district (Starbucks and Olive Garden included), and dropped me off at the hotel.

I checked in and the very first thing I did was go for a swim in the very lovely pool. Good thing, too, because the first rumble of thunder sounded not ten minutes later and within half an hour, the rain was nicely torrential. I spent the next hour or so browsing Uber Eats and when the rain finally started to let up, I ordered a papaya salad and a sweet ginger poke bowl from a place called Raw to Go. It wasn’t exactly my idea of the Costa Rican national cuisine, but wow, there are a lot of poke bowl places here. A ton of American fast food, too, but the poke bowls and the keto Indian cuisine will get more of my business than the Papa John’s and McDonald’s.

sweet ginger poke bowl

My sweet ginger poke bowl: salmon, brown rice, kale, nori, mango, green papaya, avocado, sesame seeds, crispy onion, and brown rice. Tasty, would eat again, didn’t love.

papaya salad

Papaya salad, with grilled salmon: so delicious! Tangy and all that green is mint. Would absolutely eat again. An early contender for favorite food in Costa Rica.

Then I started writing this blog post. And then I realized that I was so tired, I was  incoherent, so I stopped writing this blog post and went to sleep. 🙂

Now it’s 6AM. My first appointment at the dentist is at 8AM, so I’ll be leaving the hotel  before breakfast, unfortunately, but I have leftover papaya salad to keep me going. And I’m feeling — well, not exactly enthusiastic, it is a ton of dental work, after all! — but definitely positive.

For those wondering (I would be), my housemate Jamie is taking care of Sophie. He’s never owned a dog, so this is his chance to see whether life is better when a dog is dragging you out for walks every morning & afternoon (it is!) and he and Sophie adore one another, so she’s in good hands. I watched her for a while on my Blink camera last night while he was at work — she was lying on my bed, staring out the window, being a very good girl — and I absolutely miss her already.

But it’ll be so good to get these teeth taken care of — I’m expecting 5 crowns on teeth that currently have ancient fillings — and I’m looking forward to enjoying the pool, some more interesting foods, and hopefully getting a chance to see more of Costa Rica while I’m here.