THE JOURNEY HOME

PART FIVE

The morning of May 5th we woke up with the sun and walked the short distance down to the beach with our surfboards. We spent the morning catching waves and enjoying being in the warm salty water. Lela sat on the beach, greeting people who walked past, hoping for belly rubs. After a few hours we decided to switch boards, I hopped off my longboard and onto her shortboard feeling more confident in my wrist. It wasn’t too long after we switched that I was paddling back out from catching a wave while Ella was dropping into a beautiful blue peeler. I was hootin’ and hollering at her as I paddled over the lip with a massive smile on my face watching her getting closer to me to smack my backside when her large fin met the side of my foot, taking us both out. Coming up from the water I laughed and soon after felt a rush of pain. We had gotten thrashed into the break zone and I quickly got my board and paddled in. Ella was just behind me, asking if I was okay, both of us laughing as I sat down in the sand looking at the small but deep gash that now was on my foot. Once I saw what it looked like and the pain set back in, making it hard for me to want to move my foot, I let out a few tears and we joked about how we can never get a break. After all the chaos with our van, my broken wrist and now a slice in my foot we weren’t in the best of shape. But we couldn’t complain as we looked out at the ocean and truly knew just how lucky we were. Although karma would come back to her for running me over just a week later when I accidentally snapped her longboard in half on a wave.

We decided to head back to the hostel and clean up my foot, fill our bellies and feed Lela. Back at the hostel we passed our new friend Jack from England, who always said hello and asked about the surf while he played cards with his quiet friend Zach. Showing off my fresh scar we laughed and shared how the waves were worth it. After getting ready for our “busy” day, we popped in across the street where a young couple made smoothie bowls that would keep our bellies satisfied until later. We took a walk through town and stopped at a supermarket to get food for dinner and a box (a liter) or two of wine. We walked down the smaller alleys and found the best taco joint where we built our own massive tacos. That little restaurant would become our regular. We continued on, bought large avocados from a sweet old man selling them on the sidewalk and popped into the stores chatting with the owners as we looked around. We found a cute handmade women’s bikini surf boutique that is owned by a sweet couple from the area. The husband chatted to us about where we could find a bigger and less crowded surf break while his wife made rashies and bikinis behind the desk. From all the driving in the city my right shoulder, that had sat in the sun for hours as we drove became so sunburned it bubbled up and blistered, so purchasing a rash guard was needed.

We made our way back to the hostel and stopped to chat with Jack again who invited us out to dinner later. We spent the rest of the day relaxing in the pool where we met another friend, a sweet young woman named Carolina, who we became close with over the next few weeks. Later that evening we joined Jack and Zach for dinner and a few beers on the beach where Jacks quiet friend opened up and I became close with.

We started everyday waking up with the sun, grabbing our boards and walking the short distance to the beach with Lela in tow. Although after that second day Lela would wake up our new friends, get morning belly rubs and eventually wonder down to the beach where she would sit and wait for us. We found a sweet breakfast spot that became our new go to along with finding a hidden gem that had live music, good beer and food, where we spent a few of our nights with our friends. A few of the days we would walk around the town trying to sell our boards but had no luck.

A little over a week after we arrived the British boys moved down the beach to a hotel and we no longer felt that we had a reason to stay at the hostel. We thought we needed sometime away from the busy town so we called a taxi and loaded up with our friend Carolina. Down the coast a few minutes was Playa Hermosa, a small village with few hostels and a lot less people. We got dropped off at one of the only hostels that sat on the beach which seemed far too fancy for us. We walked around and down the beach, stopping at a bar for a snack and drinks where we weighed our options for staying here or going back to Jaco where we had some sort of a routine. Although we didn’t appreciate the loud club music that came from the bar attached to the hostel we enjoyed having what felt like a home. Being the most indecisive humans we got our things, called a taxi and back to the hostel we went where the woman who checked us out just a few hours before laughed as we walked back in. Settling into a shared room with Carolina we felt much more comfortable.

We got up early the next morning as we had a close friend from back home link us up with a friend who lives in Playa Hermosa who was taking us out for a surf. We pulled up to an empty big black sand beach that had beautiful waves peeling and a strong current moving the water swiftly. Having broken Ellas longboard I used one of our many shortboards and we all paddled out. The confidence I had in my wrist for the last few weeks had shattered after duck diving under countless waves, after catching just a couple the pain took me in. As I reached the beach I looked out to watch Ella and saw a pod of dolphins jump right next to her, sitting there I was feeling pretty grateful and couldn’t imagine how she was feeling. Not long later they came in, we loaded up and bought a few small bags of coconut water to quench our thirst. He told us about his business and talked about our shared friend from home as he drove us to his stunning apartment that overlooked the ocean. He made homemade hot sauce, and let me tell you it is the best hot sauce I’ve ever had, so of course we bought a bag full of bottles and he drove us back into town.

Ella spent the rest of the day with Carolina at the hostel as I walked the beach to meet with Zach. During the last couple days we spent our time together at the beach, walking through town and relaxing at the hostels cafe. Ella worked on figuring out what would happen to her van and if it was possible to get it shipped home. It looked like we wouldn’t see Dory again. For our last night, Carolina helped us get dolled up and we met with Zach and Jack at The GreenRoom for dinner and drinks. We listened to live music and reminisced on all our adventures that led us to where we were.

The next day we went for our last morning swim with Carolina and sat on the beach reflecting and feeling overwhelmed with gratitude. Making our way back, we packed up the two surfboards, Salvaje Swimwear, our clothes and were able to leave our things in the closed bar until we had to leave for our redeye flight. I met Zach on the beach, spending the entire day together not knowing if we’d see each other again. Little did we know what the future held for us.

Late that night we took shots with Zach and Carolina in the bar that held our things, bought Rum and Colas and loaded up our bags in a taxi for the last time. We hugged goodbye to our dear friends who made the last final leg of our trip so incredible and drove to the airport. Ella had me wait with our bags and Lela near check-in while she went and got the rest of our things from storage. Once she got back we stuff a few bags together so we weren’t hauling as much, checked in and meandered through the empty airport to our gate. We loaded up on more snacks, a few more tiny bottles of rum and boarded the plane home where I cozied myself up in a sleeping bag and slept until we arrived back on United States soil.

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