• Lara Flanagan

A bumpy road to Paradise and fuck the Wi-Fi

Updated: Feb 28


I was a complete arsehole to Archie today.  We were getting back on the bus to continue our journey after travelling on the ferry from Puntarenas to Paquera.  It had suddenly become hot, very hot and all of those thoughts I had had in San Jose of being an ignoramus for leaving behind our jeans and jumpers in the States had vanished.   There was also an issue of seating as there were more people than seats on the bus and I just wanted to get seated before the bus drove away without us and left us in Paquera weeping by the side of the road like little pathetic gringo eejits. 


I was dealing with all of this as we got on the bus and Archie stopped in the middle of the aisle and started pointing to the sign above the driver that said there was free Wi-Fi.  I grabbed his little arm and said to him with sweat dripping down my face and pooling in every crevice of my body so that I was sure I and every other poor bugger on the bus could smell me, “You know Archie, I don’t care about Wi-Fi. I don’t bloody care about it.”  We stomped to our seats and after about 5 minutes Rissie told me that Archie was upset because I had snapped at him.  Well fucking get over it.   I hate this fucking obsession with fucking Wi-Fi, I fucking loathe it.   I took 6 deep breaths as one was insufficient and I did not have the fucking patience for 10.  I could smell myself, I was sure of it.  I could not remember the last time I had been this hot.  When you are in your room and need Wi-Fi sure, when you are overnight somewhere and want Wi-Fi sure, when you need it for work well sure, but why is there this obsession to be connected all the time?


I tapped Archie on the shoulder, “Sorry for snapping buddy.”  He looked at me with those great big wounded puppy dog eyes that make me want to put a rusty steak knife in my eye for being such an arsehole of a mother.  “I am sorry for snapping at you and for the way I said it, but I am not sorry for what I said.”  He nodded at me and his eyes filled up with tears.   “I won’t look at my iPad for a week mummy.  I promise I won’t.”  He was manipulating the situation now.  “It is not that buddy and you know it.”   He nodded and solemnly said to me, “I know mummy, you want us to look at things with our own eyes.”  I nodded at him and groaned inside at how much of a wanker I sounded like when he parroted my words back at me.   It had been a long day already and I am sure at that time it was still early. 


Before we had even left San Jose Bus Terminal, Rissie had been up and down the aisle three times with pencil and paper to get the Wi-Fi password.  As we were pulling out of the terminal both of them were connected and they looked like fucking mutants.   I had told them to put their iPads away and to look out the windows and to actually see the world that they were ignoring.  To see the crazy streets, the abundance of colour, the kamikaze drivers and the amazing jungle that seemed to meet the city outskirts.  They knew I was on the verge of losing it.  They are smart like that.  They pick up on the note of hysteria in my voice. 


They both nodded and repeated, “see things with our own eyes” and probably resented me for the next few hours as they stared out the window and their iPads burnt a hole in their bags.


I know I am fighting a losing battle – I just want to keep fighting it whilst they still listen to me and hopefully by the time their peers become a stronger influence than me I will have done the best job I can in giving them a few basic skills that fucking phones don’t give you.  I don’t hate technology.  I love modern advancements.  I could not be doing a trip like this without the wonders of technology.  The age of computers heralded the arrival of a brave new world.  The age of information I am not so sure about.  I actually read an interesting article in Time Magazine this week – I was needing some ‘by the pool in Atlanta’ reading material and there were no crap magazines that appealed in CVS. 


Also, Time Magazine had a great article on Trump highlighting one of his fuck ups with employing illegal immigrants for building the Trump Tower – I wish more people would listen to what a crook and imbecile that man is.  I digress. Anyway, this article said that the information age unlike the introduction of computers has not actually increased worldwide productivity, it has in fact decreased it.  Not really any wonder is it.  One can only imagine now how many hours are wasted on social media, endless emails and the necessity of being connected.


I know one day when the kids are older and they can afford to buy their own phones or whatever devices exist in 8 years’ time that they will be compulsively moving their thumb over some sort of screen like their life depended on it.  I am not stupid; I know it will happen.  But for a moment I am hoping to teach them the appreciation of a few other things as well and whilst I can say no I will continue to say no.  I do not dislike technology.  The kids are doing school because of technology.  Whilst I work they do school work or use their ipads.  It is a great set up.  When I am wanting to sit and contemplate my navel, they have Netflix.  You see technology is amazing.  I just have a problem with it when the use of it is more important than human communication, that we use it to avoid the god awful fear of boredom.  If our kids are never bored how the fuck will they work out how to use their imaginations? 


Anyway, enough, but when Archie was upset about the Wi-Fi I felt like saying to him, “what the fuck are you wanting with it, to check the New York Stock exchange?”   We were crossing the most glorious piece of water going from one amazing bit of land to another and out of the 50 odd people surrounding me I could count 32 of them on their phones.  I bet none of them were doing anything more important than checking their social media feeds and answering emails that could wait.  When did the whole idea of disconnecting become such a terrifying thing? Suffice to say Archie and I are mates now, maybe he got what I was going on about, maybe he didn’t.


We made it to our little place just near Montezuma.  It was a long bumpy road but we made it.  Early this evening we wandered up the muddy road surrounded by trees and flowers and found a little soda on the corner.  A little old lady served us and I couldn’t understand a word she said. We managed to get two plates of chicken and a salad and some rice and beans to share so I must have done something right.  I am starting everything with “I am sorry, my Spanish is fucking awful” I don’t think I say fucking awful, but I think it when I say it.  Then I say, I don’t eat meat or dairy but the kids eat anything and so far, so good, we get three plates of food that make me happy.  I had a major win today.  We had to be at the bus terminal just after 5am for a 6am bus.   I was organised.  We had some bread and juice and some fruit for the trip.  I had written down everything I needed to say.   I went up to the ticket counter and read in my best Spanish that we needed three tickets for the bus to Montezuma. 


It makes me laugh though as when I get a response in Spanish I then say, “I am sorry, my Spanish is fucked, I don’t understand”.  Then they speak in impeccable English and we get there. I had my three tickets and I was walking away when a couple asked me if I spoke English.   When I told them I did, they asked me if I could help them get some tickets to Montezuma.   I pointed them in the right direction and explained which gate and then the kids gave me a high five.   Then when we got on the bus they approached me again and told me I was their ‘go to’ woman for help.   Rissie cracked up and thought it was hysterical because……”you have no idea what you are doing mummy.”   Luckily she did not choke as she was laughing.


But the fact of the matter is we got there.  We caught a taxi, we got our tickets, we had food and we were on the right bus.  Initially I thought the bus was very posh.   Like a Greyhound complete with the cursed Wi-Fi.  This was cool, I could do this.  Admittedly after our first stop there were about 20 more people than seats and there were bodies on the steps and in the aisle but that was fine.  After the ferry we got back on the same bus and I thought the whole scary Costa Rican bus thing was a bit of a myth.  Despite the sweat and my fear of overwhelming body odour and my words with Archie I thought we were doing great.


Then we stopped in Cobana and I was relaxing on the bus thinking how few of us were continuing to Montezuma when a few people started bellowing at us and shouting Montezuma and pointing to another bus.  Suffice to say this bus was not quite as sophisticated.  The guy took our backpacks and threw them in the hold under the bus and we stood there as we looked at the arses of people hanging out the bus.  I actually said to myself that there was no fucking way that was going to happen.  As he shut the storage hold he pushed me towards the door and jumped in the driver’s seat.  As I was standing there with an open mouth the kids were pulled up the stairs by random strangers and literally as I stepped on the bottom step the bus pulled away in the mud.  I laughed out loud hysterically for a few minutes and thanked my lucky stars that they had at least shut the door so I would not fall out.


We finally got to Montezuma and I went looking for a taxi to get to the place we were staying as I thought I would splurge on a taxi as I was not sure I was ready for another bus.  There was a guy sitting in front of a sign that said taxi but he shook his head and pointed over the road to yet another bus.  A fucking smaller bus.  As I trudged over the road determined as all fuck, I heard Rissie’s little voice behind me, “do we have to catch this bus Momma, do we have to….?”.  “Few more minutes, we are almost there Rissie.”  I sounded so calm but in reality I was starting to lose it. 


This bus was fucking crowded with locals and looked like a mini bus that had used crack cocaine.  In the middle of the door looked like a tin filled with petrol and people were spilling out everywhere.  I was just about to return to the taxi man and sob, “I am sorry, my Spanish is so bad, I am so tired. Please get me a fucking taxi”  (of course he would not have understood a word, but surely pathetic weeping women are universally understood), when all of a sudden the petrol can was moved, our backpacks were pulled rather aggressively but kindly off our backs and thrown quite literally in a space next to the driver, an old woman gave Rissie her seat and when I said no she kept on flexing her muscles at me , which I am assuming it meant she was strong and not that she wanted to hit me. Archie was given a seat near the gear stick next to the driver and I hovered on a step again.


After about 10 minutes of driving that I think aged me about 10 years I saw a sign for where we were staying and once again shouted out, “I am sorry my Spanish is bad, for gods’ sake I am sorry.”  The bus stopped, I gave a girl my wallet so she could take out whatever money the driver needed, a human chain passed our backpacks out and we were there.  Seemingly in the middle of nowhere.


A few minutes later we saw the ocean, then we saw our little home for the next 10 days.  What a long bumpy road, but we had found a little paradise.  As we wandered back from the soda, the kids grabbed my hands.  They were weary.  Archie pointed out some fire flies.  I said no, maybe it was the reflection of raindrops, but it was indeed fire flies, dancing in the jungle beside us.  Our path was being lit by an amazing little show of light and movement.  As we got home, you could hear and see the ocean only metres above and I actually almost pissed my pants when the most god awful sound of terror and pain ripped the dusk air in two.   I  thought Daryl and Rick would appear and I had been transported into a scene from the Walking Dead.  Howler Monkeys.  Good god in heaven, howler fucking monkeys.

After we had all changed our undies and the kids had gone to bed the rain started – the evening air is now cool and thankfully the monkeys have also gone to bed.


Such a long, long day.  The road was bumpy but we got there in the end.  Home for a little while is our own little paradise, devil howler monkeys and all.


#Journey #CostaRica #Motherhood #Travel #Travelingwithkids

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