Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Accidentally Packing Light Tourist

Adam and I just got back from a wonderful weekend (sans children) away. We took a few days off, settled our kids alternately with our beloved family friend/trusted sitter and Guggie (grandmother in Ethan speak) and headed to Costa Rica. I am normally very easily convinced to leave my children with someone special in order to get some relaxation and grown-up conversation but was more nervous this time around than in times past. I think it had to do with the fact that Ethan is a bit older now and so much enjoys being with Adam and I that I didn't want to hurt his feelings by leaving him behind. As the oldest son, he generally gets to do more stuff one-on-one with us than Eli does and he always takes such pride in knowing that there is something special about getting to come along and something unlucky about being left behind. I didn't want him to feel left behind. I was also (understandably) worried about the possible return of Eli's mystery hives and about leaving so many different medications behind for someone else to administer, especially medications that include the instructions, "If wheezing continues, seek immediate medical treatment through your emergency services".

So, you can imagine how quickly my heart rate accelerated when, after getting in the immigration line at the Liberia airport in Costa Rica, I heard an airport agent calling for "Mrs. Slipakoff" as she walked up and down the lines of people. When she found me, she began with, "I have a message that one of your....".

I silently will her not to finish that sentence with something about one of my children but I can't possibly think of who would be needing to get a message to me so urgently. So when she says, "...one of your bags didn't make it." I practically hugged her. I burst out in a fit of laughter, more like a guffaw really, and smile and say, "Oh! Well, that stinks I guess. But, ok then! So, someone will just bring it to me later then!?". Followed by more freaky noises and smiles. I must've been the most easy going customer she had all day. She looked at me with a face that seemed to say, "Huh. That went....well."

Apparently misplaced baggage is pretty common in this airport. (For those of you who live in Atlanta and are reading this, do you ever notice how the personnel who work in the baggage offices in the Hartsfield Airport always seem so surprised that you haven't received your luggage and are perhaps even a bit incredulous that the complaint that you have when you enter the lost baggage office is that your luggage has been lost? They always say, "Your luggage????? It isn't here???? What can I help you with???? Are you sure your luggage isn't here???? Did you look on the carousel????? Hm.....Well.....Uh.....Let me see here. Luggage. Lost. Huh. Ok. One moment....".) Not the case in Liberia. They had the form ready and waiting for me to fill out, complete with two overnight kits courtesy of Delta which included a cute little toiletry bag, a little fold-up hairbrush, a small package of laundry detergent (very smart!), a razor, shaving cream, toothbrush, toothpaste and a Skyteam t-shirt. The t-shirt came in very handy. I wore it to bed the first night and had grand plans of turning it into a skirt if my luggage was delayed another day.

The only problem was that Costa Rica is freaking hot and I had on jeans. But, luckily there was a gift shop at the hotel. Which unfortunately didn't offer me many choices in the way of bathing suit or clothing options but I did pretty well with the slim pickings. The bathing suits were either outrageously tiny or outrageously expensive, or a combination of both. Fortunately, I was able to find one that I wouldn't be embarrassed wearing in front of other people and wouldn't forfeit my life savings on either. I needed something to wear to dinner since trolling around in my jeans was simply out of the question because of how hot it was, but the only clothing items the shop carried were bathing suit coverups and Costa Rica t-shirts. I finally settled on a little brown coverup and a small t-shirt that said "Costa Rica" in glittery letters along with some pictures of glittery volcanoes and glittery plant life. I had to make these items get me through at least 24 hours since there is just one flight from Atlanta to Liberia each day. I did get the bright idea to roll up the cuffs of my jeans transforming them into capris so I knew that was an ace in my (non-existent) sleeve, if the situation should become dire.

We checked into the room and it took me .3 seconds to unpack. I proudly hung up my new purchases in the closet and finally understand why people pack light. It is so freeing! Because I was not physically bogged down by "stuff", my mind felt completely clear too! I felt lighter! I surely did. No thoughts of the dresses I'd carefully chosen and folded into my suitcase. Or the extra time spent choosing the right combination of t-shirts and flowing skirts. Or the bathing suits I'd specifically purchased for this trip...No, siree. It was just me and my three clothing items (four if you count the Skyteam t-shirt).

See how clean the closet is!? No mess! No fuss! Traveling light could become a lifestyle for me....possibly.

Adam and I spent our glorious first day eating lunch, lounging around and definitely not unpacking. You know, since I'd already done that in the first .3 seconds. When it was time to get ready for dinner, the jeans (even in their altered capri state) were definitely not an option because of the intense heat and humidity. The coverup didn't really live up to its name since it did not, in fact, cover very much up. So, I did the obvious thing. I pushed the coverup down around my waste, making into a skirt, and I pulled on the glitter tee. I happened to have a necklace in my carry-on that matched and voila!, a half-way decent outfit to wear to dinner!

The next morning began with no news of my bag (no news is good news, as it turns out) so the bathing suit coverup transformed back into its namesake and worked just fine over my swimsuit walking to the beach and pool.

Did I spend the whole trip finding creative ways to manange my lost luggage? Definitely not! Adam and I had fun trying to McGuyver new outfits out of my three (or four, if you count the Skyteam t-shirt) articles of clothing, going so far as putting my underwear in the safe since it was my one and only pair, but the hijinx ended when my luggage arrived late in the afternoon of our second day. Besides, we had much better things to do.

Like enjoy the view:

Hang out by our plunge pool:

And spending some time reconnecting:

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