Monday, May 6, 2013

When Love Came to Town (Part 3): The long way home

Travel often seems glamorous & exciting. The pictures paint the most beautiful picture to those glaring enviously at home… 

This post isn't about one of those times. It may be long, but it's worth it, I promise. But, if you don't like reading and you're just here for the pictures-here's the short version: We got up at 4:00AM and made it home at 9:00PM. What was supposed to take 9 hours took us 18. Intrigued? Keep reading.You know you want to.

Long version:

Let's rewind to Monday. As soon as we arrived in Granada, Nicaragua I asked the hostel receptionist to make bus reservations for us over the phone for Wednesday. As I listened to the conversation I smiled feeling proud that I was understanding all the Spanish. It was all set- Thursday morning our bus would arrive at 6AM but we needed to be at the bus station at 5AM. The earlier we could leave- the earlier we would arrive home

Thursday night we packed up all of our bags and tried to fall asleep in the sticky heat of our 8 person, hostel dorm room. All we had to do was wake up, grab our bags, and go. At 2:00AM McCray's alarm went off in the bunk above me and he woke up in a panic. Fortunately, somehow in my sleepy stupor I realized that he had forgotten that his phone was still 2 hours ahead of the actual time so we closed our eyes for what felt like just another blink of an eye. We grabbed our bags and headed out the door- all we had to do was find a taxi to the TransNica bus station. 

In case you were wondering, there are two TransNica bus stops in Granada. We went to the other one. When we pulled up, I knew we were at the wrong place. There was no sign of anyone nor anything but a TransNica sign on the wall. Luckily, I had my map. We quickly resolved the problem and headed on our way. Eventually, we pulled up at the other "bus station" that really looked even gloomier than the last one. It was just a door in the wall with yet another shabby TransNica sign. Nonetheless, the taxi driver insisted that we were in the right spot. We hesitantly got out of the taxi and sat down on the curb.  5:00AM came and went...then 5:30...still no one arrived to open the "station". This was certainly a different experience than our organized departure in San Jose. 

As we watched the town come to life, we fought the butterflies in our stomachs. Despite the nerves, it actually was nice to watch the sun rise, see the milk man come around to each "house"/door in the wall, and hear the baker walking up and down the street singing "El Pannnn"(bread) for everyone to hear. It reminded me a little bit of the beginning of the movie Beauty and The Beast. 

Our view at 5AM

Finally, it was 6:00AM. Were we in the right place? Would the bus actually show? A wave of relief poured over me when we saw a TransNica bus round the corner. As we stood up with our bags, the bus slowed to a stop. The bus driver got out of the bus and held up his list. Then he said the words that we replayed in our minds over and over again for the next two hours, "ustedes no están en la lista" (You guys are not on the list). After about a minute of futile arguing, the driver got back on the bus and drove away.

How could this be? I had heard our reservations made with my own ears. All we could do was wait until the "bus station" supposedly opened at 7:00AM. 

At around 6:15AM McCray suddenly has to go to the bathroom- and no, not just number one. This may seem comical, which of course after the fact it is, but if you've ever been in that situation, it's a very real real and serious dilemma. We were at a loss of what to do.. there were no stores around us or any sign of a possible bathroom location. But if we went to hunt for a bathroom, what if we missed that bus that we so desperately needed? 

So, I began to pray. Yep, I was asking the Lord to provide a place for McCray to go poop. In my mind I just prayed "Lord, please open a door". In reality, I meant that metaphorically. But as I looked across the street, I saw a door open. With no explanation I told McCray to go over to the door and say "Estoy esperando para el autobus pero yo necessito el bano por favor"! He rushed across the street and I watched him enter the door. It worked! Thank you, Jesus for your provision even in silly moments like that.

At 7:30AM a man walked up to the door and unlocked it. The "bus station" was finally open! In the calmest voice that I could muster in light of the events in past 3 hours, I explain to the man in Spanish what had happened at 6:00AM. The man then went on to tell me that the next bus would be departing at 12 Noon and that we would have to pay extra because it was an "ejecutivo"(executive) bus. I firmly told him that we would absolutely not "pagamos mas" because we had reservations for the normal bus that were apparently disregarded. I must have either been pretty convincing or he might have just felt bad for me at that point. Either way, he set us up for the 12 noon ejecutivo bus back to San Jose.

At this point, it was about 7:45AM. The last thing that we wanted to do is wait 4 more hours. Let me tell you, those 4 hours DRAGGED on. We left the bus station (after I made sure that our bus station man would be there to vouch for us at 12PM) to go find somewhere for breakfast. We were scared to go too far for fear that we would get lost or encounter some other dreaded circumstance.
At last, we found a hole in the wall cafe where we were the lone customers. While waiting for our order, we pulled out McCray's bible and began reading some Psalms. When I read Psalm 34:6 aloud to McCray, it resonated with my current feelings. 

"In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened;

    he saved me from all my troubles."

Suddenly, I was humbled by the realization that this situation wasn't "trouble" or dismay. David, the author of this Psalm, was being hunted for his life. Now THAT is trouble. Being persecuted for your faith is "trouble". Having no food to eat is "trouble". We had a hot breakfast in front of us and we were allowed to read the word of the Lord freely, without fear. We were merely faced with a less than appealing inconvenience. This epiphany drastically changed our outlook on the day- and on our current less-than desirable long distance relationship for that matter. Despite these things, we are so blessed. Blessed to be with one another, blessed to experience new things and blessed to make unforgettable memories. 

McCray told me in that moment that in two days- when he would be on his way back to the US- he would be wishing that he could just be in hot Nicaragua waiting those 7 hours with me again. I couldn't have agreed more. 

The same street at 12 noon
Eventually the time passed and we boarded our bus home to San Jose. 
(Also, as a helpful tidbit of info- if you're ever crossing the border into Costa Rica on land, you need proof of your ticket out of the country in order to be allowed in/get another 90 day Visa. I was so glad somebody told me!)

So happy to finally be on our bus.
When we finally made back to my neighborhood in what felt like the middle of the night, we walked the last few minutes listening to our favorite song and singing at the top of our lungs. 

"Ahh Home. Let me go home. 
Home is wherever I'm with you. 
Ahh Home. Let me go ho-oh-ome. 
Home is wherever I'm with you."

All this time we had been longing to make it home- 
but really "home is whenever I'm with you". 

With a tearful goodbye, I loaded McCray into his airport taxi on Friday morning. We will be reunited again at the end of June. It has been two months since then and now there are only 2 more months left. But who's counting?

UPDATE Nov 2013: 

This blog has since been added to Kiki's link up, 'All About Travel' at In Its Time


  1. Wow, that sounds like quite the unforgettable trip! I'm glad you got back in one piece and that the two of you got to spend it together--even if things didn't go as smoothly as planned. :)

    I'm also super encouraged that you looked at the trip and realized how many hidden blessings there were--it's always hard to do that in times like those!

    1. Thanks for your comment- I'm glad that I could link up with you even though I was little late!

  2. Ah, stressfull, but otherwise it sounds like you had an amazing trip. Sometimes thing seem to go bad, only to turn out even better in the end. Thank you for sharing this with us!



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