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Welcome to SwansonPonATime! We are a young missionary couple in Peru, and this is our space to share our journey with you! ...Enjoy! 

Our Costa Rican Adventure!

Our Costa Rican Adventure!

We have just gotten back from a trip to Costa Rica, and wanted to share with you something we experienced there. This post is a bit lengthy but TRUST us its worth the read. 

Greetings from Costa Rica! This is a trip God has definitely gifted us with; we have gone back and forth about taking because of our big move in a couple of months, but also wanting to spend some time with each other after being so busy basically since we have dated (working, residency, planning a wedding, studying for the boards, etc.). We were actually supposed to go to Kenya on a mission trip with our church but due to Kenya’s presidential election, the trip was canceled and so we saw this as a golden opportunity to take the time to invest into each other. 

So here we are in Costa Rica, and from arriving, the trip began with a bumpy start. From a little paranoia from traveling in a new country, the issues of renting a car and feeling as if we were being jipped, to getting lost at night on our way to the AirBnB we were staying at for the night, and then to the cloudy rainy weather that does not reflect the picture-perfect Costa Rica you’d think of. We couldn’t help but feel as if we may have done the wrong thing by coming on this trip.

Day One:

5:23 AM Devyn woke up and refused to go back to sleep, she was ready to get out of the AirBnB and start our 3 hour viaje (Spanish for voyage) to the other side of Costa Rica to our Villa where we would be staying at (found it on Groupon- love Groupon) for the next 4 days. We made our way to the ferry where we have to wait 2 hours to get on and it is another hour trip on the ferry to get across. We had breakfast at a SODA (aka local family owned restaurant) and the owner Ricky Ricardo (great name haha) who was the nicest man and served us great coffee and traditional Costa Rican breakfast (rice and beans with a block of cheese, eggs and a tortilla on the side). There, we also met a tourist couple Jim and Mary who were on their “first date” in Costa Rica- how cool! We sat with them on the ferry, it was really nice to have that time to get to know them and swap travel stories.

 

Y’all ready to hear the craziest part of our adventure so far?

Once off the ferry, on the other side of the bay, we had a one hour drive to our Villa and we took off in good spirits after feeling full from great convo and a beautiful rainy ferry ride. Our GPS was set and started by taking us through winding beautiful Costa Rican roads, we were all set… So we thought. We went through several towns and then turned left according to the GPS. Shortly thereafter, about 30 mins into our trip, our pothole-ridden pavement road turned into a dirt road. Oh, by the way, we rented a Toyota Yaris.

At first, the dirt road wasn’t too bad, our little Yaris was trucking though, even as the road turned into a one lane road, ONLY ONE LANE shared for car going in both directions. Starting off there were just a few patches of slippery mud here and there and some hills we had to power over (Little Engine that could style).  At this point we thought about turning back, but then thought it wouldn’t get much worse. WE WERE WRONG… VERY WRONG!! After a couple more hills we hit a no turning back zone! We went down a curvy, steep, all mud hill, and held our breaths, hoping, again that the roads wouldn’t get worse than this.

For a good 15 minutes we were all alone, no houses, no cars, just us and this crazy road that seemed to get thinner and more jungle like by the second. Did we mention it was raining?!?

All of a sudden, the road seemed determined to stop us. The road became a crater filled, rock ridden, windy war zone full of ruts! We got stuck in mud many times, we were sliding on the belly of the car at least twice (picture Free Willy gaining momentum and doing a Slip N Slide).  There were countless times where we thought we lost a bumper or the muffler or poked a hole in the gas tank as HUGE rocks were dragged along, scrapping the bottom of the car. Several times we had to stop so Julian could walk ahead to survey the next obstacle. We had to get it right the first time so we didn’t end up stuck or worse in the middle of the jungle. Julian had to get out and make a rock bridge in order to drive through 2 rainforest rivers that crossed over the road. At one point, there was a huge crevice we were driving over straddling it with both tires. While at the same time I (Devyn) looked out the right window and noticed we were less than a foot away from a drop off that was several meters down but I couldn’t tell Julian at that point because I didn’t want him to break focus on the road.

The worst part was how long this lasted, it wasn’t just one mile of bad road, it was a good hour and a half of treacherous driving.  An hour and a half of us praying to God to please get us through the next road challenge, having a short break of passable road only to approach our next obstacle. As we drove on we knew that it would be a mere miracle to arrive with us and our rental car in one piece. It’s funny now looking back at it, but I (Julian) remember stopping to clear some mechanical debris in the road, it turns out that the debris I cleared was the BUMPER OF ANOTHER CAR (!!!) that had broke off on this very same road (license plate included). It may have been a sign of doom for us that another car had fallen apart on this road, but I also saw it as a gift from God that we should take with us to remind us that He got us through this.

After making it through each difficult spot, we would say thank you Jesus and then ask Him to give us a break (He didn’t right away haha). However, He was definitely present the whole time and kept reminding us of that! I (Julian) remember somewhere in the thick of it all that Devyn would realize how far we had made it and said outloud to me “We are SO loved,” which was so encouraging to be reminded of. At one point, we reached a fork in a road, and not knowing which way to turn, the only house for miles appeared and we were able to seek directions from the local family, they even offered to help if we ended up getting stuck. What’s funny is they told us to turn back, that the roads ahead were not even passable, which we knew was not an option, so we kept moving forward with their best advice.  At another point in our journey, another local SINGLE HANDEDLY pushed us up a muddy hill (if that’s not God’s strength I don’t know what is)!! There were several times where I (Julian) for sure knew we were bottomed out and stuck but somehow the car kept moving forward as I put the petal to the metal!! This was crazy y’all!! We just remember over and over wanting the torture to end. We were exhausted with having to be on constant alert and adrenaline pumping! I (Julian) don’t think I could’ve made it without Devyn by my side. Every so often Devyn would make me stop, place her hand on me and tell me to take a few sips of water. Half way through it she even called me Indiana Jones, which made me feel like the man, until I remembered we still had ways to go and no idea if we would even make it. This trip made us feel so small, and yet reminded us that God is everything.

I (Devyn) remember when we finally hit the paved 2 lane road, my eyes filled with tears and I was just over joyed with gratitude! We made it! I knew this was a God miracle just for us. I felt as if we were OH SO LOVED by Jesus, because He saved us! There was no way we should have made it out of that mountain of DOOM, but God did it for us. I was also so proud of Julian, to be able to keep such a composure and handle an extremely stressful situation for that long, I truly admire him.

When we arrived at the Villa, OMG it was like stepping into the Garden of Eden! The staff came out to us before we could even get into the gates, they brought us wet towels and delicious tropical juice. And our room, WOW, definitely more than we could have ever asked for, the jungle view from our covered porch alone was breathtaking and a reminder of God’s presence.

It was so funny, the staff at the hotel and the locals in the town were like “You came on that road?!?!. Didn’t you know there was a paved road that’s much smoother to take?” These sorts of conversations allowed us to talk about God and how only He could have gotten us through it in one piece.

Stepping into this wonderful place after going through the scariest thing I have ever been through in my life made me (Devyn) ever the more grateful. In looking at how our first 24 hours in Costa Rica have played out, it would be easy to come to the conclusion that this trip has not gone as planned and we should probably just go on home. But that is not the way we see it. As we sit here and write this we see how God has met us in Costa Rica, introduced us to beautiful new people, and showed us His love and protection like never before, I believe He wanted us to experience Him in a new way.

And while He was at it, maybe He wanted to prepare us a bit more for Peru! ;)

Here’s some rules we will always remember while traveling…

 

Rule #1 ALWAYS rent a 4-wheel drive, preferably a TOYOTA (its been mountain tested)!!!  

Rule #2 Ask locals for best directions, not your GPS! (We found out later, there was an easier PAVED road we could’ve taken). 

Rule #3 TRUST GOD! When you trust in Him, He will never fail you!

 

“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a while. Each trial will show you that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold – though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” – 1 Peter 1:6-7

 

From Costa Rica with so much love and gratitude,

J & D  

 

Here are some pictures of the rest of our Costa Rican Adventure! Pura vida! 

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