The Reason We Have No Pictures from January On…

As we prepared to fly home on February 20, we found ourselves with a total of three suitcases, two briefcases, a chart tube, a back-pack, and a tote bag in addition to my purse. All told, we figured we brought a couple boat-units worth of stuff along, everything from varnish to gaskets to spark plugs and oil filters. Each bag weighed in at 52 lbs., and the tote bag and backpack probably weighed in at 25 lbs. each. We managed to check the three suitcases and carry the backpack, chart tube, briefcases and tote bag successfully aboard the airplane and then to the Hotel Santo Tomas in San Jose for our forced overnight. We aimed at taking the bus into Puntarenas on Sunday, the 21st.

We were at the bus station by 8:50, missed the 9:00 bus, and with all of our stuff, waited in a crowded terminal until the next bus, which arrived about 9:30. We wrestled all of the stuff to the luggage bay, checking the three suitcases and backpack, then carried aboard our briefcases, chart tube, tote bag and my purse. (Are you starting to get the picture?) We sat in the third row opposite the driver, and Ole put his briefcase and my heavy pink and purple tote bag in the overhead directly over of our seats. I carried my purse and briefcase with computer at my feet. During the ride, we joked about the very large and prominent sign just three seats ahead of us that said, in English, Spanish, and German, “KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR PERSONAL BELONGINGS.” Get the picture yet?

The ride down to sea level from San Jose was just over two hours, along good paved highway, not nearly as third-world and ziggedy-zaggedy as we had expected. There were perhaps four stops before we got off at the Costa Rica Yacht Club on the outskirts of Puntarenas. Ole grabbed his briefcase, leapt down to organize getting the suitcases out of the luggage bay, leaving me to wrestle my purse, my briefcase, the pink and purple bag and the chart tube. But when I stood up to grab the pink and purple bag, it was gone. Vanished. Disappeared.

I couldn’t believe it. In the overhead was the big Ziploc bag with my toothbrush in it (had been in the pink and purple bag). I walked up and down the aisle at least three times, glancing down at people’s feet, but nothing. Looked at people’s faces. Nothing. Asked for help. Nothing.

In that bag were, in no particular order: the digital camera, with all of our pictures from November, December, January, and February; the 160 gigabyte hard drive, with all of our pictures from 2004 to the present, the iTunes library containing all of our music, all of our personal files for banking, correspondence, and archives going back to 1998; the iPod itself, with the only living copy of all of our music; a brand-new, never been used SPOT gps messenger we could use to check in with family and friends whenever we change positions; a new gasket for the replacement exhaust elbow; the two most recent issues of PassageMaker; four brand new cruising guides for the Costa Rican Coast all the way up to the Sea of Cortez (NOT cheap); a new Harry Potter movie, my personal journal, the phone charger for my cell phone, and basically irreplaceable stuff.

I could barely say hello to Dale and Linda, I was so shocked. I put my stuff onboard Emma Jo, then caught a cab to the police station, where I waited in the sun for 45 minutes before being invited in and being assigned to the secretary to take my statement (denuncia). That took nearly an hour, including interruptions on the telephone, accidentally erasing the computer-based interview form a couple of times, and refusing to find me anyone who spoke English. I definitely got the feeling they were just going through the motions.

It’s clear to me we’ll never get the stuff back. It’s also very clear to me that the thief was an opportunist – we were the only people on that bus with as much stuff as we had, and the only obvious non-Costa Ricans. But damn, whoever it was was good – to move that heavy bag from directly over our heads without our being aware of it was masterful. I’m hoping they’ll see the camera, the iPod, and the Harry Potter movie, and toss the rest – it’s of no use to anybody but us. I’m praying that they erase the hard drive before they decide to use it or sell it. I’m angry at myself, angry at us, for joking about the sign right in front of our faces. In the past three years, bussing from Fronteras on the Rio Dulce into Guatemala City countless times, bussing from Bocas del Toro to David just as many times, never have we seen such a sign. It’s obviously a big enough problem here in Costa Rica that a sign is needed. Dumbass Gringos.

Hence the reason for no pictures from January on.

In spite of the loss, we’ve tried to remain upbeat during the remaining days with Dale and Linda. We had a dinner out, an interesting $100 cab ride to sort out the paperwork transferring control of the boat from the Bixlers back to us, an afternoon at the pool, and a couple of very long cocktail hours on the fly bridge. They took great care of the boat, great care of the cats, and had the time of their lives cruising some pretty spectacular and unspoilt cruising grounds. We put them on a van to the airport on the 25th, and were a bit unsure what to do with ourselves finally being alone back on the boat. And Barclay – we’ll have to watch her for signs of depression, she got so close to Dale during these past few months.

On Saturday, I put Ole on a bus (oh no, not again) for San Jose, so he can fly up to Orlando for a management meeting. Crappy timing, as it will cut our cruising down from ten weeks to about seven, but we’re hoping to make it up to Huatulco before he has to sign on to Independence on May 5. I’ll spend the week he’s gone re-marking my territory, taking inventory of stores for a two-month cruise, and seeing what I can do to replace some of the things we lost.

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