Did you read Part 1? José goes to Paris!
Imagine growing up in the small Costa Rican town of Puerto Jimenez, population under 1,000. The furthest you’ve ever traveled is to the capital of San José, and you’ve only just seen your first escalator last year. Now, wake up tomorrow morning and fly to Amsterdam, Paris and Biarritz.
Well, for Blue Osa’s head chef José, traveling internationally was last month’s reality, and though the beginning was as wild and rocky as it could have possibly been, he absolutely loved the experience.
From the get go everything went wrong, yes everything: his flight to San José was cancelled and he had to scramble to get to the capital by bus, then while waiting for his flight to Panama, he was approached by an immigration officer not 15 minutes before his flight and was told that he did not have the proper authorization. He ended up being delayed for two days and the whole ticket had to be reissued. In Panama he was, stopped again, questioned about how he could afford the ticket, and strip-searched (I said everything didn’t I).
José told me all of this laughing as if it were nothing. I couldn’t help thinking how upset I would have been in his position and so I asked him if he would ever travel again. He looked at me baffled by my question and answered quite simply, “of course!”
It had been one of the greatest episodes in his life. Everything was so new he couldn’t help but learn as he went from one place to the next. Sure, seeing the Eiffel tower, boating through the canals of Amsterdam and hanging on the beaches of Biarritz, but the highlight was just walking down the streets. On a simple stroll, he’d be left awestruck by the pure age of buildings like the Notre Dame Cathedral. Even just the busy streets, the lights and the people was completely new for him.
Even the weather afforded an opportunity to experience something new. Cooler than he was used to for sure, but then one day walking down the street in Paris, the strangest thing happened, ice started to fall from the sky. For a man that had never even seen snow to see hail flying through the sky, banging on the roof and hitting the windows, was something previously unimaginable.
Despite all the difficulties just getting there, the culture shock, the noise and the incredible amount of people, he hopes that he will have another opportunity to travel again. Now that he traveling is no longer the unknown it won’t be nearly as daunting.
I asked him what he had missed most when he was gone, and without hesitation, he told me the one thing he really missed was his son. After this incredible journey being so far from home and everything he had previously known, the first thing he did when he got back was going to hug his son and give him a kiss.
Welcome back José, we missed you.