My paved runway came to an end, just as an opening in the barbed wire fence appeared to my left. The trailing edge of tarmac lured my eyes toward a dark lagoon separating me from the Pacific Ocean. I shuddered. Water, and the things lurking beneath its surface, had always made me nervous.
Tied to the bank, two canoes bounced against the shore, against each other, against the breeze. My mind lingered as I watched them float atop the choppy water. What was I doing here? The same terror that ripped through my gut as I said goodbye to my parents at the airport hit me again now - staring into dark water, into an unknown future, into what my life had become.
It had all snowballed so quickly - his reappearance and ultimate departure. Like they happened in the same day. And like that day had constantly reoccured for the last two years. A Groundhog Day of grief.
My stomach rumbled and I shook free of the thought, if only for the necessity of nourishment. I had forgone at least 5 meals since I set out on my journey to the Osa Peninsula and now I was here. I was standing on what Lonely Planet referred to as the most difficult region to access in Costa Rica. And I was hungry.
I turned down the thin dirt path beyond the break in the fence. As I ventured toward a thatched roof structure, I realized the lagoon wasn't disappearing into the distance, but following my stride. I worked hard to look away - to look toward any sign that I might be in the right place.
Tortugas. Praise the Lord, the sign said, "Tortugas."
By the time I made it to the open air building, my clothes had melted into my skin. The two packs I had been carrying made their way to the ground with a most ungraceful thud and I looked around. It was 8:00 a.m. and seemingly the reason no one had met me at the airport was because no one was here at all.
I glanced around, unsure of walking farther into the vacant property.
Cleaning the frog of travel tears and anxiety vomit from my throat I said, "Hello?"