Right after posting on FB that all was going so smoothly, we decided to go get dinner. It was in that moment that I realized, I don't have my backpack. We raced down to the lobby. Surely it was there. It wasn't. It wasn't on the hotel shuttle bus either. It wasn't in the hotel room. It was gone.
I was in shock. Slowly I began thinking of all the important things in my backpack. The best backpack in the world too, by the way. It wasn't until we were sitting in the open air restaurant waiting for our quesadillas and beans to arrive that I realized MY COMPUTER WAS IN THE BACKPACK.
Worst Case Scenario. All my business records, materials, contacts are on my computer. All the saved passwords to everything important. Ruah was highly distressed. We were at the end of a huge day of travel that started at 1:30 am in Portland. As the girls began spiraling down into despair, I told them to stop. Visualize the backpack coming back to us somehow. Imagine, we have it back. Feel how good that feels. They both had their eyes closed and Ruah was smiling. We began to think, maybe someone will return it to the lobby. Maybe it's still at the airport. Maybe the shuttle driver will find it. We opened our eyes...back to the reality that it was still missing. How would we ever get it back? We got our dinner to go. None of us felt able to eat.
I couldn't remember if I'd had the backpack on the shuttle. I thought I did, but did I? The last concrete memory I had of it was at customs, but I couldn't imagine I would leave my backpack behind.
We checked in with the hotel desk yet again. The supervisor said he would review the security tapes to see what they could learn. They tried calling the airport lost and found for me. They said they would call if they learned anything.
We went up to our room to go to bed. After only 45 minutes of sleep the night before, I was exhausted. I texted several key friends and family to please pray that it would be recovered. I went to sleep.
A couple hours later, I woke up... alert. What is it?, I asked myself. I looked at the time, and I kid you not...it was 11:11. The girls were sleeping soundly. I crept out and went down to the front desk yet again, to see if they knew anything else. A new man was working the night shift. He told me he had worked at the airport in customs for 11 years, and that so many people left things there. "I think your backpack is at customs. You need to go there."
"Should I go early in the morning?"
"You should go now."
"But I have two children sleeping upstairs. Are they safe?"
"They are very safe here. It is night. They are sleeping. Do you want me to call you a shuttle?"
"Yes." I answered.
I took the elevator back up to the room to grab my passport and money. Ruah was stirring, so I told her I was going to the airport to get my backpack.
I rode in the large shuttle bus back to the airport, about half a mile away. The shuttle driver helped me talk to the night guard, who had begun checking me out a little too much, and was leading me to a different door. The shuttle driver came out and explained, and soon I was back at customs, now a quiet dark room. A woman interviewed me extensively about my backpack, and when I passed the test, she pointed over to the wall by the conveyor belt luggage x-ray machine. THERE IT WAS! Just leaning against the wall as if waiting for me.
It was one of the happiest moments of my life. I don't think I'm exaggerating.
When I got back to the hotel, I placed the backpack on the dresser where the girls would see it when they woke up. Then I fell back into deep sleep.
The next morning, we were eating breakfast and saying goodbye to San Jose by 8:00am. We got onto our next shuttle bus, and headed off for our first full day in Costa Rica, with all our luggage in hand.
Sarah Pemberton is a teacher, a writer, and the founder of Write Now!. Sarah lives in Portland, Oregon with her two daughters.