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Sometimes Things Don’t Go As Planned…And That’s Okay!

Sometimes Things Don’t Go As Planned…And That’s Okay!

Warm greetings from Costa Rica!  I have been here for a few days now, but I have already learned so much!  Among already improving my Spanish and learning about Costa Rican culture, I learned a very important lesson (technically) before my trip even started.  My flight was scheduled to leave on Saturday, August 26th, out of Chicago, with a short layover in Houston.  Earlier that week, however, I had learned about Hurricane Harvey and the growing concern about the potential destruction that the storm could produce.  I was a bag of emotions—excited, nervous, energetic, anxious.

As of that Friday, flights through Houston were being cancelled left and right, but somehow, my flight was untouched and was scheduled to depart as planned.  After making several phone calls to the airline, it seemed as though I was clear to fly.  The drive to the airport from home was about 2.5 hours, so my family and I left pretty early Saturday morning.  On the way, however, I found out that my flight had been delayed, and then delayed again.  At this point, the plane into Houston would have arrived too late to make the connecting flight.

I was supposed to be taking the same flight as three of my peers on the trip, so sure enough, messages from our group chat started to blow up my phone.  I was the first of my travel group to arrive at the airport, so it was up to me to get the facts and relay the information back to the group.  A very nice travel agent from the airline listened to our situation and calmly gave me all of the information that she had been given, even talking to her supervisor and checking out other options for our group.  We were reassured by several other travel agents as well that there was no possible way the flight would be moved up to an earlier time. Thus, it was impossible for us to make the connecting flight as it was too dangerous for us to go to Houston.  With that information, we collectively decided to switch the flight to Sunday, the next day.

Prepared to get up even earlier and make the drive again to the airport, I set my alarm for the ungodly hour of 5:50AM.  Finally relaxed and feeling okay about the situation, I fell asleep early, ready to travel the next day.  Sure enough, however, I woke up to notifications on my phone that the flights that day had been canceled.  Canceled!?  I rubbed my eyes again, blinked a few times, and read it again—canceled.  In fact, the whole airport in Texas had shut down for the next two days due to extreme flooding.  After much more deliberation among the group, we decided to reschedule for a flight on the same airline for Tuesday.  Ironically, all possible flights to Costa Rica offered by this airline were scheduled to stop in Houston—we were kind of in a sticky situation.  Even after changing the flight to Tuesday, we were still very unsure if it was going to be canceled again or not.  Then, after even more deliberation, tears (almost), and searching for new (yet affordable) flights, we decided to switch airlines to avoid traveling through Houston.  While this was not the best option, considering all that had already happened, we were definitely anxious to get this resolved.

Now, it’s been nearly a week since I arrived.  I’ve been able to settle into life with my host family, visited several beautiful sites around San José, and eaten a ton of rice and beans.  I have also had some time to reflect on this adventure already.  Situations such as these really put things into perspective.  While dealing with flight cancellations is extremely stressful, I can’t imagine what it would be like to be living in the Houston area at a time like this—my thoughts and prayers sincerely go out to anyone who has been affected in any way.  Furthermore, on my end, this small bump in the road was miniscule in the grand scheme of things.  Overall, everything worked out in the end, and the view was actually pretty spectacular.

Pura vida.


08 September 2017


Zoe Henkes