After last night’s escapade, I took the opportunity to sleep in, and ended up missing breakfast. I’ve had enough rice, beans and eggs to last me awhile so I wasn’t too upset. My feet were in no shape to be shoved back into rubber boots, so I took what was left of the morning off from collecting and worked inside. I wish I could have explored one last area, a meadow that was over-filled with mantisflies (Mantispidae), but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it this time. After lunch everyone prepared to leave, and before we knew it, we were pulling away from the ACG and headed back to San Jose. Our luxury bus was a nice ride, and it wasn’t long until we pulled into Puntarenas for dinner, meeting up with another group of dipterists who traveled to Monteverde while we were at ACG. Our dinner wasn’t too bad, but the stray cat wandering around the restaurant created a strange ambiance. Another hour and a half and we were back at the Adventure Inn in San Jose. A quick repacking of gear for our flight home, and it was time for bed one last time in Costa Rica.
Our travel day started bright and early at 5:30 in order to grab our complementary breakfast before heading off to the airport. We were pleasantly surprised to find no lines throughout the airport, and we breezed through exit taxes, check-in, and security without any significant waiting. A quick stop in the airport gift shop, and soon we were ready to board our flight back to Dallas. For whatever reason our flight was chosen for a secondary security check, including bag searches for everyone and pat downs for an unlucky few. An uneventful flight gave me the chance to start and finish a new book (Generation A by Douglas Coupland, watch for a review in the near future) and before I knew it we were descending into Dallas. Due to some complications with our export permits, Gil (who is traveling on a student visa to start with) was tasked with carrying all of our specimens into the country, and since our final flight destination was Detroit, we were all a little unsure how customs and agriculture would react to our insects. Our fretting was compounded slightly by a short lay-over (<2hr) and the long line out of the baggage area had us all slightly concerned. Luckily none of us ran into any prolonged issues, including Gil, and everyone made it to the gate in time for our next flight (which was ultimately delayed 30 minutes anyways). Dinner was a Big Mac that tasted like filet mignon (a guilty pleasure of mine after every trip to the tropics) and our flight into Detroit was fast and comfortable. A late night drive back to Guelph and after 2.5 weeks I was back home.
Although no longer than any of my previous Neotropical trips, this trip felt like I was away for months. My theory is the multiple locations we traveled to combined with a heavily intellectual load at the congress created this illusion, but the trip still stands as one of my more memorable adventures. The number of kind, generous people we met, both locals around Costa Rica and dipterists from around the globe, was fantastic and was definitely the leading factor in the success of the trip. Costa Rica lived up to all that I had heard of it, with beautiful habitats, fantastic infrastructure, and friendly smiling people. The photos and memories I brought home with me all add to the experience, and I know that this won’t be my last trip to Costa Rica!