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Does FEMA Make Housecalls?

So, I started packing for the trip this morning. Seeing as how it’s less than two weeks away, I figured it’d be prudent to start now so that I don’t, in a last-minute panic-blind frenzy, end up with a suitcase containing 20 pairs of shoes, a waffle iron and no underwear.  And, frankly, I’d rather not spend my first week in a Costa Rican jail facing public lewdness charges for trying to mime ‘Where can I buy underwear?’ to the locals.

Besides, my Puritanical beliefs require me to wear old-timey pantaloons to hide my shame from the ever-vigilant eyes of God.  And those suckers are a nightmare to shop for.

So, as I said, I started packing this morning and would like to pause for a moment to share with you a photo that accurately reflects my mental state right now.  (Okay, that, and I didn’t feel like doing any more packing.)

Somewhere under there is a kitchen table.  And possibly another cat, because I haven’t seen the other one all morning…

Mind you, this may not look like a travesty just yet, but keep in mind that (a) I’m a neat-freak to the point of being emotionally crippled by mess and disorder, (b) I started packing less than an hour ago, and (c) this is just the dining room.

Believe me when I say that in the bedroom lurks a massacre of clothing, toiletries and unspeakable, butt-clenching horror.  But I refuse to show it to you because what also lurks in there are a few small, mildly annoying mystery stains on our bedspread that have since become one large, gruesome mystery stain after I sprayed stain remover on them.  So, the boudoir is off-limits until our bed no longer looks like the scene of a ritual animal sacrifice because I’d rather not have any of you jumping to any conclusions about what sort of kinky shenanigans go on in there.

Man, I hate packing.  Whether it’s for a weekend trip or a two-month-long excursion, it’s always accompanied by the same irrational fear that I’m going to forget something important and irreplaceable and be royally screwed for the rest of the trip.

Holy crap, Katie and I leave in ten days. TEN DAYS.

That’s not nearly enough time to become fluent in Spanish.

That’s not nearly enough time to become a well-read expert on Costa Rican geography, history, politics, economy and culture.

That’s not nearly enough time to tone my thighs and abs and cultivate a warm, golden brown tan so that I can cavort playfully in the surf in a skimpy gold lame bikini like they do on Sports Illustrated covers.

I’m fully anticipating total anarchy mixed with periodic insanity and bouts of uncontrollable crying before all’s said and done.

(How fun am I??)



Marisa Wikramanayake

Here’s what you should pack (from a veteran traveller):

T-shirts (7)
Two pairs of jeans (one dressy to wear at night, one not)
One pair of high heels
One pair of flip flops
One pair of sneakers
3 dressy tops
1 day dress
1 fancy evening dress that has a knee length hemline (any shorter and it might be too risque, any longer and it might be too formal)
1 cap
1 bathing suit and something to wear over it to cover up such as a sarong or beach wrap
1 jacket/jumper
insect/mosquito repellant
pills to ward off any stomach issues
rehydration salts in case you throw up or get diarrhea
Panadol/aspirin in case of headaches from being out in the sun
A water bottle
A English to Spanish dictionary/phrase book
A fold out map of Costa Rica
A fold out map of the city you will be in
A guidebook with info on politics, customs etc
Camera that can take AA batteries so you can buy them there when you run out
A travelling plug so that you can plug your laptop or camera in even when it’s a different kind of plug socket (ESSENTIAL – BUY BEFORE YOU GO AS IT IS HARD TO FIND ONE WHEN YOU NEED IT)
Cash in a safe place for emergencies
USB drive with important files on it in case the laptop gets stolen
Toothpaste, toothbrush, that sort of thing, deodorant because you will sweat

I hope that helps.


1) Buy a cheap long distance calling card so you have some means of contacting people
2) Find out the locations of internet cafes and/or wifi hot spots
3) Change money to local currency
4) Go to hotel/backpackers/accomodation and crash – do nothing for the first day but get used to the different time and weather and get your bearings.
5) Make the first meal a western meal or something that you are used to having because quite often you are tired and stressed and you don’t need to introduce something new to your body straight away and this will give you time to figure out what’s in the local dishes before you try. Then when you try the local food on the second meal, your body already has some sustenance to start from if you get sick.

You’re lucky I am not coming with you – I would have mothered you two throughout the trip.


Ok, what do I need to do to get you to come pack for me? Because you’re obviously a wisened world traveler and I just spent the last 20 minutes trying to decide on which pair of flip-flops to bring…

Marisa Wikramanayake

:-D A flight to MA (isn’t that where you are?) from Perth, Aus.

But just go by the list.

Also when handling the chilli peppers – do not touch your eyes, nose, mouth or any other sensitive part of your body till you have thoroughly washed your hands several times.

If you do, you will cause yourself a ton of pain as the cells/chemical that cause the stinging sensation in your mouth will go to town on sensitive membranes and there will be nothing you can do except wait for it to pass and it will continue to sting for an hour or so before the sensation fades.


Haha, close enough — Maryland. And my eyes, nose, mouth and other sensitive body parts thank you for your stellar advice. :)


What parts are you going to in Costa Rica…Rich and I spent a week there on our honeymoon. I wish it was a year. Costa Rica is my heaven :)


We’re staying in Bagaces (in the Guanacaste region) but we’re going to be taking some weekend trips around. Got any suggestions??

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