life on the road

We met Satomi and Kosei in Costa Rica after four months on the road in Central America. They were the happiest travellers we met. Possibly because they couldn’t speak much English and even less Spanish, so they were always just smiling and nodding. Either way they were a pretty fun couple to hang with, their polite and humble stoke was contagious. 

After Kosei wrapped up a wicked spread of home-made sushi rolls on the deck of our little tree house bungalow just outside of Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica, we knew we had to share the insight that this couple bought to travel, life and adventure. With the wine flowing while trying to understand each other in between blocking out the sound of the howler monkeys in the trees above, it made for one heck of a interesting night of conversations. 

In my opinion they have a good amount of guts. What started off as a dream turned into a reality of surfing their way through Central America. They did it on the budget of budgets. They lasted the distance, but knew when it was time to pack up and head home. They lived out of the ultimate surf mobile. Had a stake of surfboards on the roof and went where they wanted when they wanted. 

Kosei and his fiancé Satomi left Japan with an quixotic view of driving down through Central America on a choose your own adventure style of travelling. With the benefit of having their own car they were able to change their plans constantly, staying longer when the waves, people and mood were high. And if they weren’t feeling it, they would just kick it onto the next spot. By not being restricted to bus times, routes, fares and language barriers they found themselves checking out every nook, cranny and bay they felt like, throughout Central America. 

With a night guard on duty outside budget accommodation in Central America, with shotgun or machete at hand, weary travellers knew they could rest easy. Kosei and Satomidecided to pocket the safety that the guard could offer and sacrifice the comfort of a budget room by sleeping and living, on the most part, out of the back of their car. With no night guard or mosquito zappers on duty in a place like Central America they got my respect straight up.  

While Kosei and Satomi didn’t pack a shotgun or a machete to keep them safe at night, they said their trip wouldn’t have been manageable without the protection their mosquito net and an endless supply of mosquito spray offered them. “When your cooking, eating and practically living outside of your car every night mosquito spray is a must,” Satomi said.  “The comfort of a good homely quilt didn’t go astray either to ward off the occasional bout of homesickness,” she added. 

We all agree that the travel stories friends and family love to hear aren’t really about the good times. It’s often about the scary and annoying experiences we encountered along the way. Let’s face it, the sunsets of romantic getaways and five star accommodation holidays just don’t cut it. While they’re relaxing, they don’t make for the most exciting stories. Somehow though, travellers for thousands of years have entertained many by retelling their most frustrating experiences. 

For Kosei and Satomi they managed to wrack up a couple of doozies while travelling in Central America for 11 months. Like the time when they were in Mexico driving in the middle of nowhere. Ten guys stood on the road trying to block it, waiting to hijack them. Luckily for them the car in front realised what was about to happen and increased their speed to split the crowd up, before anything could happen. 

Or when they where surfing in Costa Rica and a fight broke out in the water. One of the surfers paddled to the beach, grabbed his gun out of his car and started shooting it into the sand like a Western movie and waving the other surfer to come in. The locals in the water didn’t even bat an eyelid. It was just another normal family beach outing.  

On another occasion that’s not as serious but perhaps even more ironic was when Kosei and Satomi thought that they it was time for a treat to a proper night’s rest in a real bed with the privilege of a proper shower. In the middle of the night the room was overrun by mice crawling and the sound of mosquitoes buzzing so loudly that they ended up retreating back into their car for the remainder of the night. 

After such a long adventure and time spent travelling overseas in countries like these, something seems to tweak in your brain that won’t allow you to go back to your old lifestyle. When you land back home on the tarmac, your eyes are opened a little wider and you’re inspired just that little more to follow your dreams.

That’s exactly what happened with Kosei and Satomi… 

After keeping in touch with Kosei, we sent him a quick message to see how his perception on living has really changed, if at all. “Travel has broadened my horizons and has showed me that anything really is possible,” he said. With Kosei and Satomi’s new-found sense on life, they are working towards their dream of opening their own café and guest-house in Japan. Where they can spend their days surfing, in between checking guests in and preparing traditional Japanese healthy goodies to serve. It’s a lifestyle process. Start dreaming, make your dreams a reality then start dreaming again. It’s not a one off experience. Live, dream, explore and then do it again.