Yes, you read the title correctly...and no this isn't clickbait.
Our day started much like any other day on our trip of a lifetime. Sam woke up super early and went surfing at Playa Hermosa and I got up shortly after he left to practice yoga on the deck overlooking the jungle. Paradise.
As it was a glorious sunny morning we decided to check out Uvita waterfall on the way to get breakfast in Dominical. It was only a 5 minute walk from our hostel and a popular tourist attraction.
We paid 1000 colones each (about £1.30 each) and made our way down the rocky path. After around 5 minutes we reached the beautiful waterfall where we saw a large family and 2 couples splashing around and jumping from the top of the waterfall. We immediately stripped to our swimmers and joined them.
After around 10/15 minutes of frolicking and taking photos we headed to a second swimming hole we had seen on the way down where there were no other tourists. It was a large open pool, surrounded by rocks and jungle. There was a fallen tree branch that went from one side of the pool to the other. We jumped in and swam around before hopping up onto the tree branch for a Gladiators style duel of who could push the other off the branch first...of course I lost.
I remember thinking to myself what a perfect morning we were having. We were both smiling and laughing and having the best time.
The next thing I remember is looking towards the rocks and seeing a man staring at us. He had a white scarf with black pattern covering his face up to his eyes and I think he had sunglasses on...it's hard to be certain. The next thing I know he has taken a gun out and pulled the hammer back (I'm not a gun expert) which made a horrible clicking sound like on movies. I will never forget that sound. He was pointing the gun directly at us.
It's a weird feeling to have a gun pointed at you. At first I thought is this a joke, some kind of fucked up prank? It wasn't.
Still pointing the gun at us he slowly reached down and picked up my bag and backed away before disappearing.
From the moment he appeared and pulled out the gun, we said nothing. I felt frozen. It was surreal. I guess my instincts told me it was best not to scream or try to fight.
As soon as he was out of sight I freaked out. I burst into tears. I needed to get out of there. I tried to walk and fell down as my whole body was shaking and my legs were like jelly. With Sam's assistance we made our way up the path to where we had paid to enter the waterfall. I remember saying "What the fuck" over and over again and "My camera", "Our photos".
Sam was much calmer than I was and managed to explain to the lady on the front desk what had happened. She called the police and said they would be here in around 15 minutes. She was nice, but didn't seem very panicked by the idea of a masked gunman running around robbing people.
When the police finally arrived I was shocked that they seemed so relaxed. They didn't even acknowledge us and only spoke with the lady who owned the waterfall. After about 2 minutes of standing there they drove off and the lady told us we needed to go to the police station to file a report.
We headed to the local station which was 2 minutes away...how it had taken them 15 minutes to send officers I do not know! I sat down in the waiting room bawling my eyes out while Sam spoke to an officer that could speak English over the phone. She told us to come back at 2pm when she would be in the office so we could go over what had happened.
At 2pm we went back to the station as instructed and finally began going over what had happened. The officer was very nice and reassured us that our stuff may be found. She also said how shocked and upset she was as this never happens around here, especially with guns. A few days later I googled the waterfall and read about how it has happened several times with masked men jumping out on tourists with guns and machetes!! I also read that as it's a small area lots of the police are friendly with the families of the criminals and are sometimes in on it. So corrupt!!
About 15 minutes into the interview the other officer said that the same thing had happened, an hour later, in the exact same place, to an Italian couple! What the fuck?!
In my head I was thinking how could this happen again?! How could the police let it happen. If this had happened in the UK the whole area would have been closed off, police would have been everywhere searching for the gunman and talking to residents and possible witnesses. The waterfall definitely would have been closed down! It was either a shambles, or they really didn't care.
We finally left with our police report and headed back to our hostel to start sorting things out.
Like I said, we were going for breakfast straight after the waterfall and would probably be out for most of the day. We knew not to leave valuables in the car as they are regularly broken into and assumed we would be safe in a paid tourist attraction. Also, after traveling through Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador and having been to Costa Rica several times before, this was the last place we thought this would happen. My bag contained our phones, my Canon camera which I had saved up for all summer before we left and our Gopro.
We had to block our phones, cancel our cards and get our travel insurance details. We are still trying to sort things out now. It's difficult as we are going to be in Costa Rica for a further 3 months as we are looking after a friends guest house.
If anyone has any good ideas for how we can ship over our new debit cards and Sam's replacement phone that would be great. We are thinking of using FedEx. Or if you are planning on visiting Costa Rica from the UK let us know!!
It's a shame as we are now looking at the country we love and the people a little differently. We have our guard up and are finding it difficult to trust. Sam has been here 7 times with no trouble so it has probably been more of a shock to him.
The main thing is we are both alive and well. We didn't get hurt.