COSTA RICA: WTDGAP (When Things Don’t Go As Planned)

SSSS” – Secondary Security Screening Selection appears on a passenger’s boarding pass when they’ve been selected by TSA’s Secure Flight system for enhanced security screening,”

While the flight home from Costa Rica  was uneventful, getting to my seat was a bit convoluted.  My boarding pass had the dreaded *SSSS* code which I think means “Super Super Secret Security for at check-in I was told I was randomly chosen for an  investigation of my checked luggage.

Why does a person get this SSSS code?  Here are some reasons that I found online and my reaction per my travels:

  • Passengers with a one-way reservation. X
  • Passengers who pay cash for their tickets. X
  • Random selection ✔️
  • Unusual travel patterns.  X
  • Recent visits to the Middle East or Africa ?  
  • Very quick turnaround at a destination, such as flying across the world for a few hours or one night. X
  • Global Entry does not prevent getting SSSS code!!!!!!

? I did visit Israel in 2019 – but so did my friend Pegggy who also was on the Costa Rica trip and she did not get the SSSS code.  In addition, at Israeli customs a separate slip was stamped rather than my passport  so that I would not  have problems in the future should I decide to visit  non-pro Israeli countries.

Now I haven’t a particular issue with screening, or even a special screening. What wasn’t so fine was having to wait an hour as no one seemed able to find a security agent to do the job.  Finally an agent come by and she looked strikingly familiar to the same woman who had been lounging around the check-in area (she was one and the same).

So being prepared to open up all compartments and packing cubes for a thorough examination I was flummoxed to see that all the agent performed was a quick gloved
hand  pat down of the suitcase, a little scrounging around – not one thing was actually examined.

Peggy had been waiting patiently so when the process was done we proceeded easily to the gate, arriving there about 2 hours before takeoff as William (our guide) had advised us to go as early as possible to the airport just to avoid unforeseen delays – no worries there.

However, when boarding started I was asked to step aside for another “totally random” SSSS check of  not only my carry one but also my person.  Once again the investigation of my backpack was cursory – however my personal exam was pretty thorough.  Have to tell you, I really prefer to choose who is patting me down.

There was another WTDGAP moment during the trip that could have ended badly.


I’ll explain the importance of the above photo in a moment but first let me set the stage. Despite the constant rain a group of my fellow travelers decided to take the planned 3 hour  hike through the Arenal Rainforest, which included traversing a number of hanging bridges.  Getting across these bridges is not a walk in the park – they sway easily if you do not plant your feet in perfect balance not only to your own body but to all hikers – so despite a healthy distance between us, swaying was inevitable,  This was not an issue for me – I loved it.  The views were incredible and the sounds of the forest magical:

We saw bats, sloths, one viper, birds, amazing vegetation, all which I have described in detail in previous posts.  What is germane to this story is the fact that it rained constantly which I imagine is a common occurrence.  I was prepared for the hike with a walking stick and took my usual precautions when walking across a particularly precarious area including putting my camera away so I could better concentrate on the trail.  Except once.

The good news is that my fall happened towards the end of the hike. It was mostly my fault.  After a pretty slippery and deep descent we hit a flat part of the trail and I made the fatal mistake of looking up and not paying attention.  Next thing, I was flying to the air in a semi graceful dive to the muddy trail. Having fallen before many times in my life I knew I had to relax into the fall, so beyond some pretty colorful bruises to my forearms, knees, shins and ego, I was ok, enough to be touched by the offer of a candy from one of the tweens on the hike – offered so I wouldn’t go into shock.  Sweet.

While you should NEVER take your eyes off the trail, I must say I was not completely at fault.  Let’s now look again at the  photo of the trail.  You will note the ground was not naked but rather has  rubber inserts over it which were patterns with many holes.  I imagine that these inserts help prevent total mudslides and washouts.  The inserts were not everywhere on the trail, just in certain spots.  What they also provided were holes – and my walking stick got stuck in one of them and remained upright while my body continued going.   After my fall, and after determining that I was more or less okay we continued the hike, but this time I had a number of escorts holding my hand.  I didn’t mind.

We made it to the end of the hike and this was our final view which was totally worth the lingering tenderness and stiffness that I had to deal with for a few weeks after my journey:

I am now back in “training” getting ready for my next journey, whenever that may be –


3 thoughts on “COSTA RICA: WTDGAP (When Things Don’t Go As Planned)

  1. Cindy, now I am scared of the next time Bill and I travel out of the country! Too much time in the airport and security checks above and beyond imaging? It does not sound fun, neither did your fall.
    I doubt Peggy was with you on this hike, am I right? Karin Weber

    • Peggy was on the trip but not on the hike- and the fall only happened because I stopped paying attention. The SSSS security ? It’s just part of the world we now live in, while annoying I am still raring to travel as soon as it clear!

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