Couple Met on App and Took Third Date to Costa Rica — But Coronavirus Hit and They've Been Stuck
A New York City couple who recently met on a dating app had no idea their spontaneous trip to Central America would turn into the longest date of their lives.
Just before the coronavirus outbreak was declared a full-blown pandemic in March, Matt Robertson and Khani Le bought flights to Costa Rica as airlines began to lower their ticket prices. But when it came time for their scheduled return U.S., the duo's flight home was suddenly canceled — and they haven't had any luck finding one since.
"We've been trying to fly out with Delta and then we tried another airline the other day," Robertson, 31, tells PEOPLE. "We booked another flight that we're hoping will go out within the next week. But we don't know if it's going to happen. Every single flight so far has been canceled."
Now, a trip that was only meant to last five days has lasted more than 60 — and, technically, this is still only their third date.
The adventurous pair booked the flights on a whim after their second date in early March. Robertson and Le had joked about needing a vacation, and over texts the next day, they soon found themselves looking up destinations.
"We were just joking about how we both needed a vacation. 'Let's go someplace warm. Let's get away,' stuff like that, but very much kidding around," Robertson recalls. "Then it turned real because neither one of us backed down. I'm always testing people, and when she wasn't backing down, I thought, 'All right, I'll keep going.' "
At the time, the couple says, they had no idea coronavirus would become the historic, global event it has transformed into today.
"This was at the time when it wasn't that crazy. I remember you kind of heard about it in China and we were just starting to hear about it here," Robertson recalls. "Trump was still saying, 'It's not that big of a deal. It's the flu,' or whatever."
The two booked a quick trip to the country, which began with fun activities such as zip-lining and a cocktail and ceviche class. But with each passing day, they noticed their hotel was becoming increasingly empty.
"I think, day three or four, there were only eight of us left at the hotel. And then things started to change," says Robertson. "I think it was day four when they announced the level-four travel advisory. And within that 24-hour window is where everything started to really shift because that was the time when the flights basically stopped. So our flight got canceled the next morning."
Since then, the two have been paying out of pocket for various hotels and Airbnb properties while waiting for a seat on a plane back home. But as they run out of funds, they're asking for help to find a place to stay.
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Fortunately, the two have only built upon the great chemistry they shared back home.
"I don't think we really had expectations about what it would it be like," Le, 29, tells PEOPLE. "I feel like we're both similar in the fact that we kind of go with the flow, seeing what it's like. I feel that we have a pretty similar approach to dating. We weren't looking for anything serious, to have a good time, and we were both pretty independent."
"So we've had a good balance of having your own space and then coming together, doing activities, stuff like that," she continues. "But so far, I'm very much going with the flow, and so far, the flow's been good."
Adds Robertson: "I feel like it's been an experience where you learn more about yourself. I didn't think that I would even survive this long with one person. It's the longest I've ever spent nonstop with one person. This is like the equivalent of dating in dog years."
Over the last few weeks, the two have had a crash course in each other, and know more than most couples would this early into their relationship.
"We've just rolled with it and made the most of it," Robertson says. "It's like flipping the concept of dating on its head. It's like we're doing it completely backward. It's almost as if you're on rewind."
With the extra time they've had in Costa Rica, the two have also picked up lessons they'll bring back home, including the local expression "Pura Vida." It means "simple life," and is a credo for many in the country.
"It's kind of been our saying the whole time, just to go with it," Robertson says. "People always say, 'How are you doing? Pura Vida. Everything is good. Make the most of life.' And it's been our motto to get through this."
"Now we're going to get 'Pura Vida' tattoos before we leave here," Le adds. "Whenever that time comes."
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