Stranded New Yorkers find true love while stuck in Costa Rica amid coronavirus05/30/2020
When Matt Robertson and Khani Le decided to plan a long weekend for their third date, they had no idea just how long it would be.
Sunday marks day 76, as the New Yorkers are stranded in a Costa Rican paradise during the pandemic and worldwide shutdown — but at least they have true romance.
“I can’t imagine being stuck in this situation for so long with someone I didn’t really like,” said Robertson, 31.
He and Le, 29, met in February through the dating app Hinge. “He’s obviously handsome and I loved his skydiving pictures,” said Le. Likewise, Robertson was drawn to photos of Le surfing and hiking. “She seemed adventurous, fun and easygoing,” he said. “And I was impressed by how beautiful she was.”
They hit it off right away — with a marathon first date that lasted six hours at a Union Square Indian restaurant, followed by axe-throwing for their second meet-up. “We knew there was potential,” said Le. So much so, they decided to plan an ambitious five-day jaunt to Guanacaste, Costa Rica, for their third date, flying out of NYC on March 17.
Although they were a little nervous forging ahead as essential services were beginning to shut down in NYC, Delta Airlines employees told them everything the round-trip would “be fine,” Le told Page Six on Friday.
The first three days were a “dream vacation,” according to Robertson: all-inclusive resort, zip-lining, a monkey tour, classes in ceviche- and cocktail-making.
“We really were enjoying each other’s company and still getting to know one another,” he said. “We didn’t realize we would have plenty of time for that on this trip.”
But then the Central American nation went into lockdown, sending the couple scrambling as their hotel shuttered and their return flight was canceled — and pushed back to July 2. Through the US embassy, they eventually found a government-sponsored flight to Texas, but decided the $3,000-per-ticket price wasn’t worth it.
“There were definitely a couple of moments where I was overwhelmed. You go from everything being normal to, all of the sudden, living with someone you barely know, in a foreign country during a pandemic,” said Robertson. “It’s a lot to happen in a short amount of time.”
Finding a place to stay was an immediate challenge. There was the treehouse 20 feet in the air, and one night, with nowhere else to go, the duo camped out in a tent in a jungle area as monkeys howled through the night. “They sound like Godzilla,” said Le.
Not that they were complaining about the close quarters. When it became clear they were stuck, “There was a part of me that was excited to stay here longer with Khani,” Robertston said. “I was thinking this is a blessing in disguise.”
Almost immediately, Le realized what a great partner Robertson is. “He doesn’t get stressed out or freak out at every challenge,” she said. “We figure it out together.”
Still, they’re too scared to look at their credit card bills. Robertson expects the car rental tab alone to be more than $2,000.
At least they’re still able to earn money. Le, who works in marketing for a beauty company, initially didn’t tell her employers of her whereabouts. She makes up for the two-hour time difference by rising at 5:30 a.m. to start her day remotely.
“I was meeting all the deadlines, so they didn’t really notice, but once I realized the story could get out there I wanted to give them a heads-up,” she said. “They were shocked, but they’re excited to see where it goes.”
Robertson, a film production company account executive who is also working virtually, points out that they haven’t always been in places with reliable Wi-Fi.
“Sometimes it’s a challenge being in the jungle while doing a conference call,” he said. “The one benefit for the Zoom calls is that I don’t have to change to a nice background — our background is pretty good already.”
They admit that life in paradise during a pandemic isn’t exactly paradise. Neither Robertson nor Le speaks Spanish very well. Attractions are closed, and only early-morning beach access is allowed. “Cockroaches here are the size of my hand here,” said Le. She’s also had bad reaction to bug bites: “It got so bad that I couldn’t walk because my feet were so swollen. Matt had to literally carry me to bed.”
Despite the stresses, they’ve managed to become a partnership.
“We figured after all this time we would be sick of each other, but somehow we’re not,” Robertson said. “Hopefully it stays that way when we get back.
The next big step? Meeting the parents.
Le’s father in Seattle didn’t know his daughter was stuck in Costa Rica with a strange man until Thursday.
“He was shocked. He thought I was here with a group of friends,” said Le, who ‘fessed up once reports of the couple’s exploits surfaced in Page Six. When she told Dad “I’m here with a guy,” Robertson recalled, “His exact words were, ‘That’s not cool.’ I’m a little bit scared to meet her dad. He seems like a traditional, conservative guy. I’ve got my work cut out for me.”
Still, Le and her parents were ultimately able to laugh about her secret date.
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