Wednesday, June 14, 2017

How to Lose a GoPro

The last photo captured on the lost GoPro.

A year and a half ago, while vacationing in Costa Rica, we lost our GoPro in the Caribbean Sea. We were devastated about losing the footage we had captured at that point in our trip, but we tried to see the positives: Perhaps some kid would find it and get good use out of it; Graham stumbled upon a woman in need of help in the water while looking for it; and we still had the memories of our trip, so sharing video was not entirely necessary. I wrote a blog post about losing it:

Somewhere in the Caribbean Sea off Costa Rica is our GoPro. The ocean took it from us yesterday. We were swimming at Playa Cocles, south of Puerto Viejo, when we decided to take some video of us playing in the waves. The waves were a little more rough than I expected. A big wave knocked me over as I held it using a GoPro stick. I was submerged and pushed forward and then I felt myself being pulled backward. The GoPro was pulled out of my hand and I lost sight of it. Despite searching for almost two hours, we couldn't find it. I was devastated. We had video of our entire trip so far, including riding in front of a boat going 20 mph down the Pacuare river, surrounded by rainforest. We saw howler monkeys, white-faced monkeys, and even crocodiles. I had planned to share that video on this blog, not to mention I constantly look at/watch old photos and videos of our adventures when I'm having a rough day or when I want a look back.

For the next 18 or so months, we wondered if anyone had ever found the GoPro. We figured that if someone would have found it and wanted to be nice enough to return our photos it would have happened that week, month or even year. I think I might have even posted on a group where people search for lost GoPros in hopes of getting it back.

But no, we were totally wrong. It would be a year and a half before someone messaged me on Facebook telling me her boyfriend had found our GoPro.


When a gal named Jenny messaged me on Facebook last month, I thought maybe the message request was a collaboration opportunity. But the message said:

I've been travelling with my boyfriend in Central America. A week ago my boyfriend was snorkeling by Playa Cocles and guess what - found your GoPro you lost there more than a year ago buried beneath some sand . It's not working anymore, but we have saved your photos/videos if you would like them . I found you through some facebook group where I posted and then someone showed me a blog post where you wrote about losing it.

My first reaction: "OH MY GOD!"

I immediately told Graham, who was in complete shock as well. I re-read the message: ... someone showed me a blog post where you wrote about losing it.

That's when the doubt creeped in. You mean to tell me some random person had read my blog and also happened to be in the same group as the stranger who found my GoPro? It just didn't seem likely. I tried to downplay my excitement as I replied asking what the group was called. When she told me, I searched for the group and requested to join. I wanted to see what happened for myself.

I also asked her to send them via Facebook, because the prospect of clicking on some random link someone send me didn't seem smart or safe. Was it a scam? It couldn't be, right? She seemed disappointed at my lack of excitement, but she sent me a photo. It was the last photo we took. (The top photo on this post.)

That's when I became a believer. This was not some mean-spirited person; this was a kind-hearted soul who wanted to do the right thing and return the photos to their owner. She also sent me more photos from the trip and I was nearly in tears.

The next morning, I was accepted into the group. The group contains more than 100,000 travelers from around the world. I scrolled through recent posts and there we were: Graham and I were shown in photos as part of Jenny's post. She sought advice on finding us and the thread had countless replies from people offering tips and to post the information on other Facebook groups to find us. In one of the comments, someone left a link to my blog post, the one I wrote when we lost the GoPro.

This was part of a screenshot of her post in the group. As you can see below, it had hundreds of likes (and that grew) and many comments.

It was all so incredible.

She posted a request and within hours she had found me. Someone had found my GoPro blog post and shared it with the person who found it. Someone had found a GoPro that had been under the water for more than a year! Someone took the time to send the photos and video to me.

I was beyond grateful that so many people tried to help. It reminded me that you receive what you put out there, and that there is plenty of good in the world, even if it may be hard to believe sometimes.

And so, in honor of one of the craziest stories I have to tell, I'm sharing my tips for losing a GoPro (jokingly -- in case that doesn't come across):

1. Don't use a wrist strap or floating device.

2. Play in rough waves. Repeatedly.

3. Try to take photos of said rough waves.

In what seems like a miracle, I got my GoPro footage back recently via Google Drive. Jenny and her boyfriend are also mailing me the SD card from Panama, but it's still on its way home. It's been a gift to relive those memories of one of my favorite trips to date and I've been sharing videos of our 2016 Costa Rica trip on YouTube. I can't help but smile when I think about this story and I am so grateful to the couple who found the GoPro. I hope it will inspire others to do the right thing when they find a lost but cherished item, or to just be loving and helpful in general to our fellow humans.

Have you ever lost something you cherished on a trip?

In case you need these**:

** These are affiliate links. I make a small commission for purchases made through these links.

GoPro Floating Hand Grip (which we have since purchased)


Waterproof Housing Floater (We got the GoPro brand one, but this is an alternative.)


The Lost GoPro Videos: