Earlier this month I embarked on a 5-day trip to the beautifully diverse terrain of the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica. I almost did not go on this trip because of uncertainty and fear but I am proud that I embraced those feelings as it was an amazing journey in which I pushed myself and grew in the process.
Last year while vacationing in Mexico my sister and I met a fun, kind man named Jay. We kept in touch via Instagram and in the beginning of the year Jay invited me and my sister to join him and his friends in Costa Rica. I said yes as I have been looking for travel companions.
I am at a point in my life where I am the odd woman out in my peer circles – sans husband and children – where I have the freedom to travel leisurely. 2018 was a difficult year emotionally in part because I felt a deep loneliness, hence I was eager for the opportunity to travel to a new destination and potentially make new friends. After my sister declined to go on the trip, I asked a few other people if they would like to go to Costa Rica but none agreed due to various reasons. Nonetheless I decided to go on the trip even when the travel agent paired me in a room with Emy, a man I had never met before. Jay told me I could room with him if I was uncomfortable rooming with Emy which made me feel better, but I still hoped one of my friends would say yes to the trip.
About a little over a month to departure I received an email from the travel agent notifying me that Jay was no longer going on the trip and if I still wanted to go I would need to pay the balance within two weeks and if I decided not to go that I would lose my $200 deposit. I felt very uncomfortable about rooming with a stranger and contemplated canceling my trip – in the months leading up to this moment I had asked Jay to arrange a group outing where everyone going on the trip could become acquainted with one another but he hadn’t organized anything. Fortunately, by chance I met a native Costa Rican and he assuaged my concerns about going to country alone. Eventually I received Emy’s phone number from the travel agent and 6 days prior to our departure we met at Yard House at LA Live. After meeting him, I felt secure about rooming with him.
Late evening on July 4th, Emy and I linked up at LAX and met three of our Costa Rica travel companions. We later found out that in total there were eleven of us traveling from Los Angeles to Costa Rica through the group Jay organized. Upon arrival, we requested our rooms be on the same floor and we democratically decided on our excursions: Day 2 Volcanic Adventures, Day 3 Animal Sanctuary and Day 4 White Water Rafting. With a $289 price tag, we were excited and ready to chase our adventure. I have anxious tendencies – heights and roller coasters scare me; I am a weak swimmer and I feel fear deep within my stomach. With this said, I have no desire to become controlled by my fears and anxieties, therefore I push myself to do activities that are out of my comfort zone. Going on this trip alone was a deviation in behavior for me, so I decided to take it further.
On our second day, we went near the volcano at Buena Vista Del Rincon Eco Adventure Park and learned about Costa Rican culture, economy; sampled moonshine, coffee, sugar cane and other food; tubed down the hillside, ziplined six courses, took in breathtaking views, rode horses, sat in a sauna, covered ourselves with volcanic ash, and rinsed and bathed in the hot springs. It was an incredibly full, exhilarating day. The scary parts of the day for me included tubing as I thought I was going to fly out the tube and I cut my ankle on the way down; ziplining because of the height and the terrible thoughts of death and bodily harm running through my head; horseback riding since my horse kept going off to snack and I had to give control over to another creature to keep me safe. Although I was nervous during these activities, I let go and embraced the present moment. I quieted my mind and challenged myself to enjoyed the activity I was presently partaking in. When I inhaled and exhaled slowly and deeply to focus my thoughts, I could feel the adrenaline running through my veins as I soared over the Costa Rican forest and traversed along the hillside to revel in the majestic views. I was proud that I said yes to this first day as I learned that nothing I encountered was as I had feared.
On our third day we visited Diamante Eco Adventure Park and marveled in the wildlife native to the region including various felines, monkeys, reptiles, birds and insects. My favorite animals were the sloths who sleep up to twenty hours a day.
Our fourth day and my favorite day in Costa Rica we traveled to the Tenorio river for white water rafting. It rained the day of our excursion making the water high and the adventure ripe. My raft captain, Fernando, steered us down the river with the wonder of jungle surrounding us. Feeling the rain falling upon my skin gave me a sweet sensation; it was the calm to the exhilaration I felt in my veins. After we got out of the raft, I danced in the rain for the first time in my life, feeling a mixture of pride and pleasure.
On our fifth day we rode the shuttle to a tourist area called Playa del Coco. We swam in the beach, sunbathed, ate street food (chicken skewers, churros) and dined on nachos, ceviche and margaritas. (Please note that eating street food or any food that is uncooked may cause illness.)
On the sixth day we returned home from Costa Rica. I thoroughly enjoyed the people, culture, food, and my companions. Pura vida is how I describe my trip as it was joyful and pleasurable. I chased and found my adventure in Costa Rica and I am overjoyed at the payoffs saying “yes” brought me. I made new friends, had several chances to practice my Spanish, ate delicious cuisine, embraced my fears while enjoying a new adventure. Most of all this trip taught me to trust the Lord and my gut. My intuition told me I would be safe on this trip and I was, even when other people in my life felt I should cancel I knew I would be okay. Trusting God and myself led me to a thrilling adventure, one that will be forever memorable. Now I build upon this trip and continue to push myself as we only grow outside our comfort zones.