Until you’ve been to Costa Rica, you will not truly know what pura vida feels like.
Have you ever been somewhere so beautiful it doesn’t seem real? Costa Rica is filled with rolling hills and valleys, cascading mountains that breathe fire, and black sand beaches that snake around the country. This restless land shakes and shudders, reminding us that it’s alive. The rain forest is drenched in endless showers as if it were trying to wash the evil from the world, and the people smile as if life is good… because it is.
Shortly after quitting my full-time job as an Executive Assistant in May of 2018, I began traveling. I went to Puerto Rico and stayed in different towns while I was there and I went to Bridgetown, Barbados for Cropover. Prior to these two destinations I had been to a couple other international trips that were all spread years apart from each other. Every place that I had traveled to was naturally beautiful, great for relaxing, and sometimes a bit too touristy for my taste. Perhaps it was the people I was with or where I was staying, but I felt as if there was a rawness missing.
My boyfriend and I went to Barbados together in August 2018 for Cropover and had an incredible time. While we were going from party to party with bottomless drinks at every location, we found ourselves constantly coming back to the same question: What about Central America? We had been discussing a trip to Costa Rica for months by this time, but still no flights were booked. By the time our Barbados trip was ending and we were heading to the airport, the itch to go on another adventure crept on us. It seemed as though the thought wouldn’t cease until we satisfied our craving.
We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.
As soon as we landed back in NYC from Barbados we booked our flights. We ended up flying into San José, got a rental car, and went on a 7 hour road trip across the country. We ended our first leg of our road trip in Zancudo where we stayed in a quaint cabina at Sol y Mar, which sits on a 6-mile beach that has beautiful waves for surfing.
In the middle of nowhere, deep in the countryside, among the local cowboys and farmers of the country, we found a place to call home (although temporary). No phone service, within the wild jungle creeping onto the black sands of the beach… the realness sunk in. The eerie echoes of Howler monkeys and the scraping, scattering sounds of iguanas on our rooftops crept through our windows and resonated through our souls.
There are certain qualities, or even lessons, that really come in handy when traveling through certain countries. For this place in particular, keeping an open mind, being able to adapt quickly to change, and embracing the unexpected when things don’t go accordingly to plan are all vital. Being that we are adventurous people, we had to be especially careful in knowing our limits and listening to our gut instincts because our next escapade required us to be on our toes at all times — the jungle.
What matters is not the situation, but the way we perceive it to be.
Making new friends while away from home is yet another way that traveling can make you a better person. For one, it expands your conversational skills, and more importantly, these new friends can really save your ass in a pinch. We were fortunate to have met Noah Werner, Developer and owner of the Arena Alta Wildlife Village. He hooked us up with two beautiful horses and took us into the wild jungle of Playa Zancudo.
Life experience brings out different emotions and different perspectives on things. I just want to be constantly evolving.
Prior to coming to Central America, I had only seen creatures like this on the Discovery Channel or on National Geographic. I never thought my life would go in this direction where I was able to see so many of God’s creations face to face. Lately I’ve been feeling so enormously grateful for life. It’s surreal feeling myself grow in ways that I never knew were possible for me. I could go on and on about this one trip… So here’s exactly how Costa Rica changed my life.
What I learned…
- More about the Baha’i faith and expanded my knowledge on religion
- The value and power of a smile or handshake where words fail
- I realized we’re all connected, despite our differences
- More about myself.. I’m a bit more confident in my own skin
- I became fearless (more than what I was before)
- How necessary it is to continue this path of traveling everywhere
- How to do more with less
- The best souvenirs are actually moments and memories
- Love can always grow deeper