BIG NEWS: Rhianna and I bought one-way tickets to Costa Rica. I honestly can’t believe I just wrote that sentence. This will be my fourth time visiting that beautiful country, and my second time this year alone. La vida es PURA, baby.
Already, this trip is beginning to look a little different than all the others. For one, it has no set end date. I’ll be there at the very least for a month, and quite possibly longer depending on how things turn out. Things being my finances, mostly, and the very many projects I’m hoping to start & finish before the coffers run dry. On this trip, I’ll also have some new company: my cousin and a friend from school are planning on visiting for a week each on their vacations. I can’t even begin to explain how excited I am to share the magic of one of my favorite places on earth with some of my favorite people. It’s unreal.
Four trips and three years later, I still remember how I felt when I first stepped off the plane in May 2014. I remember stumbling over Spanish introductions with my host family when they met me at the airport, and how tightly I gripped the seats as we sped away on a winding highway in their sedan. I remember learning my way around downtown Heredia, the maze of interlacing one-way streets and the neon signs of Boulevard and how delicious the fresh baked bread smelled every morning in the bakery I walked past on my way to school. It’s not the first time I’ve talked about it and it probably won’t be the last, but Costa Rica is where I learned to be a traveler.
You know how I did it? By making mistakes, constantly. Between disastrous nights of dancing at the discoteca, missed buses, stolen wallets, ill-contrived dates with the locals, and even one particularly terrifying run in with a fer-de-lance, I learned how to be a traveler simply by f-ing up most of my endeavors–and then next time, doing exactly the opposite. Of course, for all the good, bad, and downright ugly moments, it helped that I was in fabulous company. There were only six students in our program that summer, so we didn’t really have much choice about whether or not we’d get along. We dubbed our weird little mismatched group “the breakfast club” and many hijinks ensued. Well… hijinks, and tequila shots.
I learned a whole lot from that first trip. It was my first international journey, my first experience with a truly different language and culture, and the first time I had taken on a challenge of that magnitude completely independently. It’s also true that I learned so much especially because of all the glorious and often cringe-worthy mistakes I made during those weeks. Every time I’ve returned since that first summer, it has been with pride at how much I’ve learned and grown since. They do say that you learn from your mistakes, and if that’s the case then I’m a bona fide Costa Rica travel expert.
So bring it on, Costa Rica 2k17! For the fourth time, I’m ready for you.