In many ways I consider my trip to Costa Rica my first into a foray of the wider world. No it hadn’t been the first, second, third or even forth new country I had been to, but for me I feel like it was the first time I was truly venturing out. Even as I sit here trying to find the words to describe it I know there are so many wide eyed wanderers nodding their head, knowing exactly what I mean. I’m not talking about persons who have jumped on a bandwagon ever since Instagram made traveling the hippest thing to do. Nor am I talking about persons who have been on the road since they were toddlers and grew up with adventure as something engrained in their bloodstream. I guess what I’m trying to say is the kind of people that DISCOVER this entire world is just out there waiting for them to explore. They typically can remember that exact trip or even exact moment that opened up what is typically described as Wanderlust.
Growing up in Jamaica, we are just an hour and a half plane ride from Miami and the combination of my parents being non-travellers and my aunt living in Miami meant that any family vacation was typically a trip to Miami over the summer. I get the feeling that was the culture for a lot of Jamaicans growing up. In my case, as soon as I was old enough to do it on my own what excited me was travelling to other parts of the United States. I remember driving into Atlanta one spring break thinking THIS IS CRAZY WHAT IS THIS NEW WORLD! You can’t even imagine my first trip to New York. I Miss those moments, seeing those things for the first time, once you see it you can never unsee it. Even so, looking back now there are times I wish that I had my adventurous spirit when I was going to college in Miami or in Boston. It was there, in some small degree, but Costa Rica I feel opened that up to a heightened level for me. I wonder all the time why I wasn’t more adventurous before Costa Rica and the only thing I can think of was that I was ignorant of what was around and I was comfortable in what I already knew. Typical, people being afraid of what they don’t know.
So when a friend of mine came back from a trip to Costa Rica and showed me the pictures and told me the stories and gave me the costing I was curios to follow in her footsteps, so I booked tickets for me and a friend not knowing what we were going to expect. We literally booked the same rental car, same hotel and went to some of the same recommended places my friend told me about. All were amazing and all worth doing adding to the total package but when I think back to my memories of that introduction trip the things that stood out to me the most were never usually planned.
Chronologically speaking, when we left the airport and finally got into our rental car we relied upon a Garmin GPS system for directions. It was only recently that I had even started using GPS, when I used to go on road trips in Boston I would literally print mapquest instructions and work my way around turn for turn! So brilliantly instead of renting the GPS that the rental car services offer I opted to pay a minimal amount and load a map onto my newly acquired Garmin. I’m half chinese and by default cheap. I don’t spend a dime when I don’t need to. More often than not it results in incredible savings and great life hack tips. In this particular example we followed the GPS off the highway to what we thought was the correct route. The more we travelled the road (or asphalt) the more I was convinced we were on the wrong track but Cisco insisted this had to be it. I mean, I didn’t know for sure so we continued long past it was reasonably expected to do so. Until we saw a man on a donkey and we were just so glad to finally find someone who we could speak to that we hurled a paragraph at him only to hear ‘Que?’ I just remember we were both in stitches, something so simple and yet so memorable.
The next most memorable moment I can recall was leaving Arenal to head back to our midnight flight and wondering what we were going to do with all those hours in San Jose. I suggested we just drive to Manuel Antonio, which was over 5 hours halfway across the country, and to my surprise Cisco just said yeh, lets do it! I love spontaneity and things that may seem crazy to other people! On our drive back from Manuel Antonio our gas tank was nearing empty and unlike America where the highways typically tell you when the next gas station is going to be far, we had no prior warning. I recall vividly the laughing nervousness we had both sure that we were going to be stranded on the highway missing our spirit flights, yet praying that Jesus would send a miracle. And our prayers worked. I’m convinced, not before the nick of time that we made it in to San Jose and a gas station as I swear the blinking light was on for more than half an hour.
Everything else, driving towards what I’m pretty sure was my first Volcanic view, the hot springs, touring Lake Arenal, the fright of rappelling down a vertical 200 foot drop, being made fun of because I wasn’t the best white water rafter (I mean it was 6 in the morning and I was still asleep), eating at the local sodas and getting hotel tours of places we were too cheap to stay at ALL cemented my thirst for onward travel. Basically, I know its not one thing, but a giant combination of so many amazing things over the course of what I’m pretty sure was less than 5 days that have pretty much changed my entire view of what traveling is all about!