I left on July 9th and embarked on my first adventure and solo trip at the age of 17, it was 2am that morning when I had to get up and get dressed and ready to head to the Toronto airport for my 6am flight. I honestly can’t even begin to describe how I was feeling, it really was a mixture of nervousness and excitement. I’d never taken a trip by myself before and heading to a third world country not knowing the 50 something people I would be staying with for the 10 days was definitely a worry in the back of my mind. Would I fit in? Would I make friends? Would I enjoy myself? Would I arrive safely? These were all the questions running through my head at the time. Then saying goodbye to my parents and walking through security and immigration alone, landing in the Miami airport and having to navigate myself around to my next gate, and then getting off the plane to meet my new friends who I wasn’t even acquainted with, were all big accomplishments for me. However, it also taught me that all those worrisome thoughts in my head weren’t even worth it at the end of the day because none of them were true. Once landing in Costa Rica (which is beautiful by the way!!) I was greeted with so many friendly and smiling faces and I can’t even begin to express how nice all these fellow travelers were. We took a bus about an hour and half to our home base which was an eco resort called Playa Janquillal and I was put in a cabin with 9 other girls who quickly went from friends, to people I consider family and who I’m still talking to right now. Once orientated around our new home we were split into 6 different service projects with 9 kids in each group. I was selected into the Huerta Vida Y Salud group, which is an organic farm in the Santa Cruz, Guanacaste region and is run by Radolpho and his one friend. I learned so much from the simple way him and his family lived their life. They are some of the happiest people I know, even though they don’t have much at all. He was so optimistic and energetic about the simplest of things in life. Seeing his admiration and gratefulness for the bio diversity on his farm and for the role that the butterflies, birds, worms, bees, and bugs, played on the growth of his crops was something I wish everyone could see for themselves. As well as his drive to make the Costa Rican ecosystem healthier by changing from standardized farming to organic farming. It just goes to show you that the simple life, having no expectations, and not needing to compare yourself to others is what creates some of the happiest people and some of the most accomplished. The whole time I was down there I was welcomed by the locals with open arms, I had children teaching me their juggling and soccer skills, I got countless sun tattoos from a little boy, and I was invited back in to the homes of Radolpho and Dona Lida any time I plan to go back and visit Costa Rica. Even though my adventure days with the zip lining, catamaran and snorkel ride, as well as the jungle tubing were so much fun, its not what I remember most or took away most from my trip. It was the service days and the time spent building relationships with the locals and hearing what they had to say. I’ve learned that even though my stay was short and that I wasn’t able to accomplish the world like I always hope to, it was truly the relationships I built with the people that inspired me and warmed my heart so much that mattered. Seeing the amazing things the locals are doing for their community even though they don’t have much, is something I feel everyone needs to see because it kicks you in the butt to create change and betterment and to appreciate the people and things you have in your life when you come home. Being able to build relationships with the locals was so important because ultimately they live there year round and know what needs to be accomplished most in their community. So being able to create a foundation where you can aid their needs is really what gets the most done and what brings the most change. I’ve also learned that the Pura Vida is not just the simple life for them, it is THE way of life for all the people living there. It is their, “hello nice to meet you”, their “no problem”, their voice of encouragement, welcomeness, inclusion, and happiness. I am so thankful that I went on this trip because I feel like I’ve returned home as a new person who knows my direction and I feel like I’ve gotten a bit wiser as well from all the lessons I was taught while there. I’m so proud of how far I’ve come and I definitely feel as though I’m a more confident person and that I can accomplish anything put in front of me, I know I wouldn’t have felt this way if it wasn’t for this trip and that is something so important for me. It really made me discover myself and the things that inspire and matter most to me, and I truly encourage each and everyone one of you to try and embark on of these journeys yourself at some point in your life. It is truly life changing.
Anyways, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to read about my travels, I hope it sparks something within you. Here are some pictures I took from beautiful, sunny, Costa Rica!!