It’s 7am on our last free day in Costa Rica. So with the sun out and guns out we hit the beach! Sorry, sometimes the beach brings out the knuckle-dragging caveman in me (please see my previous blogs on this topic)!
One of the funniest things I’ve seen in this country is this sign:
If you drive around Manuel Antonio, beware of monkeys and wolves (?) running around the streets!
So we hop on the bus (I swear I love getting change from the bus driver. It’s not the change, but it’s the patience that people show when awaiting for change) and boogie on down to the beach. I have my team and the Costa Rican Sun with me to meet the waves . . . even if it’s for the last time. Time to take some last shots of the beach and enjoy the water. Pura Vida!
We did some more body surfing and had a chance to try some fresh coconuts from a local vendor. Refreshing!
After the morning at the beach it was time to head back to San Jose to complete our adventure and head back home. It was time to say good-bye to the Hotel California and jump on the bus back to the city that we arrived at 2 weeks ago.
MOMENT OF ZEN: Arriving back in the city felt different to me. I felt that it was years since I’ve seen traffic lights, other cars, and modern buildings. I did have a new appreciation for patience: We had an opportunity to use an ATM at the supermarket. However, due to the unfamiliar interface on the machine, it took us awhile to pull money out of our respective accounts. We created a huge line at the ATM and no one gave us the stink eye! Pretty impressed with the suave suave attitude of the Ticos!
We explored some souvenir shops for some last minute gifts before heading off to dinner. Here’s a tip for shopping in souvenir shops: EVERYTHING is negotiable. Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount and haggle over price. You never get if you don’t ask!
Downtown San Jose at night is pretty crowded. It kind of reminded me of a mini Times Square in New York City. Lots of lights highlighting the majesty of retail and capitalism . . . ugh . . . I thought I was going to throw up. Take me back to the jungle please!
Although the majority of us missed the tranquil environment of the rainforest, a few of us wanted food that wasn’t deep fried. So we find a Quizno’s to have our last meal in Costa Rica! We are so gringos! Although I have to admit I kinda missed eating food that was grilled (or is that nuked?) for me. #firstworldproblems
Our entire group decided to get together one last time at a pub in the heart of San Jose. The ambiance was perfect: great conversation, long time (or at least it felt like) friends, some spirits to keep the mood up, and a small Mariachi band to remind us of the music of the country. Definitely a picture that defines the phrase PURA VIDA!
MOMENT OF ZEN: I LURVE music! I feel that music is one of the only things on earth that can bring people together. Music dispels racial stereotypes, religious differences, language barriers, gender biases, and political preferences. Peace happens when people move to the same beat. And in the above picture, we are definitely united : ) PURA VIDA!
MOMENT OF ZEN: I got a lot from this trip: fantastic life long (I can only hope) friends, new experiences, great stories, and lasting memories! I got over my fears of both heights and swimming in open water, embraced the chaos of the unknown, welcomed the rain, and enjoyed letting go . . . all while doing something cool with kindred spirits : ) I built bridges with super cool people from different parts of the world, and picked up some Polish, German, and Spanish (I made sure I gave back some Tagalog too). I appreciated both the art of suave suave and the game of charades! I found that the card game of “Snoutz” is 10x better than the card game Miranda, but nowhere near the fun that the Costa Rican Flexibility Test can bring to a party : ) I teamed up with a friend to help out a new friend (or man’s best friend as they say), and with a group of strangers I helped a teammate pretend he was Tarzan! I formed a team called the Power Rangers that defeated the Pacuare River, swung on a vine like Tarzan, and lived out my dream of being Superman by zipping across the mountains of Monteverde! I’ve tasted delicious coffee, sugar, and chocolate and enjoyed the worst pizza I’ve ever had in my life (one pepperoni per slice? WTF Costa Rica?)! I’ve conquered rushing rivers, steep mountains, dark caves, beautiful waterfalls, and the lush jungle at night. I’ve travelled on foot, bike, bus, tractor, boat, kayak, and a harness. I’ve learned the sounds of birds, monkeys, owls, and beetles while taking the most breath taking pictures of this beautiful country! I’ve got stories of singing, dancing, drinking, eating, hiking, running, and exploring in a new country. I’ve also learned that the coolest people on the planet can be found even in the most humblest of surroundings . . . on top of a mountain, on a raging river, in a damp cave . . . even in a busy airport in Washington : )
Nothing . . . and I mean NOTHING . . . stopped me from flashing my smile, laughing at every moment, or cashing in two tickets to the gun show with my bad ass team! I would watch the sun rise at 5 am, and make sure I beat it to the sky! PURA VIDA!
MOMENT OF ZEN: I remember someone on this trip said to me “Keep Dreaming Chris.” I know I’m taking the phrase out of context, but she’s right. I will keep dreaming . . . sometimes it can be the only thing that keeps me going. Pura Vida : )
It was finally time to say goodbye to my new found friends. I thanked them for their kindness they showed me and for the time they shared with me on this adventure. I said that I’ll see them soon, but I know that claim isn’t possible with everyone. All you can do is wish people safe travels and hope you’ll see them again. So at 2 am on my 13th day in Costa Rica, I gave out my last anaconda hug, said “I’m going to miss you”, and jumped in my cab for the ride to the airport.
MOMENT OF ZEN: I’m not the best at good-byes, but I will leave the below pic and quote for my family, friends, and you my dear reader. Thank you all for sharing this amazing experience with me. I wish you all the best in 2014, a year where you can kick off the rock, open your hand, and . . . Just. Let. Go. PURA VIDA!
PS. So where should I go next? I need your help! I’m an adventure seeker looking for new ways to test death! Please leave your suggestions, comments, and feedback below!