Pura Vida! Costa Rica

“Yet it is in this loneliness that the deepest activities begin. It is here that you discover act without motion, labor that is profound repose, vision in obscurity, and, beyond all desire, a fulfillment whose limits extend to infinity” – Thomas Merton

Log: 9th August 2016 – 6th September 2016

• It’s been difficult for me to write this post. I’ve come back to it on and off over the last few days and the struggle with it stems mostly from the fact that it invokes various emotions in me. Although I’ve tried to remain committed to my efforts, I know I have a tendency to procrastinate on things that need my attention and energy, especially anything that involves emotional processing. However I still hold to the belief that the best outcomes come from sitting with our emotions regardless of what they might be or how they look and than accepting our circumstances. There’s never any point denying ourselves what we truly feel because resistance creates tension and with that we lose the strength to persevere through the sticky tasks we try to avoid. I look forward to the fruitful rewards that I know will come once I move through this transitional time.

San Jose

Among many other things, scenically there is a dramatic change from Nicaragua and Costa Rica. This was prevalent in the abundant shades of green that covered the country as we made our way to the capital, San Jose. Big towering buildings began to appear, well established roads and more and more light skinned locals that reflected the essences of the western world. This month saw us staying in an Airbnb while Neven went through the process of selling Rocinante and giving us a break from the dynamic excitement of life on the road. This drive was to be the last one with all three of us and my heart swelled as I reminisced on our time together.

Our Airbnb Home

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After three and a half months on the road, living out of a small Toyota Corolla, it was finally time to find some stability and base. Neven and I found ourselves in the Airbnb home of Ocean and Roger and soon enough seeing and experiencing the daily lives of two Ticos (local Costa Ricans). The house was always flowing with music, delicious smells of the amazing meals both Ocean and Roger would cook, and constant cuddles from their dogs, Arua and Zoe. Our hosts enjoyed being involved during our stay and were happy to show us around. We spent many days exploring the city, seeing the markets and going to the beautiful parks around.

If you’re interested in staying in San Jose you can check out Ocean and Roger’s listing here.

While Neven spent much of his time combing through the finer details of selling a car, I found myself with a lot more free time and energy. After months of dreaming about ukuleles I finally found myself in a country that could offer me one within my budget. Most of my down time went to practicing and reuniting with my love for drawing. Something I think is a little misleading about travel is that although we find new inspiration, motivation and aspirations on the road, it’s often when we have grounding and a little routine that we can effectively implement our new ideas and begin to really create. Travelling puts you in a state where you adjust to absorbing new information but after time you lose the ability to give back in a sufficient way. It’s important to remain balanced; seek out and explore the world but become aware of time that requires you to replant your feet.

A Couchsurfering Event

If you’re unfamiliar with Couchsurfering it’s a community that gives opportunities for travellers to experience the homes, cities and lives of locals in a profound and meaningful way. Surfers stay with hosts without the exchange of money and instead offer their time, energy and experiences. It’s a beautiful way for people to unite making travel anywhere in the world a truly social experience.

A great thing about Couchsurfering is that events are created so people can come together and participate in some sort of activity in the city. And that’s exactly what Neven, Ocean, Roger and I did. A hike that was being held just outside of San Jose attracted a group of thirty and together we climbed down over 500 steps to a river beneath the mountains. Seemingly easy I thought until we came across a metal bridge metres above the rushing river and unfortunately the only way to get to where we were headed. Even though my fear of heights was running rampant, collectively we all supported each other as we made our way across the bridge.

Our hike finally brought us to a clearing where we could all sprawl out and enjoy the fresh water. It was nice getting to know travellers from all over, sharing our stories and experiences.

Unfortunately not all adventures can end without incident. Above the river was a cable that held an old transport cabin and some of the guys decided to give it a go. With the first attempt successful, Neven and a local jumped in. With everyone else on the sideline completely unaware at first, the guy managed to catch his finger under one of the cogs resulting in the loss of the top of his finger. With urgency we abruptly ended our adventure as we made our way back to the top where an ambulance waited. Waving him goodbye, it was a sad end to an otherwise great day.

Back at the Pack Life

So after three weeks of being in Costa Rica the time at last had come where we had to say goodbye to Rocinante. Neven found a family owned car dealership who were happy to take her off his hands. After completing the deal and then having a few extra days dealing with the legalities of selling the car and even an argument or two with a lawyer (big credit to Nevens well developed Spanish), we were sadly car free. Like saying goodbye to your trusty horse who wonders why they are going to a new home. We now had time before both our flights to enjoy a week of backpacking.

A bus ride and some successful hitchhiking found us in the city of Cartago just in time for lunch. The plan was to make our way up to the Durán Sanatorium and hopefully find a place to camp for the night. As the bus dropped us off we found ourselves outside in the rain wondering around the streets of which appeared to be a ghost town. The Sanatorium lurked at us from behind high wired fences. The guard at the gate let us know that it was closed for the night and to be careful with where we decided to camp. He warned us that people wouldn’t hesitate in shooting if we were found camping on their property without permission. Cool! Luckily for us there was a small ranch just on the edge of the Sanatorium. Neven asked the locals if we could camp on their property and they were kind enough to offer us some shelter. Unfortunately the space wasn’t big enough to fit our tent, so Neven put his impressive engineering skills to the test and came up with a way to keep us sheltered from prying eyes and bugs of all nature.

The following morning we were got a chance to go into the Sanatorium. The hospital use to operate in the 1915s for tuberculosis and over the years became a prison and an asylum for the mentally ill before it was shut down. It’s claimed to be the most haunted place in Costa Rica with various stories of ghosts sightings. The previous night I woke constantly to the sound of noises of children that seemed to be coming from the hospital. A little freaked out by the unexplained sounds we walked through the eery buildings. My only comfort was having a stray dog that we dubbed Limp Foot with us. He found us the moment we got off the bus and didn’t leave our side the whole time. Barking at anything and everything that passed us by and taking it upon himself to protect us. My heart broke when we had to leave him and I couldn’t help but feel overly attached.

Next stop was the volcano, expect we didn’t make it up! Plain and simple everything in Costa Rica is just more expensive than any other country in Central America and there was no way we were paying $15 USD for a bus to drive us to the top where a bar and restaurant awaited you and you couldn’t even see the crater. Instead we walked around the foot of the base and found a nice place to meditate.

By afternoon we arrived in Turrialba. Intuition found us a little flat space near a river right in the middle of the city. Not genuinely my preference for camping as the risks of danger are higher but our night progressed uneventfully. I already missed the little comforts of Rocinante and wondered what she was doing.

Our journey finally brought us to the beautiful Caribbean Sea something I had yet to see since being in Central America. We found ourselves at a hostel in Puerto Viejo and in the environment of touristy travellers that are often drawn to the beach. I spent the next two days sleeping and reading and loving up every bit of the captivating waves on the beach. Mother Nature sure knows how to heal and ground you when you really need it.

Then after Neven and I made our way back to San Jose to prepare some last few things before we were to take our separate flights.

Saying Goodbye

Picture yourself eating the must scrumptious ice cream you could imagine. Maybe it’s gooey chocolate or sweet vanilla or a fancy gelato filled to the brim with juicy fruits. Mines got chopped nuts on it because who doesn’t like a bit of crunch? You savour every bite as the sweetness hits you in all the right spots. And even though it seems frustrating at times because it’s sticking and melting down your hand in the heat, it doesn’t take away from the fact it’s delicious. In the moment it’s everything you’ve ever wanted or needed. Absolutely bliss. But soon enough it’s over and you’re left wondering how the hell it went by so fast. There’s this longing for more and you contemplate how you’ll get by after having this phenomenal ice cream experience. But… you do. And there’s never a thought of regret only an overwhelming appreciation for something you could only taste the good in and excitement for the next time you got to have it.

Alright I’m using an ice cream analogy to try and simplify and summarise the last few months I got to experience with Neven but I feel like it’s fitting. Normal relationships see moments of separation. There are plenty of times when you are physically apart – someone’s at work or with friends or even just in the next room. But travelling with someone in the small confinements of a car, day in and day out, always together is something completely different. You see and experience EVERY facet of the person. The “good”, the “bad” and all the bits in between. When you actively choose to see so much of a person, they begin to mirror aspects of yourself for you to see. That taught me to see the exquisite complexity of humans, in myself, in Neven and in all those I encountered regardless of where each individual found themselves. I could appreciate that we often do the best we can, with the awareness and understandings we have accumulated, in efforts to grow ourselves however big or small. And I think that’s an incredibly beautiful thing.

Goodbye felt like some surreal movie where I was walking towards the airport gates with tears streaming down my face giving one last wave. But just like a tasty ice cream, I found myself pondering how much love and appreciation I had for a connection and a time that invoked strong emotions that only came because it meant something and it touched deeply (yes, like ice cream). I keep in mind that it’s now time for new opportunities and experiences to flow and declaring something as the end, for me, is based purely on perspective. Time and space leaves a fondness that can only be deeply recognised when the time comes to reconnect – happiness like you’ve never known before. And I choose to remain excited for whenever that day might come.

Extra photos:

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Sarah says:

    What a great adventure you’ve had! How lucky you are to have those experiences with such a great guy. Someone once told me that life is a series of hellos and good-byes. Finding the joy in both is the key to contentment, I think. You sound like you are well on your way to understanding this, and I’m so glad that you have chosen to say hello to us. The adventure continues!

  2. Oops! I posted the above comment, as you Sarah, since I forgot you had signed in on my computer earlier! Anyway, I agree with everything in the above comment! 🙂

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