“The best journeys answer questions you never thought to ask”
April 2nd I boarded a flight to San Jose, Costa Rica and then a much smaller flight to the Nicoya Peninsula followed by an hour in a taxi to playa Hermosa…talk about journey! Arriving at Shaka Surf Camp for my surfing and yoga adventure. The weather there was perfect; the sun just seemed to hug your skin. I was greeted by the yoga instructor Meagan who rocks (you need to check out her Yoga YouTube channel). I was given a tour and keys to my own cabina for the week. My jaw was on the floor when I saw my large accommodations; I sprawled across the bed and screamed “all this for me!”
That afternoon I jumped right in with the other travelers/soon-to-be-amigos and had my first yoga session. My heart was so full of gratitude. I had tears in my eyes thanking God for just being there; I felt so free! After yoga I walked down to the beach and the scene was epic. The beach was flanked by two gigantic green mountains, with hovering palm trees and the sky was a romantic tint of orange. The sand on the beach was like powder, and the water was so warm and gentle. I swam and watched the sunset with tears again in my eyes; my heart was just so full of overwhelming gratitude.
I spent that evening getting to know all the other travelers staying at Shaka over a dinner prepared by the resident chef. It felt as if we were already a big family. The other travelers were from different parts of the United States; some were traveling as a family, another solo and lastly a mother daughter duo. The beauty of playa Hermosa, the abundance of hammocks and delicious food made it easy for all of us to become fast friends.
The first morning out on the board was very exciting. The waves were not as gentle as I remembered them the day before and I felt like a klutz. There was so much to think about: timing, positioning and balance. However, once I stopped being my overly analytical self I was up riding waves. Nothing really compares to the feeling of riding a wave; I felt like a super hero!
I spent the week taking yoga classes, surfing waves, enjoying the beautiful scenery and making new friends. I went to bed early every night and every morning before surf lessons I was awaken by the most beautiful monkeys I had ever seen; the wildlife there was stunning. Breakfast and dinners were provided family style so I really got to know the other travelers.
The highlights of the trip were certainly the unplanned moments. One of the surf instructors took me and another guest on a tour of the peninsula “to see the real Costa Rica,” as he put it. We drove through rivers, skinny dirt roads and met amazing locals. We stopped at several small stores to guzzle cold Cerveza, I even had an encounter with an albino cow! It was so fun to see how other people lived and the hospitable nature of the Costa Rican people. Their lives were just easy going and not because life wasn’t hard but they chose not to sweat the small stuff. The people had so much gratitude and their lives centered on family, good food and the rise of the tide.
“The best journeys answer questions you never thought to ask,” it wasn’t until the last day I understood what this trip had taught me. I realized that while my nature is loving toward people my heart was closed off, and I kept people at a distance. My heart was guarded behind a defense system similar to Fort Knox with a warm, smiley and sugar coated shell. Everything I do is intentional, planned and calculated when it comes to dealing with people. The hurt from my past caused me to keep people an arm’s distance away.
I understood when I began to reflect on the warmth and openness of everyone that I encountered. The willingness of perfect strangers to share stories of their life’s pain, the willingness of strangers to let me into their most intimate family moments and the willingness of strangers to make me realize I was not alone in Costa Rica nor in this world. Only the vulnerability of traveling alone allowed me to have this experience. When it finally hit me I cried (I tear up as I write this). I didn’t want to spend another moment playing chess with people calculating my next move as to stop them from getting to my true treasure… my heart. Scripture says we should guard our hearts but I think I had gotten to a point where the guarding was stifling my growth.
Needless to say this was a trip of a lifetime! I love to travel because it changes you in ways you can’t really measure. Have you ever had a trip that changed your life or changed your outlook of the world? Where would you like to travel to one day? What was your best adventure? Share your thoughts and comments in the section below.