Living Pura Vida: A Student's Shift in Perspective
a few weeks ago, I fell in love. With a magical little country resting in an indigo ocean. With the taste of 5am coffee and pineapple shared with a group of strangers whom I felt oddly connected to. With the selflessness stitched into the souls of those who opened their homes and their lives to us without a moment of doubt. I fell in love with life. The feeling of being alive. The moment I set my eyes on the towering mountains and rippling waves of Costa Rica, I wanted to jump out the window of the plane and experience every inch of it. It was the first time I had left the United States, and I had no idea what to expect. Little did I know that the next few days- and the country that stood before me- would leave an eternal imprint on my heart. After stepping off the plane, I hopped on a bus with the group of 18 strangers that I would be spending the next 5 days with. We stayed at the home of a kind and welcoming family, and rested for the adventures that would follow in the morning.
White water rafting was truly an experience like no other. The day began with a short but beautiful drive, where we saw unfamiliar creatures scurrying across the road and through the trees. Once we arrived at the river, we clumsily set sail in our inflatable kayaks. Immersed in the untamed, rippling tides that slowly collapsed into stillness. Enveloped by the towering trees and jungle that extended for what looked like eternity. The Savegre River carried us 22 kilometers and left us sun-kissed, sore, and craving even more.
The next morning, I woke up to the sound of chirping birds and soft laughter, wedged between the sheets of my bed in a remote EcoLodge. I stepped onto the balcony and basked in the rays of the morning sun. Within just a few hours, I found myself on the edge of a waterfall, in complete awe of the beauty surrounding me. As I watched my new friends rappel down the 100 foot waterfall, adrenaline surged through my veins. I felt no fear as I harnessed up and stepped over the ledge myself. Only pure bliss. I remember thinking how strange it was that one moment you can be suffocating under the weight of the world and the next you can be suspended in thin air, floating so effortlessly. I felt like I could breathe again.
I landed at the bottom of the waterfall and rested, watching the rest of the group make their journeys down. Each person experienced the thrill a little differently, but I think it’s safe to say that the memory of that experience will last us all forever. The next adventure was awaiting us, and soon we were off to the most strenuous hike of the trip. Although at times I felt like my legs and lungs were going to collapse, the view at the top of the climb was so breathtaking that I would have hiked that trail ten times just to experience it. It was pure magic. A group of us immediately adventured down the rocks to immerse ourselves in the ponds around the cave, and the freezing water felt electric. Later that night we all watched the sun light up the sky in shades of lavender and mint, with the Pacific Ocean barely visible over the peaks of the mountains in the distance.
There was a moment in the middle of that night where I suddenly awoke from my sleep. I sat up, careful not to disturb my sleeping neighbors, and was awestruck at the beauty of what had become my life for a few days. There were candles spread throughout the cavern, slowly flickering out as the night prevailed. The waterfall roared gently only a few feet away from us, echoing rhythmically along the surrounding ranges of mountains. I felt waves of gratitude and abundance flowing through my heart, and I didn’t want to close my eyes to rest again. I didn’t want to miss out on a single moment of this unwavering sense of peace.
The following day consisted of several hikes, cliff jumping, and rappelling once more. While I was rappelling down this waterfall, I decided I wanted a new perspective. I threw my legs upwards and released the ropes, and my body turned completely upside down. I was suspended halfway down a waterfall, spinning and laughing with such overwhelming joy. It was the highlight of my trip, and the words on this page will fall hopelessly short of expressing the beauty and freedom I felt in that moment.
I continued to share stories and get to know my fellow adventurers, and it was wonderful to see how open and connected we all were after only a few short days. We ended up at the ocean that night, and it was a bittersweet but magnificent end to our time in Costa Rica. The Pacific Ocean was warm and immense, and we played soccer and floated in the waves until the sun dissolved into the horizon.
So much happened in the span of five days that sometimes I just had these moments where I had to sit in the stillness of my thoughts and try to soak everything in. It still feels surreal to think back on the memories. I found a family here, in the hearts of people who were strangers to me just a few days earlier. The days dissolved together, and I was consumed by the feeling of being alive. Chasing waterfalls and pastel sunsets. Feeding my curiosity and breaking the rules of the life we’ve been conditioned to experience. I packed up my fears and buried them beneath my desire to be more. These moments were so sacred to me. It was only five days, but I am not the same as I was or will be. I’ve fallen in love with this feeling. Everything has changed… and now it’s twice as beautiful.
Costa Rica, you have taught me to fall in love with uncertainty. With the fluidity of life; ever expanding, and ever changing. You taught me to be the architect of my own life. To question everything. Rewrite the rules. And realize that we are a part of something so much greater than ourselves. Thank you, Costa Rica, for giving me my first glimpse of life outside of my home country. I don’t think I’ll be satisfied until I explore every corner this vast and elegant planet. This enchanting trip has come to an end, but this is not the end of my story. Costa Rica was my prelude; my opening chapter. This is just the beginning..