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Today I began a trip around the world. Not because I'm searching for something I've lost... Or because I want an escape from "real life"... Not even because I am literally & metaphorically embarking on a brand new phase of my life. I am traveling simply for the Joy.
I want to be carried on an epic adventure of beauty & culture. I want to take an exciting journey into the unknown, and find out what might be waiting there for me. I want to discover. To learn. To experience. To grow.... And to breathe. I want to be open to any and all experiences, and to let them touch my heart and my soul. I want to take a GIANT step into the World, and see what it's all about!
Today... I took my first step on a journey that will take me to Costa Rica, Isla Mujeres, Hong Kong, Thailand, Bali, Australia, and New Zealand. Today... I begin this journal with: "Costa Rica- Day 1".
I am traveling with my friend Jamie, who (interestingly) was the first person I met after I took another giant step into the World 5 years ago when I moved to L.A. we land in San Jose airport in a frenzy, because our flight is an hour and 12 minutes late, which means we have missed our connecting flight to the coastal surfing community of Mal Pais. There are no more flights out this afternoon, so it is suggested we stay in San Jose & fly out in the morning. Now... While I'm sure parts of San Jose are quite lovely indeed.. The holiday inn near the airport is not EXACTLY how we envisioned beginning our epic adventure through the rain forests of Central America. So... We decide instead to see some of this gorgeous country by taking a car, to a ferry, to an ATV to reach our resort in Mal Pais. This means our 20min flight, has become a 6 hour cross- country escapade... But even after 10 hours of airports & planes, we are game for the challenge!
Our driver Alex is jovial & helpful, and even jokes by teaching us some useful spanish phrases for Americans such as "where is the nearest Denny's?" (hilarious). Alex speaks unbroken English, and when his cell phone rings, it plays "Aerosmith". This cracks me up.
As we drive on, we pass a car which has broken down on the side of the road, and I notice the first major difference from Los Angeles. I do not see a man wearing Ed Hardy & texting on his cell phone while waiting for AAA. I see a man underneath his car, fixing it himself as his 6 year old daughter passes him the appropriate tools for the job.
Alex starts to step on the gas, as we are cutting it close to catching the LAST ferry out for the night, and with our luck making connections SO far, we figure we MAY not be able to rely on good kharma to get us there in time. We make it with 3 minutes to spare, and as I am dashing for the Boat, I am sincerely wishing I did not pack so many cute pairs of cargo pants b/c my backpack feels as though it may crush my clavicle if left to it's own devises.
By some miracle, we board the ferry in time to witness the most spectacular sunset. The air is heavy & humid, but somehow.... Not sticky or hot. The breeze was perfection, and I got lost in a mediative trance of loveliness, as I witness the undiluted beauty of nature. On the 2 hour ride across the ocean, we see mountains and islands, and clouds that catch the twilight in a manner that cannot be described in words. We see fishermen and pelicans, and before long I feel as though my mind has cleared, and my body has decompressed. I breathe in the sweet evening air, and meditate on gratitude.
When we arrive on the peninsula, we are whisked away in an ATV by Alex's friend Luis, who has a sign which reads "Jamie + Elice", and who has been designated to carry us on the remainder of our journey. We hop in excitedly, and off we go! Along the way, I notice another difference from L.A. Every house we pass- without exception- has the front door wide open. there are no TVs on, and families are conversing and playing games on porches. This way of life seems somehow refreshing... To live without locks and bolts and 97 inch screens. A way of life that seems fully based on defining families and enjo ying the moment. I love this.
Now- we were informed that Mal Pais is "off the beaten path", but we were in for a bit of a surprise when the pavement became a dirt road, the dirt road became a trail, the trail became 2 tire tracks, and the tire tracks disintegrated into a barley perceptible path through the jungle. the vehicle was bouncing up and down and winding around bends for over an hour before we finally drove down the coast and came upon The secluded little private resort we booked online. It was.... In a word... Paradise! The pictures online made it look luxurious, but I had been convinced that at $40 a night each, it couldn't live up to the expectations.
It FAR exceeded them! Our private cabana has it's own hammock and the deluxe bathroom is open air, so I could see the stars as I showered off the long trip. Jamie and I were famished, so we went directly to the restaurant which is poolside under the stars. Here we were served fresh vegetables & fruits, which somehow taste better and richer than their American counterparts. We then ate the catch of the day, which was so fresh it was practically still swimming. To wash down all this island deliciousness I had an incredible local concoction that was simply fresh pineapple and crushed ice. No sugar. No additives.... Just divinity in a glass.
We went directly to the pool for a dip where I laid on a floating bed & stared at the night sky. It was here that I noticed a final stark difference from L.A...... The night sky. here in this secluded paradise.... Away from the big city, headlights on the 405 and smog.... The ebony sky looked like a gateway to another universe. I laid floating in awe. Enjoying the hypnotic effect of the dazzling stars. It takes a little time to develop the eyes to see this sky. First.... You are overwhelmed by the complete darkness of the night, and then stunned by the contrasting brilliance of Saturn, and the most prominent stars.
But then.... If you relax your vision and stare into the darkness with faith... more of the universe begins to reveal itself. Gradually... You begin to notice thousands of specks of light filling the darkness... Clusters of constellations and shooting stars passing so quickly that if you blink, you'd miss them. And all of a sudden, it seems as though something millions of light years away, is actually within your grasp.