In today’s world, travel isn’t just recreation. It’s a learning experience that cultivates better understanding across cultures. I love to travel and learn about other cultures and really become a part of that culture. It adds to how I understand my own life. I love meeting new people and learning about their story. I love seeing other people smile and sharing my own smile with them. I think that your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card and how you leave others feeling after having an experience with you becomes your trademark.
It is exciting to travel and see new places and take pictures, but it is more exciting to do all of those things and learn at the same time. That is what will make you remember those moments in a more meaningful way. Sometimes you just have to listen and absorb what is going on because no picture will capture that experience the same way your mind, body and soul will. You have to open yourself up to being a traveler and not just a tourist. Check expectations at the door and just enjoy the destination. Discover life one step at a time. To understand what is going on in the world you have to see the world. Relax, have fun, and the more you travel, the more you will learn. Meaningful travel does not only close geographic distances between people, but it brings them closer in ways too.
While in Costa Rica one of the best things I was told by my amazing tour director Alvaro was that “culture is not part of the itinerary.” I really believe what he said is true. We spent time in the jungle in Tortuguero and had the privilege of being in one of the best lodges to experience the environment. If we were in a typical hotel by American standards the experience would not have been the same. Costa Rica is truly a unique place. It made me realize once again why you should return to the same destination twice, three times, four times or as many times as you can! I visited Costa Rica over ten years ago for the first time and had many wonderful experiences, but during my most recent visit to this beautiful country I felt like I was really connected to my location. As adventurous as I am I often get scared of geckos. Yes, geckos. This time in the jungle I met a gecko right away in my bathroom after saying it was the only thing I did not want to find in my room. The ironic part is that I feel much better about these creatures and ironically a gecko went home in my best friend’s suitcase!
Some of the highlights of this trip included places such as Tortuguero, Sarapiqui, Arenal and Guanacaste. In these areas some of the exciting activities I participated in were kayaking, hiking, zip lining, whitewater rafting, a chocolate tour, a night hike and a visit to a waterfall. Costa Rica is the place for you if you have an interest in history, food, culture, flora or fauna. It is a place that has the whole package to offer you. My adventure in Costa Rica included a great mixture of activities and some of my most fond memories are conversations I had casually with the people that I met along the way.
My heart remains in many of the places I visit and I know I left another piece of it in Costa Rica. My advice is to find any excuse to go back to a destination more than once and I am already taking my own advice and planning my next trip to Costa Rica!