You learn a lot about yourself by traveling. You get to experience an adventure which is fun and new, but you also face some challenges such as language barriers and get put out of your comfort zone, but it is these adventures that help us grow. It is these adventures that help us discover so much about ourselves.
Recently I spent two weeks in Central America – I wish it was longer, but it was definitely an adventure that taught me a lot about myself, and a different part of the world. This blog is to not only show you the experiences I had, both good and bad, but to also show you what I learnt from my time away in the hope that it can also help others.
Lesson number one – expect the unexpected…
From the moment I went to leave NZ I was faced with challenges; Boarding the plane to Houston, Texas check. Leaving the tarmac and soaring through the sky, unchecked. I was due to depart at 5pm on a Friday evening. I was all geared up and ready for my big adventure, but when the pilot went to move the plane it went in the wrong direction. EEK!!! The plane I was on had some serious issues – that’s never what you want to hear before taking off, but never fear the next 4.5 hours were spent on the ground enjoying aeroplane food and watching movies. I am extremely grateful for Air New Zealand for doing the best they can in these circumstances, I am also extremely grateful they found this problem before taking off rather than when we landed…otherwise this would be a very different blog post. I expected to arrive in Houston about lunch time, but instead I got there in time to have some dinner and then board my next flight to Costa Rica – bonus no long ass wait in the airport!
Another unexpected moment was when I reached Costa Rica, I had been Googling the s*** out of this place for weeks, if not months, and all I saw was amazing beaches and thought I am going to spend my time laying on the beach sunbathing, but I only visited one beach the whole time I was there. Why? Because once again you have to expet the unexpected. Beaches in Costa Rica are a good two-three hours out of the city. This wasn’t what I expected, but it also wasn’t a problem as I still had an amazing time.
Lesson number two – plans can change…
Visiting Panama for two days, no issues, until you miss you flight back – F***! I can’t tell you how many times my plans were changed in Panama. You see the person I was meeting over there was playing a Grid Iron game that weekend and we were meant to be traveling back to Costa Rica together early Monday morning, however his plans were drastically changed and he had to stay extra days. No issues, I would head back to Costa Rica and start exploring myself, but Panama traffic had different ideas for me and I missed my flight. OPPS! Thankfully I still had somewhere to stay and everything worked out for the better. I was able to get out and watch the team play on the Monday night, enjoy another awesome day in the heat and then head back to Costa Rica the next day. I am not going to bore you with how the plans kept changing, but I do what to tell you that they can and they will change. Don’t stress about them, deal with them when they happen. Take some time out to take some deep breaths and settle your mind, and then take the neccesary action you need to.
Lesson number three – I need to live in the now…
With all the challenges I faced it became increasingly clear that I wasn’t living in the moment. In fact I think I am always living in the future; I am always a few steps ahead, if not days or years ahead, and this really played havoc with me when I faced a challenge overseas. I would start to stress and it put a real crap mood over what was meant to be the trip of my life. Thankfully I have an amazing friend Hope, who would talk to me at these times and help bring me back to the present. She shared a mantra with me which I absolutely love, and I used it all the time. I would say it whenever I started thinking about something, or if I couldn’t get to sleep, every time I faced a challenge, and that mantra is…
I am safe, I am well, I am love
Now let’s see what I got up to…
I don’t know where to start, I definitely wasn’t your typical tourist in Panama City, instead I was with someone who could call Panama one of his second homes. Rather than doing all the normal tourist things such as going to the canal and taking lots of pictures, I took zilch! I spent my time in Pnama, more like a local than a tourist, and although the heat took me many days to get use to (lies I still wasn’t use to it when I flew out), it was an amazing experience.
Panama is like nothing I have ever experienced before. To see kids running around a soccer field in the pouring rain with no shoes on BUT they are having the best time of their lives. It seems like they have no problems, they look like the happiest people in the world and it makes you think about everything you take for granted back at home. It makes you think about how it isn’t the material things that make us happy. It is us who creates our own happiness, no matter what we have or don’t have.
No matter where you are in the world you will always encounter some ‘crazies’…hell we all have a little bit of crazy in us, and I know before I left a lot of people were worried about a female traveling through Central America alone (although most the time I wasn’t, just getting between countries and trying to find my contacts haha), but I had no problems at all. Everyone was extremely nice, even when they knew I couldn’t respond to them because they speak Spanish and I didn’t know even the basics, but everyone was still very kind and helpful.
I ate at places most tourists wouldn’t find and the food was amazing, but they couldn’t talk me into trying pigs feet. If the look of that food didn’t put me off, then person eating it in front of me defintiely did as he was screwing his face up and pushing it away.
I spent majority of my time running around watching a very good friend of mine coach, train, and play – doing everything he loves, and honestly it gave me so much motivation to come back and step things up a notch with everything I was working towards/
Is it somewhere I would go again? If I was with the same person yes, but otherwise probably not. It definitely makes you more grateful for everything you have. We live in extremely different conditions and to see these people happy with everything they have no matter how little, is very inspiring.
Whenever my family go on a road trip or even just a drive that might be 45 minutes or more they ask me if I need snacks, it’s a little joke they have because I always seem to need snacks with me, and I always want them in the car. I know WTF does snacks have to do with Costa Rica?… Well my first night there I was sitting in traffic, not just chilling on the road, but in my Uber and there were all these people walking up and down between the traffic with snack food you could buy. It made me laugh, it made me think of home. Long story short…I didn’t buy any snacks but it was a funny start to another journey.
My time spent in Costa Rica was rather relaxing, which I absolutely loved. It was definitely a change of pace from being back at home, and having this time to relax made me think about a lot of things, and it provided me with a ton of ideas I could put into practice once back home in NZ. I loved having time to chill out, but I also went on a few adventures.
I spent one of my days at a Wildlife Rescue Centre, which is a bit like a zoo, but it is a place for animals that have been rescued out in the wild. I saw many animals that I didn’t even know existed in this world. I hunted out the famous sloths and absolutely loved them. While at the wildlife centre I harnessed up and went zip lining through the tree tops that monkeys and sloths called their home. No matter where I am in the world I love being outside and surrounded in animals, so this was an awesome experience.
One of my favourite days in Costa Rica was a day trip I took to Tortuguero Village. Tortuguero is located in the middle of the rainforest and the whole day was amazing – even the very early morning start. On this day I was picked up by a tour bus and we made our journey into the rainforest and the adventure definitely didn’t disappoint. Before we even reached our first destination a massive tree fell down in the middle of the road, blocking all traffic, but people didn’t stop to panic. Instead you saw all the males jump out of their cars and work together to move the tree off the road, and believe me it was a massive tree. From here on we continued to our first destination and had a traditional Costa Rican breakfast; this included a plate of fruit (the most amazing pineapple I have ever tasted), followed by scrambled eggs, rice and beans. From here we continued our journey into the rainforest and stopped every now-and-again to check out monkey’s and sloths in the trees. All these animals were wild, living their own life, and it was amazing to see. A while later we hopped into a boat and continued to make our way to Tortuguero Village, this is a village of only 1000 people, completed with it’s own schools, amazing shops and more. This is the island where the turtles come to shore on a beach that illegal to swim at, because it is so rough. While on the island we got to enjoy fresh coconuts that tasted amazing. Part of the trip back we also got a traditional style buffet lunch at an amazing hotel that is located on the river in the rainforest. While cruising the river we encountered so much wildlife, and it was amazing to see all those animals in their natural habitats. There were birds, monkey’s, lizards, crocodiles, and more.
I could continue to blog about this adventure for hours on end, but I think I will come to an end. One of the reasons I shared this is so that people can see another part of the world, but also because I wanted to show people that travel can teach you a lot, especially about yourself. I know I learnt a lot and am very excited about taking another adventure to another part of the world.