bilan travels // when is it time to stop traveling?

How do you know if you’ve found…the one?

I stepped out of the water-taxi after it led me across the man-made Lago Arenal (Lake Arenal) and this is what I saw.

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Although I had a strict itinerary of activities to complete that began the minute I arrived, I stopped and took a minute to admire what was in front of me in that very moment. In my life, I don’t think I’ve ever had something take my breath away in the way that this did. One of three million New Yorkers roaming around, I knew my playground was concrete, my views, the apartments in the building across from me, and my nature, the tiny tree planted on the corner of the sidewalk (the one with a sign that read please curb your dog). This was so different from all that I knew. This was beyond beautiful. This just was. Not to mention it kept getting better…and better.

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While this post is mostly me fan-girling about the sheer beauty of the Costa Rican countryside, it is also about the moment that most travelers (including myself) dream of, finding a place with which you fall in love. It may take several years, several dollars, several trying experiences, several memorable moments but if it happens, (as cliché as it may sound) you just know. Don’t be afraid to go somewhere new and step out of your comfort zone. It can and will change you for the better.

I certainly wasn’t prepared.  All the guide books and conversations with friends, classmates, and friends of friends can help you build an itinerary but they cannot help you build unforgettable memories. That is entirely up to you and the person you travel with if you aren’t alone. In the past, there has been a point in every vacation where I thought, “Okay, I am happy with what I saw.” “Okay, I will go home now.”  Despite my lack of experience with fierce winds, coatis and unidentifiable insects, I was able to adapt quickly and embrace it all. Most importantly, I liked the person that I had become. I was fearless, tackling every challenge and obstacle without hesitation. While I was there I did not miss speaking English, skyscrapers, nor did I miss what I had always known.

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A coati or pizote in Spanish

Costa Rica took me in, and I was glad. It was a different life…and I liked it. Needless to say, Costa Rica and I have unfinished business. I want to see every inch of this beautiful Central American nation. A ti volveré Costa Rica. Until then I think I will take in this fearless persona as my own and keep the memories close.

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