It’s been 3 weeks since I returned from my first solo, international adventure in 16 yrs. Costa Rica called out to me as I sought to find a place to start my new beginning.
We traveled to Costa Rica nearly 8 years ago to celebrate our 6th anniversary. The year before we had skipped our annual anniversary trip as we went to India for the first time to spread my Dad’s ashes, so it seemed fitting the following year to follow his footsteps to Costa Rica.
Dad loved the “pura vida” lifestyle and had big dreams to spend more time there in his retirement. Unfortunately, his retirement came forced and he passed away just 8 mos after he “retired,” so he never got to fulfill his Costa Rica dreams.
We enjoyed a great trip to Costa Rica navigating the curvy roads in a stick shift Yaris while learning the driving customs of another country. We stayed at the JW Marriott Guanacaste just after they opened, so it was truly a new property.
While it is a resort, it felt intimate with the hammocks throughout the property and the hacienda style. We enjoyed many special memories, including chef’s dinner on the beach for two on our anniversary.
When I decided to go to Costa Rica, I first checked the same property alas it was not available on points when I wanted to travel. I looked up other Marriott properties and discovered one that looked like it would be a good fit – small, intimate property with paddle boards on-site.
When I booked my stay at El Mangroove, I was in a different frame of mind than when left for Costa Rica. I planned this trip to coincide with the finality of it all. It was supposed to be final before I left. As with all the best laid plans, it was not final before I left and I went into the trip feeling the weight of the spring of change.
Yes, so maybe I religiously checked a certain website to see if it was final while I was gone…It wasn’t. (Turns out it became final while I was gone, but the court took eons to upload the file and did not update until over a week after I got back.)
When I arrived in Costa Rica, I had every intention of renting a fun, zippy little, stick-shift car to get around. Plans change though, they really do, sometimes out of fear and sometimes out of necessity.
The Hertz rental office wanted to put a $1500 deposit on my credit card for damages and that just felt overwhelming. It’s not that I would have caused damage, but G-d forbid I had to come up with that kind of money in such a season of change financially. Nope, it did not sit well, so I secured a taxi to the hotel.
The greeting at the property was delightful and I was upgraded to a junior suite (hello, Marriott Rewards Platinum perks).
I headed straight out to the pool to cool off from the humidity, where I discovered that it was mostly newlyweds and families. May is low season in Costa Rica, which was great in terms of never having to secure a lounge chair early yet it also meant that were not a lot of people.
DB got a call from me in near tears coping with the shock of being in a foreign country by myself. He was truly a dear in making me feel a bit better about the loneliness I felt being alone in a big hotel room in a foreign for the first time.
Friends also encouraged me to look for the bright spots – literally one thing a day to make me smile. Most often it was the sunset, but sometimes it was chatting in Spanish with the staff.
Hindsight? 7 days was probably a bit ambitious for the first trip out the gate yet 5 days probably would have been too short as I really started to feel good on day 6.
A few days into the trip, I met a lovely group of women. It was a mother, her daughter, and her daughter’s two friends. Their positive energy was contagious and I ended up chatting with them most days by the pool. They invited me to join them for dinner several times too.
Between my new Texas friends and a few couples that were willing to hang with the single girl, the trip started to turn around. On the 2nd to last night, I was sitting at the bar chatting with one of the staff when a lady started chatting with me. Turns out she intended this trip to be her new beginnings trip, however her spouse ended up coming along.
She was the first one to say to me that I was brave for going on this adventure on my own. I had not owned that word for this trip. I felt the weight of the sadness and the anxiety of the unknown future that awaited me in Phoenix.
Brave? Who me? Well, yes I am learning that sometimes you need to listen to outside sources who see what you cannot see yourself when your internal voices want to make you feel crappy as well as listen to the people that share gems like look for just one good thing instead of trying to make the world turn on it’s axis more quickly just so you can feel better.
Brave does not mean that you are not filled with fear, but it means that you are willing to knock at fear’s door and push thru the fear to something bigger.
I will write more about the experience of Costa Rica and El Mangroove in another post, but today I feel a little braver than I did before.