My 2½ months here in Costa Rica is almost at an end. I leave tomorrow for my next stop - Buenos Aires. I've had some time this week to think about all I've done while I've been here… and I've done a lot! I've walked, hiked, biked, ridden in a bus, taken a boat, flown, and/or ziplined through a good portion of this country. I've come close to eating my own weight in rice, beans, plantains, mangos, pineapples, and bananas. I've learned that my first name means "face" and my last name roughly translates to "pink," so, I am Pink Face. Kind of like Dances with Wolves… but different. And perhaps accurate after an hour in the sun. I've also had to make a number of decisions and stepped up to various challenges since I've been here - traveling on my own, (trying to) learn Spanish, navigating the Costa Rica bus system to get from place to place. In every case, the end result was positive - even if I got to that result in a roundabout way (recall the rescheduled flight in Nosara and daily-but-not-today shuttle in La Fortuna). If I'd made different decisions - for example, if I'd traveled to different towns or attended different schools - I'm sure the end result of those decisions ultimately would have been positive too.
Every day I have to make decisions - what should I have for lunch? Should I take the bus or walk? Should I have a glass (or two) of wine? There isn't really a right of wrong answer to these questions (except the last one - the answer to that should always be "yes"). Whatever I choose is going to be just fine. A few of these decisions just happen to be crossroads, and the decisions I make will shape the future direction of my life. Being innately scared of failure, I think I've always seen the decision I make at these crossroads as being right or wrong. But just like the decisions I make on a daily basis, whatever decision I make at these crossroads will be the right one too. If it ultimately doesn't work out, it will just lead me to another crossroads and I can try again. I should think of these crossroads as opportunities rather than thinking of the events that lead me to them as failures.
There are lots of famous folks who've uttered similar sentiments:
"It's better to have tried and failed than to live life wondering what would've happened if I had tried." Alfred Lord Tennyson
"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." Winston Churchill
"What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise." Oscar Wilde
That last quote particularly hits home because I firmly believe it to be true. It was a "bitter trial" that led me to a crossroads and a decision to move to Oregon, and I continue to reap the rewards of that decision. I found a fantastic city, wonderful friends, an amazing partner, and ultimately, the courage to strike out on this adventure. I'll most assuredly find myself at more crossroads in my life, but this adventure adds to my conviction that whatever direction I take at these crossroads will work out… one way or another.
Costa Rica will always be a special place for me. I surfed its beaches on the Pacific Coast, explored its jungles on the Caribbean Coast, and hiked its rainforests and volcanoes in between. I experienced the kindness and steadfastness of its people. And I saw the commitment to conservation and education of its government. I'll also remember a few of its idiosyncrasies - and I've posted a few pictures of those in the "Costa Rica - A Retrospective" folder. Thanks to all of you who have been following along on my travels and offered words of support and encouragement (and posted hilarious comments). Next up, Argentina. I'm excited to see what that country has to show me, and what more it will show me about myself.