I cannot believe that our journey in Costa Rica has come to an end! In a few days I will be getting on a plane to fly home to New Mexico, and start working at the kids’ circus camp. I am so excited to eat a burrito with green chile, ride my bike, cook food in my kitchen, and hang out with all of my friends. Still, I am going to miss so many things about Costa Rica.
A lot has changed over these past four months. I know my way around Heredia now, even though the streets have no names. I know that about 500 colones equal a dollar. I know how to work the shower and take the bus. I know how to dance a little bit of Salsa and sing happy birthday the right way. My Spanish is good enough that now I can have long conversations about anything, which is cool because I love to talk about life with everybody! Getting to know people has really been the most beautiful part.
If you are reading this, you will travel. I am not even going to say, “I hope you travel,” or “I think you will travel.” Let’s decide right now, you and me, that you’re going to do it. If you decide, it will happen.
You are going to hobble off a plane or a bus or a train, with a sore neck after hours stuck in an uncomfortable seat. You will be a nervous and excited. When you walk outside, you might notice right away that the air feels wetter or dryer, and that you smell flowers or garbage or car exhaust or ocean. You will walk or ride down streets so new and strange that your eyes will grow as big as basketballs, and you won’t want to blink in case you miss anything. Maybe you will see a desert, a neon-lit city or a rocky beach. Maybe you will see grassy fields or tiny houses. Whatever you see, your eyes will want to eat up the newness. You will try food that you can’t believe anyone would be crazy enough to put in his mouth. Some of it will be delicious. You will wake up to different rhythms of people going about their days, different insect sounds, whistles, clangs and footsteps on different kinds of earth. You will see animals that are strange and incredible to you. You will scream, “Ohmygosh, it’s a _______! Get the camera!” The people around you barely notice, because they see this animal everyday, like we see pigeons and squirrels. Sometimes you might want to go home. There will be great moments and scary moments. You will climb skyscrapers, jump off waterfalls, explore caves and stroll down the streets of ancient cities. But that might not be the best part.
The best part might be the people you meet. These people might dress and talk and dance and eat differently that you. This is awesome. You will probably run into some people you aren’t crazy about, but you will also find some of the best people you’ve ever met in your life. You are going to crack up laughing with them, argue about your ideas, play new games, get lost, make ridiculous mistakes, and watch the sunrise and set. You will find out that what is normal to you isn’t normal to other people, and maybe that “normal” doesn’t even exist! You will never again treat people like they are “weird” or let anyone treat you like you’re “weird,” because you know that the world is actually just made up of a bunch of weirdos.
You will be able to look at your own life back home in a new way, and maybe you will appreciate things about it. You’ll know what it feels like to be a newcomer, and you’ll remember what people did to make you feel welcome. You’ll be able to do the same things for people you meet who are new to the United States. You will not only be an explorer, but you will be wise world citizen.
It doesn’t matter how many scholarships you have to apply for, or how many chocolate bars you have to sell. Exploring is for you, and you are going to do it! I am so happy for you! Maybe you will also tell the stories of your journey to young people and encourage them to be explorers.
After exploring Costa Rica, I am so excited to make films and stories that everyone can relate to! I know that in my life I will travel to other new, exciting places and find out what is “normal” to more and more people! I know that you will to!
Travellers, I am sad to say goodbye. We dove into oceans, walked through sticky jungles, and squeezed through crowded city streets together. Thank you and your teacher so much for sharing these adventures with me! Knowing you were there with me made this trip to Costa Rica even more amazing.
Now I just have one more question for you…Where are you going to go first?