Embracing my independence, following through with my plans (regardless of the change in/lack of company), and neglecting to let my fears swallow me was the best decision I could have made. If I had made one move differently – if I had ended up travelling with other people, if I had ended up chickening out and going back to the pacific side, if i had ended up staying in San Jose one more night in a desperate attempt to hold on to the idea of our original plans or one more night in a sad state of self-pity and loneliness, if I had ended up in a different hostel instead of the guesthouse that I did when I did make it to the Carribean side – I would not have not have seen the sign for oatmeal (which I had been craving for quite some time) at the hotel next to mine, and in turn, I would not have ended up there for the breakfast next to Jim, Joe and Ian. Even though the oatmeal was sickly sweet, under cooked, pink (What?), and inedible.
That was the start of my first day in Puerto Viejo, one of my favorite days of this trip. I’m not entirely sure how we got to talking, and I don’t even think we exchanged very many words before I was invited along for the day on this Father-Son Surfing Trip.
Many times this trip I have found myself thinking ‘These are strangers. I don’t even know these people.’ and this day, I found myself thinking ‘These are strangers. I don’t even know these people. And I am in their car.’ and ‘These are strangers. I don’t even know these people. And I have no idea where I am.’ and ‘These are strangers. I don’t even know these people. And I am somewhere in a jungle, covered in mud, about to be rained on, and being thrown at with fruit by monkeys, with them.’
‘These are strangers. I don’t even know these people. And I am having one of the best days I’ve ever had.’ Sometimes, being with strangers, thinking these things, being vulnerable, is the best way to be.
Ian, Joe and their (my?) dad had adopted me for the day. When they asked me to join them, I did NOT hesitate for one second! What else was I going to do that day? Be alone? Sit on the beach? Who knows! But I ended up doing a lot more, with better company than I could ever ask for. A small ‘yes’ goes a long way.
Even though I didn’t surf, and that was the sole purpose of their trip, I was more than happy to sit on the beach, watching the crabs come in and out of the sand, watching (and taking photos of) them in the waves, admiring the beautiful Carrribean water and white sand beneath and around me, and reading my book. I am always glad to see the most of where ever I am, and I knew that this was going to be an opportunity for that, and the big beach with only one other person on it was worth this short drive down the coast.
When the guys had finally come in after a couple hours in the ocean we hopped in the car and all of a sudden Joe (who has been traveling on his own for a few months alll ready and had had the chance to explore the area a little bit already) suggested that we do a hike that started a few more beaches over.
So we headed south! I was funny how their little suggestion to sit on the beach while they surfed was turning into something more. I was thrilled (Not that I had much of a choice, haha). I had nowhere to be, no one obligated to be with, and it was a beautiful day! We stopped for icecream, fresh coconut water (drinken straight from the coconut!), and bug spray. We all had only flip flops on, and really had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We started at the Manzanillo beach which was on one side of the peninsula and the goal was to get to the other side of the peninsula by way of hiking through the (very unclearly marked) jungle, to a said-to-be beautiful beach. We started off and were immediately slipping all over the place on mud! I kept thinking ‘I should have better shoes on for this’, but in reality, I dont think that any other shoes would have done any better! It was going to be muddy and slippery and wet one way or another, and this way we could just rinse off our flipflops when we were done!
It was so great to hike with these three gentlemen. They constantly kept asking me if I was okay, if I was doing alright, if I was keeping up okay, etc. It was nice to experience the atmosphere of a caring family, completely enjoying themselves and being with eachother. And in that moment, I was part of that! We hiked and hiked and hiked, with no real clue of where we were going. Joe, who had spent some time volunteering and taking part in some nature walks, had tons to teach us about the jungle. Like that the ants are the rulers of the jungle! (they are so smart and so strong, and have ant hills that are around 6 feet in diameter! HUGE!). We were watching the sky as we were hiking, thinking that soon the rain would start pouring on us. We had been at it for quite some time and just came to a point where we needed to either keep going, or turn back, and the rain had made that decision for us. We already were dealing with enough mud! But as we were standing, contemplating our choices, we were by some trees with a bunch of monkeys…. monkeys that did not like us there!! There was fruit being thrown in our direction! After taking a few photos, we turned and left them in peace.
By this point, we were all suuuuuper muddy, and suuuuuper sweaty. Luckily, the “path” (general direction) we were going in popped out at little beaches along the way. They were small, seemingly untouched, perfect, paradise. So refreshing. So beautiful. So rewarding!! At one of the last ones there was a tree overhanging the water and a rope bamboo attached to it. We spent quite a bit of time in this water, playing around climbing on the tree and the swing, enjoying this beautiful moment in this beautiful place, on this beach all to ourselves.
We weren’t paying attention to the time at atll (Time? What is that?), but when we got in the car to head back, it was amazing… we had half an hour till the (World Cup) game. Just enough time to drive back, shower, drink a beer and walk to a bar to watch the game. It was a blast! These three were quite the soccer lovers and beer drinkers. I truly had such a lovely evening with them, going from bar to restraunt to bar, being spoiled, enjoying being part of their family for the day.
What great guys, and what an incredible day spent with them. I was in Puerto Viejo for a few days, and my memory of that place is all of that day.
Trust in the universe, and you be will be taken care of.