I’ve been traveling for seven weeks. Those who get my #notetoself emails are updated, but most others aren’t. I’ve been meaning to share these here for a while. This is the first #notetoself email (reformatted into letters!) I sent after one week of travel, on February 6, 2012. Please feel free to comment, share, etc.
I’ve only been in Costa Rica for one week, and have learned some pretty big lessons. Traveling is by far one of my favorite things to do because it throws you out of your comfort zone, leaving you with less armor to shield yourself with, which can, if you let it, result in purer knowledge of self.
You live. You learn. You adjust. You get over, under and through if you have to simply because…well, you have to.
At the time of my last writing, I was in Tamarindo. From there, I took a seven hour bus ride to the capital of Costa Rica, San Jose. I stayed the night, woke up and took a two and half hour bus ride to Cariari on my way to Tortuguero, a village on the northeast coast of the country. In Cariari, my backpack was stolen. My bag was one of the last things to be loaded, thus one of the first to be unloaded, while I was one of the last to exit the bus. By the time I got off, it was gone. Nearly everything I needed for my day-to-day living during the next two and half months: shoes, clothes, vitamins, medicines, toiletries, etc. Gone.
Too shocked for an immediate reaction, I wanted to cry, but couldn’t. After I realized this was no mistake and I wasn’t going to haphazardly see the thief with my bag so I could run them down and take it back (yes, I really thought of doing this…quite a number of times), I did cry. As I walked down the streets of a foreign city, wondering what to do next. Do I keep moving in the direction of Tortuguero? Nothing clean to put on the next day, or to wear to sleep. What to do?
For a split second, I thought to return home, but immediately dismissed that possibility as a ludicrous idea bred purely from fear. Instead, I went to a soda, typically a small, family-run restaurant with traditional Costa Rican fare at really low prices, and got something to eat. As I waited on my food, I pulled out my journal and got reacquainted with my inner self.
You always knew this trip was about cultivating stronger faith. Here’s the test.
I had nothing to gain by cowering and turning around at this setback, despite the grandness of its size in the moment. Really, everything I lost can be replaced. Will it necessarily be easy? No. Will it be worth it? Without a doubt, I firmly believe the answer is yes.
I trudged forward with my plans to go to Tortuguero. Sitting next to me on the two and half hour bus ride to Pavona and the hour and half boat ride the rest of the way was a man named Leo. The tour guide who helped us all get accomodations: Leonard. A fellow traveler: Leo. In the two nights, I’ve been here, I’ve met two other men named Leo/Leonard. Leandra is the feminine version of Leonard. I took it as a sign that I’m on the right track.
There will always be obstacles and setbacks, but they don’t have to be the ruin of your plans. Key to making a setback a setup for a comeback is a positive attitude about everything. I was even a bit proud of myself for persisting and for changing my attitude so quickly.
Speaking with a Tortuguero local, she said, “why don’t you just go home?” Surprised by the notion, I smiled and said, “Because I’ve only been here for four days.”
I honestly believe losing my things was supposed to be a part of my journey. For what, I can’t yet say, but I have my suspicions that it’s part of a larger plan that will be revealed in due time.
Great generosity has been displayed to me, from fellow travelers, friends, and former co-workers. I’ve received a few PayPal donations and will likely ask for help, something I’m often not so good at. We have to humble ourselves though; everyone needs a helping hand at some point. Now, I suppose is mine.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned this week is that we are stronger than we know. We have more assistance than what’s immediately in front of us. If we persist, we will surprise ourselves by what we can accomplish.
Has something like this ever happened to you? If it did, what did you do? What would you do differently? If this happened to you, what do you think you would’ve done? What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned this week?
I hope all is well in your world and that if it isn’t, you’re able to see some design behind the chaos.