“Pura Vida” is a term that would exactly describe my adventures in Costa Rica — Pure Life. It was my first trip outside the country, full of apprehension and excitement, a sublime state of mind. I arrived at the Charlotte Douglass Airport around 11:30 am headed for American Airlines. Most of the students who went on the trip I did not know, yet optimism and excitement brought out the best in me. We all arrived at Miami around 2:00 pm. Our flight was on time, and nothing could be better! I began to meet many of the students who accompanied me on the trip as we waited for our connecting flight to Costa Rica; it turned out that we had so much in common! As always, there is usually something that can easily dampen a bright tone; we found out that our flight was two hours delayed. Oh well, more time to get to know each other!-our optimism persisted.
We finally loaded the plane around 5 pm, and expected to arrive at Costa Rica around 9:30 pm. As we headed off the Miami coast, I could tell that this really was going to be an amazing first trip; I still could not believe that I was leaving the United States! Around 9:30 pm, we were in Costa Rica, hovering over the city of San Jose. Due to immense amounts of fog (which Costa Rica is infamous for, I would later find out), our plane was left circling the area for about two hours. The plane still could not land in San Jose after this “brief” amount of time, so we therefore landed in Panama City.
I had never expected on my first adventure outside of the Eastern United States to wind up in Panama, in addition to Costa Rica! We sat on the plane for hours, once in a while being interrupted with short hopes of a solution, only to be disappointed with worst announcements. To start, we were informed that we would soon either be able to return to Miami, or wait for the fog and go back to Costa Rica, either way, it would take additional hours. We then found out that we would not be able to exit the plane for breaks because we were not really permitted on Panama grounds-imagine spending hours sitting on an airplane that is not making any progress. If things could not get any worst, we were informed that a malfunction was found on our plane, and that it would take an additional hour to fix the malfunction! Finally, while all of this was occurring, I had a terrible stomach ache and felt a sense of rage at the fact that there was a fully-operational plane right beside our plane that could resolve our issues. The problem was that we were not allowed to use the other plane because we would have to step on “Panamanian Ground” or enter the city’s terminal to load the plane. More time to get to know each other.
Eventually, around 3:00 am the following morning, we left Panama and were “officially” in Costa Rica around 5:30 am (let’s not forget we had a tour scheduled this day). I am glad to state that the plane ride did not in any way foreshadow the mood of my entire trip. My visit to Costa Rica was one of the greatest times of my life!
My friends and I engaged in various activities-we toured multiple cities and beaches, hiked through several forests, went zip lining and horseback riding, and even met with natives to discuss their lifestyle. I had never noticed the small details that I take for granted every day of my life, such as always having hot water, great air-conditioning systems, and even attending school (many of the natives from rural areas did not attend school, and those who did were usually helping younger kids to learn). At the same time, I was amazed by the universal spirit of content that seemed to engulf the region. Most of the children we met made due with what they had, and carried a since of pride in their country.
My first trip out of the country to Costa Rica presented the purest type of living I have experienced. Despite the plane issues, the satisfaction that comes from seeing life through another lens is one that is irreplaceable.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.