Pura Vida - My Family Travels

For seventeen years, I’ve lived in a bubble. Sheltered as the only daughter after three boys, I was conditioned to remain inside my boundary to ensure constant surveillance. Such a lifestyle granted me a degree of favoritism from Mom and Dad; yet I still pondered about the outside world, only doing so behind foggy windows, hoping one day to have a better view. However, reality became clearer as I learned of Rustic Pathways, a high school traveling organization with a soccer program in Costa Rica, focused on bringing locals off the streets as well as refurbishing the elementary schools. I was drawn.


After offering the trip as a substitution as an 18th birthday party, threatening to use all my savings, and endless begging, my parents finally let me on a plane to Costa Rica. Of course, my safety was still a concern. Thus, Mom purchased me a global phone as a going away present in exchange for a promise to call home every night. So with this new phone, a renewed passport, and a suitcase filled with Costa Rica-friendly attire, I was set. Little did I know, I was going to learn more than how to sand desks with sand paper and score a goal from midfield.

My first experience in Costa Rica: realizing how disconnected it feels when the sole means of communication to the rest of the world is stripped away. I lost that global phone the night we landed. There was no internet. Post cards were the only way to let my family know I was alive. After letting overwhelming guilt and detachment wash over me, I had to realize that losing that $200 phone was the best thing that could happen to me. Without parents consistently breathing down my neck questioning endlessly, I found myself truly relaxing. It felt great. It wasn’t that I didn’t care; I finally grasped the opportunity to live out of my boundary.

Furthermore, my team, hailing from across the country, brought with them their different colloquialisms, lifestyles, and philosophies. Up to this point, my strong Catholic upbringing influenced the way I chose friends, so I never enjoyed tolerating those with morals different than mine. Meaning, I judged on first impressions, a cause of many social inhibitions. But after realizing they were the ones I’d be stuck with for two weeks, I might’ve as well have tried. I’m glad I did, because as I gradually gotten to know them, the more accepting I became to their means. Through them, I realized everyone is given their own experiences that will eventually shape the way he sees the world, and the only responsibility I have is to acknowledge that adversity as a gift instead of something that separates us.

When most people talk about their travels, they usually go on about the location’s beauty. Though Costa Rica is filled with enriching culture, and divine creations, visiting her was more than that to me. My bubble exploded as I lived the “Pura Vida” – Costa Rica’s motto, meaning the Pure Life. Perhaps fate intended it this way because this trip helped me understand a theme of life – individuals cannot come together when being held back by outside forces, such as parents, nor internal forces, like the inability to have an open mind.

My last lesson: Costa Rica was only the beginning. There are thousands more countries to visit, in addition to an infinite amount of self discoveries to be made. Regardless of where Destiny will take me, I’ll always remember everything started with my journey to Costa Rica and finally living the pure life.

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