Until June 2009, I had never flown on an airplane, left the country or broken a bone. But when I arrived in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, to study at the Coastal Spanish Institute all of that changed. I was on a school trip to study Spanish. Our school opted to place us with host families during our stay. My host family included Mama Tica, Papa Tico, Keyris (my sister, age 22), Brandon (brother, age 12) and Fabrizio (brother, age 9)
On the first day of my trip, I was just getting settled in to my new home and acclimated with my family. Fabrizio wanted to play games with me, so first we played a Spanish spin-off of the board game Monopoly. I had never played this game, much less in another language, so it was hard to catch on. After a few tries at understanding the instructions and playing the game, Fabrizio decided it was time to go outside. This is where the fates played their hand against me.
â–º Quarter Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
The family had one broken bicycle that the boys used to go everywhere. I surveyed the extent of the damage and decided that I might be able to ride it safely. Fabrizio and I walked out into the street and he encouraged me to ride. We looked around for places to go, and our sights were set upon the road up ahead, which steeped into a treacherous incline. I took the bike up halfway to the top, in an attempt to guard myself from any spills, thrills or kills.
It turned out that there were several ruts and rocks that I had not seen in my original survey of the hill. A few moments after I began riding, I hit one rock and went flying, and eventually slammed into the ground. I found myself in a situation that was unfamiliar and rather painful. After a trip to a local clinic and later being sent to the closest hospital an hour away in Liberia, it was determined that I broke my hand in two places. I was not physically able to straighten or move my elbow, although there was no visible break. Because of this, I was put in a full cast for the entire trip: three weeks long.
This was a real test of my strength, courage and character. As my head cleared and I adjusted to my new limitations, I learned that there were plenty of things I could still do. I learned to write with my left hand. I learned to speak in Spanish with natives who wanted to know about my unfortunate accident, my life and myself. But most of all, I learned to take a negative situation and turn it into a positive situation. I could have let the entire trip be ruined, and I even could have given up and gone home. But I realized that this was a true test of my character. Would I take the challenge, or leave? I took it, and I have no regrets.
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