I don’t usually write in the present tense, but here I am in Cahuita, Costa Rica.
This small surfing town on the Caribbean coast was built for relaxing. And yet all I can focus on is how little research and planning I’ve done for this trip, which is due to span over five months and six countries. This is probably a sign that I was ready to leave city life for a while and also proof that this type of travel is long overdue for me.
Previously I’ve taken pride in my ability to cram worthy adventures into annual leave; to budget accurately because I’ve never changed course and to always return the the UK feeling more tired than when I left (for me this is a true sign that I’ve explored somewhere new).
Now though, I plan to do things differently. Firstly, because I’ve quit my job and don’t have anywhere I need to be; secondly, because both physically and mentally I need it and lastly, because I want to prove to myself that I can survive without a fixed plan. That I can wing it when I need to and change my direction on a whim without the fear of missing out on long awaited places.
All that said, I’m still me. So to take my focus off researching and bring it back to the present (a small shack at Brigitte’s Horse Ranch next to the waves) I’m going to write a mission statement for my time in Central America. A few things that I’d like to achieve in my time here, because travel has to have some purpose, even if it is just to relax!
I’m going to get physically fit
Ok so this one’s relatively easy. I’ve left my corporate desk job behind and I’ll be hiking, diving and swimming most days. I’ll just have to make a mental note to limit my Cuba Libre intake.
I’m going to make an effort to engage with people; especially the locals
Unlike my journeys through Asia where I didn’t speak the language, or my short stays in Europe where the history and architecture took preference, I’ll be able to interact on a deeper level here. I’m hoping my Spanish and a proactive approach will guarantee that I don’t just learn about the places I visit, but the people in them.
I’m going to improve my Spanish
My Spanish is OK but considering I did a degree in the subject it could be much better. I’m going to buy local papers, listen to the radio and speak with locals as much as possible to improve throughout my travels. From my language learning so far, I know that putting myself out there and making mistakes is the only way to get better.
I’m going to learn something new every day
Possibly my favourite aspect of travel is that every day is different. Usually, by the time I’ve ordered a late afternoon beer I’ve learnt a catalogue of new things; from what the local customs are to what the cheapest item in the local supermarket is. I’m hoping this trip will be no different.
I’m going to embrace travel changes
Finally and most importantly, I’m going to force myself to go with the flow. Of course I’ll still do my research on border crossings, be aware of any scams and take note of local quirks that might affect my journey but fundamentally I don’t have a plan.
I don’t quite like that part yet, but I’m positive it will grow on me.
And so, my only job right now is to sit back in my hammock and listen to the nightly cacophony of Cahuita’s National Park.