Pura Vida: How My Adventure In Costa Rica Left Me Feeling Rejuvenated
Our red taxi drove along the mountainside, and we could feel ourselves passing through the clouds as we held our hands out the window. There was only excitement in front of us; since we stepped off the plane, it's been all thrills and anticipatory adrenaline rushes for what has yet to come.
I had never traveled through another country without my family, and it had been just two weeks since I graduated from college in the United States.
For me, everything was a new, incredible, breathtaking journey waiting to be had.
We arrived in the heart of the rainforest before sundown at Rainforest Adventures, a sustainable rainforest excursion that offered tons of different activities, which ranged from zip lining to night tours of the rainforest with a personal tour guide.
I stayed in my very own cabin, equipped with nothing but the backpack and duffle bag with which I came and a flashlight that was given to me upon entering the camp.
I was told lights, along with all electricity, would be turned off by 8 pm sharp and I should charge, in advance, anything I wanted to have turned on throughout the night.
Apparently, the rainforest doesn't have WiFi. I was, honestly, a little freaked out. In my young life, I could not remember a single time I had been left without cell connection for more than five minutes while on the subway.
The lights did eventually turn off when the clock struck 8 pm, and I assembled my flashlight ever so carefully on the dresser so a significant amount of light would shine through the room. I thought I would be terrified and lonely in the middle of the rainforest at night, but I felt quite the opposite.
I was able to completely turn everything off — even the flashlight (after a while) — and be in sync with the noises of the animals, the raindrops beating down on my wooden roof and the mysterious echoes of the night.
By letting go of the things that connected me to civilization, I was able to experience one of the deepest, most peaceful sleeps of my life.
Late at night, we trailed a pathway through the rainforest a tour guide made. Afterward, a chef at the site's campgrounds fed us a meal. We witnessed the thousands of life forms that crawled, sprang and sang throughout the heart of the rainforest in the midst of the night.
The next day, we took an AirTram through the canopies of the rainforest, where we were able to get within eye and earshot of families of monkeys, swinging through the trees, playing and dancing in the warmth of the Costa Rican sun.
Nothing had ever seemed so beautiful. Nothing was ever as precious as this moment.
When you are stripped of everything that makes you who you are — your cellphone, your music, your Instagram and other social media -- you realize those things don't even scrape the surface of what makes you feel alive.
Instead, you begin to realize there is so much more than the habits and customs to which we cling in the United States; there is something so much more beautiful out there. This beauty is what the Costa Ricans call "pura vida" or pure life.
"Pure life" is the general greeting that natives to the country say to each other as they come and go. But, it's more than just a saying; it's a way of life for this country.
During my 12-day opportunity to experience life in Costa Rica, I met person after person, each more beautiful, friendly and adventurous than the last. After my stay with Rainforest Adventures, I felt truly inspired for the rest of my time traveling throughout the country.
I decided to ditch my cellphone to explore the countryside without technology and to experience what constituted a pure life.
Thanks to this adventure through the rainforest, I not only was able to learn about the rainforest and its vast ecosystem, but also about myself.
I learned we should take every chance we get to explore the unknown, no matter how frightening or different it may seem. When that feeling deep in your gut comes out and your heart starts pumping, that's when you know whatever you're doing will end up being a memory you won't forget.