Getting to the South Pacific

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There is phrase that is used all over Costa Rica.  ‘Pura Vida.’  The literal translation is Pure Life, but it’s said all the time to mean ‘I hope you live a chill life,’ or ‘I hope you feel relaxed and enjoy life,’ or ‘I hope you have a peaceful life.’  I think Pura Vida is more than a phrase, but a feeling, something that you experience at points in your life.  I experienced Pura Vida last December.  I had been in Costa Rica visiting Tony’s family for the holidays.  We had spent a few nights in San Carlos, five hours away from San Jose, up in the mountain, in an incredibly quiet and green part of the world.  WiFi access was sporadic and the nearest person wasn’t within walking distance.  In the morning, there was a slight fog that rose up over the mountain as we sipped our coffee watching the trees and listening to the birds.  I remember the exact moment, going around a corner driving back to San Jose, greenery surrounding all sides of the road, the windows cracked because the temperature was just the perfect temperature to feel on our skin.  Tony and his mom were in the front seat quietly singing along to the radio, and I thought, “This must be Pura Vida.”  I felt so peaceful.

A few hours later, we were back in San Jose.  Back to the hustle and bustle.  We fought traffic so I could get a COVID test to return to The States and a few hours later I was overlooking the green mountains of Costa Rica from a tiny window in the sky.  Just like that, Pura Vida had been sucked out of me and I was tense again.  I sat on the plane that day and couldn’t stop thinking, “What am I doing with my life?”  From the outside, it appeared I had everything completely under control and everything in my life was exactly as I wanted it.  I could tell you my net worth to the penny on any given day, tell you how many calories I had consumed each day that week, how many pounds I needed to lose to be sure my BMI was within range.  Everything about my life was in order – rigid, exact, and precisely in order.  I had lost the excitement to live, to be passionate about life.  I had lost my deep desire for adventure.  And that’s when the first planning spreadsheet took shape, a document I titled ‘The Scariest Thing I’ve Ever Done’ and later renamed to ‘The Most Liberating Thing I’ve Ever Done.’

Tony and I were heading to Ohio to spend some time with my family.  I would tell him after the holidays about this extravagant, and quite frankly, a bit ludicrous plan to quit my job and travel the world.

He took it well, and like Tony always is, he was incredibly supportive.  We spent weeks talking about what this would look like.  The plan has taken many different forms, from part-time remote jobs to using some savings to fund the trip.  We talked about timing, and when we would see each other, and where I would go, and what I would do after the trip was over and I was ready to start working again.  And to be honest, so much if it is still undetermined.  And it’s how it needs to be right now.  It wouldn’t be adventurous if every detail was laid out, because at the end of the day, my dream is to experience the world.  And I’m going to do that, however it might take shape later, which I am confident will look different than anything in my mind.

In the weeks leading up to this, I updated all of my travel vaccines, a $1,000 bill that insurance doesn’t cover and hit the bank account hard.  I got prescriptions for anti-malaria pills and an antibiotic for traveler’s diarrhea (I hope to not get food poisoning, but best to be prepared).  I bought a LifeStraw, which can be put into a water bottle to filter local water.  I wanted to be sure I was being cost effective and not destroying the planet by drinking bottled water.  I packed along a small but loud whistle that can be used in an emergency and tied to my wrist when I’m out exploring.  But the most exciting part of the many facets in my planning was the one-way ticket I bought from Atlanta to Sydney, Australia.  I knew gas prices were increasing, so I bought it weeks in advance and saved a few hundred dollars.  I didn’t know exactly where I was going from there but wanted to at least get myself to the South Pacific.  Since then, I’ve purchased another ticket to Bali, Indonesia and that’s where I plan to spend the first part of my journey.

So here I am, on a fifteen-hour flight to Sydney, Australia.  I always dread long flights like these – I mean, who doesn’t?  But I reminded myself earlier today how lucky we are to live in a time where I am able to get on a plane and 15 hours later be on the other side of the planet.  How small this world really is…

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