Sunday, October 25, 2009

Costa Rican Paradise

Last February I immersed myself in a foreign experience – quite literally – I had always dreamed of seeing the rain forest and finally, in spite of a great deal of emotional resistance (it felt like the biggest, scariest thing I’d ever done) I finally made my dream into a reality; this, despite the fact that the companion who was supposed to travel with me canceled out a month before we were to leave. If I was frightened before her cancellation, there are no words to describe the feelings after she said she couldn’t come. My immediate reaction was that I would have to cancel, too; of course, I thought, I couldn’t go on my own. But quickly I recovered from that state of hopelessness, and decided to forge ahead with my plans; I was determined that the trip that I’d been planning for over a year would not be abandoned because of a relative bump in the road.
At first, I opted for a “safe” tour, but soon realized (despite the doubts screaming in my head) that the tour wasn’t really suited to my needs. Instead, I gave myself permission to take the enormous leap of signing up for a yoga retreat on the Caribbean side of the country, a 4 ½ hour drive over rough road, from the only international airport, in San Jose.
Each leg of the journey, each experience along the way, presented new terrors, would I be able to face them alone? Could I possibly stand up to the challenges? At each juncture I thought I couldn’t: I feared getting lost, I feared dangerous people, I feared not speaking the language, I feared being robbed, I feared disease, I feared bad food; it was as if every fear I’d ever had became magnified, and stood before me, etching a line in the sand, daring me to cross it, or as though I were a child, afraid to leave her mother’s skirts. I could stay and cower where I was safe, or I could take a risk and venture out where I ‘d never ventured before.
Each day I had to make the choice anew. Each day I tried to talk myself out of the plans for the day, but each time, another part of me would reassure, console and encourage: ”Do it!” the deepest, wisest part of me would say, and so, I would. And without fail, I ventured forth into an amazing experience. Soon, it became very clear that I was meant to have this experience on my own, each time I faced my fears and forged ahead the rewards were a thousand-fold. I saw places I could only imagine, I met people who were kind and nurturing, encouraging; people who guided me and helped me to feel safe, and I learned that I was as strong and courageous as anyone needed to be. I found out that it was indeed true; that the only thing we need to fear is fear, itself.


  1. Good for you for overcoming your fears and stepping up to the plate!

    I made the journey to the rainforest (Amazon) in 2000 - with a group of naturalists (what a hoot). Didn't have digital then, but came home with close to 900 slides, and a three-four inch stack of print photos. Shame they aren't digital...I could share them on my blog!

  2. What a breakthrough experience for you, Jackie! I had a similar one, going to Mexico alone 40 years ago, discovering a sense of independence I'd never known before. It changes how you move through the world. Congratulations!