Not that long ago, I had the opportunity to spend an evening speaking with some fellow young adults in Lafortuna, Costa Rica. (As always, the term adult applies loosely to me, as I know some debate whether or not I fall into that category). At one point the conversation turned to talk of national and regional identities. The Costa Ricans I was with readily identified Canadians as being polite, peaceful, and caring. When they inquired as to what qualities I identified Costa Ricans with, I admitted my perceptions were relatively new. Prior to visiting the country I read a little bit about the history, geography, wildlife and culture. However, it was not until I actually spent time in the country and interacted with people that I began to get a better sense of the history, culture and people. In reflecting upon my perspective, I find myself wishing I had more time to spend with people in Costa Rica. Similar to my previous experiences abroad, it was the people who were the best part of the country. The moments when one was able to engage people in actual conversations it was evident they were passionate about their nation’s culture and achievements. In response to the question posed to me that evening I felt the people I met to be progressive, kind, joyful, and peaceful. Yet, more than the specifics of the question, it was the nature of the conversation itself that made the evening one of my favourites in Costa Rica.
I was extremely fortunate to participate in a number of adventures and activities in Costa Rica. While these experiences left me feeling appreciative of where I am able to go and what I am able to participate in, I was also left with a number of questions on perspective. Most people in the world will never be able to take a trip abroad. Even fewer will live for an extended time in another country. Is it a sense of flaunting fortune and waste to engage in these endeavours? There is certainly a lot of joy and experiences to be found close to home (more on that in the next post as well). Conversations around national identities and human relationships can happen within one’s own neighbourhood.
Thoughts like these though, actually lead me back to the beginning of the question, and I believe (or at least hope) my perspective balances out. Each time I have gone away for adventures, I have grown to appreciate the adventures right here even more. Conversing passionately about social and cultural topics in a different country gives me a new perspective about these topics back home. It is this worldly perspective that the others may have been referring to when they felt Canadians were caring. By going out into the world and engaging with it, you develop a greater understanding. Thus, in the end I think it is important to get out there if you can, but at the same time, balance it all, and look at your adventures through different perspectives. It is important to at least consider how travel could be a wasteful, narrow-minded, and wealth flaunting activity – even perceived “budget travel”. In this way it serves as a reminder that one should strive to make the activities meaningful, and not just accomplishments or crossing things off lists. Further, perhaps the most meaningful part of travel is the people. The conversation that night in Costa Rica was not on any list of things to do, but it will always remain one of the best experiences there. Be ready for those experiences in your own life, and be prepared to engage in them. Perhaps they are more important, and could come at the cost of the “to-do-list” activities. As was explained to me that night – Pura Vida. As usual, your thoughts and questions are welcomed on this. Maybe I’ve got the balance all wrong – it wouldn’t be the first time.
I am most fortunate to have met some great people while traveling this time, and they helped make the adventures truly awesome and full of laughter. Thus, in closing, special thanks to M, Rainforest Club, and Daniel.
Stay tuned for upcoming posts, in the next few days – I promise! In fact, they’re already partly written:
– perspective on adventure in BC (yes – again)
– Terry Fox Run
– annual Labour Day reflection