One of my favorite things about traveling with my homegirls is that we have unadulterated time to catch up (talk shit) and share what’s been really going on in our lives beyond our social media posts. Being away from home, the familiar, and being immersed in a spirit of adventure opens up our vulnerability. Not having to worry about the mundane tasks of “adulting” creates space for reflection and lifts the masks we put on every day just to make it through. In today’s tense social and political climate, we need this time IRL more than ever.
I joined two of my dearest sisters and oldest friends this summer to celebrate one of them graduating from a grueling Masters program and her belated birthday. The three of us took a seven-day self-guided tour through different parts of Costa Rica including San Jose, Sarapiqui, Arenal/La Fortuna and Jaco Beach. Basically we paid a flat rate and they booked our hotels, a couple of excursions and a rental car. It gave us the freedom to move at our own pace without a large tour group and we only had to be on time for the scheduled activities. So we could (kinda) lolligag, one of my favorite activities.
We were traveling in July through Costa Rica’s “rainy season,” typically May through November, which means intermittent tropical storms and cheaper prices. It also means that torrential downpours can happen without warning and heavy fog in the mountains makes driving on hairpin turns pretty harrowing. Because Mama Nature is also not on a schedule, we took our time driving from place to place finding out that the “highways” were actually swerving mountain roads. Shout out to Melissa, our brave driver, who certainly pushed through fear with grace and is a stone cold badass.
In between these scenic views and slightly stressful drives, we got to experience different parts of Costa Rica. One of our favorite stops was Arenal, known for its volcano, mud baths and sloth watching tours but we were (theoretically) hyped to go ziplining. When we got there, we had two amazing guides, Adrian and Marvin, to literally show us the ropes and take us through the course.
I’m usually not scared but walking up metal flights of stairs 13 meters high and watching the ground get further away is kinda intimidating. I knew my friends are afraid of heights so I had to go first and keep my cool so they wouldn’t sense my nervousness. The initial release is all about surrendering and trust. Trusting some metal clips, cords and God is damn scary but there’s a freedom to flying through the air and taking in the lush surroundings. Maybe it’s because I’m an air sign.
I felt really proud of my sisters for facing their fears head on…through knocking knees, a panic attack, losing their hand grip, or getting stuck in the middle of the line. We sound like a hot ass mess but it required coordination and presence!
Then it was my turn to freak out. We got to this Tarzan swing where we had to lean off this platform, free fall and swing through the air. I had to go first because they were like “Hell naw” and I’m too stubborn to say no. As the guide is hooking me up to the contraption, I looked down and hoped I didn’t jack myself up because I don’t have health insurance right now. We grown. I also saw and heard my friends below hyping me up as they intentionally stayed right on the ground. As I listened to the guide telling me to relax because he was holding me, I was reminded how when we are young(er) we just take these leaps of faith because they feel good or seem like fun. We are able to trust differently even if it’s based in naivete. There’s a freedom in the ability to let go. There’s also deep bonding in vulnerability.
It’s always that initial leap that takes the most faith and feels the most frightening whether you’re freefalling off some tower in the middle of the jungle, diving into a new intimate relationship, or changing your career path to follow your dreams. But when you’re supported by true friends who hold your hand and cheer you on, fear won’t win.