It’s easy to tell yourself that you’ll get around it. There will be time, someday, to write that book or start that business or take that trip. Since turning 35 in December, I’ve been contemplating my bucket list and noticing how many items have been lingering on it for months, years, even decades (Ugh, how am I old enough to count anything in decades?).
I started wondering what I was waiting for. And pondering why so many times I’ve developed an inexplicable inertia when it comes to doing the things I really want to do. So while I decided not to make traditional resolutions for 2013, I made a commitment that this was going to be my year of doing. Of getting around to it. Of going at that bucket list with gusto.
It started with Costa Rica. I’ve wanted to go for years, but haven’t. Part of the reason was the lingering impact of our cyclone-ridden honeymoon, which kept Tom and I from booking a beach vacation for years (read more about that here). After a busy 2012, we started fantasizing about a January escape and pushed through a whole bunch of work-related shoulds and decided to book it. 5 nights away in Tamarindo, a surfing enclave on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast.
We decided on Tamarindo because it seemed like the perfect mix of elements we were looking for: it’s a laid back surfer’s town with beautiful beaches but also plenty of activities, shopping and restaurants to keep us entertained. The best part about Tamarindo was that it provided the perfect place to tick some other major items off my bucket list. One was riding a horse. Now, how I’ve made it to my advanced years and not ridden a horse is beyond me. And it’s not because I’m afraid or haven’t wanted to. In fact, I’ve always really wanted to ride a horse. And finally, in Costa Rica, I did:
And what a great experience it was. We visited the amazing Painted Pony Ranch, where we were led on a two-hour excursion through beautiful local villages, stopped for drinks at a seriously local bar and learned all about the history of the Guanacaste region from one of the instructors, Pat, an amazing woman who had moved to Costa Rica to start a new life after her kids grew up and left home. Pat was cool as hell and I was convinced the universe had put her in my path. I fell in love with riding instantly and my first attempt will certainly not be my last.
The next day, it was time for bucket list item #2- ziplining. Now, if you’ve ever seen ziplining at any of the local mountains in New England, it does not prepare you for the experience of what ziplining is like in Costa Rica. It’s higher. Way, way higher. And faster. Way, way faster. I thought it would be an adventure, but I didn’t appreciate how utterly breathtaking it was going to be to soar over the tops of trees, watching my shadow float far below me over the forest.
The scariest part was not, in fact, the ziplining, but stopping at the stations in between each line. You stand on these tiny platforms in the trees, with nothing between you and a free fall hundreds of feet to the ground. Thankfully, our guides at Monkey Jungle Canopy were very good about clipping our safety belts to the trees so a moment of clumsiness didn’t send us plummeting. But I was surprised at how scared I felt. I never thought I was afraid of heights, but my fluttering heart and shaking limbs told a different story.
So the trip to Costa Rica, the horseback riding, the zipline. That’s three items off the bucket list. Pretty good, right? But no, I wanted more. I decided I wanted to add and achieve an item right there in Tamarindo. Surfing. I never thought I wanted to try surfing, mainly because the ocean freaks me out and I get nervous when I go in any deeper than mid-thigh. But here we were, at one of the world’s most famous surfing beaches, seemingly the perfect place to have your first surfing experience if ever there was one. And then we saw it, and the decision was made… a surf school named after our cat. The decision was pretty much made for us.
Surfing was incredible. By far, it’s one of the most challenging things I’ve tried to do but I was proud that I managed to stand up a few times and survived my many wipeouts with nothing more than a bad case of swimmer’s ear (man I thought that water was NEVER coming out). I really loved being out in the surf, bobbing on the board and waiting for the next wave. It completely changed how I feel about the ocean and made me much less intimidated by it. I only wish I had some photos of Tom and I riding the waves (or being knocked over by them), but sadly our Canon camera is not waterproof so that particular adventure had to go undocumented.
And just in case you’re imagining that we spent the whole trip hurtling ourselves off trees and into the ocean, we also spent many happy, lazy hours lounging by the pool, sipping cocktails and watching the gorgeous Tamarindo sunsets.
Costa Rica was everything I dreamed and then some, and certainly a great way to start my year of getting around to it. I made an attempt to swallow the place right up, so I can carry it with me through 2013.