Two weeks ago, my family came over for my graduation in Boston. I was really excited to show them why I have come to love America and what it stands for. Obviously I can't quite replicate the college experience, though the sight of my parents at a frat party would most certainly be amusing. Instead, I was able to show them a little mix of New England suburbia and big metropolis like NYC and DC.
Two weeks was the perfect amount of time as my family started to wear down towards the end and so did I. Three days ago, they got on their flight out of DC while I was trying to figure out how to get back to Boston. Since I lost my ability to plan things ahead and am still dirt-cheap, flying was out. Thus I opted to take the 10h Megabus ride next morning, crashing with my friend in Maryland.
Waking up the next morning, sure of that I would take the bus, one of my automated scripts sends me a notification of a $168 fare from NYC to Liberia, Costa Rica. And so the debate was on: Should I stay or should I go?
After some short amount of deliberating with my friends, too many things prevented them from pulling the trigger: It's too short notice, others already had things or work to do, it is rainy season, it was simply to crazy to actually do.
But for me, it seemed like exactly what I wanted to do, I have always said that I want to try to live the location-independent lifestyle and a cheap fare to some exotic country right after graduation is the perfect way to try. Realistically, the worst thing that can happen is that I have spent a couple hundred dollars (which I expect to recover soon by actually working). The possible upside was to figure my life out. Hence, I pulled the trigger. My flight out of NYC would leave the next day.
The fare involved an overnight layover in Miami, which is the 5th worst airport to sleep in according to sleepinginairports.net. So while I was trying to get some sleep, my brain does, what it usually does when I'm alone doing something that everyone else seems to think I'm crazy for: cognitive dissonance.
I kept thinking of reasons of why this was a bad idea (which was very similar to the situation in February when I took nearly two weeks of from school to go home): I don't have any proper clothes, no bathing suit, no shorts, but three pairs of shoes I bought in NYC. When I packed in Boston, I didn't do it with the expectation of leaving the country. I didn't had all my required documents with me. I wasn't a hundred percent sure I could actually enter the country (which proved to be a problem indeed). Can I return to the US? I haven't researched the area and barely booked a hostel. I don't speak a single word of Spanish. I was already developing a cold. Should I have vaccinations? Should I have gotten insurance?
I have travelled my fair share, but I don't ever recall being that anxious about travelling. I realized that it was indeed somewhat spontaneous to hop on this fare. In situations like these, self-doubts arise: Do I try to be a more spontaneous person than I actually am, do I try to be someone that I am not? There are a lot principles or frameworks that I believe are part of my personal philosophy, but are they really mine, or do I like the idea of them being mine? "Getting out of your comfort zone" and "Break things and fail fast" sound like great mantras until you actually do it. Or maybe it was just that MIA was so god damn uncomfortable to sleep in.
Anyways, there was no going back. The flight to Costa Rica itself was uneventful and after some hiccups at immigration, here I was. And let me tell you, the exact same thing happened like in February: I had a huge goofy smile on my face. I knew I made the right decision.
Now, I know that there is a chance that this is an instance of counterfactual thinking, but that notwithstanding, it was great. The hostel I'm staying at is amazing, not even 10m from the beach, the weather is humid and hot, but not unbearable, it's actually perfect at night. Despite rainy season, it hasn't rained yet, and the sunset is beautiful. The ocean has perfect temperature and food is cheap. I can't speak Spanish, but human interaction always works. I also already got fooled out of $4 by a young boy and I wasn't even mad. The beach town Playa del Coco got together for a small festival on the boardwalk. I can hear the ocean at night. Pura Vida. All this with a $168 fare.
If there is one thing I learned from my recent travels is that things generally have a way of working out. I'm definitely not using my time most optimally. I don't really have a rain coat or hiking shoes which would make hiking the rainforest, volcanos and waterfalls even more adventurous, and diving costs quite a lot of money. But with the Pareto principle, being here already is 80% of the fun. Everything else is added bonus.
Challenging yourself is always tough and I wouldn't go as far as to say that it's always beneficial, but arguably, pushing your own boundaries and comfort zone has generally been a great framework to live by, at least for me. I can only recommend it and wish more people would do it. If you have the option between default and something else, opt for the something else from time to time.