Coronavirus may have curtailed my Costa Rica adventure, but I know my journey is just beginning

I’m sitting in an almost empty airport in San Jose after a zippy drive up the Pacific coast through the dawn with a really friendly taxi driver who treated me to The Best of Red Hot Chili Peppers for most of the way.

My lack of Spanish meant we couldn’t talk much, but he smiled lots, called his entire contact list apparently just to say good morning, and at one point nodded towards the mountains and said ‘it’s coming’. He meant the dawn, and I thought that was such a beautiful thing to bring to my attention. It’s special in a way that’s hard to explain, those few minutes of stillness before the sun breaks over the horizon, when the sky begins to lighten and the landscape starts to take shape but everything is quiet, peaceful, at rest.

I spent most of yesterday relaxing by the warm, clear waters of the local river with my yoga training friends. Over the course of the afternoon more and more people turned up – locals, tourists, families, dogs, until eventually the police came and ordered us all to go home and stay indoors.

Unnervingly there was a boy being violently sick in the water. Later the same day we passed a young woman vomiting at the side of the road. We wondered if it really was the start of the zombie apocalypse. All the beaches and national parks in Costa Rica have been shut down to help prevent the spread of the virus, which is sensible but sad for the people here, who all live for the sun and surf. I made the right decision not to head to the Caribbean side. They’ve stopped public transport and my flight was cancelled, which is why I’m now returning home earlier than planned – before flights stop completely at the end of the week. In a slightly different situation I would have stayed to ride out the storm here under the sun, in the company of friendly, relaxed people, but it would have meant abandoning my responsibilities and calling in a lot of favours to make it work.

I feel very sad to reach the end of my time here, but I have a strong feeling that this is the beginning of something new in my life. I’m a qualified yoga teacher now – not just a writer. I don’t have to sit at a desk for the rest of my life to make a living. Don’t get me wrong, I will always write, but now I have something completely different in my skill set, which involves actually interacting with and helping people instead of just being the antisocial writer typing feverishly away in a dark corner.

I’ve met people here who have been so brave in their own lives, stepping into the unknown, taking risks to find fulfilment or follow a calling. The worst thing any of us can do is trap ourselves with the belief that there is no choice. I think what I’ve come to realise more vividly, is that no matter what your situation is, if life is making you feel unhappy or apathetic, you can change it. It may take a lot of work, time and courage, but it’s possible. The thing you think you want might not be the thing you end up with, but the act of making subtle changes will start to stir the energy up in your life. You might find something totally unexpected. You might realise the thing you wanted was there all along. Either way you won’t find anything positive in inertia, or fear. You might find it in movement, even if it’s just a few small steps.

Okay, cheesy yogi rant over. Home is at least 24 hours away across an entire ocean. I’ve still got to traverse London without touching anything. But one step at a time! I’m off to find souvenirs.

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