Remember when I did a photo essay about Washington, DC’s chilly winter? I received a lot of requests about where to stay and what to do. Summer is on its way, so here’s a quick and dirty guide to what’s best in the capitol.
Why do we only pay attention to sunsets while on vacation?
I think this is sad.
When was the last time you looked up and really saw a sunset? I don’t mean briefly glancing as you punch in a text on your smartphone, but actually putting it down to watch muted changes in the sky? On a regular ol’ Monday?
We don’t pause enough to reflect, or even worse, we ignore what’s relevant — like living in the moment.
We are always obsessed with the past or ticking off what’s next.
An ugly realization: sometimes a moment is all we have.
Before I ever stepped foot in Washington, D.C. numerous warnings used to hit my Facebook feed.
“Oh, don’t go there — there’s so much crime!”
“Washington has some scary neighborhoods.”
When I taught in China, there was a popular exercise I did with students when I assigned groups an American city and they presented which monuments they wanted to see and how much they planned to spend on this once in a lifetime vacation to the United States.
Nobody groaned about being assigned New York City or San Francisco — but when it came to Washington D.C., dissenting voices arose. “But teacher, Washington is dangerous, yes?”
I lacked an answer because at that point I’d never been to D.C., nor did I want to express a misguided opinion.
Costa Rica is an unusual animal in Central America, being one of the few countries in that part of the world to boast a relatively conflict free history.
Certainly they were annexed by Spain and went through a civil war, but the government was declared a democracy in 1869 — at an earlier stage than many countries that still haven’t been declared as such.
I found modern Costa Rica to be a milieu of intense nature and laid back locals. I woke up to howler monkeys, scarlet macaws, large insects scaling my walls and frogs chortling.
When a Costa Rican utters ‘Pura Vida” it’s not a flippant term tossed at your feet. Pura Vida means “pure life” — and Costa Ricans really believe in this — encompassing the good life. One of family, love and a deep connection to their environment.
There’s a high number of farmers selling Costa Rican products like coffee, bananas and cacao (chocolate).
This philosophy explains the government’s unwavering stance on eco-preservation, which makes Costa Rica one of the big players in eco-tourism.
Piro Beach was empty, but not silent.
The darkness swallowed body and mind, until Manuel instructed us to turn on our headlamps. Our heaving breath was drowned out by the strong surf, roaring and crashing against the shore. The sand, in contrast, was soft and silky, sifting through my toes easily.
Minutes before my feet were encased in rubber boots that scraped and pinched my big toes, but now free, I wiggled them, digging in the sand further. We all had to wear these boots, because when something is worth the journey, you walk miles to get there.
We weaved through mucky paths and thick bush, crossed a river that weighed down my boots because water seeped in with alarming speed, only to navigate a muddy embankment, my boots squeaking from water and friction. Looming trees and engorged vines enveloped us, along with the dark.
Travel can be perception.
We have an expectation how a place will feel, what will happen once we get there.
I’ve been quiet about my time at Blue Osa — only because I needed time to distill my experience.
People make assumptions about me, that my life is all fantasy — full of fun, fun, fun!
I also harbour fantasies (other than the normal variety) and I had quite a few about volunteering at a yoga resort.
Before I discuss realities, let me cover a few points first.
One, the grounds of Blue Osa are truly magical, initially relaxing me. Because I was wound too tight from my lousy experiences in Europe; the setting was literally paradise.
Two, I do yoga everyday minus travel days, so the opportunity to delve deeper into yogic philosophy was the perfect union (me + a yoga resort).
Third, it was fascinating to use my writing skills in a volunteer-in-trade role, essentially writing for my bed and dinner.