I took my first international trip outside of the country last month. I chose Costa Rica because of the great things I’ve heard from friends who have traveled there. The ticos (locals) work hard on creating a sustainable culture and living the “Pure Life” or as the locals say, Pura Vida! In addition, a roundtrip ticket costs less than $500. Located in a jungle close to the equator off the Pacific Ocean, Costa Rica has scenery that will make you feel like you are in Paradise. There is a Music Festival called Envision out there that I had wanted to attend for several years. Having 2 children at a young age it took me a long time to afford taking myself on a trip overseas. Being able to take this as a business trip and host my first “Staycation” event out there helped push me towards pursuing my dreams of hosting international events. When I tell people this was my first time leaving the country and that I organized an event, I get looks of awe, admiration and (some) of bafflement. Who does that? Who jumps in the deep end head first with no floaties? Well, I am not one to sit back and be a spectator. I like to be at an event with a purpose and a role.
I wanted to enjoy a vacation with leisure time and not just work so I decided to make this a 2 part trip. Part one was attending the festival with my friends and enjoying what they had to offer. I wanted to go to the beach during the day, play in the ocean and then dance my butt off at night. I wanted to be free to enjoy the moment without responsibilities. Most of all I wanted to be with my friends in an environment that is new and exciting for us all! Part 2 was organizing a week long retreat in a mansion and throwing my first international event.
I have gone to Burning Man 4 times and always spent (at least) $3000 to sleep in the dirt, however I had never left the country. I decided that it was time to reallocate my resources to something more comfortable and expand my horizons to other parts of the world. I have always wanted to travel but had no desire to do it alone. I wanted to find a group if traveling partners to experience the world with and I knew if that’s what I wanted, I would need to create it. I wanted to make the cost reasonable while also offering a space and amenities that were luxurious to show people what is possible when you pool resources and work as a collective.
I also wanted to host a single day boutique event and invite the artists and staff who work the festival. I knew from my last mansion “Staycation” that I wanted to be surrounded by artists and that I had something unique to offer them. My art lies within building community by communicating with people, collaborating ideas and orchestrating grand scale productions. I am capable of building a stage worthy of performing on and I knew that attracting the right people was going to be the most intricate part of my mission. Going into this with big dreams but knowing very few people out there was a lofty goal but in my heart I knew that my vision was pure and that if I followed my heart it would lead to something beautiful.
I started out by vocalizing my dream on social media. I wanted to put some feelers out to see who I knew that was already going to the festival and see what interest there was within my community. One of my friends who I had worked with in the past reached out to me and told me that he was from Costa Rica and would help connect me to the people I needed to know to accomplish my goals. He first connected me to a woman who was in marketing and who owned an Airbnb that she built from the ground up. After a brief chat with them I decided these were two people who would be invaluable assets in the planning of this trip.
The location of our venue and accommodations were a very important first step. The festival is located in Uvita, Puntarenas Costa Rica and the after parties happen in Dominical which is a 10 minute drive north of Uvita. We had the option of renting tents onsite during the festival or staying at an offsite Airbnb which would have showers, a kitchenette, indoor plumbing and a number of other accommodations. Staying offsite seemed like the best option so I needed to rent an SUV for the week and get a parking pass so we could come and go as needed. After the festival we would move to a mansion in Dominical where we would retreat by the pool and decompress for a week. It was a 4 day festival that started on Thursday and ended on Monday. The official after party was the following Tuesday at Fuego Brewing Co in Dominical and final tear down at Envision was on Wednesday so I decided to host my single day party on Thursday, the week after Envision. This allowed me a few days after the festival to wrap up loose ends and final party planning. This also allowed a few days post party to relax and enjoy some free time before moving locations again. Two weeks in Costa Rica felt like the perfect amount of time for all these activities so I booked my flight!
Originally my vision was to host an intimate gathering and invite some of the Envision Artists and Staff, who I would hopefully meet during the festival or get connected to through mutual friends. I wanted to offer a space for around 50 people to come together and decompress. Since we are all artists I knew I would need a sound system, some lighting and creative friends to fill the space. We had a few DJ’s in our group but not enough to fill a whole day so I decided to make a brief post on the Facebook Envision Community page to seek new talent. Little did I know that post would blow up and become something much bigger than I ever expected. I had an influx of artists who wanted to participate in some way. I made a point to respond to every single person and narrowed down a solid talent pool. I wanted to make this event all inclusive so that people would come and stay the duration of the event. I also needed it to be affordable as I wanted to offer a sanctuary for artists to relax while knowing that money would be scarce for a lot of people after the festival. Finally, I wanted to attract the right people. I offered 2 pricing tiers; one for artists & staff at a reduced rate and one for Envision attendees which was still very reasonable. Being my first international event that I was funding independently, I didn’t have a budget for talent so getting the artists to find enough value to come and play for free was very important. I offered each artist free entry plus one which included food throughout the day and unlimited gift bar. I accredit a lot of my success in finding talent to the fact that a lot of artists were already planning to be out there and I was providing a space for them to retreat. I am an artist myself and know what we like so fortunately it wasn’t too hard of a sell.
There were DJ’s and producers from around the world who wanted to play. A world music producer named Mike Polarny, who owns Sound Traveler Records joined us from Havana. An artist named Vothra changed his flight back home by a day so he could participate. A professional dancer turned DJ named Gabriel Francisco who was booked at Envision offered to perform in both movement and sound. A woman producer named Sailor Beast from L.A. made a special trip out to perform. Others who I never met but spoke to online believed in my vision and jumped on board to participate. I had lined up various styles of music from downtempo bass to uptempo electronic, world music, tribal and tropical house. There were also fire performers, a live painter and 2 videographers to capture the whole experience. Next, I found a local 10,000 watt sound system and a lighting designer to illuminate the space. Half of my capacity was housemates, artists and their plus ones who I was obligated to cater to. I didn’t care about making money on this endeavor but I knew the only way to not lose money on this event was to sell the other half of the tickets. Knowing that I had a lot to lose but a reputation in a new country to gain, I decided to push forward full force and accept that if I lost money, it would be worth it to meet these amazing humans and build my brand. I took the leap of faith and committed to the project.
I spent every waking moment working on my project. Responding to hundreds of messages each day and corresponding with every department and artist directly, I had my hands full leading up to the trip. Everything seemed to be locked and loaded. I am aware that things don’t always go according to plan so I expected some hiccups along the way but up until the day before we left things seemed to be too good to be true. I even had one of my favorite producers who was headlining Envision reach out to me and ask to join the party. Not knowing who he was at first I asked the same question to him that I asked each person who reached out to me: “Are you going to Envision?” He responded and told me he was playing and who he was and I about pooped my pants. I arranged for him to be our “Surprise DJ” at the mansion. He was all game but requested to kept his identity a secret. He was concerned it might be a conflict of interest to play another event in Costa Rica while headlining the festival. I was more than happy to oblige just to get his foot in my door! The Universe appeared to be working it’s magic in my favor. What I didn’t realize was that the highs I was about to encounter on this trip would also include an equal amount of lows.
We flew out on a Tuesday and the 6 of us on the flight met up at the airport and started our trip with a round of adult beverages. We made our way to the back of the plane and ended up getting spots together and continued to drink more beverages. I’m sure the folks at the front of the plane were happy to be far from us as we were a lively crew, excited to embark on this new adventure. We landed in San Jose 8 hours later a little scatter brained. Figuring out how to get to our car rental was tricky since none of us spoke Spanish and we quickly realized we weren’t in Kansas anymore. With 30 minutes until the rental office closed and no internet connection, we search for any sign of hope (or rather, a sign with the name of our rental company on it) and fortunately found our shuttle and made our way to the office in time. I was informed that they don’t accept debit cards for payment and thank gawd my friend was willing to put the rental on his credit card temporarily.
We loaded into the SUV and made our way to Escazu where we would stay in a beautiful Hostel for the night called Fauna Hostel. It was the perfect first night as the Hostel had a bar and restaurant onsite and the staff stayed open late to accommodate us. It was also a steal of a price, only costing $15 per person, per night! Since there were a handful of us we got to share one room with each person having their own little nook and bed that had a shade cover for privacy (and to block out the aggressive morning sun). After dropping off our luggage, we made our way to the restaurant and enjoyed a number of Imperial Beers (a local favorite) and had the BEST guacamole we have ever tasted! The bartender made it fresh using local veggies and the most unique burst of lime and spices. The chips were also homemade and delicious. The hostel was enclosed in an oasis of tropical plants and beautiful water features. It was the perfect welcoming to Costa Rica!
The next day we checked out of our space and made our way to Walmart for a supply run. Quickly realizing that we had no Colones and the ATM’s weren’t working properly, alongside not speaking a lick of Spanish made for an interesting shopping run. The prices for goods in San Jose along with the conversion rates were ridiculous and we learned that it’s much better to wait until you get out of the city to purchase supplies. We had a friend on a different flight who met us at the Hostel and had 2 large bags that we determined would not fit into, or on top of, the SUV so we had to book a driver for the extra people and bags.
We stopped at a restaurant before hitting the road called Los Posada de las Brujas (The inns of the Witches). I had a Pina Colada to start my day, some plantains loaded with “tico meat” that were to die for and a side of fresh fish. We also ordered a meat platter for the table which ended up being way too much food for a small army. My first impression of Costa Rica was that the food was incredible and the portions were huge. Four of us hit the road in our SUV and made our way towards Uvita while the others waited for their driver to arrive and planned to meet us there.
Google Maps isn’t much of a “thing” out there and navigating in Costa Rica is challenging because they don’t always have street signs. The directions to the mansion went something like this: “Take a left at the green flag and go underneath the bridge, you will see a brick building and then go 2.5 kilometers until you see a….” We used Waze which is a little helpful but accidentally mapped the wrong GPS navigation and drove straight into the city traffic which was both scary (and) thrilling. Driving in San Jose during traffic hour is similar to driving in Time Square except there are no rules. Fortunately I didn’t have to drive as one of my trusty traveling partners took the reigns. Once we figured out we were going the wrong way we quickly changed directions and found our way to the coastal route. It was an incredible drive passing by the various palm trees and through the small towns full of shacks made from random scraps of materials. With few rules to the road you needed to have cojones to pass by large 18 wheelers and hope not to crash into oncoming traffic, pedestrians or motorcyclists.
We made it safely to our first Airbnb in Uvita shortly after sunset. The space had one air conditioned room with locking doors, a bathroom and small kitchenette. We also had the full use of the main living room, kitchen and yard with hammocks, shaded space and a recently installed above ground pool to cool off in while listening to the howling monkeys and birds chirping. We were a short 3 minute drive to grocery stores, ATM’s and about a 5 minute drive to the festival grounds. We had 7 campmates for the weekend of the festival so things got really cozy. As the leader of this event I took the main room and kept firm hold on the keys so that everyone could lock up their most important belongings. I had a roommate to share my space with and the other 5 people had pull out beds and air mattresses placed about the main living room. Fitting that many people into a small space was challenging. The heat and humidity was a lot for people to handle on top of not getting enough food, water or sleep for days. Most of the people who came didn’t know each other yet so there were some personalities that clashed and caused for a very interesting few days.
~O.I.J. Approved ~
We settled in, made some adult beverages and played a bit of music while we got to know each other and our neighbors. I went to bed around 1am thinking that I wanted to be fresh for the first day of the festival! At 6am I was woken up by someone knocking on our glass door. My friend got up to check who was knocking so early in the morning and said to me “ The Police are here”. I was confused because we didn’t have any late parties or loud noises the night before. The “Policia” demanded that we open the doors. I had heard horror stories leading up to this trip about cops being shady and doing random searches in cars looking for drugs that they wanted for themselves or accepting bribes and taking money from fearful tourists that they stopped. I was told even the Policia can not be trusted out there. I scrambled to put some clothes on and hide the $700 in cash I had on me along with my passport. Walking into the main living room, I saw all of my friends sitting with their heads down looking confused and groggy. I noticed one man standing at the exit wearing a black cloth mask over his face, a woman standing near our bedroom door and another man with his arms crossed standing in the center of the room. They were dressed in all black attire with the letters O.I.J. on their shirts and were strapped with guns. They had us herded like cattle and kept asking for the hostess by name. We didn’t understand anything they were saying to us but we did know the name they were asking for. Once our hostess came out and spoke briefly to them she relayed to us that they said “We can not tell you anything but the Judge is coming and he will explain to you”. We waited for nearly an hour for the judge to come meanwhile we couldn’t get any more information on what was happening. All of my worst fears came into play… “I am going to be robbed, lose all my money and be stranded here. They are going to take my passport. I am going to jail and no one at home will know what happened to me for weeks! I am never going to see home again”… I know how unreasonable some of those fears were but at the time it felt like the world was crashing around me while I had to stay calm and strong in front of my group. When the judge showed up we were all moved to the yard so they could bring the dogs in and search the house. I was able to grab my phone and they didn’t seem to care that I was using it so I was able to inform a few people back home what was happening. We sat and waited for another hour while they rummaged through the house and had the dogs sniff all our belongings. There was one puppy who stopped to smell me, then pouted as if to suggest I was worth searching. In my head I was thinking “I have nothing on me.. I’m innocent! What is he doing? Does he smell yesterday’s dinner? Does he want me to pet him?” Eventually, he moved away and they didn’t even bother to search me. I was told later that he was a puppy in training and the dog before him was the lead dog. We had 2 friends get searched and after a couple hours the judge came to us and said “Lo Siento, lo siento” Which in Spanish means “I’m sorry, I’m sorry”. He packed up his crew, his dogs and took off. Looking dumbfounded we all stared at each other and our surroundings and thought “What in the hell just happened?”. We left for breakfast (and mimosas) because at that point it was 9am and we were all bewildered and needed to take the edge off. After discussing with our hostess, turns out that her house cleaner was part of some long investigation that the O.I.J. (Meaning Organismo de Investigación – similar to the F.B.I. in America) was working on for weeks. Apparently the O.I.J. had been buying drugs from their suspect attempting to get closer to his ring leader, and our hostess’ name was mentioned since the kid cleaned her Airbnb. The O.I.J. planned this “bust” thinking they were going to walk into a meth lab but instead just walked in on a bunch of sleepy American tourists! The police and the judge were just as confused as we were. “Welcome to Costa Rica!” we all laughed nervously a few hours later. “O.I.J. approved!” After taking some time to cool off and reviewing the court documents with one of our Spanish speaking friends, and after returning to our Airbnb to be told that the police found the kid they were looking for and would not be bothering us anymore, we decided to stay with our hostess who was as shocked as we were at what happened. She was kind, professional and courteous so we chose to continue our Airbnb stay as planned.
~ Envision ~
We made it to the Festival grounds later that evening. One of our friends purchased a “Ready, Set, Camp” so we had a Home Base to leave our things and check in with each other. We put stickers on the face of the tent to tell it a part from the field of other tents that all looked the same. We left a note pad and a pen so that we could check in and leave each other notes of when/where to meet up if we got separated. Fortunately the festival was quite intimate and it was easy to run into friends and make it between stages quickly. The first night of music was incredible and we stayed until 4am to see one of my favorite artists, DRRTYWULVZ, play on the Luna stage. All the stages are built on site using materials found in the jungle. There were 3 main stages to bounce between. The Luna, Lapa and Sol stage.
The festival had a village with local food, shops and places for people to relax in the jungle. The drinks were expensive so I would simply bring my own adult beverage in my water bottle and once that was gone I would switch to water. It was difficult to get drunk in Costa Rica when you come from high altitude and then drop to sea level so spending money on alcohol was wasteful. I am also at a point in my life that getting intoxicated is not my goal and feeling good during the day is important to me.
The next day we headed to the festival during the day to catch some beach time. There is an entrance to the beach through the festival which is not technically part of the event. It’s only open during the day as the beach is closed to festival goers after dark due to the risk of drowning or theft. It is loaded with tico shops full of hand crafted jewelry, bags, clothes, food and various items for sale. The further away from the festival you get, the cheaper the drinks and goods became. On the edge of the beach, there are tico merchants at every corner with deep coolers full of beer, each costing 1000 colones or less (Which is about a dollar and change $US). Learning money exchange was hard until I had my own colones to play with. It’s about 600 colones for 1 US dollar. To pull $100 from the ATM meant getting 60,000 colones. Most things cost about what they would in America but in some cases slightly cheaper.
We had fresh coconuts slashed open right in front of us by men using machetes, including biodegradable straws alongside fresh pineapples and fresh mango. It was an amazing experience to play in the ocean during the day and watch the sunset on the beach and then go home, shower, regroup and set off for dancing at night. The music was incredible and I enjoyed being able to wear little clothing and feel the warm, humid jungle wash over my body. I enjoy the warmth but it did get a little intense for some of my friends. Overall Envision was the most enjoyable festival I have attended for a number of reasons. The environment, the layout of the land, the artist line up and talent, the ocean and the jungle all wrapped into a fun package!
~ Intermission ~
On Monday the festival wrapped up and we packed our bags to depart from our first Airbnb. We had a few hours to kill until check in at the mansion so we decided to enjoy some food & drinks at a local restaurant. Our hostess said we could leave our bags and belongings under her carport and return for them later that evening. We were told to always keep the most important things on us so a few of us grabbed our bags with money, passports and laptops in them. As we sat down to grab a few bites one friend asked to borrow the car keys and grab something out of the car. Thoughtlessly I handed over the keys and less than 10 minutes later another person in our group ran up and said “Our bags are gone”. The few people who left their bags in the car raced over to see that their laptop, passport, money and most important possessions had been stolen from the SUV. The person who borrowed the keys didn’t lock the door and within moments someone had swiped the low hanging fruit. I had fortunately kept my bag on me but a couple friends lost some valuable items and we spent the next few hours at the police station filing forms. If there is one thing I learned from Costa Rica is that as beautiful and developed some parts of the country are, it still is a 3rd world country and there are a lot of poor and desperate people out there. If you don’t protect yourself and use common sense then you are an easy target. Unfortunately this was a tough lesson that a few friends had to learn first hand.
Later that evening we checked into our new “home” where we would stay for the next 6 days. The Villa had six rooms, three of which had separate entrances from the main house and were large enough to be their own small houses. The main house had 3 bedrooms, a large kitchen and a living room. There was a beautiful yard in the front surrounded by tropical plants and trees. The back of the house had a BBQ, a bar space attached to the kitchen and an infinity pool with unobstructed views of the pacific ocean.
It took me 2 days to finally get in the pool as I felt that the world had been spinning too fast to stop and catch my breath. Moving from one location to another was stressful and it took a few trips to get the things we needed to truly settle into our new space. On Tuesday there was the official after party at Fuego Brewing Co. We had bought our tickets and were planning to use that night for networking but one of my dear friends got sick and I decided to stay back with him and make sure I was there in the case we needed to make an emergency hospital visit. Fortunately the hostess of our Airbnb called her local doctor who made a late night house call. She was able to knock him out and gave him medicine to help keep him comfortable over the next few days.
~ Party Time ~
It’s now Thursday morning and the first keg delivery arrived onsite at 8am. The event I had been working tirelessly on was finally here! We had the sound and lights set up the day before and spent Wednesday playing with our new production toys. Everything was locked and loaded, ready for the event to start at noon. I had organized a 24 hour pool party with enough food and drinks for days. We would offer grilled hot dogs, hamburgers and a taco bar along with 2 types of mixed drinks and 4 local craft beers on tap.
By 5pm there were waves of people walking through the door. All of this was well managed and everyone was having a great time but in the background I was dealing with an unexpected cog in the wheel. The hostess contacted me and said her boss caught wind of a “huge party” at the villa and that we were trashing the space. I assured her that it was a private event and expressed that the reason we chose that villa was because it stated online that it was suitable for events. As the day progressed her boss told her that they were not ok with any party happening and that she had to shut us down. It was 5:30pm and I was scheduled to play at sunset. I had a mix that I had been working on for months, saving up all my best tropical vibes. I had planned a peak moment as the sun went down and the lights turn on and the fire performers come out while the drones capture it all from afar…. I knew that if I didn’t cease communication and play my set as planned that I would have come all that way to lose a very magical moment. I chose to put my phone down for the next 90 minutes. Everything went off without a hitch and the hostess didn’t send one single message during my set. It wasn’t until my last song when the message popped up saying that she was coming to check on the space and make sure all our friends had left. I invited her to come check it out and see that it’s not as bad as it’s being made out to be. I begged her to not make our guests leave as they worked so hard on the festival and this was my gift to them. I stressed that we were all adults and that they were all eating and happy and what a shame it would be to ask them to leave. She said her boss wouldn’t let her come without the police and I agreed that was fine and we would be expecting her. Around 9pm she arrived with the policia to walk the property. She was surprised by how organized it was but unfortunately she was getting the firm “no” from her boss and the homeowner who decided that everyone but the 16 housemates had to leave. Since we had shuttled everyone onto the property we had to shuttle them all back out. It took an hour but we moved a majority of our guests to a local bar where we opened a tab so they could all have drinks on us.
The party had been beaten down by the man and only a small group remained. The crickets welcomed us into the night but my spirit was up and I knew I was going to find a way to regenerate my party. 11pm rolled around and one of my lady housemates and I began scheming… We decided it was time to talk to the security guard and see if we could invite some friends back over and ask him to be discreet. We figured a couple cute American gals might be convincing so we walked up and asked his name and if he was hungry or thirsty. He said he didn’t drink cerveza but rubbed his tummy and said “si”. We walked back down to our house, made him a kick ass sandwich and brought it back. We quickly realized there was a thick language barrier as we were speaking mostly in hand gestures. We pulled out our google translator and asked him the question. Would he be discreet? He nodded yes. I contacted our leads at the bar and said it was time to bring some people back in small waves.
Remember that producer I mentioned who was playing the festival and was booked to play a surprise set? Well him and his friends ended up making their way back and at 4am low and behold, DRRTYWULVZ appeared offering the highlight of my evening! The deep, psychedelic bass pulled people out of their hidden nooks all around the villa and the dance floor birthed a new wave of energy. We turned the lights back on full force along with the fog machines. As the sun began to come up, the ocean turned from endless darkness into a foggy grey-blue horizon. There was a moment as I stared at the warm pink hued ocean that everything, all my hard work, all the struggles and money spent on this project, was worth it. It was no more than 5 minutes of pure bliss that washed over me and that was all I needed to appreciated every step it took to get there, challenges and all! I fell back into the moment and danced as the sun illuminated the trees and jungle all around me! We carried in the new day proper with a case of champagne to celebrate everyone who made it this far! The “winners circle” (that’s what I like to call the last men and women standing after a party) slowly tapered off sometime around 11am and I finally retreated after my 28 hour day.
We spent the next couple days lounging around the mansion enjoying family dinners and trying to get rid of the excess beer and booze we had. Our security guard came to check on us each night, sharing a warm meal with us and taking the trash out. We had sound rented until our departure date which allowed us to play around while we swam in the pool. Some people would sleep through the day while others took day trips to the beach and waterfalls. My energy was pretty low after the party so I stayed at the mansion and relaxed by the pool most of the time.
On Sunday morning we packed up and did our final clean sweep to leave the place in good condition. We loaded into the SUV and made our way up to Garabito which is about 20 minutes north of Jaco. We stayed in a gated community right next to Playa Blanca (White Beach).
The house we rented was at the top of a cliff and the views were spectacular! There was a private pool and plenty of open space for people to spread out. My friends were burnt out from the heat, the parties and all of the ups and downs that came with. It hit me hard on the last day and I felt responsible for their suffering. I wanted to offer a beautiful trip in paradise so they could relax and decompress from their lives and work back home but every time I turned around there was a fire to put out. Someone was fighting with someone, something got lost or stolen, something in the house was broken, someone was sick or tired.. Hosting 16 people in a foreign country was a lot to embark on. It was almost like that MTV reality series, “The Real World”. Making sure everyone was comfortable and happy was impossible. I spent more time working and fixing problems than I spent vacationing.
~ The Last Supper ~
By the last day in Costa Rica everybody was beat! I was sad that I hadn’t seen a single sloth or monkey the whole time. I didn’t have much free time to go on day trips and when I had the opportunity, I was exhausted. A few of us decided to walk down to Playa Blanca during the day to play at the beach. The sands were soft, white and the beach was hugged by the jungle. There were beautiful cliffs and rock formations to walk around. The view of the ocean was amazing and the tides were strong but welcoming. As the sun began to lower and the sky turned pink and purple the rest of our crew showed up with a cooler full of drinks and bags full of snacks.
I watched the sun set alone about 200 feet into the ocean waters. Far enough from the beach to feel the peace and silence but not too far that I couldn’t swim back quickly in case (gasp) I got stung by a jellyfish. Watching the last bit of sun fall below the surface of the water as I floated weightlessly was one of the most incredible sunset experiences of my life. After dusk we packed up and went back home to shower and freshen up. The thing I wanted most, besides to see a sloth, was to go to a local sushi restaurant and get the freshest fish I could find. A handful of us dressed up in our fanciest attire and drove to Jaco where we were directed to a top notch sushi joint. We decided to order family style and share so that we could try everything. We had seaweed salad, dozens of rolls, sashimi and saki until our tummies were too full. AND THEN we had some chocolate & ice cream for dessert. A local man walked into the restaurant as we were about to leave and hand crafted us souvenirs made from palm leaves. He made a me a *Shimmery Cricket* and then made a chirping noise with his mouth. What a perfect ending to a wild and beautiful trip.
~ Conclusion ~
There is no part of me that regrets taking on this challenge but I certainly learned a lot about myself and about traveling that I am still processing. There are some things that we did that were beneficial like having family meals each night so people could come together, break bread and bond, then regroup for the night time festivities. We had a group SUV that was a blessing to have but at times people would fight over who got it for what period of time. There were challenges just being in a foreign country and not having WiFi or an international phone plan, or sometimes there would be issues with the ATM’s or payment processing so one friend would have to spot another and money exchange would get convoluted. There were many instances that I needed help in some way and if I didn’t have my group of traveling partners it would have been much more difficult. There were times that I was able to be there for someone else, which I love to do. However feeling responsible for other peoples happiness and experience took a toll on me. As this all hit me on the last day, I felt blessed to have accomplished such a trying feat but also worn down from the waves of emotion. I had been strong and stoic but it was in my room on the final day that I had to let out a few tears. I knew going into this that not everything would be perfect or go according to plan but what actually happened was far beyond anything I could have imagined. In many ways I succeeded but in other ways I felt like a failure. It has taken me almost 2 months to fully decompress and process all my feels. In the end, it was worth it and I plan to do it again, bigger and better ❤
~ Acknowledgments ~
I want to thank a few friends for being there for me along the way. Jay, you were my rock during this trip and I don’t know how I would have handled all the hurdles without you.❤️ Baba, thank you for all the daiquiris 🍹 and breaking the tension when we all needed a good laugh. Nikki & Kevin, thank you for hookin’ a sista up! None of this would have been possible without you. Greg, you are the BEST! Keep up the dad jokes!! Citron, thank you for bringing good tunes and great humans along for the ride and for welcoming us to your friends house party. Ryan, thank you for shuttling our guests and entertaining them at the bar while we sorted things out at the house. Levi, thank you SO much for that incredible original set. So good, man 🎶🔊 Justin, thank you for working so hard to capture it all on film 🎞 To the rest of my tribe; THANK YOU for being there and for believing in me 💜🍍