Learning to Surf at 57, Day One
I will begin with a silly little video from Amsterdam
Yea, it’s all about riding the wave. What’s the wave feel like? Smooth and balanced and when you’re able to stand up-right it coasts you on in to the sandy beach where the sun shines all year around. On the beach some dark, hot surfer boys that kayak the ocean twice a day are sitting and watching, but they aren’t really relevant to the long run scheme of things, just a pretty view in paradise. Riding the wave has lots of perks, just keep following the signs. I mean, when you stand up you still have to check your self, your surroundings, keep making the next move to keep upright. The more you practice the more that move is just more like a glide, and when you crash, at least your falling in a bed of water. If anything, falling is refreshing, and it means you can get up and just get better. It’s fun to learn new things and get better, and I almost skipped the surfing lesson for no good reason.
Before I left for Costa Rica I told myself that if I was going to take a week off from working at the cafe then I would promise myself I would work in Costa Rica. By that I’d work on myself, by resting and eating awesome food from the tropics [fresh fruit, rice, beans, fish, coconut water], I’d read a new book, I’d learn new things every day about the place I was displaced in, and I would try to work on my personal projects that can be taken on the road like writing as well as spend quality time with my travel buddy, Mama D and stay flexible for all the stuff that can’t be planned.
Day One: Arrived in San Jose, the capital, got the rental car, when you are nice to people they are nice back, and I was given permission to drive even though I was under-aged for rentals in a foreign country. One thing I value from working in the service industry is that you should never ever treat people badly, because niceness goes along way and unless someone’s life is at stake, nothing is urgent enough to treat another person like shit to get what you want, whether it be your coffee order to politely asking if there are exceptions to the under-aged driving rule. We are all just people trying to get around.
So driving in Costa Rica is like Nintendo Mario Cart, twisting winding roads through rain forests and pop up storms and dogs come out of nowhere and people walking and biking alongside roads barely big enough for two cars. My mom let me drive the whole way because she thought it’d be good practice, she already knows how to drive like a maniac from her days of being an airport shuttle driver at Los Angeles International when she was young, that and driving in Italy which is fucking nuts sometimes. So we made it to The Volcano safely, we didn’t even come close to dying if I do say so myself. We were staying in a little eco-lodge in the mountains next to The Volcano. Costa Rica seems to be doing a really good job at keeping things ecological, pristine, developing as little as possible new, instead working with the natural infrastructure in abundance as best they can. Sure, there are plenty of mega resorts there, you’ll find that anywhere, but that’s no longer the trend in Costa Rica. Nestled in the mountains that are begging tourists to come for their economy, hence the cheap flight we caught, so many Costa Rican families have opened up their home, or expanded upon their land to create lodges for tourists that promise as little impact on they environment as they can boast. I think it’s a beautiful thing, eco-tourism, if done with an earnest effort. It inspires a mix of environmental cooperation with multi-cultural, natural, and international interaction and exchange and understanding. The smaller scale allows for a more personable experience in staying in a foreign country, not quite a home stay with a local family, but that’s not always what people are looking for when they go on vacation. Our hotel emphasized the open air, it had an infinity pool overlooking a beautiful giant lake in the valley where the rainwater from the top of the mountain traveled down into the pool and then just kept on rolling down the mountain. I asked one of the hotel staff about the lake, what do people do on the lake? He told me they just like to look at it and keep it beautiful, what better way can we all enjoy it, he said. I was so delighted by his obvious response.
I came to really think about the labels of developed and under developed countries. When I was in school I felt I learned under developed was a name attached to a country that we also thought of as third world which also made people think it is in need of development, to become more like the first world. I know that development comes in many shapes and forms, good and bad, it’s a giant web. There are things like what my roommate Nora is trying to do in Africa, bring clean water to people dying of a lack there of, I’m all about that and many many more projects to end the suffering of the world. But what I do not think that countries like Costa Rica need more infrastructure or big business or sky rises or factories or deluxe condominiums and gated communities away from reality, its under development its best asset. Sure, people there live much simpler lives, make much less money, require less, consume less, things are less shiny and big. Roads are thin and windy, there lack clear cut highways which makes a 60 mile trip take four hours, you can’t ride your jet ski on the lake, and I couldn’t tell you where the closest 24-hour super center Earth suck is. But the water is clear, the air in clean, the hotel asks you to walk instead of take a car to their massage therapist whose home is only a half mile up the mountain, and the people take pride in their “Pura Vida”, a response that is automatic to a greeting of hello and how are you.
When we were driving to our hotel we kept seeing signs for Rancho Margot, I knew I’d seen the name before. Before we left I chatted with Michael, he and Asher are playing their music on the streets now, they began to show their music to the world as I was wrapping up my time with Being Beings in June. They’ve moved on to Scotland now. I told Michael I was going to Costa Rica, he reminded me that farming in Central America is something I could learn from, as he had in Guatemala for a while a few years back. He always has the best ideas. Before I left I logged back into my old farming network that I hadn’t looked at since May, I just browsed around the regions of Costa Rica that I knew we would be within driving distance of. Rancho Margot was one of eight that came on the radar, I tucked it away in my mind just like the rest. I didn’t think that I’d see signs indicating that it was only a few kilometers from the Linda Vista Mountain Lodge, I told my mom we should pay them a visit and she was on board. We had the next two full days to fill with whatever we wanted, we were both just along for the ride, but we had goals in mind.
I made that video at the beginning back in April, I think two days before I was supposed to fly to Italy to begin working on farms. I think that morning I still didn’t even know where I would be staying in two days, or where I would be going after that, or after that, and I had two months that I needed to fill in the blanks. One thing led to another which led to another, and I just had to trust in myself to do myself right. Yes, there is struggle in self development, but know that you will be okay, you can find yourself even if you don’t know where you are going. Just give yourself a chance to let go of what you know and learn something new. It’s never too late, my mom learned to surf only days later, forgive me mom, but she’s 57 years old, and doesn’t look a day over 29.
In other news, my best friend Ethan left yesterday morning for Seattle. He’s headed out west to work at a theater in the city, Les Miserable is calling his name by way of Huntington Indiana, by way of St. Charles Illinois, by way of Sullivan, Illinois, by way of the little farm that we call home here, and so on and so forth. One thing leads to another, one wave at a time.
headed out into the great unknown,
following his inner light,
trusting in himself,
and the beauties of the universe,
to take him on the adventure of a lifetime,
he’s an adventurer after all,
discovering beauty in the world….
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Photos by Houston Roderick creator of www.mythosmovies.com