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If you were to look at my Pinterest account, you would notice that I have a deep desire to travel (that may border on the obsessive). I have always been so interested in other cultures– the people, traditions, languages, architecture, history— all of it. To me, the world looks like a fractal of brilliant colors and designs made up of beautiful people, rich music, strange foods, and different ways of life.

Part of it is that travelling is such an adventure. Personally, I love adventure—but I wouldn’t ever be able to be one of those crazy cliff-diving, parachuting, bungee-jumping thrill seekers. The type of adventure that comes with travelling comes in small but common doses. You may not get an adrenaline rush from being utterly lost and trying to catch a bus, in Spanish, to somewhere you do know. But it certainly is an adventure. And you feel so capable when it’s over!

Each place you go also has its own adventurous activities to offer (if you have seen The Amazing Race, you probably have a good idea of this). For example, in Costa Rica the most common activities are surfing, zip-lining, hiking, rafting, and volcano viewing trips.

But something I have come to learn is that it is not the activity that makes a trip memorable, but the people you have by your side.

Last week a friend from Valpo, Krista, came to visit for a couple of days of spring break. She wanted to see the nature and adventure of Costa Rica, so she, along with me and another study abroad student Erin, began to research nearby places with waterfalls and zip-lining. We had a really hard time, since online we could only find the very touristy and expensive places, and of course, we don’t have $75 just laying around to spend on a zip line trip. Luckily my host family hooked us up with a place that had a waterfall hike, some zip-lining, pools, free lunch, and a collection of watersides that we could enter for a daily fee of $30. This was more doable.

But we realized why this place was cheaper when Krista, Erin, and I arrived—the park was incredibly under-whelming. It did have all of the things mentioned, but all done rather poorly. The waterfall hike took all of 10 minutes to arrive, the pool was so cold that we couldn’t stay in for more than a minute, the slides had no water, the zip-line crossed over trash heaps, and even the lunch was sub-par. Perhaps other girls would have seen the poor craftsmanship and the lack of fun activities and decided to go somewhere else. But not us. While this park was disappointing in many ways, I must say that I have no regrets in going there, because Krista, Erin, and I had an amazing adventure there that I will treasure forever.

We took our water bottles, filled them with pool water, and proceeded to drench all of the waterslides so that they were usable. Along the longest slide, we set up stations where we would pour water in as someone was sliding to help them through dry patches. We found the little kids jacuzzi, which was heated, and invaded so we could do some swimming. We climbed to the rocks underneath the waterfall and took some awesome pictures. And the view of ziplining wasn’t spectacular, but the activity of zip-lining was the most fun adventure we had the whole day. The guides were a ton of fun, so we would joke with them and with each other as we went along. One carried around Krista’s phone and took pictures of our adventure (along with a couple of un-planned selfies). And when we got to the rope-bridge section, whoever was on the bridge in front knew to be wary, because those behind would do their best to rock the bridge and knock them off.

This is just one example of how I have noticed that it is the people that make an activity enjoyable. Another example would be the bus trip I mentioned earlier. I really did get lost with Erin in a town we had never been in. The trip home took two hours when it probably should have taken more like 30 mins. After asking the 10th person for directions to a bus stop, or after watching yet another bus go by that goes to the wrong city, it would have been easy to become frustrated (especially since we both had a paper due that night as well!). But instead of becoming exasperated as we sat at the bus station waiting, Erin started to sing to pass the time. So we sang songs together, we talked, we ate some cookies and some watermelon, and when it finally came, I looked ridiculous boarding the bus with half a watermelon in my arms. I will remember this adventure forever.

I have learned that people are what make any activity enjoyable, and with the right people around you, every day can be an adventure! So, I would suggest that all you adventure seekers out there stop trying to find the perfect activity or take the perfect trip, but instead, try to surround yourself with adventurous people. People who like to laugh and who can look past obstacles to find fun solutions. People who make mistakes into memories. And maybe, try to be that person yourself—it is all a matter of attitude!

Pura Vida,



31 March 2017


Kortney Cena