It has been just over one week since I arrived back in the United States, and I am eager to share my experiences with you.

I have to admit that there were many times this past week I wished myself back to Costa Rica, but the lucky leprechaun didn’t come through. For instance, when we lost power due to the windy weather conditions, I imagined myself back at the beach–not needing any power at all. When it snowed, rained, was sunny, and cloudy all in one day, I closed my eyes and envisioned the hot sun shining down on my skin, the 95 degree days, and the sound of the waves crashing on the volcanic rock formations.

Yet in reality, I am home–where the weather does not feel like Spring, and my winter coat accompanies me wherever I go.

IMG_5354_2If someone were to ask what my favorite part of the trip was, I wouldn’t be able to answer. I could say it was the weather, the culture, the delicious empanadas, the sounds of the beach, the beautiful condo we stayed in, the people we met, the adventure tour we went on, or the freedom of not having a schedule.

Costa Rica was not exactly what we had expected, but it was perfect. I loved each and every moment–the laughter, the confusion, the aloe vera, and the lessons.

In today’s post, I will briefly describe some of the lessons I learned while away for the week. I promise more story-filled posts are bound to emerge, but for now, I will summarize the trip in a special way.

What did Costa Rica teach me?

  1. IMG_5516God is celebrated everywhere. We spent Easter Sunday in Tamarindo, and although I   had previously wondered if it would feel like Easter in another country without egg dying and chocolate candy, God showed me an incredible truth. My fiancé and I were invited to an Easter church service at Tamarindo church. The pastor mentioned how people in other countries around the world were all celebrating this special day as well, and then it hit me: We were in another country celebrating! We had the blessing of being able to see how big this world really is, how big God’s kingdom will one day be. We sang similar songs that we sing at our church in Chicago, and the service followed a similar schedule. Jesus died on the cross for every single person in the world. Easter isn’t only celebrated in the United States. Jesus is known and present everywhere.
  2.  There is plenty of time in the day. Have you ever heard (or said) that there is not enough time in the day? Well, I am here to tell you that the phrase is incorrect. When we were in Costa Rica, we had the pleasure of learning how many hours really are in the day. Without a filled schedule or a list of commitments, we were able to get the most out of every hour, and typically we were astonished by how much we were able to do! There is so much time in each day. What gives us the illusion that the time is nonexistent is the hectic schedule we set for ourselves. We spend so many hours commuting, working, going to meetings, and running errands, that anything on our schedule seems like a chore–even hanging out with a friend. Soon enough, the hours in the day are gone, and we haven’t taken a moment to breathe or appreciate all of the tasks we were able to complete. Perhaps it is a question of prioritizing some free time in our lives rather than whether or not there is enough time in a day.
  3. Love and laughter are universal languages. It is true; I probably should have brushed up on my Spanish a little more than I had before the trip. (Although by the time we left, I was a much better communicator than the first day we arrived!) Despite my inability to speak fluently with the locals…or to sometimes even understand a simple question…I always understood their smiles, laughter, and extended love. The people in Costa Rica were so kind. I was blown away by their Pura Vida lifestyles. I had felt welcomed and appreciated by everyone, and sometimes that is hard to come by in my own neighborhood in Chicago. Love and laughter are the perfect routes of communication for travelers, but also for the people in our everyday lives. Showing love is one act that absolutely everyone will understand. No translation is necessary.
  4. Every vacation comes to an end. Vacations have their names for a reason. They don’t last forever. Although I had occasionally questioned what it would be like to live in a vacation destination, I realized that it wouldn’t be a vacation–it would be my typical routine. Vacations come to an end. And even though I do miss Costa Rica’s beautiful weather and all of the other things I mentioned above, I am thankful to be back. Vacations give us new perspectives. They teach us about new places, and they remind us what we love about our own. I was able to come back to Chicago with a new appreciation. I had the comfort and familiarity of my routine, my bed, and my job. I was reminded of how blessed I am to find joy in the everyday moments. As much as I loved hiking on the beach, I also love the feeling I get when I see my students at work, when I get to make dinner with the man I love, when I see family and friends, and when I experience four seasons in one day.

Costa Rica taught me so much. Ready to learn more about my trip? Tune in next week!