Costa Rica brought me beyond my boundaries–out of the country and past my comfort zone.

We entered a new world: streets were unlabeled, the residents primarily spoke Spanish, and we saw iguanas crossing the street instead of our typical deer.

I was unfamiliar with the area, the language, and the customs, yet I entered this new place with open arms and an open mind. This may be surprising for some. After all, I am not the most daring person, and I like to avoid risk when possible. Playing it safe is my forte…

Being in Costa Rica provided me with the opportunity to move past my inclination to hold back, and instead I moved forward.

During our week-long trip we had a relatively open itinerary, but there was one main event we had planned: an adventure tour in Rincon de la Vieja. This tour consisted of zip lining, rock climbing and rappelling, white water rafting, volcanic mud body painting, and hanging out in hot springs. Not to mention, for lunch, there was a Costa Rican buffet–delicious!

Before meeting my fiancé I was much more reserved when it came to exploring and adventure, but over the years, I have slowly become more comfortable with taking risks in the outdoors. I was ecstatic for this day of exploring and literally had dreams about what it would be like.

The day came, and after being shuttled to the national forest, the tour guides tightened our harnesses, placed the helmets on our heads, and left us with one glove in hand.

We were escorted to the first zip line where we received instructions. Don’t brake too hard or you will get stuck in the middle of the line and have to use your arms to pull yourself back. Don’t let go with one hand or you may spin in circles. A strong fear overcame me, and it was evident in my face. The other couple we were with could tell I was nervous, and my fiancé reassured me that everything would be okay. Why was someone afraid of heights zip lining high above a canyon? I asked myself this many times.

It was finally my turn. I put on a fake smile and was pushed down the line. I looked down–heart pumping–and was overwhelmed by the beautiful river hundreds of feet below me. I made it to the other side, and one of the guides unstrapped me. I was shaking from the adrenaline rush, and knew right away that I had to go again! Luckily, there were six more lines.

I learned that even in the moments when our fear seems unbeatable, we can find courage deep down. When this happens, we experience some of the most beautiful things this world has to offer.

White water rafting also extended me beyond my comfort zone. I realized that I would be going alone in a two-person raft with a guide.  I asked if he spoke any Spanish, and he responded “no.” Not ever having rafted before, I was hoping for some instruction, but the second I got into the raft we took off.

I searched far in my mind to remember the Spanish phrases I learned in high school, and I surprised myself by how much I could converse with the guide. I had asked if there were a lot of animals in the river, particularly crocodiles, and he said yes–with a big smile on his face! Something about his nonchalant response made me feel safe though. We also talked about how this part of the forest was much more luscious than where I was staying in Tamarindo. Being forced to speak another language was difficult at first but so rewarding in the end. We ended up going down one rapid backwards and giggled and smiled most of the trip.

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Rafting taught me that communication is possible between all people. My guide was genuinely happy when I tried to talk with him–even if my Spanish was not up to par. And I loved getting to know him through such an adventurous experience.

I am not one for getting out of my comfort zone and moving past fear, but the adventure tour taught me how many incredible things can be seen or can happen when bravery emerges.

I encourage you to find something that scares you and to face it head on. You just may find something beautiful on the other side.