Learning Acceptance in Costa Rica

It was a difficult pill to swallow, that moment when I finally realized camping in a rainforest was not for me. I always wanted to be more like Duzer, who survived a month living off the land in the jungles of Venezuela.

Acceptance is a funny thing. I spent so much of my energy in my teens and 20′s trying, very unhappily, to be something and someone I wasn’t because I couldn’t accept that there might be a different way of doing things that was actually open to me. Now, in my 30′s I’ve thrown caution to the wind and even though it isn’t always easy I am living a life that defies a lot of rules and conventions to pack every day full of growth, adventure and new opportunities. Yet, I still have trouble accepting my own limitations and the realities of the consequences of some of my choices. There’s a constant yin and yang to this adventurous, travel-filled life and sometimes all I see through the cloud of my persistent stubbornness … is the yin (dark side).

When my mother and I finally reached Parador Resort & Spa following the jungle camping experience – I was happy to see real walls, doors and even air conditioning. My happiness was immediately squashed when I took it as some sort of failure on my part. I’d failed to be adventure girl who could treat jungle camping like it was the best thing to ever happen to her, instead I practically ran to the swim up bar screaming for a mojito. With my tail between my legs. The thud of my self-inflicted shame hammering in my chest was deafening to my ears. Maybe I thought alcohol would numb the noise.


After a few nights at the incredible Parador, stress melted away from soaks in the infinity pool, I came to accept that my “failure” wasn’t the end of the world. Nor, was it a failure as much as simply one more learning experience. One in a patchwork quilt of a life that, hopefully – has unmeasurable proportions and a depth greater than the sea crashing just beyond resort walls.

Though I didn’t love it, I certainly did survive sleeping in the rainforest for three nights. It won’t be the last time I try something that may turn out *not* to be my cup of tea. I’ve accepted that life really is a give and take, there’s always going to be a Parador that follows the scary rainforest, eventually; and the ability to accept the good with the bad is a tool that I want to possess. The only limitations on my life are the ones I inflict upon myself; so, I’m going to continue to push myself, travel and try new things …

My trip to Costa Rica was provided by the Gift of Happiness campaign sponsored by the tourism board. As always, thoughts and opinions are mine.



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  • http://www.novacationrequired.com Caanan @ No Vacation Required

    Thanks for the thoughtful post.
    Love this: “there’s always going to be a Parador that follows the scary rainforest”Isn’t that SO the truth in travel and life. I always try to remember that everything – the good and the bad – passes.

    • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

      Awh. Thank you for commenting and, as per usual, being so supportive Caanan. And you’re right, it’s true in life too and not just travel that the good and bad exist in tandem.

    • http://sg.tripzilla.com/deals/ Travel Holiday Deals

      Very true. I’m very inspired by this line as well. Thanks for the nuggets of wisdom Kirsten.

      • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

        Thank you so much!

  • Dalene

    Honey, the fact that you even stayed in the rainforest for three nights is a triumph. I, on the other hand, would need an IV of mojitos the entire time to make it happen. Of all our time in South and Central America, I did no such thing. You are brave!

    • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

      THIS IS ONE OF THE REASONS WE’RE FRIENDS!! You really get it Dalene :) Brave might be a little strong but I still appreciate your perspective and support of me :) !!

    • http://www.justinhamlin.com Justin Hamlin

      Good lord I could not be 110% more in agreement with this statement.  Oh, and I don’t object to the thought of an IV of mojitos either.

      • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

        LOL! I think our next group tattoo needs to be an alcohol IV ….. ;) 

        Thanks for the comment Justin and I think it illustrates why we’re all such good friends.

  • http://www.miss-britt.com Miss Britt

    You know, it seems like sometimes we “life designers”, nomads, rule buckers, whatever you call us – it seems like sometimes we exchange one set of standards and rules for another. It’s a challenge to constantly define our own guidelines based on nothing more than our own preferences and priorities.

    And yes, preferences count. :)

    • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

      That could not be more true Britt! We really do exchange one set of standards for another. The reality of being human is there are always rules and standards of some kind. Thank you for your support of me and the blog, I’m glad there’s such a kindred spirit out in the travel world and I really feel we’re lucky to have people we know who we can journey down this “unconventional” path with :) 

  • http://notinthepink.com Ceri

    Oh, hun, I’m actually in the middle of writing a post about my time spent in the jungle too and how I was kind of disappointed with myself for hating it so I totally hear you. Sometimes we just have to accept that there are parts of us who aren’t who we thought we were.

    • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

      Please make sure you send me the post when it is published Ceri. I’d love to read it. I’m glad I am not the only one who experiences this kind of thing. And I appreciate the comment as always.

  • http://twitter.com/L_e_a_h Leah Travels

    Such beautiful photos and an insightful post. I had a similar experience and post when I chickened out of bungy jumping in New Zealand last year. When you’re a person who thinks there’s nothing you can’t do, bumps in the road tend to be a setback. I realized that it’s not the end of the world that I didn’t jump, but it might have been the end of my life. Kidding. Kind of. ;-)  http://leahtravels.com/site/places/adventures-in-almost-bungy-jumping

    • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

       Leah, I loooove adventure sports. But I remember a feeling in the pit of my stomach before the first time I went ziplining that almost made me chicken out. It was so unusual. And I didn’t. Still, I can relate!

  • Jodi

    There’s no shame in acknowledging that some things just aren’t for you. I’d much prefer an honest post like this one, than you pretending it was great when you were wishing you could click your heels and be elsewhere. As always, the photos are beautiful so that just goes to show: just because you don’t love what you’re doing doesn’t mean you can’t take kick-ass photos along the way ;)

    • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

       Means a lot, Jodi. Thank you! I’ve definitely tried to always infuse absolute honesty into my travel writing and while people do not always appreciate that, I don’t write *for* those people – so, I continue. It’s still nice to receive affirmation though.

  • http://mylifemystuff.com/ MANU1986U

    A VERY WELL WRITTEN AND TRULY INSPIRING POST  

    • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

      Thank you!

  • http://expertvagabond.com/ Matthew Karsten

    From the looks of that pool, I’d be running for the swim-up-bar too! Previous jungle camping or not.  :)

    • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

      Haha! YES Matthew!! Swim-up-bars might be one of the best things ever invented.

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