Choosing our ultimate happy place in Costa Rica was as difficult a task for us as a Lays-lover being challenged to eat just one salty, crispy, delicious potato chip. If you bet we couldn’t do it, you were right. We thought long and hard about it, and as it turns out Costa Rica simply offers too many gnarly nooks and crannies for us to choose just one as our favourite.
You can imagine our dilemma when DogVacay invited us to be a part of their Home Away From Home project. We were asked to share with our blog readers a place that has become a second home to us throughout our travels. While we’ve been here, there, and just about everywhere in Costa Rica, we have certainly experienced our fair share of awe moments wherein we fall in love with a sight, a sound, a smell, or some other sense that keeps us returning to the same spot time and time again. The more we thought about these places the more we realized how many there are. Fortunately, each has contributed to our ever-growing collection of travel stories and has influenced the recommendations we opt to provide to other travellers, but the abundance of great places to choose from also made DogVacay’s challenge a difficult one.
And then it hit us.
Years ago my parents gave Ricky and I a small sign that they picked up at a whimsical shop that is known for its unique and often handmade arts and crafts.
Home is always where your heart finds love.
The sign is a constant reminder that what we find at a particular place – what we learn from it and how we grow because of it – is far more important than the place itself. I suppose this is why most of us have come to use the term “home” anyway, to assign additional meaning, value, and purpose to an otherwise boring, static, and structured “house”. We got to thinking… if a house can become a home with emotion, comfort, and love than these qualities would also be present in any second (or third, or fourth) home, no? Ricky and I began to envision our home away from home not only as a site or attraction that Costa Rica offers, rather as an opportunity for us to release emotion, seek comfort, and bask in the beauty of love. Once we did so, we no longer had to choose our happy place. It chose us.
Ricky is a nature guide in heart, mind, and soul. I am convinced he was a kind of microorganism in a past life. One of those highly important, the-world-would-not-exist-without-it kind of microorganisms that goes unnoticed by most but plays such a key role in the cycle of life that the world depends on it. He knows far too much about the workings of the natural world for all of that intelligence to have been learned over the 30 or so years that he has lived on our planet. He is purely and simply smart. Beyond book smart (although he can recite the scientific names of most birds, insects, and plants listed in wildlife guide books) and beyond life-skill smart (despite being able to MacGyver himself out of nearly any situation), he understands how the world works because he’s seen it. He has walked enough trails and explored enough virgin forest – stopping along the way to stare at the ground or peer into the bush – to have seen what the rest of us would have missed 9 times out of 10. Walking, hiking, guiding, birdwatching, wildlife-searching. Call it what you wish, but at its center is Ricky’s passion. For this reason, his home away from home in Costa Rica is nature itself – any trail (marked or unmarked) that invites him (and challenges him) to discover.
RICKY PHOTO GALLERY
I, on the other hand, seek solace from the sea. I am a water baby who loves being in water, on water, and around water as much as possible. It is not often that I am able to find time to participate in related activities however, although I suppose this contributes to my continued desire to play in oceans, seas, rivers, and pools (don’t we always want more of what we cannot or are not always able to have?). I have often wondered what it is that draws me to water in the first place. On some days I am comforted by the calmness of the undisturbed sea and on others I am intrigued by the depths of its unknown. It thrills and terrifies me at the same time. This is my passion, finding peace and pleasure in one of the most serene-seeming places that hides millions of the world’s secrets. My home away from home in Costa Rica is its water playground – any body of water that allows me to combine fun and freedom with my desire to know more about a world not yet entirely found.
NIKKI PHOTO GALLERY
By now you may have guessed that our television is permanently set to the Discovery Channel. Ricky loves programs that explain how our world works (think the Planet Earth series) and I tune in whenever programming features marine life and underwater explorations. We figure between the two of us we’ve got the world covered, and although our passions are different, we are both incredibly fortunate to have found a home away from home in the incredibly giving, beautiful country that is Costa Rica.
QUESTION TO COMMENT ON: Where is your happy place?