High fives all around for Costa Rica

One of my defining expectations that I outlined in my first blog post was “to catch a couple photo ops with some monkeys.”

This expectation went beyond a photo op. I was able to walk (more of a light jog through thorned trees) along side Canadian biologist, Elizabeth Sargeant. I experienced a morning in the life of a group of white-faced Capuchin monkeys named after a collection of thoughtfully chosen Disney characters. I came so close to one of the monkeys that I could have easily stuck out my hand for a high five.

Sally French/ MU School of Journalism

Sally French/ MU School of Journalism

This is just one example that defined my trip in Costa Rica. Everything that I expected came to life in a way that I could have never imagined. Looking back now I feel as if Costa Rica was a dream…an out of body experience.

I expected to arrive in Costa Rica looking like a cheesy American tourist and simply observe, point and snap a few pictures. Instead, I was part of a learning journey. I lived and breathed the land, the nature and the ticos of Costa Rica. I discovered a sense of self and grasped how small this world really is.

Just like Professor Allen eloquently said before embarking on our trip, “don’t expect for anything to happen that you think will happen in field reporting.” Every word of this is true. I confirmed it. This was especially true when we took an unexpected trip to the Las Pumas Recue Shelter to report on injured jungle cats. I never thought that I would make connections between Missouri and Costa Rica. Everyone is connected in this complicated web of action and consequence.

Field reporting in Costa Rica allowed me to see the world through a different lens. Looking out on the historical La Casona in Santa Rosa National Park, I gazed at the stars. They were pure and bright. Something I had never seen under the Missouri sky back home. I stood in awe like a newborn child seeing something for the first time.

Costa Rica is pure. It’s connected with nature. It embodies a culture that values its land as much as its people. I felt at peace in Costa Rica. I felt a part of the country rather than an outsider looking in through my plush hotel balcony.

Soaking in the starry eyed sky I came to the realization that I want to discover the world through my adventurous lens rather than through my plush hotel balcony. After awhile all these hotel balconies start to look the same anyway, right? Coming into a high five reach with a Capuchin monkey in the tropical dry forest does not happen twice. It’s a once in a lifetime experience.

This once in a lifetime adventurous attitude is my vow as I embark on my future traveling endeavors and in life. This was my self-discovery. I hope to this discovery throughout my professional career as well as a couple other rules.

Pack light, follow the animals and never expect what you think will happen. Follow these three guidelines and the world is at the palm of your hands or at least a high five away.

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