For the last couple of days, I've been wading my way through 3000+ photographs that I took last week in Costa Rica: picking my favourites here, discarding others there, all the while trying to figure out what I was going to share with you about my trip to this beautiful country.
As of this writing, I've only gone through about 800 or so, and I'm still not sure what I should tell you.
I could tell you about the amazing group of kids I traveled with: that I was a little nervous about spending time with 16 teenagers (seeing as the last time I spent any time with that many teenagers, I was a teenager myself, and not particularly good at hanging out with groups of my peers then), but that I needn't have worried. That the group I was with last week was comprised, to a person, of smart, sensitive, grounded, dedicated, determined, tireless young people, who have restored my faith in the future.
I could tell you about our driver, Estebán, who met us outside of the airport; Estebán who was so much more than a driver. He was a translator, a guide, a friend, a companion to all of us. Estebán was larger than life, and he took care of all us like a mother hen takes care of baby chicks, and we felt safer and more connected because of him.
I could tell you about how my first impressions of Costa Rica was that it was so much like my homeland (save for the Spanish, of course), and that the food and the fresh juices and ohmygoodness-the-coffee were amazing, and I enjoyed every sip and bite of it.
I could tell you about the beautiful people we met at Hogar Escuela, about the amazing staff, and the director who are so dedicated to each of the children in their care. I could tell you about all the joyful kids we met, and one little girl in particular, María, who stole my heart within 5 minutes of meeting her, and with whom I'm determined to keep in touch.
I could tell you about all the beautiful people and experiences I was thrilled to photograph, from watching one young girl teach one of the adults I was traveling with Spanish, to witnessing the teenagers connect with these very young children, despite some very intense cultural and language barriers, to watching my travel companions, some of whom were terrified at first, zip line down a Costa Rican volcano, only to emerge exhilarated and triumphant.
I could tell you all of this, but I'm not sure exactly how to do so coherently. So I'll just say this: I'm already planning a trip back -- hopefully within the next 18 months or so -- but this time, with Marcus and Alex. Because when you visit a place as magical as Costa Rica, a place that is full of pura vida and is a mere 3-1/2 hour, nonstop flight away, it's really, really important that you share it with people you love.
(See more more pictures in the new gallery, that will continue to be updated as I continue to process photos).