A year ago today, I left California and took off for Costa Rica on a red-eye with my cat and 10 bags of luggage and have had no regrets or desire to return. These last few weeks, I’ve been comparing my past life experiences, pre-Costa Rica, to how my life has been in the last year.
I’ve seen and experienced some pretty incredible (and some not so fun) things in my lifetime:
- Stood atop the Washington Monument, Empire State Building and Eiffel Tower
- Been to the Grand Canyon, Zion, Yellowstone and Multnomah Falls
- Drank a Hurricane at Pat O’Brien’s in New Orleans (first and only time) and ate beignets every day at Cafe du Monde
- Seen the Mona Lisa, David and Sistine Chapel
- Toured the Hershey Chocolate Factory
- Walked amongst the ruins of Pompeii
- Stood on Juliet’s balcony in Verona and shopped for clothes in Milan
- Was denied access to St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice because I was wearing shorts
- Ate my first chocolate crepe at Mont St Michel
- Ate gelato every day in Italy for a week (I was 9, my parents were trying to appease me)
- Ate pizza and pasta and drank wine every day for lunch and dinner in Italy (15 years after the gelato week)
- Enjoyed a cappuccino at an outdoor café in Portofino
- Visited the Round Table (as in “Knights of…”), Stonehenge and Westminster Abbey
- Been to Mavericks twice on a boat with 40 foot waves and had backstage access to the Kart races in Monterey where I met Paul Newman who was wearing purple socks and white shoes
- Visited the casino in Monte Carlo and seen the red carpet in Cannes (no celebrity sightings at either)
- At the age of 17, got talked into going into the Dianetic’s building in Hollywood with a friend (we quickly made our way out)
- Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Big Ben and Anne Frank’s House.
- Pretty much been to almost every cathedral in France and Italy and every castle in Germany and France
- Bought my first stein when I was 9 in Germany and on that same trip, visited Hennessy’s cognac in France
- Went to Tijuana when I was 16 and came home with the worst stomach virus of my life. Well, it probably wasn’t a virus – more like bacteria from the watered down drinks.
- Drank a beer with Kelsey Grammar in Puerto Vallarta, danced on the bar at Papa’s & Beer (everyone was doing it!) and ate fresh lobster burritos for breakfast in Calafia (Baja, Mexico not California). Best hangover food for a then non-vegetarian
- Visited Cuba and had one of the best weeks of my life although 99% of the food was abysmal
- Stood atop the active Masaya Volcano in Nicaragua and paid off a police officer at the Nicaragua/Costa Rica border (twice, now)
- Went to the Panama Canal and the next day visited an indigenous community with no electricity or access to modern day life, acknowledging the stark differences in lives that were less than an hour away from each other
But even with all of those adventures and experiences, nothing compares to the last year of my life. It’s been challenging and frustrating and complicated but it’s also been, and continues to be, so totally worth it.