For the past 8 years, I’ve spent every New Year’s Eve (minus one: curse you re-scheduled Delta flight!) in the soft-sanded, glittering-waved town of Malpais, Costa Rica.
“How’s that possible?” you ask. “Are you a trust fund baby? A CEO of a fortune 500 company?” No, dear reader, I’m a surf instructor at Pura Vida Adventures: a surf and yoga retreat nestled in the palm trees of a small but truly magical Central American community.
I went to Costa Rica that first year, in 2006, not knowing a soul. I was fresh from the disillusionment of the post-college years, nursing my wounds of disappointment with life’s trajectory, the general and suffocating fear of it all. “How,” I thought, “do people actually make their lives work out?” What I found there was greater than answers: it was peace. From the golden ripe mangos that literally lined the streets, to the salty air filling my senses, to the touch of the clear water meeting sun-kissed skin, to the kindness of people I met there, to the cicadas lulling me to sleep in a hammock…every force of nature seemed to whisper to my worried soul: Everything is going to be ok. Everything is better than ok.
I’ve come back to Costa Rica in many different forms. I’ve come with a broken heart, with a tired mind, with a hopeless sadness, and with a longing to return to myself—a longing to return to joy. And I’ve always found it there, tucked in the simplest of days.
I’ve spent these celebratory Eves surrounded by the light and intentions of hundreds of people who, dancing around a blazing bonfire on the beach under the brightest stars, called the New Year of their lives in with the fervent hope and wild happiness of just being here.
These aren’t just the ramblings of a wayward hippie, believe me! Just check out the PVA website and you can read the stories of hundreds of people saying the same thing. College friends reuniting after ten years to drink cacique at sunset. Moms coming to recharge frayed nerves, couples looking to grow closer. Type A’s wanting a challenge and learning to love themselves regardless of success in the waves. Timid spirits finding their strength—the list goes on. We’ve heard stories of the amazing fun our clients have had at the New Year’s camps, sure, but it’s bigger than that. People quitting soul-sucking jobs and finding their life’s passions, leaving toxic relationships, finding healthy relationships, healing wounds of the heart, reclaiming joy, resting in hope, being revitalized and renewed for the 12 months to come. There is truly something miraculous about ending one year and beginning the next in this place: where your soul can actually HEAR, your heart can actually LISTEN, to the world’s deepest and most beautiful dreams for you.
Yesterday I had a conversation with my dad. I’ve been trying to figure out how to financially make it work to go to Costa Rica for this year’s New Years camp, and it hasn’t looked good. (Turns out traveling in a rock band is not financially viable, no matter how much NPR loves you). But my dad reminded me of all the times I’ve come back from PVA, from Costa Rica, as the very best version of myself.
I told my dad that he was the best, and I thanked him for encouraging me to follow my dreams instead of “being responsible.” His answer? “Maybe that’s the highest form of responsibility: responding to your dreams.”
I hope to see you under the brightest stars, and dance around a bonfire with you in the warm air, as we blissfully beckon in a New Year of our lives.
To find out more about Singer/Songwriter Annie Bethancourt, go to anniebeth.com.