Paradise Found

KeepGaia Wild Charlie Wade

The three most common questions I get asked when meeting people traveling through Costa Rica, sharing a bottle of wine in what looks like a bar for pirates:

  • Why did you move?
  • How did you move?
  • Did you save up a lot of money before you did?

The funny thing is I can never quite come up with a suitable answer for the first one. Why.

I don’t think it was any one thing. A big part of me wants to say – “Because I was more scared of having never truly lived than of what could have happened if I tried.” What’s the worst that could happen? I can’t support myself and I live on the beach for a couple nights before going back home having at least experienced something out of the ‘ordinary’ – an experience I could reminisce on while sitting in Forensic Psychology at 8am on a Friday.

How I moved was quite simple. Bought a one way plane ticket, packed some underwear and a toothbrush, a 4th generation iPod and a notebook (just in case I was struck with inspiration on this life changing journey and lived something worth writing about). That sounds more courageous than it was. In many ways the whole thing felt natural, almost pre-written.

I had about $300 in my bank account and a place to stay in a little town called Playa Grande on the pacific coast. I spoke zero Spanish and had never travelled anywhere alone. I was terrified of the ocean and having growed up in the city, had little experience in the underwater world.

It wasn’t long before I found my soulmate in Costa Rica – a 4 legged sidekick named Ali. Like me, Ali too shares a love for the ocean and adventure.

Today, I can surf a wave, hold my breath for minutes and freedive to depths I didn’t think I’d ever want to. I can spearfish, can catch my own food and have learned to live more sustainably. I can open a coconut with a machete and speak fluent Spanish. Today, 4 years from the day I decided to make the move, I can see how it was the catalyst for a new becoming. With travel comes experience, experience breeds knowledge, and knowledge leads to growth. Part of this growth means having a better understanding of the world we live in, and connecting to the people who are experiencing this life with us – on this tiny wild floating home we call a planet.

With spending so much time in the water, came a passion for the ocean, as well as the realization of It’s unhealthy state. I quickly became disheartened as I found so much of the marine life in distress.  Fish were caught up in discarded plastic bags, manta rays were struggling in fishing line and plastic utensils and straws littered the ocean floor.

But even then, transitioning from the convenience of single-use plastics like grocery bags, plastic straws and throw-away cups, to environmentally sustainable and available alternatives wasn’t easy. I’d still end up at the grocery store forgetting my reusable bags or ordering take out with a handy tupperware.

How could I care so much about the issue, yet still be a big part of the problem? This boggled my mind, and ignited my passion to find a solution to eliminate single use plastics, keeping our blue oceans healthy and flourishing with life.

Wrapping myself in a new environment, meant a reexamination of the way I treat the world I live in.