Costa Rica Catch-Up

9 08 2010

Though I spent much of June and all of July in Costa Rica, I only blogged about the experience two times.  The dearth of posts was mostly due to lack of time and Internet connectivity while directing the teen travel program, but also because – upon reflection – the position just wasn’t as fun as I thought it would be.

First, I didn’t think that a month off from alcohol and sex (due to company rules and Yair being in a different country) would be particularly difficult.  But I guess you want what you can’t have.  The reunion was nice, however it didn’t make up for the four weeks that we spent apart.

Second, I still have a difficult time shaking myself from the notion of the ‘golden handcuffs’ – that you should take on a responsibility, a fancy title or a position just because you have the intellect or talent to do so.  My position this summer was ‘tour director’ and I essentially ran an entire travel camp.  The company that I worked with and the program that I ran were solid, but my role often felt thankless and under-appreciated.  As I organized programs, did wake-up and managed the trip accounting, I wondered if I would be having more fun as a regular counselor in Israel with Yair.  I believe that – given the information that I had – I originally made the right decision to accept the position in Costa Rica as the activities were incredible, I wanted to see the country and there was a lot more growth opportunity with this company, but ‘should I have accepted a position as a counselor with Yair?’ was still a thought this summer.

Third, no matter how ‘cool’ of a counselor you are, you are still an authority figure and the person responsible for the health, safety and smooth running of the trip.  I generally spend time with people older than me and view most everyone I interact with as peers and friends.  I’m a social person at heart and people matter most to the experience that I have.  On that note, even though some of the activities we participated in were incredible, at the end of the day the teenagers were not my friends and an adult conversation is very different than the one that I could have with any of my campers, so adult company was definitely missed.

Fourth, I had to deal with a local guide who was pretty verbally abusive.  I consider myself to have a strong but (hopefully) thoughtful personality, and being shoved around is a relatively new feeling and is one that officially sucks.  There was no replacement available for this guide, so I had to suck it up and bear it.  One of the hardest parts was that she was very good with the trip members and they loved her.  Only a handful of the adults and management knew how she treated me, so the kids had no idea of her ‘true colors’ and – as top dog on the program – I had nobody to open up to or turn to.  This most of all probably contributed to CR not being as ideal as I thought it would be.

Finally, I became sick three times during the trip.  (Traveling in a small van, everyone catches the same stuff!)  As director, I had to put everyone else’s needs before my own and couldn’t take enough time to rest and recuperate, let alone have someone care for me.  When my staff needed personal time, I granted it whenever possible.  But as tour director, I was always on.

There were definitely highlights (zip-lining, hot springs, jumping waves in the Pacific, pre-trip with Yair) but not every trip can be a winner and that’s okay.  It makes you appreciate when things pick up again, like going on a kick-ass RV trip with a hot husband and living in a part of the world where it doesn’t rain every single afternoon.

Finally, I leave you with two ‘woa’ moments during the last week of the trip that I would have posted about if I had time:

1-  During a horseback riding trip in Manuel Antonio, one of the horses got spooked and jumped off of a 15-foot cliff to the path below.  One of my trip members, Lexi, was on that horse and despite limited riding experience, she held on until the horse landed and fell off only at the last moment.  I thought she might have even be paralyzed from the vicious throw.  The experience could have and perhaps should have been traumatizing, but -unharmed- Lexi got right back on the horse and continued the ride.  Lexi was one of my more silly and girly trip members, making me all the more impressed at her rebound and how she handled the situation.  She was definitely a hero to me for the week.

2-  I’ve never seen a live fist-fight, but I witnessed the mother of all fights on the Manuel Antonio beach during the last week of July.  A masseuse set up her stand in the morning next to our group, and later that day a second masseuse decided to set up a short distance away.  An intense turf war ensued with colorful cursing and punches.  The women proceeded to knock over each other’s stands, pick up metal rods and violently hit each other with the metal as they fought and writhed in the sand.  They then started calling over their posse to assist in the fight, and the group began waving beer bottles in the air in preparation to smash them against whoever drew close.  The police eventually came and broke up the fight, but what a sight it was.  I generally associate massage therapy with relaxation and anti-stress, but I’ve never seen people go at each other the way that this group did.

posted by amybetho

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18 02 2011
Ten Day Time Warp: Reflections on Birthright « Our Take on Freedom: Escaping the 9-to-5 Before 25

[…] demands and the work environment and so I much preferred volunteering.  Not having an abusive guide this time around helped, as well. Our Guide Dror At Nachal […]

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