“Oh God, here we go. I can’t believe I did this to myself—again. It is five a.m. at the Hilton Resort in Costa Rica. I have just spent the past week here with friends and family and watched one of my closest friends get married. Life has been easy, and safe … until now. White knuckling my luggage, I hesitantly climb into a small, dark van headed for Nicaragua—alone. I’ve done this before, but I am nervous all over again. What will happen? Will I be safe? Will I be alone the entire time? I am so nervous that I instantly feel like I have to go to the bathroom. This always happens to me, which makes me feel even more nervous. I huddle into the corner with my confounding insecurity as my only companion.”
Climbing into the empty black van, she takes a deep breath and buckles her seat belt. She anxiously peers out her large open window. The stars are still out, fiercely twinkling through the swaying branches of the palm trees above her. The early morning ambience is serene; the birds still quiet as the ocean waves continue to lull them through a deep slumber.
The van is off. The driver is leaning against one of the lobby’s outside columns as his head casually tips back and exhales a thick stream of cigarette smoke. The cloud waivers in resolution above him as the illusive ocean breeze swirls and drags the smoke up and into the darkness. Her eyes glaze over in protest to her lack of sleep, lazily following the smoke into the trees and slightly wishing she too, could smoke a cigarette right now. Maybe the nicotine will calm her nerves, but she’s too tired to make the effort.
She has already said her farewells, last night, over an intimate candle-lit dinner with wine and 26 of her friends and family. They all sleep now. They rest safely in their beds as she begins this new adventure, headed off to Nicaragua all on her own. She planned it this way; she wanted to be alone. She wanted to once more feel the freedom of walking along foreign streets with unending possibilities as her only companions. She wanted to feel the splendor of knowing she could do whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted. She wanted to feel like she could breathe again, to safely nudge her unconventional spirit back out from underneath the rock it’s been hiding beneath. She craves the adventure; she craves it as much as she fears it. It’s scary to be alone. It’s even scarier to be alone in a third world, Central American country such as Nicaragua. But she’d rather face her fears and see the world, than forgo her passions in the name of an illusion such as safety. She knows, like the smoke and the illusive ocean breeze, that sacrificing your life to the Gods of Security will only pull you into the darkness.
To live this life involves risk. Like a foreign and alluring love affair, the absence of safety is sometimes followed by the same degree of excitement—and fear. What will happen when the van crosses the border? Will it be safe, she wonders? Will she be alone the entire time? Is she putting her life at risk? She is aware that Latin America has a reputation for crime and being alone may intensify this risk. Sure, there are currently no robbers snickering from behind the bushes, just waiting for the moment she turns her back so they can rush in and devour the contents of her pocketbook… at least none that she is aware of. And this she knows, at its very essence, is why she is so afraid. There may not be any physical danger staring her directly in the face, but the fear of the unknown is strong enough to stop most dead in their tracks.
The driver climbs into the front seat and with a turn of the key, the van roars to life. Without hesitating, he shifts the gear into drive and the vehicle slowly lurks forward. Within a matter of minutes, the two of them are driving out of the safe, gated community of her resort and out into the unknown. There is nothing to do now but enjoy the ride, and hope that in facing her fears, she will be lead out of the darkness.