(This was the day before the big earthquake)
We were on our way to the Pacific beach side, but first, we were stopping off to see Llano de Cortez Waterfall, about a 20 minutes outside of Liberia. It took two bus rides from Nuevo Arenal and there wasn’t an official stop for the waterfall. Tiffany had to let the bus driver know where we wanted to get off. She had been here before, but by car and trust me, that makes a huge difference in your perspective on just how far away the waterfall is from where the bus drops you off.
Let me set the scene. It’s September in Costa Rica. It’s hot, jungle hot. And you know I don’t mind the heat and humidity, but this was intense. Tiffany kept saying that it was just a little ways ahead. As we walked and walked on this winding dirt road with the sun beating down on us and no shade to retreat to, exhaustion was setting in. It was about 45 minutes into our walk and Tiffany was ready to give up. We hadn’t seen anyone else. Not a single car passed us to or from the waterfall. I told her that I didn’t care, I was seeing this waterfall. We would get there eventually! Honestly, I was ready to give up too. Finally, after about an hour and a half, we made it. While the waterfall itself was stunning, the really amazing part that there was no one else there. It was like some magical place that was ours and ours alone. We swam, climbed, floated and took tons of pictures. We were soaking up this moment that seemed to be reserved just for us.
Probably an hour into us being there, two men came down. We started talking with them and learned that one was an American and the other was his local guide, Marvin. They went their way, exploring the top and we packed up and were mentally preparing for the grueling walk back to the bus stop. At least now we were cooled off from the water.
As we started down the long, winding, extraordinarily hot, dirt road, Marvin pulled up and offered us a ride. Earlier, we told him that we were headed to Liberia and they were too. I cannot express just how grateful we were that he offered us that ride. During the 20-30 minute drive, the American was rather silent, but Marvin told us his life story. Tiffany and I were so blessed to have been told the story of Marvin. He grew up very poor in Costa Rica, working on a coffee farm. He was one of the few who learned English, which gave him a big advantage. This ended up leading him to work for a corporation. However, he was miserable. So, both him and his wife decided to take all of their money and invest it into a tourism company. They organize private tours in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. He went on to explain just how happy this made them both and he knew that even though there wasn’t a lot of money in it, they were living their dream. He was probably one of the happiest, nicest people that I have ever met.
When asking where I was from, I told him Orlando and he became so excited. He went of to explain that his only other dream, since he was kid, was to go to Disney World. When he was little and super poor, he would see these old Disney cartoons with Mickey Mouse and all his life, he knew that he would be content if he got to go. (He did get to visit later in life)
I wish that I would have taken a picture of Marvin, but his story remains with me. My trip to Costa Rica was not just about hanging out with my best friend of 30 years. It wasn’t just about decompressing because I had finished my master’s degree. It was more than that. It was my chance to see and experience Tiffany’s journey. Understanding her giant leap of giving it all up to live HER dream. Meeting Marvin and hearing the way he described HIS journey and the happiness that radiated off of every word and every gesture only solidified the idea that EVERYONE should be living THEIR own authentic, happy life.