I had many experiences in Costa Rica that left an imprint on me; however, the most impactful event would have to be the talk given by Mr. Jack Ewing at Hacienda Baru. His story affected me in ways I did not anticipate. Here was a man who came to Costa Rica with the expectation of ranching cattle, but now he runs an ecotourism business for a nature reserve on the same piece of land. Though his and my stories are by no means identical they share a kinship at the fundamental level. I was a girl just expecting to come to Costa Rica, observe some birds, meet some new people, and leave. I never expected my experiences in Costa Rica to permeate me in such a way and through a presentation about conservation of all things.
“When you quit chopping the weeds in Costa Rica, the jungle comes back with a vengeance,” Mr. Ewing said. That statement made me think about my life and who I was as a person (melodramatic, right?) but, in all seriousness, what if my whole life I’ve been trying so hard to turn myself into something I was never intended to be? For example, Hacienda Baru should have never been a cattle farm even though it thrived as one. As children we have wild minds, but as we age the lush landscape gets manicured into a formation influenced by society, our friends, our families, and even our own insecurities, but at what cost? What do we sacrifice to become the person we’ve been told to be?
The trip encouraged me to examine the choices I’ve made and the expectation I have for myself. I know I want to pursue a career path in veterinarian medicine and I know I want to help others by doing so, but there will be time for all of those things. It took years for Hacienda Baru to become the jungle it was always intended to be. The world will not blow up if it takes more than one try to get into vet school. I should not let the time and effort required to accomplish my dreams discourage me because the time is going to pass either way.
My time spent studying abroad also encouraged me to be more confident in myself and my abilities. I cannot continue to dwell on my past defeats or I will never effectively reach my goals ahead. I’m not perfect, but no one is. Perhaps I am a jungle; uncomfortable, hard to navigate, frustrating, but filled with life and beauty, planting its own worth in wildness.