Pura Vida | Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

   It's about one o'clock in the morning and I'm curled up across the cold leather seats of a shuttle van in a foreign country. Exhausted from our flight, I try to get some sleep but decide my back pack doesn't make a very good pillow. Looking out the window into the blackness of the jungle, I sway back and forth as we make our way across the windy roads to our hotel. I listen to the soft whisper of Spanish singers on the radio and try to decipher what they are singing about. Christine and I had realized at the airport when we arrived that neither of us spoke Spanish very well. We could only remember the important things like "Donde esta el bano?" and "Necessito cerveza y tacos,"  and figured the words would come back to us during our visit. Christine's Spanish came back rather quickly when she was hit with a sudden case of car sickness and screamed, "ALTO!" so she could run out of the van to puke. Welcome to Costa Rica! .......

   In March I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Costa Rica to photograph a destination wedding with my dear friend Christine Chang. Everything about Costa Rica is wild. From the moment we arrived, the gentle kiss of the thick, humid air made me feel alive. Our first night at Hotel Costa Verde in Manuel Antonio, I fell asleep smiling as I listened to the echo of  monkeys calling in the distance. When I woke the next morning I could feel the brush of the warm sun on my cheek. I opened my eyes and the entire room was glowing orange. I sat up in my bed and stopped breathing for a moment as I took in the amazing view from our hotel window. It was as if I could see the entire world.

   Traveling to a foreign place is like making a new friend. The relationship develops slowly as you open up to each other...revealing your secrets and offering the gift of discovery.  Our first day, we ventured to the beaches and were greeted by locals selling fresh coconuts and snow cones. I fell in love with the vibrant colors and slow paced attitude. We let the warm ocean waters wash up onto our feet as we walked along the beach. We rolled around like kids in the sand. We ate delicious, fresh fish and drank tropical cocktails with little umbrellas in them.  This, I decided, is how life is meant to be lived.

   The thing I loved most about Costa Rica was how free I felt to wander in my bikini. It became my uniform on the trip and eventually it felt unnatural to wear clothes. We are designed to be wild to our core.  If Costa Rica taught me anything, it is that we are meant to be free. It wasn't until I was shooting Ina and Tee's vows at their wedding ceremony that I truly realized this. I paused for a moment as I listened to them commit their lives to each other. I looked off into the overwhelming expansiveness of the horizon as the sun set and tears flooded my eyes. This moment in my career was what I had been dreaming of. We are meant to live a life of richness and wander. Life can be this good all the time. Pura vida!

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