What It Means To Be A Human

Written December 2014

What it means to be human.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what a blessing it is to be a human on this earth. The odds of being any other creature are pretty high. But you are reading this, meaning you are lucky enough to be a person (and probably an awesome one). I’m not sure anyone really knows what it means to be human, but these are my ideas.

Being human means understanding the beauty rooted deep in all places of this earth. It means being aware that you are just a visitor, and that you should respect the rest of whom and what you share this space with.

Being human means being intelligent enough to adapt to what’s around you. This ability is in you. Use it.

Being human means finding connections with other humans.

Being human means appreciating every type of environment. From soil to sand to dirt to gravel and all the way to hardwood and tile floors. Whether we are under a tree or a roof, we can’t ever forget where we started and how we got to where we are.

Being human means respecting each other and those we share the earth with. In Costa Rica, the love and respect that people have for nature is contagious. They recognize that we share this land, not just with other people, but with trees and sloths and snakes and spiders, and all in between. Being human should mean being humble, and not crowning ourselves entitled.

Being human means having the capacity to try new things, paired with the ability to decide whether we like it or not.

Being human means consuming so much knowledge at a rate where we should always want more.

Being human means taking advantage of our ability to travel the world and do all of the above. As people, we have this power to inspire and move and change and share and love and teach and create. With so much power, it’s easy to waste. Don’t.

Being human means knowing that every beginning has an end. But if there is sincerity in between, I hope I never regret it. At one point, every thing we had and every one we had meant something to each other, and in this life, that’s all we really seem to be looking for.

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Nicaragua & Costa Rica: Top 10 Most Ridiculous Things That Really Happened

We miss being abroad. We’d re-live all of these moments in a hot sec:

1. The bus driving away with our backpacks and passports on it. And us engaging in a bus chase with a taxi.

2. Leaving our passports in the first hostel we stayed in in Nicaragua.

3. Christine chased a Nicaraguan kid down the street in attempt to get her camera back. It didn’t work, but she tried.

4. Getting dropped off in a dust cloud in the middle of a highway in Liberia. Bienvenidos a Costa Rica, ladies.

5. A woman breastfeeding next to Kerianne on the bus.

6. Our entire border crossing day. We thought that salted peanuts might be our last meal on this earth.

7. Our rafting guide throwing Christine in the river Balsa and dragging her along using her paddle.

8. Peeling and eating hard boiled eggs on the bus to Manuel Antonio. And on the bus to Puerto Viejo.

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9. Being recognized at lunch by a bystander at the club the previous night. He told us things we didn’t know happened.

10. We ran into a couple from Washington, D.C. three times, in three different cities, in a span of five days.

Things that didn’t make the list, but are on the same level of ridiculous:

Christine packed two left flip flops for this trip.

We used bug spray as perfume.

When Kerianne wears 4 different neon colors of clothing at the same time.

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The time the iCloud burst and none of our alarms went off.

When Kerianne put an apple on Christine’s butt and said, “Apple bottom.”

Evey single time we washed our clothes and hung them up to dry…they never dried. Ever.

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Kerianne didn’t have a footstrap to do the superman zipline, and her legs had to be held in the air by one of the guides. All the way across the Cloud Forest.

Kerianne bought a water bottle at the airport right before boarding the plane, and then they asked her to throw it away before getting on the plane. She was not happy.

Our tent neighbor in Arenal asked us to “please stop laughing.” WHO SAYS THAT?

Lots of love and wonder,

KB & codea

From Brain To Mouth: KB & codea Edition

Being back from our Central America trip doesn’t mean we have to stop blogging about it right?! Here are some preeetty funny, insightful, silly, and ridiculous things that we said during our time abroad. We hope you laugh, think, wonder, and wander while reading them. Also, enjoy the picture below, for it is priceless.

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KB: Do you ever go through Instagram and think, “Wow that’s awesome”?

On the last day of the trip
CO: Wait you have a bar of soap?

KB: I don’t even remember which knob is for hot water. Is it the left one?

KB: How do people live their life in one place?

CO: Let’s check if there’s hot water.

CO: I just spilled beer in my hammock. And my bathing suit is absorbing it.

KB: What are you doing for New Years?
CO: I don’t even know where I’m sleeping tonight.

Entering our hostel dorm:
KB: Is there a light?
CO: There’s a lizard.

KB sees an apple next to Christine, who is laying on her stomach. KB picks up the apple. KB puts the apple on Christine’s butt, and proclaims it: Apple bottom.

CO: I got chocolate all up in my garganta.

KB: I just wanna let you be and watch you burn.

While consuming chocolate drinks, KB and CO simultaneously say:
KB: We’re about to be so hyper.
CO: This isn’t as chocolatey as I wanted.

CO: My abs hurt so bad…I’ve never said those words before.

KB: What time is it?
CO: It’s almost happy hour.

CO: I never wanna be phased by travel.
KB: Travel matures you.

KB: We have to wake up at the asscrack of dawn.
CO: I love the asscrack of dawn. It’s my favorite asscrack.

CO: If you wanna go somewhere, ya fucking go.

CO: What’s your favorite thing from this meal?
KB: I’m eating friend plantains and a meatball on a stick right now.

KB: I’ve never brushed my teeth under the stars before!

When CO couldn’t finish her plantain:
KB: No plantain left behind.

CO: I feel like we’re crashing a party right now…
Hostess of restaurant: Do you guys mind sitting in the front of the restaurant? This is a private event.

CO: I wish I could Instagram what my leg feels like.

Death, Movement and Stillness

This is the last month in which I can say “My dad died last year.” Yup, I’ve thought about that. Usually we count down towards the future in anticipation of something, but I know it has been eighteen months or a year and a half since my dad unexpectedly died; and in one month, it will be farther in my life’s rearview. IMG_2427-3.JPG

Isn’t it strange how we keep track of things according to time? I think so. Only when I stop to count do I realize how long it has actually been. Seriously…think about everything that’s happened in your life in the past year and a half. Pretty crazy, right? I’m utterly amazed at how far I’ve come. I could not have guessed that a year and a half later, I’d be sitting here, on a bus from Puerto Viejo to San José, Costa Rica. I couldn’t have told you that I’d continue moving forward – I mean, of course my only direction would be forward, but in that moment of death on June 7, 2013, my world stood still. I couldn’t have told you that my life of movement was just beginning.

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Constant movement is my thing. My job requires it. My personal life requires it. I require it. And it is during this movement that I am reminded of my dad. I see him in the sunsets, I see him in the stars, I see him in the passing landscape, I see him in fellow travelers, and I see him in my adventures.

One can never anticipate death’s effects. It simply affects you – any time, any place, and while doing absolutely anything. You know what I thought of before bungee jumping 470 feet into the lush, green mountains of Monteverde? My dad. I blocked out everything else, even Christine shouting “I love you, man” and the guys counting down 5-4-3-2-1. It was Monteverde, my dad and me.

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This makes me wonder if I chase that adventure high to feel him or, if in doing so, I am honoring him. I guess it could be both. In experiencing death, I realized I needed to be experiencing life. Again and again, I talk about time. Do we have enough? Or are we not using it wisely? My dad’s life being cut short jolted me alive. I could always be doing more.

I’ve been recognized for my energy – I multitask and am constantly moving. It’s been good and bad in dealing with death. A year and a half later, I am still moving forward and, consequently, am still shocked at how fast I do so. These moments of reflection make time stand still again – I’m back at the hospital, standing next to my dad. And losing him creeps back into my mind again. So I keep moving. Healthy? Ehhhh, not necessarily. Working? Yeah, pretty much.

I keep moving until I’m standing at the edge of a cable car platform, staring down upon the greenery below. And then I jump, spiraling downwards and rebounding upwards. My world literally turned upside down and when I was pulled upright, I was breathing deep because I felt so deeply. I was overwhelmed with emotion. When the cable car returned to solid ground, a fellow bungee jumper noticed that I looked more alive, and damn did I feel more alive.

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The adventure highs I experience when I travel help me to feel my grief. I think they provoke it. In feeling alive, I feel pain. Opposing emotions brought together in the stillness of these moments force me to feel, to grieve. It is because of him that I continue to move forward, to experience and to travel. I am seeing him, feeling him, and honoring him whether he is physically a year and a half away from me or he is spiritually in the very moment closest to me. For me, my dad’s death has cemented my pursuit of movement, travel and newness. What I didn’t realize, however, is that his death has also affected my gratitude for reflection in times of stillness, even when I’ve tried my hardest to propel myself through them.

-KB

9 cities, 14 days

We’re not sure if our brains have the capacity to talk about the last two weeks right now. It’s been one adventure after another. In a nutshell, this is what the last 14 days entailed:

1. Volcano boarding down Cerro Negro in León, Nicaragua.
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2. Watching a sea turtle nest, and relocating its eggs. #SaveTheSeaTurtles #PoacherNoPoaching
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3. A two-hour course of zip lining, rock climbing, scaling rocks, and rappelling in Rincón de la Vieja, Costa Rica.
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4. Horseback riding to a 40-foot waterfall, and then jumping off of it.
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5. Mud bathing, rinsing off in the river, and then relaxing in a natural hot spring.
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6. Rappelling over four waterfalls from 45-165 feet.
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7. Whitewater rafting the Balsa River and jumping off small cliffs along the way.
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8. Getting a tour of the Monteverde Cheese Factory from the granddaughter of one of its founders, the people who named the town Monteverde.
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9. Hiking the forest at night and seeing tarantulas, ant colonies, vipers, kinkajous, sleeping birds, and katydids.
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10. Ziplining, Tarzan swinging, superman-ing, and bungee jumping in the Cloud Forest.
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11. Kayaking and snorkeling in Manuel Antonio.
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12. Playing with monkeys at a Jaguar Rescue Center in Puerto Viejo.
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13. Learning how to make chocolate on a cacao plantation. And eating all of it.
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14. Sleeping in hammocks.IMG_9600.JPG
15. Exploring a new country with nothing but a backpack and each other.
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Travel is Relative

We received travel vouchers for successfully completing our Peer Mentor internships with API, and we used them to purchase our flights. We booked them in October after continuously searching for flights to anywhere. We decided on Costa Rica because we had heard wonderful things from #hAPI study abroad students – we added Nicaragua in because, why not?

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So, we embarked on a two-week journey to Nicaragua and Costa Rica with an intensely researched, yet loose itinerary. You can only research so much about a place – especially in Central America – before learning that you just have to ask around to find what you need. We wanted a backpacker lifestyle. We wanted spontaneity. We wanted adventure.

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When we told family and friends about our plans, they were shocked at how long our trip would be. “Two weeks, woah! That’s pretty long.” We already knew it wouldn’t be long enough. These qualms were confirmed upon meeting other travelers and backpackers who had been traveling for three weeks, one month, three months, eight months, eighteen months. When asked how long we were traveling for, we shamefully responded with “only two weeks…” For a traveler, this is a tease. Two weeks is barely enough time to get to know one place, much less a few cities spanning two countries. We knew it, but we jumped at the opportunity anyway. Travel is worth it no matter how long.

Back home, two weeks away seems long; but while traveling, it seems short. When I studied in Spain for a year, I felt it wasn’t enough time, but people’s wide-eyed reactions proved different – “A year! That’s so long!”

Time is relative, and it’s all about perspective. Well, everything is relative, and everything is all about perspective. Travel confirms this over and over again. It wakes you up, shakes your senses alive. It puts you in your place, brings gratitude to the forefront. It challenges you, pushes you past your perceived boundaries. Outward movement aligns with inward reflection. Time passes in a much different way when you are conscious of your surroundings and of how you react to them. It is a continuous learning period. Time traveling is time growing.

Stories are some of the most inspiring moments while on the road. It’s not like it was in college, where everyone had more or less the same trajectory up until the previous night, when they may have gone out to a different bar. It’s not like it was while abroad, where other students had more or less the same reason to be living in a foreign country. It’s completely different and unassuming. You start from square one with questions, and open your ears to the most intriguing stories. You can assume nothing and expect everything.

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This is why I am in love with movement. This is why I want a life of travel and adventure. Because I could not live my life in just one place. There are too many buses to catch, too many sunsets to watch, too many cities to appreciate, too many local dishes to taste, too many stories to hear, too many languages to learn and too many people to meet. I want to move forward in life appreciating the time I have to travel, to move and to change, because time is truly all we have.

With wonder and wander,
KB + codea

Questions We Have For Nicaragua

Why do you wear pants in 90 degree weather?

Why are we the only ones sweating?

How do you know when to cross the street?

Why can’t you open cab doors from the inside?

How do you feel about foreigners?

Why does it say ‘alto’ instead of ‘para’ on the stop signs?

Do you just play American music when you see us walk into your establishment?

Do kids have bedtimes?

What do the different numbers of car beeps mean?

How did you figure out that you could fit 4 people on one bike?

How do dogs know when to cross the road?

Are you sure it’s safe to just get in and out of cars while they’re still moving?

Do people actually have this for breakfast?

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If you have any answers, please let us know.

Wander|Wonder,
codea&KB