Tonight I will board a flight headed to Frankfurt Germany, connecting to Dallas Texas and finally on to San Jose Costa Rica. I have been planning on going to Costa Rica for almost a year now. When I decided to pursue this dream of mine, Costa Rica stood out in my mind as a place that would work. I have not been to Costa Rica but from what I hear from fellow surfers and from what I’ve read online, I believe Costa Rica will make the perfect location for my business.
The ‘plan’ is to visit several coastal communities along the Pacific west coast of Costa Rica. I have been researching the communities that have the highest number of expats living or travelling through them and I’ve narrowed it down to 5 towns – Uvita and Dominical in the Southern Zone, Nosara, Tamarindo and Playa Langusta on the Nicoya Peninsula. If there is time, I want to venture into Nicaragua to check it out.
While I’m in Costa Rica I want to gain as much background knowledge on each community as possible by networking and interviewing locals and expats. I plan on asking about the community, education system, local businesses and the challenges of living there. I hope to narrow down my ideal location for starting my business while taking in all the culture and adventure Costa Rica has to offer.
I’ve been looking forward to traveling solo again. I spent a month traveling around Bali and to this day it is by far my favorite trip. For me, traveling alone opens doors that would likely not open if I where traveling with friends. Fellow travellers are more likely to strike up a conversation when you are alone. These conversations will inevitably alter your experience.
I also love the confidence you gain while traveling alone. When you get yourself to where you want to go it feels good because YOU made that happen. If anything goes wrong it’s up to you to solve the problem.
There is a growth that goes hand in hand with traveling alone. I do enjoy traveling with friends (if it’s the right person) but for me traveling alone gives me a sense of freedom that I don’t always enjoy in my day to day life. I only have to think of my own next move. If things go wrong it’s on me. Equally, if things go right then kudos to me. It can be a little scary at times but that’s what makes us grow.
So here I go again on my own. Stay tuned for adventures from Costa Rica.
From the moment I rode my first wave, assisted of course, I was hooked. It happened on a cold, rainy Australian winter day off the coast of South Eastern Queensland. The rush of adrenalin and dopamine through my 26-year-old body set shockwaves through my entire being. The ease at which I felt in the ocean was something I had yet to experience in my life until then. The ocean surrounded me like a familiar lover. The thrill of catching the wave was like the rush of finding true love. I was forever changed that day.
I hadn’t planned to become a surfer. My brother actually told me to try it. When I told him I was moving to Australia he said I had to learn to surf. To be honest, I hadn’t even thought of it until he had mentioned it. So Shortly after arriving in the land down under when I was asked to join a group of peers on a surf camp trip, I said ‘sure, why not?’
It didn’t take me long in the water to catch that first wave, and then it happened. I was completely and utterly hooked. From that day, I knew it would be part of my life. I didn’t, however, foresee it becoming a crazy life-changing addiction.
After the surf camp, I soon bought a surfboard. I would ride the city transit bus, 35 minutes with a cumbersome 7’6″ Mini Mal surfboard, to the closest beach. I religiously spent my weekends in the water struggling to catch even the smallest of waves. I would come out of the water with another bruise or cut and the hugest smile on my face. There were days when I wouldn’t catch a single wave and spent hours being tossed around in the water. But I always came out with a stupid grin on my face.
Over the years, and after moving to an apartment on the beach in Maroochydore Queensland, I slowly started to get the hang of surfing. It became part of my daily routine. Wake up – surf – shower – eat – go to work – surf – go home – shower – eat – go to bed – repeat. My life started to feel like it had meaning. Like surfing was somehow my purpose. I knew I would never be a professional, I started way to late in life. But the thought of it being part of my life until that life ceased to exist sat very well with me.
Over time though, I started to notice that If the waves were flat for a few days this strange depression would seep in. I didn’t put two and two together until talking to a friend about it. He was not surprised when I told him I was feeling blue one day. He was also a surfer and knew there hadn’t been waves for a while. He called it surf depression. He explained to me that when we surf, dopamine is released in our brains. Dopamine is the brain chemical that makes us feel good when we fall in love or when our favorite team wins a game. Surfers get used to the increased dopamine so when we don’t surf for a while our brains notice and feel sad. I completely understood that. It was as if I was hooked on this drug and when I was deprived my brain went through withdrawals.
Fast forward 7 years, two successful but short relationships and two drastic moves. Here I sit in the Middle East suffering from prolonged surf depression. Sure I wake up every day and go to work, with a smile on my face even. But there is always this lingering feeling of something missing. A longing for that drug.
Some might wonder why I decided to move to the desert if surfing is such a big passion in my life. And the answer is exactly that. It is such a big passion that I am willing to sacrifice 3 years of my life so I can one day live by the ocean and pursue a carrier that incorporates surfing and teaching. Living in the Middle East will allow me to pay off student debt quickly. Much quicker than living in Canada or anywhere really. For me to be debt free means I will have the freedom to take risks and pursue my wildest dreams. We get one life and I am a firm believer in making the most of it. I do plan to do just that.
Although I have good days and bad days, it is the thought of my future that keeps me going. I know that one day I will be surfing daily again. That surfing will be part of my daily routine as it once was. For now, short surf trips, and mind surfing while scrolling through Instagram will have to keep the withdrawals at bae. On occasion when the swell kicks up in the Persian Gulf you’ll definitely see me cruisin down the highway to get my hit as fast as I can.
p.s. Surfable waves are forecast to hit Dubai this weekend. I’ve had butterflies in my stomach all week anticipating my surfing love and it’s soft and exhilarating hold on my heart.
For me, a creative free spirit, writing a business plan is not something I get terribly excited about. However, iv’e received some advice from a dear friend who said that I would need to get this done now. Even though my venture is 2 years away it’s wise to create the plan now. It will help keep me on track and I can alter the plan as I go. It will also be useful for when I need to get people, companies, schools etc on board with my idea.
I sat down about a week ago to write a business plan. I stared at the blank page. Not sure where to even start. I had zero clue. What does one do without a clue? Google. The first Google search presented a very helpful article called Business Plans: A Step-by-Step Guide. I thought this would be perfect. After about 5 minutes of reading I was battling my eyelids to stay open. I bookmarked the page but I needed something more stimulating. What to do? Oh YouTube how I love thee! I found on Youtube several great videos on steps of writing a business plan. After watching and taking notes like a good student, I got to work, still very much unenthused.
As I wrote though, I found that I was really getting into it. It really felt like the beginning stages of the birth of my baby — the foreplay if you will. And it was definitely getting the juices flowing. Excuse me, creative juices. The plan itself started to spark new ideas. The new ideas (to be revealed at a future date) are now taking hold of me.
There is something beautiful about grand ideas. I can see it unfolding. I can imagine the struggles and excitement of it all. It has sparked something inside of me and I know the feeling well. It was the same feeling I got when I decided to move to Australia. Or when I moved to Nova Scotia. Similar too, if not the same as, the feeling I get when I start a new relationship. Can’t stop thinking about it. Get excited at the thought. Smiling like a fool — Ive got that feeling, butterflies and all.
All the endeavours I have chased after in my life were once just a spark but I managed to fuel them into roaring fires. I am confident that this will go no other way, only this time the idea is much bigger. This means only one thing – the fire will be extraordinary.
So far I have managed to create the shell of my plan. I say shell because I am no where near being finished. I am still ironing out the details. I’m really stuck on numbers. I will need to do more research to narrow down some things. But I have started and it has my blood pumping hard through my veins.
I truly am a ‘dummy’ when it comes to this part of the business idea so I welcome any and all advice on writing a business plan. Feel free to drop me a line and let me know your thoughts.
I got some disappointing news the other day. I owe the government $4356 worth in speeding fines! That is 21 speeding fines to be exact. Now I know what you’re thinking, holy girl slowwww down! But I honestly didn’t think I was speeding. If you saw how some people drove here you would think I was a saint on the road.
Now for most people this would be devastating. For me it is extra devastating because the whole reason I am living in this desert town, far from home, away from my ocean love, is to pay off my student debt so I can move onto the life I really want to live. Living near a beach, nearer to home, teaching and surfing.
So after three days of financially induced depression I decided that I would not take this one laying down. I marched into the police station, shoulders back, head held high, ready for a fight. I got my ticket marked ‘lady’ and proceeded to sit in the ‘ladies only’ section of the waiting area. My heart was pounding. My mind was going over what I would say and how I would say it. When my number was called I jumped up and sat down, seemingly calm, and explained my situation to the women. The whole time the ladies were just shaking there heads and saying sorry nothing we can do. So what did I do? I cried. I sobbed. While I cried the ladies just looked at each other shrugging their shoulders. Then a man in a police uniform came over to find out why I was crying. I explained that I was unable to pay for this fine and that I would rather spend the night in jail. He laughed but I was serious. He said something in Arabic to the ladies and then told me to come with him. He said for me to please stop crying and that he would help me. He took me to where the judge was. He told me to explain my situation to to the judge and the judge would reduce my fine. The Judge could not see me that day but I was told to come back on Sunday (which is a work day here). So I thanked the kind man for helping me. He asked me about Canada and gave me his number incase I ever needed help. Then I left.
I returned on Sunday and after 2.5 hours of talking to several different officials and only crying a little bit, my case was submitted. Now I just had to wait for a phone call telling me what day I could come back to see the judge.
A week later was my court date. I was greeted by the man that helped me the previous week. He brought me to the judge who patiently heard my case. After our deliberation and a few shed tears my fine was reduced. Still a lot of money, but so much better.
1) Slow down, there are speed cameras everywhere!
2) Crying works on men but not women (this I believe is universal).
3) The police and officials are really not that scary here. Very kind and helpful actually.
I just woke up from sleeping for 15 hours. Say what? 15 hours!? You see, I just got back to the desert after a 10 day holiday in the Philippines where I literally ate, slept and surfed…but mostly surfed. Needless to say, I don’t get to surf often from where I am living so when I am somewhere that I can, I soak it up. In the water my skin turns wrinkly and sun kissed and I love it. I feel like the Philippines set me further down my path and somehow steered me in the right direction.
The Philippines proved to not only be a wonderful holiday/surf destination but I collected some fantastic advice for my business idea from fellow surfers and travellers. One piece of advice was to start this blog. So here I am, sharing my journey from teaching in the Middle East to one day opening my own school in Central America. My goal is to begin with an after school program that will incorporate tutoring, homework help and surfing. From there I will open my own school that will have a surfing component as part of the curriculum.
Join me on my Journey and please feel free to drop me a line with any and all advice that you may have for me.
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton