This last week I did something I haven’t done in I-don’t-know-how-long: I went on vacation.
I mean a real pleasure trip–not a border run, not a location scout, not an expedition. Completely non-work related, completely self-indulgent, and completely disconnected. I left my phone and computer behind. Went utterly off the grid. Did nothing but enjoy myself without ambition. I cannot remember the last time I did that.
Don’t get me wrong–I’m not complaining. Part of the blessing of my work is that I get to travel and explore exciting places, doing things like catching snakes and climbing trees to rescue sloths. I’m constantly surrounded by natural beauty.
But the flipside of that is I am often extremely busy. My time off–when I get it–is saved for critical border runs and international travel expense is saved for infrequent trips home. Currently, I’m in a position that requires a lot of logistics and coordination across several time zones, so I am rarely away from my phone. On grounds, I carry a radio. I’m on call all day, over 6 days a week. True “time off” isn’t really a thing, and when I do get it I’m usually too tired or stingy to do anything but stay home, sleep in, and catch up on my own work.
But this time, I made a point of moving things around to cover my job and returned to one of my old haunts in the Osa Peninsula, an underrated and nearly unheard-of location without a single bar of cell service for kilometers. Power came from solar panels. Water came from the stream. AC came from the wind. Food came from–actually, we were pretty set in that department. I’m talking fresh fish every night, caught right off the private beach in a private cove.
But that’s just my point! It was a completely isolated, closed system, just myself, a couple guys doing maintenance, and a handful of spider monkeys who sat outside the front porch eating breadnuts in the branches of a tree. Paradise.
I chilled like I’ve never chilled before. Like I’ve never needed to chill before. Just relaxed, read, played guitar, and walked around the forest. Ok, so I had a little adventure when I caught sight of a tayra and ran after it, camera in hand and vision tunneling on the target. Ran right into a patch of quicksand. Went up to my knees in a flash. Rookie mistake. I’ll never see those boots again.
I think I finally understand the mentality of the tourist who comes to just sit on the beach. The backpackers who just want to sit in a hammock. Me, I’ve never wanted to waste a moment hear and usually turn my trips into, well, adventures. I don’t relax well. It’s a habit. Or maybe a curse.
But it worked. I feel so refreshed. Ready to go back to work and the backlog of emails awaiting me. Ready to endure the stories of rampant snakes and guests they had to deal with in my absence. It’s rather nice to be missed.