Costa Rica Birthday Surprise

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Celebrating 34 with friend and Patron

The brakes don’t work!  We were gliding forward, and I was certain that this is it…. I was going to run over my 1st person ever! Why were they riding their bicycle right there?  It was a good 34 years of being free.

To start off, I don’t know what my birthday surprise is, so don’t let the title fool you. It’s the night before we leave Tamarindo, and I’m in a writy mood (apparently, Writy is not a word, but it’s how I feel– so… screw you red-underliny thing (underliny is also not a word)). I have a funny story, and a good life lesson. If this gets too lengthy for you, at least scroll to the bottom to view my favorite birthday video that I received.

Let’s start with yesterday… my actual birthday. I did not learn to surf (I did that today)… I worked (even though it was by the pool, in the sun, to good techno music, it is called work… just remember that if what you do for work is what you do for play, then you’ll never actually work a day in your life :) ), then Kathryn came over, then I was given a birthday beer, then Brendan, his dad, Kathryn, and I walked to Witch’s Rock Surf Camp. Which was the farthest I’ve had to walk in Tamarindo so far.

Joe Walsh (not the singer from The Eagles) was written about as having the 2nd coolest job in the world. He just surfs all day.  I met Joe while at Awesomeness Fest, after he spoke about his business, and passion. “I’m not a speaker, I’m just a guy that really likes to surf!” He drove down to Costa Rica in a converted school bus with some friends and family to start a surf-school, and it’s been doing really well since.  Now he surfs all day, and also has a restaurant.  It’s a good life.  One of my favorite parts of his story is that so many people thought it was a terrible idea, but he did it anyways, and now he’s uber-happy.

It was happy hour, so we ordered happy hour food and drinks- I started with “The Witch’s Tit” and Bean Dip, and Wings (I haven’t had wings in quite a while!). We were to have company soon, Rebekah, Kevin, and Yogi were coming, and I also invited Chase.  These are all people (and a pug) that I met at Awesomeness Fest… some of them were still here in Costa Rica. They all have incredible stories, yes, even the pug.

Rebekah has already agreed to be one of my interviews for my business interviews site. She works with one of the best photographers in the world, David La Chapelle. More importantly though, she took an idea of hers to start a business up with no cost, and her idea now makes over $2,000 a day– not including internet sales, and supports over 30 local families, plus is 100% sustainable.

Brendan’s Dad bought us all shots of Tequila. Rebekah had a bottle of Whiskey from her travels. We got Sushi. Chase showed up. I was surprised with cake:

I was amongst good friends (even though I just met Brendan’s dad that day– we get along really really well! He, like me, is uber-fast with the puns, and makes jokes about everything! Gives me something to look forward to), I was in paradise, and I was happy.

Kevin agreed to drive us to where Kathryn was staying at Playa Grande Surf Camp.  He had also told me about The Fiesta in Villa Real, where I can try to do some Bull Riding… since I’ve already played Bull Poker, this seemed like the next evolution. Additionally, I got to pick his brain as to how he made Yogi The Pug into a worldwide phenomenon. I was blissful, as I love to hear success stories.  Additionally, Kevin also agreed to be one of my interviews for my business interviews site.

I know it might seem like I interview everyone I know, but that’s not the case. I interview people whose stories inspire, and tactics can be learned from.  The very 1st interview is Jason Harty from Pretzel Crisps. If you remember, they sent me a huge Pretzel Crisps gift bag, and so I had to know how they were able to pull it off. Jason was kind enough to share an hour of pure business-secrets gold!

Interviews aside, it was a great time- including the drive home (funny how every few nights, “home” is a different place).

I woke up late today, and took a surf lesson (Age 34, day 1: surf lesson– cool start), and it was a blast! I was able to stand up properly and ride my very 1st try!  In surfing, this is a good thing.  In day trading, this is a bad thing.  A bit of success from the start made me feel as if I can do this, and it’s not so difficult.  In day-trading, it’s a bad thing, because it makes you feel as if you’re good at it… and then you’re not as cautious, or you don’t listen to others… er… so I hear :)

My surf instructor was this tall, skinny, underwear-model looking guy with decent English. It gave me hope that if I get into surfing, I too can have a 6-packs, and that kind of a physique. I suspect I would have to surf more often than an hour every 34 years though.

Last time I tried surfing was with Jason Moffatt - the day immediately after my 1st ever 30 day raw diet… Jason had taken me out to Benihana’s the night before for some fried food, and beers, and the next morning – right before surfing – his girl made us eggs and spicy fried potatoes… I had indigestion from hell, and puked all over myself… twice.  In my defense, Jason likes to point out that I kept on riding the waves… or trying.

This time it was much easier.  No wet suit was needed, as it is tropical and warm here.  The waves break right at the shore, so I could literally walk the board out to a good distance, then jump on it, paddle, and ride the wave.  The only thing I had to be careful of is stingrays.  They like the warm weather, so you have to drag your feet instead of just stepping… that way, you won’t step on them… as Gerry, the Surf Camp owner did the other day.

All right– so… I promised a life lesson in this post, here it is:

Sometimes it’s better to buy something than to wait on it.

I’ll explain:

Jason Moffatt had introduced me to Billy when I was house-sitting in La Jolla, and said that Billy would teach me to surf… but I was training for a relay race, so never took him up on it. I’ll be visiting Billy shortly. I’ve been excited about Costa Rica, as Brendan and Billy both told me they would teach me to surf while I’m here.  I then injured my foot, so couldn’t even walk to the beach.

Then Brendan was going to teach me, but his family came into town, the laundry people took their time, and … to top it off, by the time the tide was good, there were no waves.

So… I’ve been saying I want to learn to surf while I’m in Costa Rica.  I have opportunities for friends to teach me, but… it was faster and easier to just pay someone to do it right here, right now.

How many times have you used “that hookup” as an excuse to keep waiting on something? I bet there’d been a time when you put off learning or doing something that you really wanted to, because a friend was going to do it for you.

Since one of my services is web design, I hear this often “Well.. my buddy’s going to do this for me… he/she is a designer…” — meanwhile their existing site looks like shit, and is hurting business.

In business we call this opportunity cost… and it’s something that applies to your life as well— you may take that really great paying job, but the opportunity cost may be your free time, or sanity.

So, yes, it may cost you a few dollars to do something, that you could’ve gotten for free… but how much is the time you spend not doing it costing you?  Having a website that is an eyesore and doesn’t use any marketing concepts in the design may cost you a lot more than what someone is going to charge for it.

Last night, when I realized that I’m not going to surf, I was slightly bummed… so I decided I would just pay.  How much did it cost me? $40, well spent.  I’ve spent a lot more for much less satisfaction.  Now I have the next 3 weeks to improve my surfing, and I’m likely going to visit Billy soon.

“How much pain they have cost us, the evils which have never happened.” – Thomas Jefferson

You’re probably wondering whatever the heck I was talking about at the start of this post, about brakes not working, and running someone over.  That was from today.

Kathryn and I went to rent a car for whatever surprise it is that she has lined up for me.  We have a 6 hour drive to get to the Panamanian border. So, after I dried off from surfing, we walked along the beach, took the boat across the river, grabbed a chocolate banana smoothie, and went to Alamo Rent-a-car.

I forgot to mention that my foot was really acting up during surfing, and I was in a lot of pain by this point.  My toe had swollen back up again, and I was having to focus really hard to ignore it.  This was taking a lot of energy out of me.

I passed out in a chair while we waited for our turn at Alamo.  I was awoken to being asked if I had a copy of my passport, since Kathryn doesn’t have her license with her… so I’m the one that’s driving.

Ummmm… no…

Well, we need it.  Where is it?  We can give you a ride.

This girl gave us a ride to Brendan’s, and I noticed that this is the first time I’ve seen someone wearing a seat belt in in Costa Rica.

Thankfully, Brendan was home. He just got back from surfing with his dad and sister, and they were all resting on the couch and relaxing.

I got my passport from the upstairs vault, and went back to the place. I slept again until it was time to sign documents. I did not think I’d be driving in Costa Rica… the roads are not what I’m used to in the USA with asphalt… they are gravel and dirt roads, and we’re going to be driving through mountains and other terrain.Whee! Adventure!

We get in our Toyota Rav 4, I turn the key, release the parking brake, and…. the car starts gliding forward.  Right towards some guy crossing on a bicycle.  I pumped and slammed the brake, and no luck!  This guy was going to get it…

“Hey, maybe this car is stick-shift?” I said, and looked down, and sure enough…. there were 3 pedals! We stopped real quickly as I slammed the middle pedal, which is the brake, unlike it’s neighbor, the clutch. *phew* disaster averted.

“Good thing I sort of know how to drive stick, eh?”

“Yeah! Real good thing, ’cause I don’t know how to drive stick at all!”

It’s been forever since I’ve driven stick, but I did well enough to get us to Brendan’s, followed by a 40 minute drive to Playa Grande. While at Brendan’s we had a discussion about whether or not leaving my passport in his safe is a good idea or not.  I thought so, because it is safe there (no pun intended).

Kathryn and Brendan mentioned that there were stories of federal officers trying to extort money from people for not carrying legal identification (passport) on them at all times.

Ok… screw it.  I’ll take it with me. If that’s the case, I might as well take my suitcase with me, as we have a nice big car, and Kathryn’s checking out of Playa Grande Surf Camp, and taking all her stuff.

Now I was out of my comfort zone…. adventure!

I’m driving stick  - which I am very unused to – through a country with roads unlike what I’m used to, and terrain unlike I’m used to, I am carrying my passport with me, and all my belongings.  There is no safety blanket… you know.. that feeling of “well… at least if the car blows up, I’ll still have my stuff over at Brendan’s, and can get out of the country with no problem.”

But, that’s what I want.  That’s what I thrive on.  Being out of my comfort zone is how I grow.  If I wanted security, I wouldn’t be couchsurfing for 5 years.

“You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.” – Joseph Campbell

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt

“The man who never makes mistakes loses a great many chances to learn something.” ~ Thomas Edison

“Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing” ~Aristotle

So… screw knowing that my bag is somewhere. In the morning I will be leaving on a 6 hour drive to something amazing with a good friend.  I’m probably going to be off line until the 23rd. I think I’ll be working on my book some as well, but I can’t say, since I don’t know where I’m going, or what I’m doing there.

Brendan’s dad pointed something out… I’m slightly flustered because I need to give up control.  I have a hard time giving it up, and someone else telling me where to go, without me knowing… that’s a loss of control. Reflect upon that in your life. Are you just fine with someone else being in control, or does that drive you nuts as well?

Well… it’s 1:30AM, and we’re leaving in 6 hours, so.. I should get some sleep.  But, I did promise you a funny story (no, it wasn’t one of the ones told so far)-

How did I learn to drive stick shift in the first place?

It was during 11th grade! I was 16 years old, and working at a movie theatre.  There was a new guy that started going to our school. Chris and I got along, though he quickly became one of the cool kids.  His sister, Rachel, started working at the theatre with me. She was hot! Despite that our theatre uniforms were very unflattering, her smile could always brighten my day.

She knew I liked her, but she had started dating Jordan… who was kind of a prick. Jordan always acted high-and-mighty, as if his shit didn’t stink… but, he had to wear those hideous uniforms like the rest of us: black pants, white-plaid shirt, maroon vest, and I think we had bow-ties too.. I can’t remember.

We’d all party together, the whole theatre crew. We’d close up the theatre around midnight-1am, and then go drinking. Sometimes at someone’s house, sometimes at a hotel.  *shrug* there’s a lot of stories about this time of my life, but this one is about driving stick.

Rachel knew I wanted to drive stick.. I don’t remember how.  Maybe I was talking about getting a sports car?  Who knows… anyways, one night she forces Jordan to teach me to drive stick… using his car!

This was awesome.  I could feel his anxiety as his precious car was being driven by a complete amateur.  And yet, if he wanted to get any action afterwards, he had to play nice.

My goal was not to destroy his car… I really did just want to learn, and I did.  But watching your arch nemesis squirm is always fun.  Having someone be nice to you, even if they are forced to, is also nice.

I thought that it brought us (Jordan and I) a bit closer together, as now he had afforded me some trust that he wouldn’t've otherwise offered.

I did stall out a few times, but I’m also a fast learner.

I kind of wish that I could find Rachel, and reminisce about this story, but I can’t remember her last name.  Oh well.

So… there’s the story, there’s the life lesson, there’s some quotes… good stuff!  So, I’m off to adventure-  I”ll let you know what it is that I’m doing when I get on the web next!

On a separate note- I had over 200 birthday wishes on my facebook wall.  It was nice, and beat out last year’s 140.  Last year it took me 3 days to personally respond to each and every one, and send a personal note.  This year, I just pressed the “like” button on each one.  However, there was one video that was so great, I have to share it with you:

One Response to “Costa Rica Birthday Surprise”
  1. Neil Says:

    Great insight.

    "How many times have you used 'that hookup' as an excuse to keep waiting on something? I bet theres been a time when you put off learning or doing something that you really wanted to, because a friend was going to do it for you."

    I'll think about that next time I make that excuse.

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