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Costa Rica 2022

Updated: Aug 15, 2023

2022 was all about getting used to life with a tendon injury. I was gutted to miss out on mountain hiking, but I compromised with adventure trips that involved less activity. In December, I went to Costa Rica with my favourite tour company, G Adventures. This one was Level 2, which meant a light amount of activity. I was very anxious about the lack of exercise, weight gain and not fitting in with fellow travellers. But I was determined to do what I love: travel, explore and see some animals.

As expected, the airport anxiety began a few months before (see Finland blog for my airport trauma), but I fended off an FND seizure with mindfulness. I find music often helps stop me shaking and my confidence in British Airways helped me get through the flights. On the plane, I was sat next to a nice woman who was on another G Adventures trip and we chatted a bit; talking always helps distract my mind and helps me to relax. I have been lucky with all my 2022 airport experiences, and that’s why we have to face our fears – to prove them wrong. The more often I go back to airports, the more I can prove to myself that nothing bad will happen.

Costa Rica is magnificent and I was most impressed by their conservation efforts. I would recommend the country for anyone passionate about the environment and wildlife.

We were offered a variety of activities for each day and I usually picked the most adrenaline provoking ones! Canyoning was especially good - spectacular scenery and lots of fun, I loved getting soaking wet as I was going down the waterfall. Explorning the Arenal volcano area one morning was also a highlight, we saw howler monkeys and lots of tropical birds. I had some seizure warnings, but I really believe the happiness I felt stopped them from becoming a seizure.

Kayaking was a brilliant way to see the wildlife. Monkeys would hang down from trees staring at us, I could see various species of fish in the water and I loved observing the birds sitting on the branches communicating with each other. The trip reminded me of how much animals mean to me. It was amazing to see wild predators, deadly snakes and crocodiles. A capuchin monkey holding out his hand to me was so touching. One day was spent on a boat and we had the opportunity to dive into the sea and swim for hours. Swimming is one of my absolute favourite things to do and I valued every second of this. My travel buddies named me ‘a dolphin’ as I swam round the boat.

Disappointment came when I had three epileptic fits on the trip, I suspect due to fatigue and laxative use, and they do come in clusters. As usual, they were mild and I didn’t need hospital treatment, but the tour guide sat me down and told me I couldn’t do certain activities due to the seizures. This included zip lining which I was distraught about, and I was left to entertain myself for the day whilst the others had their fun. I complained to G Adventures and was given a refund, however I now need doctor’s permission for future holidays with them. Having travelled with them for at least 4 years, I feel this is unfair. Epilepsy often causes restrictions and I have to compromise on things I want to do, which is so frustrating. But I never give up on my dreams and I will keep travelling in any way I can.

The lower activity trips are always busier than the challenging ones. There were sixteen people on this trip which was different to the usual seven or eight when I do Level 4/5 tours. Everyone was very nice and our WhatsApp group is still going. These tours are an excellent way to meet others and make friends. There were four nurses in the group which was handy! One suggested I consider getting a seizure dog.

The Costa Rica trip was fun overall. I won’t name it as one of my favourites, but this was expected as my preference is always mountain climbing! Hiking gives me such reward and purpose, and being driven to places in a car and doing easy activities didn’t quite give me that confidence boost. As I learnt from my Albania trip, it’s worth thinking more about whether a holiday will suit your needs and mental health.

The best thing about this trip was seeing all the wonderful wildlife of Costa Rica. It's inspired me to volunteer at an animal rescue centre in Thailand later this year. I’ve also got trips to Mexico, Guatemala, Nepal and Africa in the diary. 2023 looks to be a great year of travel!

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