After more than 20 months of non-stop travels and thousands of people met, it was clearly time to take a small break and settle for a little bit.
I found my retreat in Santa Teresa, a tiny village lost in the pacific coast of Costa Rica.
All I was asking was just an easy going place where I could surf, practice my Spanish and find a job in order to save money. I found my happiness in Zeneidas surf garden, an Argentinian hostel by the ocean.
It had been created by a crew of Argentinians friends who wanted to surf and live an healthy life by the ocean.
Only launched a year ago, everything still had to be done. They were looking for volunteers to help running the place. Sure enough, I heard about it and joined the team.
The scenery was really incredible. Located in the middle of the jungle, we were only 100 m from the shore.
Where endless waves were breaking all day long…
No matter if I was looking left or right, there were no signs of civilization whatsoever.
I was seduced and decided to stay.
I met my coworkers and started to work 3 h a day for free accommodation.
Unlike the rest of my trip, my time in Zeneidas followed a very established routine.
I woke up every morning around 5:30 and went straight to the ocean for an early surf session.
By the time I went out, the first surfers would just arrive.
After a massive breakfast (yes, being able to cook after more than a year of can beans is a damn pleasure), I participated at various projects such as creating roofs, building walls, painting rooms etc.
Those projects only took me 4 hours daily. By midday, I was already done and joined one of the free yoga session offered by other volunteers.
There was very few rules in that place but one was clearly implemented. No matter what happens, no one should be working after 5 pm, in order to enjoy the sunset…
Or practice another sunset yoga or a late surf session.
Finally, I finished my day with other volunteers, cooking and sharing a lot of different recipes from all over the world.
Then sleep around 9 or 10 pm and start it all over the next day…
Sure enough, time passed very fast and I started to lose track of days.
In fact, my time in Santa Teresa was organized in small chapters made from stories I lived with people passing through the hostel.
Indeed, Zeneidas hostel was a global hub for travelers. Most people were only staying a few days, surf and move.
But that was definitely enough to create some amazing connection though.
Weeks passed and after an endless number of surf sessions, I was ready to move on in my trip.
However, for my last week, I had one of the biggest surprises of this travel. One of my best friends from France showed up with his girlfriend and spend a whole week with me…
Sure enough, I made them join the team.
And we got to enjoy that paradise together…
Whether we were cooking…
Or just hiking this unspoiled beach.
It was such a great feeling to finally meet a friend, after all those months. I could have not imagined a better scenery to share stories.
In the end, I stayed for 2 months and a half in Santa Teresa. It was now time to move on and keep on going to my next objective, South America.
After 2 years of hitchhiking, I was no longer interested in covering a lot of distance, especially after settling in Costa Rica for the last 2 months.
I decided that I would spend my last year discovering South America way slower to have a deeper experience of the culture.
I flew to Colombia, where I met another great friend of mine living there for a few years, Etienne.
We met in Leticia, a small village by the Amazonian river, where my friend had some contacts.
We visited and lived with them for a few days and learnt how to settle in this very different environment.
Once we got used to both heat and humidity, we went exploring the Amazonian river for a few days.
The Amazonian river is just like a road for people living there.
This is the only way to move through the jungle.
We had to learn that even if the Amazonian jungle is very harsh and unwelcoming, there are a lot of hidden treasures.
Among those treasures, there was the unique range of wildlife. Monkeys, snakes, pink dolphins… It was mind-blowing.
However, they were hard to approach. The only decent contact I had so far was that little guy…
And those not shy at all monkeys.
In order to not get hurt or lost, we had a local guide to show us around. We were lucky to be able to live with him and experience their day-to-day life.
What really amazed me is, local people are inter-connected with their environment. They use every resource available and eat what the jungle offers them.
They showed us how to fish in those rivers. Some of that food is delicious (especially piranhas).
The other part is bit odd and not that fancy.
In our last day, they taught us how to cook those giant larva.
Trust me, one is enough.
We finally came back to Bogota where Etienne had been living for the last 2 years.
I did not really have time to enjoy the city since I had to visit another precious friend in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Alex who had welcome me for 2 weeks when I was in the USA. He was getting married and I could really not miss this event after everything he did for me.
He could have not chosen a better place to get married. Rio is absolutely a beautiful city.
The wedding took place in one of the nicest view of Rio…
And was definitely something memorable.
Then I flew back to Bogota and landed for Christmas. I had been travelling now for 2 years.
I had seen beautiful things and received a lot but the best gift of all was about to come…
Now the trip would keep on going at two…