MatapaloPosted: June 30, 2011
What are the things you regret? Do you regret them because you let someone else convince you of “can’t” when you were convinced of “can”?
Itty-bit of context folks….ten years ago, I found myself in Costa Rica during a little interlude between B-school trimesters. After spending some time in the capital, I was off to the coast. About six hours and many bridges in need of maintenance later, I was on the Pacific Coast.
Here is a picture of me in some rainforest with my friend whose identity I have hidden using sophisticated techniques.
After a few days of coastal fun, we were ready for a change of scenery. We had heard other travelers talking about a place called Matapalo. An off-the-beaten path place with a supremely virgin beach that goes on for miles and miles without a single soul in sight. You know, a one-horse kind of place with palm trees – just the spot where you can get lost for a while.
We thought, hell, what are we waiting for? Let’s go.
Wearing shorts and flip-flops, I had only a toothbrush and a book with my sights set on a $5/night hammock alongside this mythical beach. It was 10pm.
The last bus that direction left Quepos around 11pm and we would be in Matapalo just after midnight. As we sat in a bar waiting for this bus, we struck up a conversation with the bartender and told him our intentions for the evening. He explained that once we got off the bus along the main coastal highway, we would have to walk down a dirt path through the jungle to get to Matapalo. There would be snakes and other creatures of the jungle night waiting there to feast on our young white girl goodness.
May I have another drink please (of course using my fresh-off-the-presses Spanish)?
Not only was it dangerous, but we were not dressed to hike this journey through the jungle. In his opinion, our fashionable flip-flops were not the kind of protection we needed to fend off the scary jungle creatures of the night. And what about machete-yielding crazies? Also, he suggested that we might get lost or overheat or fall victim to a host of other maladies.
May I have another drink please (again with my fancy Spanish)?
We thought, “maybe this guy is right and maybe this is not such a good idea.”
Then, the last bus of the night pulled up.
We didn’t get on it.
You see, this bartender sized us up as pansies. Perhaps a little too “princess” to make the trip to Matapalo in the middle of the night.
He didn’t know anything about me, but thought I couldn’t handle it. The worst part is, I listened.
A week later, my friend went to Matapalo. She claims it was epic and has a great memory to share with others.
I have a regret.
Come on, I realize it was just a beach. I will see hundreds of beaches in my lifetime, but for me, Matapalo is a symbol of someone convincing me of limitations that I know not to be true.
And it just pisses me off.