(The song playing is one of my favorites)
Happy New Year!
Last night was a special treat. Instead of pursuing the usual New Year’s Eve “awe-inspiring” intoxication levels, I choose to spend a tranquil night on the beach with close friends. We arrived on Playa Hermosa in the Guanacaste Province of Costa Rica shortly after sunset. There we gathered under a near-full moon, bare feet in sand, and enjoyed the warm breeze coming off the Pacific Ocean. My heart goes out to those that could not join us—likely bundled in freezing temperatures around the globe. For us, it was a pleasant 75°F.
I will pause to allow you time to liberate the profanity that you are whispering under your breath…
We began the night with some drinking—of course. Even in the early hours, many tourists and locals set off fireworks along the entire stretch of the beach. Many likely illegal in the United States…so they were, of course, awesome.
Now, in addition to fireworks, a common staple during a Feliz Año Nuevo de Costa Rica are flying lanterns. People tend to light them for many reasons; including wishes, resolutions, or missed loved ones. We had about ten lanterns that a Canadian had smuggled into the country. Luckily for us, the instructions on the packaging are written entirely in Mandarin—let the games begin.
There were many “respectable” attempts to send these lanterns into the night sky but failure did come calling. In fact, the first lantern (that essentially burst into flames) helped us light our bonfire. Crisis averted. Meanwhile, just down the beach were a bunch of 8 year-olds that had just finished launching their fifth. A very proud moment for all of us. We gave it one last attempt (after an unpublished number of losses) to launch and finally had success. We watched as our (companionless) lantern penetrated the night sky—flying straight to the moon and eventually joining the other lanterns already inflight. Beautiful.
As the hour pulled closer to midnight, fireworks continued and laughs ran abound. Beer flowing. A surreal moon reflecting off the water. We walked down the beach, bonfire to bonfire, meeting fascinating people from different corners the world. Some more “fascinating” than others but fun nonetheless.
Finally, midnight hit and the sky lit up. We were able to see hotels in the distance put on large firework shows. Meanwhile, our own fireworks continued in unison—adding to the overall pyrotechnics. The result was an array of light constellations that were truly breathtaking.
I finished it off with a stroll directly into the ocean and enjoyed the cosset of the ocean waves with a heartwarming kaleidoscopic sky overhead. There I reflected on my past, present, and future. 2015 will be interesting.
Thank you Costa Rica for helping us start the new year right.
Ashcroft, Richard. Lucky Man. The Verve. Youth, 1997.