San Jose Costa Rica
Central America, Costa Rica, Kate and Brian in South America, South America, Travel

The Beginning: San Jose, Costa Rica Travel Recap

San Jose, Costa Rica Travel Recap

Kate and I decided on San Jose, Costa Rica as our jump off point for our 2014 backpacking trip.

We had heard from some friends that Costa Rica was an amazing country and a place ‘we had to see.’

New York to San Jose, Costa Rica Travel

Leaving from New York, San Jose happened to be the cheapest place we could find to fly to in Central America…We were able to find one way flights for under $180 USD a person and scheduled a trip we knew would last a while.

Neither one of us knew much about San Jose – we had heard Costa Rica was awesome, but we really hadn’t heard much about San Jose.

We finally arrived on January 23, 2014. The feelings going through my body were pretty crazy – ‘bye parents, bye family, bye friends see you in a few months – we’re about to explore Central America,’ – those kind of feelings..!

We took a 6am flight…so we arrived pretty early after connecting in Miami. We were off, back on the road.

Tip for Arriving at San Jose, Costa Rica Airport:

If you fly into San Jose and you are backpacking, do not listen to any one who says cabs are the only way to get into the center of city which is about 30 miles away. Walk out the airport exit, walk about a block up the road and you will see a bus sign. There is a bus line that runs to the center of city that costs a dollar or two.

Our San Jose, Costa Rica Travel Summary

San Jose as a city is a nice place. Nothing you have to run and see tomorrow, but a nice place. Kate and I explored the downtown area which we had heard was a bit sketchy. It seemed fine. We ended up spending two days there and felt like we had more than enough time to see the city.

We enjoyed a memorable meal at a cafe one night, but not too many more memories from San Jose.

I’d suggest just using San Jose, Costa Rica as a travel hub to move around Costa Rica and a hub to start a Central America trip. Check out Nomadic Matt’s post for a thorough San Jose, Costa Rica travel recap if you plan on staying for an extended period of time.

We wanted to get off quickly to the Osa Peninsula (more on this here), an area that a few friends had advised us to get to quickly.




I'm Brian. I hope to live simply and enjoy the present moment.

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Kate and Brian in South America, Love, Travel

Our backpacking trip to South America in 5 minutes

This video means a lot to me. The best way, for me, to explain some of the feelings associated with the video is by sharing a message I wrote the day we were coming home from our 4.5 month adventure:

Sitting on the plane right now coming home and the word I use to describe the feeling is surreal. It’s crazy to believe that we put so much effort into this trip, and that it has now come to a close. I think it was an amazing trip. We were able to visit 8 countries over 133 days; Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. The only country I feel we didn’t explore ‘top to bottom’ is Costa Rica. We wanted to see a lot, so we may have moved quicker than expected in some areas, but I still feel we got a great taste of South America. I don’t think we wanted to ‘check off any boxes,’ but I do feel we share a curiosity for what’s out there. We continually want to ‘learn’ more about different areas of the world. This was the first of hopefully many trips..

What a special experience it was to be able to do it with the girl I love. Yes, we had moments normal of any human being relationship that is experienced 24/7 for 130+ days straight, but it was a big accomplishment; successfully navigating a great portion of South America. It was not easy; we stayed in dorms, took multiple 24 hour buses, and really watched our budget. Kate, you were incredible at being understanding of our financial situation. I would say to anyone, ‘doing these trips on a budget is more worthwhile then the alternative.’ We became creative, did things our way, and worked to get where we wanted to go.

Some thoughts I take away from the journey:

-       Trust in God and things will work out. We were warned these weren’t the safest areas, yet did not witness any crime or ever really feel uncomfortable. I don’t want control, I give the keys to someone else. 

-       Believe in people; we believed in each other and we got it done!….and had an experience of a lifetime while doing it!

-       Don’t set limits; we made this pilgrimage happen quickly and went for it, why not?

-       The world is one country. Just because there are governed territories doesn’t mean this world has to be divided. I believe people are innately good. We met good people from every country we visited. 

-       In life, do whatever you want to do. I have a great friend who passed away recently that put me on this course. He taught me that the time is now…the famous quote, “The most dangerous risk of all – the risk of spending your life not doing what you want, on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.” Owen’s death got me thinking about the concept of preparing for the future….with life as fragile as it is, the future is right now. My true belief at this point in time is, I have made it. I’m not looking for ‘more,’ don’t want ‘more.’ If anything I pray to stay meek and actually want ‘less.’ That which you own will end up owning you. The alternative, a different paradise, will come quick and I want to be thankful for every second.

As for the trip and some of the many destinations we touched…

-       Enjoy the nature and wildlife in Costa Rica, I (we) have yet to see anything like it.

-       Take a few days in the mountains of Santa Fe while traveling in Panama. We found incredible peace there.

-       If you are lucky enough to see how people dance in Cali, Colombia, you will be experiencing one of the cooler cultures in the world – the place where salsa was created.

-       The coast of Ecuador is a special place. God watched down on us that week, and we met many special people who we will hopefully remain connected with for a long time.

-       Peru’s Machu Piccu lived up to the hype. Wow, what a day we got up there in Aguas Calientes. We did the extended drive and walk out to Macchu Pichu, and I will remember seeing her for the rest of my life.

-       Bolivia? Kate was right. Bolivia was the most natural country we experienced. Never really found great WiFi. Lake Titicaca and Copacabana up at 15k feet! We have special memories spending a week chillin’ there. Bolivia gets double love because the salt flat tour could have been the best ‘tour’ of the trip. We got up close to 20k feel above sea level. More importantly, we made friends I think we will be connected with our entire life; La familia Boliviana.  

-       Chile; you were expensive, but I’ll always remember hitchhiking 30 hours straight in eight different trucks. We were determined!! Life works out…i ‘know’ this cause we got picked up once in the middle of the desert with cars going by every 15 minutes. For anyone who has been, that was south of Antofagasta in the Atacama Desert…. besides hitch hiking which we seemed to do a lot of, I think we’ll also cherish our time spent in Santiago, a city filled with culture. 

-       And last, but not least, our favorite destination, Argentina. Pretty much going to list every stop because we really loved Argentina. We started in our favorite city of the trip, Mendoza. We may be young, but we did this one correctly. Wine tastings, bike riding around Maipu, private vineyard tours (Alta Vista!!!), Asado dinners, Parilla dinners, we could live there one day. We moved to my favorite location of the trip…. Like Machu Pichu, Patagonia lived up to the hype. We only got to seriously explore Bariloche and El Bolson for a little over a week, but we found places I feel we will be back to. The combination of the forest and the mountains is something I have yet to really see. It reminded me of Glacier in Montana. And finally after a week in BA, we took a bus to Puerto Iguazu to see Iguazu Falls. I’ve never seen anything quite like the location of the “Devil’s Throat.” It is awe-inspiring nature.

133 day vacation is over with. Excited to just relax a little bit. People may say; ‘will you do it again?’ I hope we answer, yes. I can see us renting an apartment in a beautiful area and doing ‘weekend trips.’ The extended travel is hard. We did two 30+ hour buses. 37 hours from Cuenca to Lima was awesome. 30 hours in the back of trucks down the coast of Chile was challenging. I think as we talked about a lot; we learned some about love, patience, and enjoying the moment. We’re blessed. 



I'm Brian. I hope to live simply and enjoy the present moment.

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Gibbon Angkor Conservation Biodiversity
Cambodia, Photography, Southeast Asia

Photo of a Gibbon at Angkor Centre for Conservation and Biodiversity

I saw this interesting lookin’ fella at the Angkor Centre for Conservation and Biodiversity. ACCB is the first nature conservation centre in Cambodia. The centre features a variety of birds, monkeys, and more. It was established to preserve and breed rare wildlife in Cambodia. It’s a 1.5 hour tuk tuk ride from Siem Reap town and you can enjoy beautiful scenery along the way.



I enjoy sharing insights on yoga, art, health, alternative DIY beauty solutions, gardening, and fun vegan recipes. I practice Ashtanga and meditation daily. I'm also an avid potter & photographer and I love to share my art with you on Lucid Practice!
Happiness, Videos

Lessons from Dananjaya Hettiarachchi’s Story

This is a powerful performance by Dananjaya Hettiarachchi of Sri Lanka. Dananjaya shares a story about his path in life explaining his early troubles including failing out of high school at age 17. He says, “Mothers cry tears of joy, tears of sorrow, and tears of shame. After I was arrested, I saw my mother cry tears of shame and this changed me.” Dananjaya’s father put it bluntly, “Son, I want you to be a better man.”

Dananjaya’s life was soon altered for the better because of individuals who reached out to him while he was struggling, people who gave him a chance. If there’s someone in your life who is in need, someone you might be able to help, give them a chance. You might just change their life….



I'm Brian. I hope to live simply and enjoy the present moment.

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Pop-Up House

Pop-Up House: the affordable passive house from Multipod-Studio on Vimeo.



I'm Brian. I hope to live simply and enjoy the present moment.

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Finding Your Flow: 6 Steps for a New Morning Routine

Find Your Flow:
Suggestions for a new morning routine

People talk a lot about “flow.”

Psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi proposed the concept decades ago—a state of mind achieved when you’re fully immersed in a project or task—but the basic tenants of flow date back to the teachings of Taoism and Buddhism.  As the Buddha tells us, “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”

This is one—albeit daunting—step to achieving flow, and there are others: Choose work you love, stay positively challenged, find quiet time, and enjoy yourself. But how to get there?

Researchers at the University of Nottingham and the National Institute of Education in Singapore reviewed 83 studies on self-control and came to the same simple conclusion: Our willpower is strongest in the morning.

Flow is obtainable by any one of us, any day, but it is the very first hours of the day that serve us best. To tap into unchartered levels of focus, joy, and creativity, try waking up to one or more of these new morning routines.

1. Rise with the birds

According to New Scientist, only 10 percent of the population qualifies as “morning people,” so this may not make sense to all: Try rising with the birds. Birds are up long before daybreak. They began chirping just as the sun is rising in the far, far distance: When the sky is no longer pitch black but still a solid navy.

It’s always best to follow your own circadian rhythm and not the blaring of an alarm, but the earlier you can get to sleep and the earlier you can encourage yourself to rise, the better. Pad your morning with time for a quiet meal, meditation, or gentle exercise.

2.  Pour a large glass of lemon water

While you sleep, you slowly dehydrate. And your kidneys, which normally do a great job of cleansing your body of toxins, can’t function properly unless your intake of fluids is adequate. One of best and most important things to do when you rise is get fluids into your body as soon as possible. This not only helps to hydrate your system, it also helps to flush out toxins that have built up overnight, and kick-start your metabolism for the day.

Start with an 8- or 16-ounce glass of room temperature filtered water with lemon. Add ginger, if preferable.  This will get your system up and running before food is added to the mix.

3. Stretch and/or practice yoga

Whether you face a computer all day or not, doing gentle stretches in the morning will stave off aches throughout the day. Stretching at night, before bed, is similarly helpful. This is also a great time to practice yoga or another exercise routine.

There’s no set amount of time to follow; just be sure to make some time. And ensure the stretching you do is aligned with the needs and ability of your body. Don’t take on exercise, or positions, you can’t currently handle.

Positive energy can change your life

Actor/model/yoga practicioner Quinn Tu posing at Sunrise, Photograph by Danielle Lussier of Lucid Practice

4. Make time for mindfulness

Zazen is a Zen Buddhist practice performed to calm the body, mind, and spirit in order to gain insight into the nature and experience of one’s life. It sounds complicated, but all it requires is stillness: Sit, slightly elevated, with folded legs and hands (cupped with thumbs touching) and erect spine. Lower your eyes and breathe from your belly. Then count to 10: One for your first in breath; one for your first out breath; two for your first in breath; and so on. Should extraneous thoughts come to mind, pass no judgment. Don’t attach yourself to them. Continue breathing.

This is one form of zazen, and a simplified version. Some will rise with the moon in the morning in order to have time to meditate, but following their lead isn’t necessary. What’s important is simply setting aside time for clear mindedness: whether it’s meditation or sitting down at the kitchen table, even a few minutes to breathe, clear your mind, and feel gratitude for your life will serve you well.

5. Choose your fuel wisely

Each person must choose how to properly nourish his or her body in the morning, and no one way is necessarily right or wrong. What matters is that you don’t go without.

Properly nourishing your body is one of the greatest signs of self-respect you can show. Since your digestion is weakest in the morning, consider a lighter, healthier, yet still protein-packed meal—or a smoothie. Forgo cheap, on-the-go options for food that will truly fuel you throughout the day.

6. Uplift with iTunes

Many of us are newshounds and want to flip open the paper first thing in the morning or turn on NPR as soon as we slide into the car. We want to know what’s happening in the world.

If this sounds familiar, try forgoing news in the morning—as a test. Instead, consider throwing on music that is soothing, uplifting, or inspiring, or even an audiobook along the same lines. Cultivate peace in the morning. Save hard news for later in the day. What’s noteworthy and important will undoubtedly make its way to you by mid-morning, whether you heard it on the news yourself or not.

Finding flow is about more than having an inspiring project to get lost in all day; it’s a way of living and viewing ourselves and others that promotes kindness, courage, and understanding. As the Buddha says, “She who knows life flows, feels no wear or tear, needs no mending or repair.”

How do you find your flow each morning?


“Ego Depletion and the Strength Model of Self-Control: A Meta-Analysis”

New Scientist, “First physical evidence of why you’re an owl or a lark”:


Andrea Fisher

Andrea Fisher is a writer living in Greensboro, North Carolina. She has appeared in The Chicago Tribune and Business Insider, among others. Follow her on Twitter @andreafisher007.

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