It was early February of 2013 the first time I saw her. I remember it as if it was yesterday. The cultured Latin American parades shuffled and danced throughout the streets of Puntarenas, and children were full of excitement as they kicked a leather ball through a goal with no net. The beach was crowded and she had a brace on her right knee, but that didn’t stop her from coming towards me. Instead of the normal CoCsta Ricans that I saw regularly, my friend Lynda was different. She had long blonde hair and green eyes, unlike many of the locals who had brown hair and dark eyes. I was interested in getting to know her, but my waves only reached to a certain point. It was this day on Puntarenas beach that she walked towards me to dip her toes in my turquoise blue body of water and there we began a friendship.
Every weekend from this moment during the days of the Costa Rican summer, Lynda came to visit. She was a study abroad student from South Carolina and I watched her joyfully accept the hot sun in the tropical paradise. The hotter the day, the more time we spent together. I remember one weekend she traveled to my Caribbean side at Puerto Viejo to see the small bohemian town aligned next to my borders. She stayed in a hostel owned by a French couple with her visiting sister and friend. One sunny afternoon, she came to me introducing her relatives. I was so ecstatic to meet them that I didn’t even realize the flippers and goggles in Lynda’s right hand until she started putting them on. I figured out what she was doing: she was introducing her family to mine! Immediately they waddle from the sand to dive into my clear, coral-reefed waters and glided in my refreshing stillness. There were moments when Lynda was so excited to see the rainbow fish and the rest of the world under the sea that she choked in her snorkel. I giggled along with her as she laughed at her own struggle with removing the water-filled mask. From there she flipped over onto her back to float and smiled up in thankfulness for so many shades of blue.
There was another weekend where Lynda experienced a different glimpse of my seascape. Instead of looking up at the sky or hanging with my family within my depths, she got to experience an entirely different perspective. She had never parasailed before and was scared to become friends with the birds. I watched the local boatmen tighten her harness and then give a “thumbs up” to the driver. Within seconds, the boat began to glide over me and as Lynda prayed against her fear, her sandy toes levitated off the ground. She then found herself flying hundreds of feet above me; fearless and full of awe. The boat tickled my waves as I glanced up to see Lynda staring down at me from her parasail. Different perspectives of each other were recognized that day, and our friendship continued on.
My favorite weekends were when she sat next to me, reading a book in a hammock under two palm trees like a Sandals commercial. I also loved when she acted like she was an Olympic swimmer in my waters until I sweetly humbled her with the crash of a giant wave. However, joking aside, I really enjoyed seeing Lynda grow in adventure. There was one day where Lynda and her friends from her study abroad program crossed the Costa Rican border into Panama for Semana Santa. She decided to put on another harness, but instead of flying this time, she was zip-lining through the treetops. I watched her from afar embracing courage and creating memories that she would never forget. Her experience in Costa Rica was becoming life changing. After so many special weekends with Lynda, I saw her appreciation of travel heighten as well as her independence as a person. She was doing what she loved and I am happy to be a part of her story. Even though she has left Costa Rica to return back to the United States, I know she hasn’t forgotten me; I watched her Instagram photos of me and talk about me to her friends on Facebook! But yes, I, too will forever cherish our friendship.
During our short five months together in Costa Rica, I showed her paradise. I taught her how to relax but also to explore the “mysterious” parts of the world. She taught me the meaning of growth and friendship. Me, well I change moods in my waves but Lynda, she can grow as a person. Maybe one day she will visit me again.
Lynda Watson is a student at the College of Charleston and studied abroad with IFSA-Butler at Universidad Nacional in 2013.