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  • In December of 2011, a dear friend of mine, Mariah Savage, told me that she would be interning at a farm in the mountains of Costa Rica. She explained that four people working in technology and space exploration purchased land and a home on the mountainside. If you’re like me, people who work in tech and space elicit visions of computer labs, geniuses, and white rockets barreling into outer space – not farms in Costa Rica.

    She explained that the four friends were interested in exploring ways to invest in humanity here on earth, not just abroad. After much conversation and research, they created this space, La Choza del Mundo, for people to connect and collaborate on projects intended to better humanity.

    For Mariah, the internship was a perfect fit for her interest in international development, organic lifestyle, and community building. It also seemed like a perfect way to spend one of my twelve experiences this year. We quickly began brainstorming what a visit could entail.

    But, did it make sense for me to go?

    The problem wasn't the distance or even the money, it was the 'what' and the 'why.'

    If the other of the 12 experiences around this Leapyear Project 'MBA' included high powered companies and teachers, would Costa Rica be worthwhile?

    "Of course!" said Tyler -- one of my closest friends and Mariah's older brother. "It may be the best experiences of the year."

    After some more conversation, I decided to ask others to join me. I sent out personal invitations and five people responded. I was thrilled!

    I started planning the events of the week with Mariah while also working towards a week's worth of materials, questions, and activities that would spark creative conversation and reflection. The people attending were highly creative, so this would be an opportunity to create a week-long artist in residency program.

    When it came time to purchase the flights, friends began to back out. It was sad, but the $600 price tag and the 7-day timeline was just too lofty. The only two that remained were Dan and Grant. Though I was disappointed about the few that couldn't make it, I was thrilled that it would be those two joining me. They are bright, passionate, and full of life

    The next seven days were some of the most incredible days of our lives.

    Upon arriving in San Jose, we made one stop at a grocery store (our only grocery stop for the entire trip) and then traveled for 3+ hours into the mountains.

    We were in the middle of nowhere.

    The four of us spent the following days, reading, writing, observing, creating and working on the property.
    We learned about permaculture farming, studied the Costa Rican culture, read through a smattering of books, and reflected on how our pasts are shaping our present ventures.

    We faced a myriad of challenges that ranged from stolen passports to near-death experiences on a 'million mile hike' (as Grant would put it). With each challenge, we found a reason to laugh and enjoy the present moment to the fullest.

    In fact, amidst the beautiful sites, the foreign challenges, and the array of lessons learned, perhaps that was the most valuable takeaway:

    Be fully present.

    And, with that, Tyler may have been right.

    Next? Boulder.
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