I step out of the sliding glass door and look out at the Caribbean Sea.   Just inside, my four friends are still sleeping in the small room that we are sharing at this busy hostel (hey, it’s a miracle we secured a room at all – New Years is one of the most popular times to visit my former home town of Puerto Viejo).

It’s no wonder I haven’t gotten to sleep until the wee hours of the morning since I’ve been here.  Even if I tried to sleep, the steady sound of the musical beat coming from the bar downstairs wouldn’t allow me past a light snooze.  So, instead I have spent the past two nights dancing under the moon on the shores of the Caribbean until my legs have begun to tremble with exhaustion and I have sweat out buckets worth of salty sweat.

The sound of the rushing water is all that is here with me this morning, though.  I take slow steps to the rhythm of the waves, past empty beer bottles, random pieces of clothing and people laying in hammocks throughout the property.

I never thought I would be someone who would love hostels so much.   There is something about sharing sacred, communal space with strangers that is quite liberating.   It’s a reminder that, despite our differences, we are all people and all need and do very basic things.  There is an unspoken understanding that, for the time we are all here, the other patrons and I are like family.  We see each other as our most intimate selves right off the bat: waking up in the middle of the night to pee, getting out of the shower, making food in the kitchen.

My greatest challenge now is not being a leader of others nor of expressing the beauty of my individuality.  My challenge is simply to expose my vulnerable self to others in a non-romantic or particularly profound way and to see others in the same light.

We are all incredible creatures and, although we are all meant to walk specific paths in this life, we are still connected and need each other as a community of support…even if all that means is a simple nod or smile as we pass each other at the sink, with toothbrushes in our mouths, simply gearing up to begin another glorious day.