The Diary of a Digital Detox


At that time, I hadn't realised exactly how serious he had been. Over the seven days that followed, I had lost count of the number of times I'd wanted to throw/stamp/obliterate my phone due to frustrating internet connection (or lack of!). By the time I was heading to Sarapiqui on Day Eight, a destination lodge on the bank of a river with no connection to the outside world (other than the wildlife outside its front door), I had pretty much given up on wilfully urging the bars on my WiFi to become at least half full. Instead, I embraced the idea of turning my phone off and becoming at one with nature (well, for 48 hours anyway). Here's my first-hand experience of a digital detox...

Day One...

12pm. Sat in a trailer attached to one heck of a tractor. The most absurd mode of transport on this trip to date and more absurd when you see the crazily tight width of bridges we creaked over and the rivers we drove through when the bridges were yet to be made! For the lack of cars, we replaced the Number Plate game with the Counting Dogs game to pass the two hour journey. The 13km stretch of path to the lodge had us see 31 dogs en route (3 of which were pups!) - Mr A was having the time of his life!

2pm. Our first homemade lunch was a very traditional Costa Rican affair; rice, beans, vegetables and pasta. Oh, and a side helping of more rice and beans. 4pm. Carb coma recovery position assumed in a hammock on the balcony and book in hand. Not missing my phone yet!! 6pm. Dinner of you guessed it... rice, beans, vegetables and...fish. The pre/post dinner glance of social media was replaced by actual conversations with people around us (what is this?!).

7pm. The scene: sundown, ukulele and a bottle of red wine. Tunes of Jason Mraz's I'm Yours, All Of Me by John Legend and Bobby McFerrin's Don't Worry, Be Happy strummed out by our Costa Rican guide, Deonnis (or Deano as we called him). The most civilised non-alcohol-fuelled scene in which I will ever be caught singing in public at this outback's version of karaoke. I’m glad there were no phones in sight for fear of video footage later appearing on Facebook. 10pm. Mosquito net fort erected. A humid night's sleep beckons. Realised I've not missed for one second the internet and kind of wishing we never have to go back to the 'Real World'.

Day Two...

6am. Fan blowing a slightly pathetic breeze and I've awoken early due to the heat. My reflection in the mirror reminds me of the F.R.I.E.N.D.S. scene with Monica screaming "It's the humidity!!!”. My usual early morning bleary eyed check of social media and WhatsApp messages was replaced by listening to the birds outside our window and some light-reading… How blissful! 8am. Breakfast of rice, beans (noticing a pattern yet?), plantain (brother to the banana) and scrambled eggs. My tastebuds continue to adapt to Costa Rica's black coffee and develop a new vice. Uh oh! Again, no neck straining from looking down to see my iPhone and catch up on overnight events. No, instead conversation and, even more scarily, silence. It's so refreshing! 
9am. Prepare to hike a nearby jungle trail to a river for a spot of swimming and diving. That is the whole plan for this morning. Not a phone in sight (or in mind).
10.30am. An hour and a half later our hike concludes. Deano is euphoric that he'd manage to trick so many of us out of bed into the rainforest with promise of a "short walk". Spotted a poisonous red frog along the way, narrowly avoided sliding off the slippery edge of the pathway into rocks beneath and ate anywhere between 5-10 bugs. Soaked with sweat, ankle deep in mud (thank goodness for the loan of wellies!) and hopping over one ant farm later to an incredible crystal clear river. A dip in the refreshing freshwater was utter heaven. Fish darting in between my doggy paddle kicks, and then I get told piranha fish are found here but tend to (tend to!) leave when people swim!!!! A nearby cliff offered two levels to jump into the water for the adrenaline-seeking, the Gravity Falls jumpers in the group finding this a breeze having spent a day canyoning down waterfalls and jumping off rocks. More of a psychological challenge for us novices but I did "the big one" after some encouragement from Mr A (more a reenactment from The Notebook when Ally is hesitant at jumping on a rope swing and Noah shouts, "GET. IN. THE. WATER!!")

12pm. Lunchtime. Guess what we had? Still no feeling of missing my phone though and certainly not missing the plug contest of Rock Paper Scissors with Mr A as inevitably our phone batteries would be warning low on a normal day at this point. 1pm. A nap of epic proportions began. 3.30pm. Woken by the lodge's three bells to beckon everyone down for a traditional Costa Rican cooking lesson. On the menu were empanadas! We've been ordering these since Argentina so it was awesome to get to know how to make them properly! 4pm. Black coffee and empanada feast followed by some more reading and a check on our budget spreadsheet… the latter sadly couldn't be avoided despite the internet ban.

 
8pm. Bonfire alight. Beer in hand. Marshmallows on a stick and s'mores in the making. After a brief attempt to rediscover GCSE level French with Mr A, we ended up talking about our life's goals and ambitions - you know that stuff that married couples do, right?!  (Or anyone after one too many drinks and when sat around a campfire!) 10pm. Hanging out. In a hammock. Unwinding from a gloriously hectic day of relaxing in the middle of nowhere. Never want to leave. What is a mobile phone again? 
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On reflection, I felt a million miles from any of those "fears" I spoke about pre-trip in The Fears of a Digital Detox. It was utterly delicious not thinking "oh I should be doing this or that". With no option to log-on and no teasingly bad WiFi to wind me up when I want to be efficient, I felt I could get used to being cut-off! And yes, it was only a brief interlude but it was still enough to refocus my priorities whilst I'm on this trip. I'll have all the high speed internet I could want when I'm home but with that comes a state of mind when I cannot stop, cannot switch off and live at 100mph. It's no surprise the number of twenty- and thirty-somethings burning out is so high. If you feel you can relate to this, maybe it's time you had a mini detox too. As much as I'd like to encourage all of you to hop on a plane and visit Costa Rica, something so simple as staying at your parents' house for a weekend sans phone, with hearty and healthy food, a book and a blanket could easily do the trick. Hate to say it but it's unlikely the digital world will even notice you've gone, but the break will work wonders for your inner-computer to shut down and re-boot. 

3 comments

  1. Costa Rica is definitely on my list! Marshmallows on the fire, I'm there! Enjoy your travels.
    Jaz xoxo
    http://www.thelifeofasocialbutterfly.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
  2. Your adventures look amazing, where are you off to next? What an incredible honeymoon. It'd be awesome to connect once you move to NYC :)

    www.englishgirlinnewyork.org

    ReplyDelete
  3. This sounds like an amazing adventure!! A digital detox sounds like a great idea. I think I need one myself!

    Eleanor - http://www.eleaanormay.com

    ReplyDelete

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