Costa Rica: The Outdoors is always there

The sky is starting to let loose with a drizzle, but a few small children are already raining kernels of corn onto the brick plaza. It’s late afternoon in San Jose, Costa Rica. School has already let out for the day—and that means it’s feasting time for the pigeons. Men with leathery skin and fanny packs full of pigeon feed stand guard, luring in everyone who wants to lure in the birds. It’s an exchange of Colones and corn, all different sorts of gold.

A group of three teenage boys kick and push across the square on their too-small skateboards, sending birds up into frenzied flight before sending themselves into tailspins via ill-executed kick flips. A little girl somehow climbed her way up the platform of a statue that stands right in between the Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica and the church, hoisting her body up the stony limbs until she is tall enough to reach to look her mother and father in the face. A kindergarten-age boy in a rain poncho forgets that his Saran-Wrap rain gear isn’t a superhero’s cape and runs as fast as is half-pint legs will carry him, ready to chase down any villain—in this case, a whole bunch of pigeons. A few high school students stage a photo shoot with the birds they can catch on the tips of their fingers, undoubtedly plotting their next profile picture.

SEE ALSO: Costa Rica: The Tested Tough Guides


Watching the different characters act through same scene in the plaza—enjoying the afternoon outside in the rain in the middle of the Costa Rican capital exactly as they wish—was enlightening. It was refreshing. It made me realize that while no, we weren’t trekking across the rim of the Poas Volcano or surfing in the Caribbean waters of the coast, we were outside, enjoying the outside. Sometimes all it takes is a few raindrops, a little wildlife, and room to run around to create an adventure. And today, this was the adventure of the skateboarders, the statue-climbers, the poncho-wearing superheroes, the amateur wildlife photographers. It was my adventure, too.

That’s the beautiful thing about the outdoors: it doesn’t have to be remote and it doesn’t have to be far-off to be an experience. The outdoors is simply out your door. Always. That simple. It’s there on the other side of the wall, and all you have to do is get to the outside to get to the outdoors.

And even better, the outdoors is not going anywhere. No matter what country, what city, or what region you are in, the outdoors is always there. You can find the outdoors when you’re in New York City. Or San Francisco. Or Detroit. Or Little Rock. Or Miami. It’s as simple as taking a walk through your local park, playing with your neighbor’s dog in the backyard, climbing a tree, breathing air that isn’t room temperature. Not every adventure has to be on a grand scale to be a grand adventure. So wherever you are, go outside. I promise it will be there waiting for you when you do.


Follow Columbia Sportswear’s Directors of Toughness, Lauren Steele and Zach Doleac, as they journey around the world and put our latest gear through the harshest conditions on TwitterFacebookPeriscopeInstagram, and Snapchat (columbia1938).

Lauren Steele is a Midwestern farm girl turned migrant. She is a writer who knows that the unknowns in life make for the best stories—and for the most amazing adventures. Chasing those stories from Chile to Switzerland have prepared her to become Columbia Sportswear’s Director of Toughness. You can follow Lauren’s journey as Director of Toughness here and social channels including: Twitter | Instagram




Zach Doleac is an adventure travel and sports photographer (and full-time outdoor junkie) born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. Traveling through places such as Central America, Canada, and the mountain ranges of the U.S., he only pauses long enough to make photographs of the people and places that he encounters along the way. You can follow Zach’s journey as Director of Toughness and social channels including: Instagram | Twitter