On Winning a Free Trip to Costa Rica: Making My Case for Inadequacy



Nomadic Matt and Gap Adventures have announced a contest, in which they are giving away a two week Costa Rica trip to the person who can best answer this question: “Why do you want this trip, and what do you hope to get out of it? … Just tell us why you deserve this lovely prize.” Contest Link

“Why do you want this trip, and what do you hope to get out of it?

Strangely enough, this trip begins the same month I intend to leave on my 1+ year journey around the world. The coincidence seemed too much too ignore, so I couldn’t resist throwing my name in the hat.

Answering the Question: Why Do I Want this Trip?

I want this trip for the same reason I’m traveling around the world: I want to see as much of it as I can, while we’re both still here, and to learn how to move through it while leaving the smallest possible trail.

We live in an interesting time: modern air travel has made it possible for nearly anyone to travel the world.

We live in an interesting era: modern air travel has made it possible for nearly anyone to travel the world. What was once reserved solely for the uber-rich is now available to a poor boy like me.

At the same time, however, this increased accessibility and global communications networks are rapidly diluting our cultural differences – languages are dying and cultural traditions are degenerating into mere stage shows for tourists. On my first trip abroad, I checked into a hotel in Madras, India, only to hear Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” pouring out of my neighbor’s room at full volume. I love Willie – don’t get me wrong – but that’s not one of his best tunes.

The impact on the environment is even more pronounced. We are burning through resources at an unbelievable rate. We are not killing the planet — we are killing ourselves. I want to visit, learn from, and pay tribute to those who are trying to slow and, hopefully, reverse this trend.

Making My Case: Why Should I Win This Trip?

1.  I’m Fat and Out of Shape
One thing I’m hoping to do with my journey around the world is to motivate everyday people to get out and explore this incredible planet of ours. You don’t have to be rich, famous, or athletic – you just have to commit to doing it. Most travelers will leave me far behind while hiking trails on the sides of the Arenal Volcano – I move at the speed of your average arthritic grandmother. But, while the others plow noisily ahead, I will be quietly wheezing by the side of the trail — taking photos and making notes. (Pro tip: setting up a tripod can gain you several minutes of recovery time.)

I also have a much higher chance of seeing the local wildlife up-close, as animals are more likely to approach while I’m unconscious.

2. I Don’t Speak a Lick of Spanish
After two years of study in high school, about all I can manage in Spanish is finding the beer and the bathroom (often in that order). Hopelessly inept with languages, I get by with pointing, gesticulating, and dancing about like a monkey. Again, I want everyone who reads this to know that they, too, can travel the world even if they have barely mastered their mother tongue (and are willing to dance like a monkey).

I secretly revel in my seemingly endless talent for getting myself into ridiculous situations.

3. I Do Stupid Things
Okay, some people will see this as a negative. I don’t. I secretly revel in my seemingly endless talent for getting myself into ridiculous situations. While another blogger might stand atop a rocky outcrop, waxing poetic about the amazing view and how it makes them feel, I will probably trip and stumble into a cactus. The other blogger’s soliloquy will last but one post, but I’ll be complaining about pulling cactus spines from my butt for days. High-brow? No. Entertaining? Your call.

So that’s my pitch. I would love to travel with GAP Adventures and share my adventure with you. If you’d like to learn more about Costa Rica and sustainable tourism while being entertained with beautiful photos and offbeat commentary, please vote for me.

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

wes January 24, 2010 at 2:44 am

I’ve had a few people ask me about the voting in this contest. It begins sometime in February, *if* I’m chosen as one of the top 50 posts. Rest assured that if this happens I’ll be shouting it from the the mountaintops to let everyone know. ;)


wes February 25, 2010 at 12:45 pm
Stephen January 25, 2010 at 9:15 pm

Johnny Vagabond, you make a good case.

“Poor boy”!? You’ve got sophisticated blogging kit for a poor boy.

Anyhow, you’re still my top choice for getting this trip. Good luck.


wes January 25, 2010 at 9:27 pm

Thanks, Stephen! Yeah, it’s a ridiculous amount of gear, I admit. If it weren’t for ebay and craigslist, I’d be blogging with pen, paper, and carrier pigeons ;)


Barbara January 26, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Hi Johnny,
When I saw the picture of all electronic stuff I thought: oh my god, it must be very very hard to decide what should you take in a trip like yours. :)
As you probably like contests, I have a suggestion for you on my blog:http://ow.ly/10tZz
Travelling to Tuscany, in Italy is an incredible experience I hope to meet you around here.
Good luck,


wes January 26, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Wow, very nice site Barbara! Thanks for the link — I would seriously love to go back to Italy :)


Barbara January 27, 2010 at 8:30 am

I hope to meet you here in Tuscany. If you decide to come, let me know. It’s not far away from Venice (well, it depends on the train you choose…) Maybe I could also interview you for my blog, it would be so much fun!

Hope you also have fun in Brazil, it’s so amazing for New Year’s eve, even better than Carnival, in my personal opinion. :)

Ciao ciao,

.-= Barbara´s last blog ..Tuscany is fashion =-.


confused? February 5, 2010 at 4:46 pm

Costa Rica looks amazing, keep seeing pictures of it around the net, keeps inflaming my travel yearnings. Will have to get back out into the real world soon
.-= confused?´s last blog ..Flights to Australia – Whatever happened to the Ten Pound Poms? =-.


wes February 5, 2010 at 10:51 pm

agreed. I have friends who live there and they absolutely love it. can’t wait to visit ;)


Budgets are the New Black February 5, 2010 at 5:29 pm

LOVING your sense of humor: Shows a keen eye for adventure. Looking forward to traveling along with you as your regale us with your tales, pun intended.
.-= Budgets are the New Black´s last blog ..Just the Facts, Ma’am. =-.


wes February 5, 2010 at 10:50 pm

thanks a bunch! love your site — some great tips for saving there :)


Abby February 10, 2010 at 6:13 pm

You know I’m rooting for you to win, Wes!! Would love to you meet you. This was very funny — and true. A lot of people are scared of taking trips, thinking hiking is for ripped athletes only. This was great! But I might send you a cheat sheet of Costa Rican slang — and make you study!
.-= Abby´s last blog ..Working in Costa Rica =-.


wes February 10, 2010 at 6:31 pm

Thanks, Abby — I really appreciate that. I’m crossing my fingers. If I win, the first beer is on me ;)


Cornelius Aesop February 18, 2010 at 6:04 pm

Good Luck, I wish I wouldn’t have procrastinated applying for this opportunity glad to see some quality people are applying. Although if I vote for you, and you win – you owe me a video post of this ‘dancing like a monkey’. I need to know if I should be honored or ashamed lol.



wes February 18, 2010 at 6:07 pm

ha! it’s a deal. If I were a betting man, I’d lean towards ‘ashamed’ ;)


Nomadic Chick February 22, 2010 at 6:27 pm

From one old broad to another, you’ve got my vote. I’ve got a bad knee and a fussy back, with poor directional skills and clutzy to boot. And still, I hope to encourage regular folk to grab that pack and travel. Travel isn’t for the young and pretty. It’s for moes like us! :)
.-= Nomadic Chick´s last blog ..Gypsy Bits and Bytes =-.


wes February 22, 2010 at 7:27 pm

That’s right! “Old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill.”


TR February 22, 2010 at 11:56 pm

Sorry, possum boy, but Gina is cuter . . . just kidding, bro, you got an extra vote from me . . .


Patsy February 23, 2010 at 12:54 am

Hi, I am a friend of your mom’s. I am voting for you!! I feel pretty sure you will win!!


wes February 23, 2010 at 11:17 am

Thanks for the help, Patsy. I’m keeping my fingers crossed :)


Susan Arnold February 24, 2010 at 1:40 am

Send his ass cause Lexi said so!


Deena Smith February 24, 2010 at 6:49 am

I vote for you for the same reason Susan Arnold said “Because Lexi said soo” Oh, and that you need to get away and dry out…Hope you take many pictures for FB because I have a dream of retiring there some day…So, pics are essential! Good luck, kiddo!


wes February 24, 2010 at 1:30 pm

Bless Lexi’s heart. Please give her a hug for me! Also, will take lots of pics, promise.


The Travel Tart February 24, 2010 at 9:52 am

Good luck Johnny! I’m hoping to score this trip as well. We’ll see how things go!

I have learnt some essential Spanish, like ‘Senor, me gustaria beber dos cerverza’s ahora!’ (Mister, I’d like to drink 2 beers now!)
.-= The Travel Tart´s last blog ..Peter Moore Interview – Funny Australian Travel Writer, not the EA Sports Video Game Dude =-.


wes February 24, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Thanks, man! Looks like you’re reading the same Spanish book I am ;)


Bethany February 24, 2010 at 8:58 pm

I just voted for you because you are freaking hysterical! I hope you get it! Good luck!!!!
.-= Bethany´s last blog ..Published – Yah! =-.


wes February 24, 2010 at 10:10 pm

Thanks Bethany and congrats on the photo!


gail a February 25, 2010 at 12:46 am

To spite FC, I am gonna vote for you like CRAZY!!!


wes February 25, 2010 at 12:32 pm

haha. don’t be *too* hard on my ‘campaign manager’ ;)


Jodi February 27, 2010 at 10:24 pm

Good luck Wes! You’ve got my vote. I’m really looking fwd to traveling from the chair with you. Wish we could do it again …. maybe when we’re 60.