While The Boyfriend and I are traveling about, we are actually working. I always laugh from the amount of people who assume one of us comes with a trust fund. Nope. Kyle is an oil painter and paints 6 to 8 hours a day. I’m a copywriter and editor and work from 4 to 8 hours a day. My work gets immediate gratification (money), but Kyle has to wait to ship his work to various galleries in the States.
His entire body of work he painted in Costa Rica was on display at J.M. Stringer Gallery of Fine Art in Vero Beach, Florida. I’d never been to Florida, so I was happy for a reason to cross another state off my U.S. travel list.
We flew directly from Costa (us and our 10 bags, which is about 5 too many) to Orlando, Florida. Spirit Airlines apparently thought we had too much luggage too and lost 2 of our most important bags. We waited around in Orlando for about 10 hours for the next flight to come in with our luggage. While waiting “patiently,” we spent time seeing the area and drove into Vero Beach late that night.
For those who haven’t been, Vero Beach is as a wealthy retirement beach town. It’s adorable. We had a ball walking around and checking out the beach and eating delicious food.
Kyle’s show reception was on Thursday night. I found a fancy outfit at a Zara in San Jose, Costa Rica, to bring with me. After 8 months of flip flops for shoes and sweat mixed with bug spray for perfume, I couldn’t have been more excited to dress up.
The show was beautiful. All his work from Costa was gorgeous 100% of the time, but seeing it framed and under the correct lighting was incredible. Everyone who came to see the works were so friendly and fun to talk to. We drank white wine and conversed with interesting people all night.
The entire weekend was spectacular. The owners of the gallery are the epitome of hospitality and style. We loved talking about Kyle’s work to all the current and potential clients. The entire time there was glorious and Kyle’s work was (of course) a big hit and the talk of the town.
Here are some of my favorites (click on the image to learn more):
Well, we have left Costa Rica. Our time there flew by. It seems like just yesterday we were planning our crazy idea of living in another country for some time. Now we are taking a pit stop in my home city of Las Vegas before moving on to other places (Europe starting May 14th!).
Three of the things we loved most about Tamarindo were: sunsets, the beach, our friends. To say goodbye to all three, I planned a little beachside goodbye party/Kyle’s belated surprise birthday party. It was one of our favorite nights!
A sweet and generous friend of ours agreed to bring his food truck right up to a bonfire area on the beach. We lit the fire and watched our last Tamarindo sunset. Our friends started gathering around. We all enjoyed beer, wine, burgers from the food truck, a warm fire, more stars than you could imagine, and the sound of crashing waves.
It was just as beautiful as it sounds.
Yes, we cannot wait for all our other adventures coming up, but we will always hold our time in Costa Rica near and dear to our hearts. Here are some pictures from that lovely final night:
A couple weeks ago I listed out a few things that I fell in love with during our eight month stay in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. All those things are true and lovely, but as with all things life offers, a little bad always comes with the good.
While the things I fell in love with far outweighed the things that drove me crazy, this is real life here. It’s not always roses, rainbows, and mojitos on the beach. I will always love this country; it was my “first.” The first place I lived outside of the US. And like another type of “first,” it came with a little awkwardness, a little pain, but a whole lot of “I can’t believe I’ve waited my whole life for this!” 😉
Here is my list of 11 things that drove me absolutely crazy while living in Costa Rica:
Tranquilo was #1 on my love list too. It was one of the most beautiful lessons I learned. Be calm, be chilled, just rest in the now, don’t let life send you into a frenzy, be patient, etc.
But HOLY FRIGGIN TRANQUILO, BATMAN!
I never knew chilling out could make me so anxious! Sometimes everything in Costa Rica felt way too tranquilo. Everything would be ready “mañana” which really meant maybe it will be ready tomorrow, maybe 3.5 weeks from now. Waiting in line or waiting at the bank took about half your damn life.
If they just replaced 1/8 of their tranquilo with 1/8 of the U.S. frenzy – I would have been a happy lady.
Big swelling orbs of itchy pain in 20 spots all over your legs, feet, and arms. Need I say more?
Groceries were very expensive, much more pricey than we anticipated. Plus it was hard to find some quality items. We struggled to find berries of any kind, most avocados were as hard as rocks, and cheese was more often “cheese product.”
“Weed? Blow?” = The anthem of our neighborhood walks. Every. Single. Day.
“No, mi amigo – no weed hoy, no weed ayer, no weed mañana. No weed,” I’d reply.
Keep in mind, we settled in a touristy town. The locals knew that the tourists wanted to have the full experience, so they were probably just being hospitable in their constant offering of weed. And if nobody would take the weed, they would offer cocaine: hospitality at its finest.
In the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica, rainy season stops about mid-November. Once the rain stops pouring, the dirt roads get quite dusty. To combat the billowing dust, Costa Ricans lay a thin coating of molasses over the entire road. Eventually it hardens into an asphalt-like substance. Until that time your shoes, feet, bike tires, and dogs if you have them are covered in the gooey sweetness.
The first whiff or two is pleasant and reminded me of gingerbread cookies, but after a couple hours of baking in the sun, it simply smells sickly sweet. Like the dying gingerbread man.
6. Fake Deals
In our experience, there is no such thing as a true combo deal in Costa Rica. Sure, you could order a #2 at the burger shack: burger, fries, and a coke. But when you’d add them altogether, it was the exact same price as buying them al a carte. This seemed to be true in the grocery stores too.
The driving rules in Costa Rica are more like guidelines. Good Lord Above. I had to drive through the capital city, San Jose, one night by myself. I thought I was going to die and bring a few locals with me in a fiery accident. And I grew up blazing down the highways of Las Vegas, NV. I’m no wimpy driver.
You can stop whenever you feel like it. Park wherever you’d like. Walk down the road whenever feels right. Speed. Swerve. Pass. It’s a free-for-all!
Yes, many of you probably saw all my beautiful beach, sunset, and vegetation photos. But you missed this gorgeous sight. I think the trash people may be to busy tranquilo-ing.
10. Lack of Culture
I really missed culture. Theater, concerts, galleries, museums, readings, architecture, etc. To be fair, I never thought I could get these things when we moved, but I didn’t realize how much I miss cultural events once they were out of reach. At about 3 months in, I truly started craving a good rendition of Wicked.
I’m just gonna put it out there: there are a lot of smells in Costa Rica. Aside from the trash issue, there is a little bit of a waste problem. This little area was particularly nasty at times. Yes, it was mostly water, but it simply smelled like shit. Literal shit. And after nearly 8 months of living there, you honestly start think: God, I hope that’s not mine. Glamorous? Hell no. But you’re only going to find brutal honesty here, my friends.
Whatever you do – do not allow these 11 less-than-pleasant things keep you away from one of the most beautiful countries with such lovely people and amazing sights!
I fell in love while living in Costa Rica… I fell in love with sunsets. Sunsets are everything in the little beach town we lived in: the social hour, an opportunity to soak up the Pura Vida, a way to end your day.
During the 2 week trip and then 7 month stay, I have seen quite a few sunsets. While each and everyone is spectacular, some are more magical than others. The key ingredient to the magically spectacular sunsets is simple: clouds.
When the sun goes down in the midst of a clear sky, it’s beautiful, of course. But clouds….mmm mmm. That’s when the light starts reflecting in many lovely ways. The pinks and the purples and the oranges light up the whole sky in interesting patterns. Even after the sun completely sets, the colorful remnants seem to dance around the clouds in the sky.
The best sunsets need clouds.
I think humans avoid the clouds of our lives like the plague. We want it to be sunshiney and happy all the time. We want to feel love, peace, kindness, ease, tranquility, stomach butterflies, and powerful 100% of the time. We are experts at avoiding, ignoring, or numbing anything that is less than pleasant.
I’ve always thought that the hard times in my life, or the “storms of life,” were there to make me stronger and more resilient, more mature and brave – and that’s entirely true. But it’s only half the picture. The difficult things actually make me more beautiful. They give me clouds.
You see, if I went to bed everyday having avoided, numbed, ignored, or stuffed all the negative stuff, my sun would most likely still set nicely. It’s not as though my life would be over, or I would be entirely insignificant. After all, a sunset is still beautiful. Just like every life – no matter what – is beautiful.
But if I embrace the clouds, the pain, the fear, the doubt, the heartbreak, the mistakes, the shit, the embarrassment, the failure, etc. – my innate beauty and my innate worthiness becomes a magical and gorgeous spectacle to behold.
Then my perspective gets to shift. Instead of trying my hardest to remove and avoid all hard things in my life, I can welcome them. Which is a much smarter idea because they are coming one way or another. I get to say “Hi cloud, make my sunset magically spectacular tonight.”
The best sunsets need clouds; the best people need them too.
“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” – Rabindranath Tagore
Somewhere around a year ago The Boyfriend came up with this weird and wild idea of living in Costa Rica for some time. He asked me to join him – he didn’t need to. I was coming whether he wanted me to or not. 😉 Who would miss an adventure like living the Pura Vida life in Central America?! We moved to Tamarindo, in the Guanacaste region (though we got to enjoy many other great areas including Arenal/La Fortuna and San Jose).
We will be leaving Costa Rica on the 12th of April – a little over seven months after we arrived. We exit as different people – better undoubtedly – full of lovely memories and fabulous experiences. Through rainy season and dry season, through unplanned medical mishaps and lots of mojitos at sunset, we have had a spectacular time.
As we head on to our next adventure in country #2 (Italy!!) – I want to commemorate both the fabulous things and the absolutely-not-fabulous things we have encountered while living in Costa Rica.
FIRST THE GOOD! In a few days I’ll post the “challenging.” Here we go….
(Side note: “Tranquilo” will appear as #1 on my “Things that drove me crazy list” too. It was the strength and the weakness of this country in my humble opinion – the best and the worst part of our stay.)
Tranquilo literally means ‘quiet’ or ‘tranquil’ in English. Here it is more similar to “chill out,” “all is well,” “there’s no problem,” or as Bob Marley would suggest: every little thing is gonna be alright. This is a backbone of the Pura Vida lifestyle. It is the #1 life lesson for a tightly wound, Type A, perfectionist like myself. I’m proud to say that Tranquilo has created, even in the smallest degree, a real life change for me over the past few months.
Car doesn’t work? Tranquilo. Mad at your boyfriend? Tranquilo. Life falling apart? Tranquilo.
No words needed.
What the frick is wrong with the U.S.? I’ll tell you. They don’t use plantains.
I love plantains. I eat them almost everyday. Grilled for breakfast, or lunch, or dinner. I especially love the “Platanos Caribeños” plantain chips with lemon and salt. Dear Lord above, I have no idea how I haven’t turned into a plantain yet. I may not be much of a cook, but I will be making plantains a part of my regular diet outside of Costa Rica.
4. Bob Marley
I never appreciated Bob Marley until our time in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. I’m so glad I had the chance to really soak up all his goodness. My current favorite lyrics:
Emancipate yourself from mental slavery,
None but ourselves can free our minds.
Have no fear for atomic energy,
‘Cause none of them can stop the time. – Redemption Song
Costa Ricans say hello to everyone. “Buenas!” “Buenos Dias!” Friendliness is no problem in this country.
6. Boxed Wine
Ticos have this boxed wine called “Clos.” It’s everything in this country. Don’t question it; just drink it.
Again. No words needed.
Ticos and Ticas (locals) are really awesome humans. We have experienced so much genuine welcoming by the locals, and I will always think very fondly of Costa Ricans. We also had the pleasure of meeting super rad Americans, Europeans, and Canadians during our stay. These have been some of the most interesting and lovely people I have ever met.
I’ve learned so much about myself on my long walks. Sometimes I would walk by myself from Playa Tamarindo to the next beach over, Playa Langosta. It would take maybe 15 or 20 minutes depending on my speed. I could think, observe, and not be attached my phone. Loved it.
Pharmacies are the shit here in Costa Rica. The U.S. could learn a massive lesson. They are extremely easy, and pharmacists help treat minor injuries and sicknesses. It saves a big headache of having to see a doctor for little things.
When I think of Central America, I think COLOR!
Without a doubt, when I look back on my time in Tamarindo I will think of one thing in particular: spiritual growth. These seven months have been a time of deep reflection and growing up in my personal life. I have begun dealing with real issues in my past and speaking up for the first time in my life.
Yoga here helped me. I’ve been practicing yoga for about 10 years and have never experienced classes half as good as the ones here in Tamarindo. They have been the biggest blessing and my #1 favorite activity. I learned the beauty of “shanti” and “om” and for the first time understood “namaste.” My body became more my own, and I understood it more. I dug down deep in my spirit. Truly beautiful stuff.
13. Casado Plates
The typical food of Costa Rica: rice, beans, grilled meat, salad, vegetable, and plantains. The easiest quick meal for a Gluten-Free girl ever.
If you want to get really scared do this: walk around in Costa Rica at night by yourself and hear the terrifying air-raid-siren growl of a howler monkey. You will think it is about to devour you. Then do it all over again in the morning, and in the light you will see they are as big as your pet cat. Howler monkeys are the Costa Rica equivalent to a morning rooster call.
I have seen many monkeys since we got here – they are starting to feel like no big deal. Just a little walk to the store… I pass a mom and her stroller, some flowers, a trash can, a family of howler monkeys, delivery people, and an empty soda bottle. Normal life. Yet, I’ll never forget it.
Thank you Tamarindo for being home for seven months. We will always love our time of living in Costa Rica!
For my list of things that DROVE ME CRAZY while living in Costa Rica, check back in a few days!!!