A Costa Rican Christmas

A Costa Rican Christmas

Oh hey there, friend!

Long time no talk!  December was a busy month for me, and I didn’t get around to reaching out to my readers as often as I would have liked to.  I’ve had my hands full with new client work, rearing up for launching my blog’s new focus for 2016 “Pursuing Interesting,” creating two ebooks, and enjoying the holidays.

…Speaking of holidays…  I thought I’d share what our Costa Rican Christmas looked like this year.  I was a bit bummed to be so far away from my family in December, but we made the best of the situation and ended up having a fantastic Christmas Eve and Christmas.

Trees aren’t so easy to come by in this little beach town, so The Boyfriend created one out of trash bags.  If you think it’s lame, I don’t think we can be friends.  It was basically the coolest part of our holiday.

Costa Rican Christmas

I also embraced my artistic side over the holiday break, but let’s just say that we will be leaving most of the painting to the expert from now on.  My giftings are elsewhere, but hey look at this glamor shot!

For Christmas Eve, we took a walk on the beach, relaxed a bit, and then met up with some lovely friends to spend the evening at Black Stallion, a ranch in the next town over that offers zip-lining, horseback riding, and the most delicious BBQ dinner family style.  We partook in the dinner.  Beyond tasty food and fun cocktails, the entire place was decorated for Christmas, which made my little Christmas heart soar.

The occasion was so momentous, I actually put on makeup and did my hair.  (I’ve missed that a bit if I were being honest! There’s something fun about a casual beach town, but there’s also something fun about eye liner and flat irons.)

costa rican christmas

 

There was also plenty of goofiness…

Costa Rican Christmas

Costa Rican Christmas

This picture was taken right after I accidentally slapped The Boyfriend across the eye.  This is when I convince you I’m not violent.  See how lovingly I took care of him after injuring him? That’s true love.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

Christmas Day began with the two of us enjoying mimosas and french toast with whipped cream (we went the healthy route, as you can tell!).  Santa even visited us and brought us lots of fun gifts.  That was really creative of Santa because there aren’t that many stores and definitely not a large variety of things within those stores here in good ol’ Costa Rica.

We spent a couple hours at the beach.  I can’t even describe how busy it got overnight with Christmas tourists.  I wouldn’t normally put Costa Rica and Christmas together, but apparently thousands of people do!  The sand was covered in beach lounger after beach lounger.  Also, I have yet to see so many fake boobs here as I did on Christmas.  And nothing makes you think of Christmas more than that.

We came home to eat junk food and watch Miracle on 34th street.  Then we went out to watch the sunset at a new local rooftop bar with a gorgeous view (but seriously overpriced drinks!  I think they didn’t realize we aren’t in Laguna!).

Costa Rican Christmas

After $3 a sip, we went home to make a real dinner.  Like a grown up dinner.  We roasted chicken, sautéed mushrooms and other veggies, and even made oven fries.  When I say “we,” I really do mean WE.  The Boyfriend splits cooking duty with me equally.  That’s a man.

Overall, we had a lovely Costa Rican Christmas!  It was nice to start our own traditions as a couple.

I cannot wait for all the fun new stuff that I will be sharing with you on my blog this new year!  I’ll see you again on the 1st of 2016!  Remember to make your “Pursuing Interesting” resolutions (click here to learn more!)

Tay xo

 

 

A Central American Thanksgiving

A Central American Thanksgiving

Living abroad offers so many incredible experiences.  I feel grateful everyday for the ability to live in and travel to foreign countries. But, like everything else in the world, it comes with pros and cons. One con to living abroad is that family is so far away on the holidays.  This was my second year in a row missing Thanksgiving with my family.  Not gonna lie, I felt a little sad about it.

We did everything in our power to make our Central American Thanksgiving the best we could, and it turned out magical.  I loved everything about our holiday (minus the missing family – teary eyes!).

We started out at a gathering of expats for a traditional Thanksgiving meal with a massive (and massively delicious!) turkey and mashed potatoes (and other goodness).  Then we visited another group of friends for a serious round of charades.

*Sorry for the blurry photos.  I was having too much fun to think about taking some serious pics.  You get the gist: big bird, lots of people.*

The next morning was Black Friday.  AKA: That Time Taylor Lost the Keys Before We Left for Nicaragua.

The Boyfriend and I were to leave for the Island of Ometepe in Nicaragua at 7am. Of course, this came with a few “hurdles.”  We woke up bright and early and went to meet our shuttle, only to realize our keys were nowhere to be found! Apparently, I was a bit distracted from all the fun we had on Thanksgiving that I left our keys in the door when we came home that night.  (I may or may not have priors for doing this very thing).

So, we missed our *nonrefundable* shuttle.  I was, of course, in hysterics.  Which really helped the whole situation, you know.  An emotional woman is the key to logical thinking.

We had visions of the keys being stolen and having to replace our dead bolt before we left.  And let me tell you.  This would not have been an easy task here in Costa Rica.  It’s not like we have a Home Depot a few blocks away.  Right before all hope was lost, our security guard brought up the keys the night guard left in the office for our safety.

One of our dear friends found a private shuttle to bring us up to the border, and we were saved!

I knew our time at the Island of Ometepe would be fantastic, but it really surpassed my expectations.  It was a dream.  I will do a full travel guide post next week, but for now I’ll share some of my favorite pics!

A Central American Thanksgiving

A Central American Thanksgiving

A Central American Thanksgiving

A Central American Thanksgiving

A Rocker, A Scary Clown, and A Beach Crawl

A Rocker, A Scary Clown, and A Beach Crawl

beach

This past weekend was lots-o-fun!  And I wanted to share some pictures with you all!

Saturday – Halloween

On Saturday, The Boyfriend and I did some last minute shuffling to find some cool costumes.  We’d heard that Tamarindo is one party place for Halloween, and we wanted in!!  We love Halloween.  See last year’s costumes:

halloween

And this year:halloween

Holy scary boyfriend, Batman!!  We made do with VERY limited options – an 80s rocker and the most terrifying clown ever!

Funny story: we went out at 8pm and NOBODY was dressed up yet.  Nothing like being brand new in a foreign city AND being the only two in ridiculous costumes!  Eventually people starting coming out, and there were wild and wacky costumes everywhere!  We had a blast.

After looking back through my photos the next morning, I realized I was trying to look 80s tough with horns in this photo, but ended up really only flipping around the “I love you” sign in sign language.  My hippie “let’s all be friends” self refuses to hide!

halloween

Sunday – Beach and Pool Crawl

The wonderful Instagram account #discovertamarindo (follow them for sweet beach pics!) really hooked The Boyfriend and me up on Sunday with a fantastic time at the Beach and Pool Crawl.  We got to go to three different locations, have a free shot at each stop, and met some really cool people!

The first stop was the INSANELY gorgeous Las Catalinas, a master-plan community.  If I were rich and retiring in Costa Rica, I would choose Las Catalinas.  We were serenaded with lovely Bob Marley covers all afternoon.

las catalinas

las catalinas

las catalinas

las catalinas

Then we went to two resorts.  One even had an awesome swim up bar!

bar

We truly had a blast taking the bus around and exploring new areas while meeting awesome people.  It is one of the highlights of our time in Tamarindo so far.  In fact, if you ever visit Tamarindo, make sure to put the Beach and Pool Crawl on your list (while it could be fun for any age, I would normally suggest it for 20s/30s and anyone older who still likes to have lots of fun!) :)

Hope you all had a great Halloween weekend too!

What Almost Two Months in Costa Rica Feels Like

What Almost Two Months in Costa Rica Feels Like

tamarindo_beach

Today I walked down the steps of our apartment, out of the gated community, onto the dirt streets with potholes filled with rainwater, over the paved main road, and into the outdoor food court area to order, in Spanish, two chicken empanadas for 1500 colones (3 bucks).

Covered in the perfume of Costa Rica, mosquito repellent, I sat at the shaded red plastic table and ate those delicious empanadas that come with the best tangy salsa you’ve ever tasted as my boyfriend ate a meatlover’s sandwich from the European-style bakery next door.

Welcome to our average afternoon in Tamarindo, Costa Rica!

I can’t believe we’ve almost been in Costa Rica for two months.  In some ways it has felt like days, in other ways it has felt like a lifetime.  What’s it been like to be two Americans in Costa Rica for almost two months?  I’ll tell you!

tamarindo_vulcano

  • Mostly, we work.  I know that doesn’t sound romantic and adventurous.  But the truth is we are still normal people needing to pay bills. Sometimes I write things that excite me; sometimes I write things that bore me, so I procrastinate by Facebooking reading a book.
  • There’s not much to do in this town for locals who can’t always afford jungle excursions, so finding entertainment is a creative activity.  Growing up in Vegas, I was used to being handed entertainment.  Here we have to come up with our own.  Sitting in new spots while sipping a drink, walking, and simply existing at the beach is always good.  Also, taking pictures of cows is my new jam.

cows_costarica

  • Swimming in the Pacific at sunset is my favorite thing ever.  We take our 2 minute walk to the beach at about 4:45pm (the sun sets the same time every day). We have a certain spot we like to go because there is a massive rock formation to the right, boats anchored in front, and often Pelicans feeding all around us. We get a sunset light show The Las Vegas Strip can never compete with.  It sounds romantic, and there is some of that — but normally The Boyfriend is trying to find waves to throw me into. That’s how we roll.
  • At night, we’ve been watching scary movies on Netflix.  How’s that for exotic Costa Rica living?!
  • Our Spanish is coming along slowly, but surely.  Almost everyone in Tamarindo is bilingual and shows kindness by using our native language instead of theirs. Whenever I feel comfortable, I try to start the conversation in Spanish so they will reply in Spanish. Needing to read signs/food packages helps.  Our Internet VPN automatically changed to Costa Rica, so Netflix has Spanish subtitles – that is also helpful.
  • I have been victorious and found a bar with hard cider (my gluten free alternative to beer!).  We aren’t going to even discuss how much it is.  We’re just going to be happy for my little discovery, mmkay?

woodchuck

  • Grocery shopping is more expensive than we anticipated ($8 for a loaf of Gluten Free bread!), so we eat out a lot.  Considering I hate cooking more than I hate just about anything, I LOVE this! Also, we now hire someone to do our laundry, an activity that costs less than that loaf of bread!  Enter: The Hallelujah Chorus.
  • Most commercial property doors in this country move the opposite way that they do in America.  I still pull and push the wrong way every single time.  Every.  Time.
  • All the taxi drivers and weed salesmen still think we are tourists. They tell me it’s because I don’t have a tan.  You guys, I have NEVER BEEN TANNER IN MY LIFE!  Nobody in this country believes I have a tan.  Nobody. (*kicks the dirt and pouts*)

flamingo_beach

  • I’m starting to become suspicious that Costa Ricans have been informed that women from Las Vegas are all hookers.  They fist bump The Boyfriend whenever he tells them I’m from Vegas.
  • I have found the best yoga studio in the world with the most incredible yoga teacher.  I’m seriously so zen right now you have no idea (That is until the next time I freak out about being a freelancer without a normal job!  That’s happening fewer times each week now.  Like only 7.)

yoga_tamarindo

  • We’re currently on the lookout for a car.  Not for in town, as we walk everywhere.  But we want to start exploring more of the country each weekend.  We’d like to see the Caribbean side, the volcanos, the national parks, etc.  Let’s just say buying a car here is about 1,291 times hard than in the States.  We’re learning patience.
  • Some of the best news: my mosquito bites no longer swell to the size of a tennis ball! And I don’t have 25 bites on my legs at the same time. I’m a mosquito pro now.  Definitely going to share my tips in a blog post!

tamarindo_witchs,rock

We absolutely love it here.  It’s magical and wonderful, and it’s also just life.  We still get headaches, argue about stupid stuff, wash dishes, and crave dessert.  We are just choosing to do it in a brand new lovely place.

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When You Are Sad, Find a Crocodile

tamarindo_beac

I used to think that to be a strong woman, I always had to be strong. And I thought being strong meant pushing aside any emotion that is conventionally considered weak – like sadness, hurt, or anger.

But pretending nothing ever gets to you is only a defense mechanism for somebody not willing to do the hard work of dealing with these difficult emotions. Brushing your emotions aside is a weak cop-out; showing and dealing with them is brave.

You see, for the past few weeks I have been working endlessly on something called “The Interesting Project” which I will be launching soon. I’ve created a workbook that will help 18-28 year old women figure out how to get unstuck and how to pursue interesting lives they love.

But this week, I felt really really sad and hurt.  I wasn’t feeling unstuck and interesting, I was feeling weak.  People close to me said horrible things based on no facts. My gut reaction was to be “strong” by pretending I wasn’t hurt and trying to be badass. But really, I was just pretending. The sting was too fresh for me to truly feel anything but sadness, hurt, and anger.

I felt like a fraud – who am I to tell women how to have interesting lives they love? Look at me! I’m bawling in self-pity and can’t even be badass! But then I remembered that ALLOWING myself to really feel painful emotions is the brave and interesting thing, because it demands actually doing the hard work of dealing with them.

So I decided to just roll with it the next day. These emotions were real, so I was going to feel them. The Bible says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. A time to be badass. And a time to say ‘Screw It!” Okay, maybe the Bible doesn’t put it EXACTLY like that, but you get the gist.

saltwater

So I said, “Screw it!” and gave up this need to SHOW my badass. I turned to life’s best cure for all that ails: salt water. First, I cried. Lots. And then I went to a walk to the ocean and touched the salt water with my feet!

There is an estuary off the beach in Tamarindo that you’re not supposed to swim in. Supposedly, there can be crocodiles. Lo and behold, we walked by that estuary on our salt-water walk, AND THERE WAS A CROCODILE! I stood about 90 feet away. The Boyfriend went a tad closer. It was just sunbathing on the beach with its jaw wide open.

Oh it was quite the sight! I’d never seen such a perilous wild animal outside of a zoo. It was incredible, and I was in awe! We stood there for a few minutes and marveled. And I realized in the presence of such a majestic creature: I AM BADASS! Somebody really hurt me yesterday, but here I am today standing by a freaking CROCODILE!

The whole “never smile at a crocodile” took on a brand new meaning.  “Oh hello, Mr. Crocodile, I’m currently wallowing in my own difficult emotions. Don’t worry, I won’t smile.”

As most of you know my motto is: Feel the fear, do it anyway.

My 2nd motto is now: Feel all the feels, and go see the crocodiles!

If I had been too busy trying to LOOK like I had it all together and going on as if I hadn’t been hurt, I would have missed out on this beautiful, interesting moment to heal up a bit. Or if I had simply wallowed in bed refusing to get up, I’d have missed it too. We can’t hide our emotions, and we can’t let them hide us either – We have to let the process work.

It’s not being immune to hurt that makes us badass. It’s the courage to cry and let ourselves do the things we need to do in order to heal.  Who knows, maybe along the way you just may see a crocodile.

(P.S. To stay in the loop regarding the workbook I’ve made, The Interesting Project, subscribe to my newsletter with this link below!)

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