The main reason my hub is in charge of planning our summer vacations is because he has a set time of the year when he can take his 2 week vacation and I don’t want to be responsible for screwing it up. I also trust (whole-heartedly) that he will pick somewhere much nicer than I would. Not to mention that when most people book flights and accommodations for their summer vacations (usually around Jan-March) I am so far behind the eight-ball that I can’t be trusted to handle the logistics. With that said, this year when the hub chose Costa Rica, I jumped for joy, did a little dance and then filed it away to think about months later - after the snow melted.
As the days lead up to summer, it’s always common for people to ask about summer plans so I informed them that this year we would be going to California with a connecting trip to Costa Rica. Inevitably, the follow up question would be, “What part of Costa Rica?” I dunno. I knew we were flying into Liberia but had no clue where we were staying. And frankly, I didn’t even care. I just knew that Costa Rica was incapable of disappointing me. It was on the flight from MSP to LAX that I finally looked at a map. We spent a week in California and then took off for 7 stress-free days on Flamingo Beach! After a five hour red-eye flight from LAX to Liberia, we loaded up the van (with the Tourismo sticker on the back) and drove an hour and fifteen minutes to paradise. There is not even an ounce of exaggeration when I say paradise. Clear skies, an infinity pool with maybe one or two people in it, the beach/ocean so close to the pool that I’m sure the pool sweeper has job security with all the sand they must have to get out daily. There were no long hallways or elevators to navigate in order to get to the pool or beach. Grass lawns - not cement pathways - lead you to the ocean. No fences with gates that required your hotel room key to get in and out. No waking up at 7am to put your towel down to save your seat by the pool. You didn’t have to find and tip an attendant to get a beach chair out on the sand. Oh, did I mention there was a bartender at the edge of the pool who made fresh fruit smoothies for us in the mornings and local rum drinks and mojitos whenever we wanted? Pure and simple life. Pura Vida.
Over there they call their tour guides Naturalists. The naturalists are expected to know a lot about the animals, birds, the environment, the economy, the crops etc. Our naturalist was a personified Diego - as in the animated Dora the Explorer’s side kick - Diego. He loved when we asked questions. It got him excited and he always had an answer. When my hub asked why the crime rate was so low in Guanacaste. He replied,”Why would there be crime? Everyone here is happy. I don’t need what my neighbor has so therefore there is no need to steal from them.” I studied this theory for the rest of our vacation and I think every person who was working or not, was just happy to be there. No one looked like they were trying to compete for anything more than what they already had. “One-uppers” were a rare breed from what I could see. Pura Vida.
We called the Transporters there drivers. I tried to pay a driver after he dropped my daughter and I off at church but he told me to pay him after he picked us up and brought us back to our condo. Serious trust. I envied the laid back attitude of how it all gets done (he knew he’d get his money) at some point. Our driver was the best, always smiling and ready to help in any way he could. As mentioned before, the drive from Liberia airport to our paradise is an hour and 15 minutes (the short cut is on dirt roads and can cut 20 minutes but we opted to stay on a paved road for comfort). Our driver got off the phone and was so happy to get another “transport” for the day. He already drove my in-laws to the airport at 550am, our trip to the airport was at 10am and two more transports for the day. Each trip equals 2.5 hours round trip. My hub asked him if he ever got bored. And you could see pure joy in his face as he said, “I really like it. It’s so great to be busy. I get to meet beautiful people. I’m happy to have work.” Pura Vida.
And don’t even get me started on the food! Que Rico! Food is simple. It’s very uncommon to have processed foods versus super common to have organic food. Prices for junk food is more expensive so everyone eats fresh since it’s cheaper. Very cool not having to think about additives or processed anything. Ahhh, even my drinks were clean! One less care or worry. Pura Vida.
Since my family didn’t have to head to the airport until 10am on our last day, we all jumped into the ocean for our final swim, savoring the moment. This is highly unusual for me since I’m the "martyr" who scrambles to pack and check everything before we leave. But I specifically wanted to take that moment to pull my daughter aside, in the clear ocean water, and tell her that when things got tough with her brother or at school, she can remember being in the ocean to calm her down. I told her to remember how much fun she had for MANY hours every day in the ocean. Maybe it won’t solve the problems, but I hope this pinch could lead her back to the memory of this pure life that we were able to live for 7 days. Pura Vida.