What I did on my Costa Rican vacation…..

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After 17 hours of torrential downpours with no let up at all, I posted on Facebook that I was used to rain, being a Florida girl and all. But this “wet season” in Costa Rica was quite a surprise, even to me.

Not so, it seems. A local ex-pat alerted us in HER comment to my post that a tropical storm was headed our way. This was more than their normal low season rainfall.

Oops.

My daughters live in Nosara, Costa Rica and we were there to visit for the first time since they moved in mid-August. We took three flights–the last one on a Costa Rican single prop 12-seater–and then had to take ground transportation for another hour and a half. The last sixty kilometers of which was on gravel roads. Filled with pot holes. Deep ones. Blocked by bulls.

bulls in road

We arrived at their CASA, a Costa Rican dinner hot and ready on the table for us. Rice, beans, chicken and wine. The ocean pounded on the shore behind the stand of tropical foliage off their back patio, and a soft rain accompanied it all. They actually did it and  now live in paradise, I thought. 

The CASITA on the property where they live was our “hotel room,”  complete with a hammock on the front porch. Over the next two days, our girls rented a car and showed us the local sights as well as introduced us to some of their new friends. Both locals and more ex-pats. 

road in front of casa

Then the heavens opened to deliver rain like I have never experienced. Only to find out, quite by accident, that we were in the path of Tropical Storm Nate. 

Why “by accident,” you might ask? One of the reasons my daughters moved to CR was to disconnect. I just didn’t realize they meant COMPLETELY. No radio, no TV (Netflix only, thank you very much), no close neighbors. And then the power went out, the landline was dead, no water, no cell service, no Internet. For 36 hours.

Yes, I’d say the disconnect was complete. 

We sat together in the dark in the CASA and listened to the ferocity of the rain. That’s all we could do.

What do you do in a foreign country, when you don’t have any “normal” connections with emergency services, friends, community? We weren’t in a hotel where we could go check at the front desk to find out what is happening. And since they hadn’t been in the country long, they had no extra batteries, no flashlights to put them in anyway, no rain gear, no extra provisions. Luckily, a gas stove kept us in hot meals, especially since we had to eat the food thawing in the dark refrigerator, anyway.

Over 20 people died in Costa Rica during Nate, mostly from mudslides and falling trees. Roads and bridges were washed out, including the ones that were supposed to take us out of town in another 48 hours.

We did get out in time to get back to the airport, which seems like a miracle in hindsight. It’s taken me over a week to process what happened, and how my perceptions have changed about my loved ones living in such a remote part of this tropical wonderland. 

When our children are young and under our wings, we hold all the cards in keeping them safe. Once they are adults, all those cards go back in the box and we have to watch from the gallery as they play their own hands. Win or lose.

As for my future traveling to see them, I’ll send some plane tickets next year to come home and visit me here. I have flashlights.

 

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Make a list, check it twice….maybe three times

Last minute toiletries bought: CHECK!

Keys to the pet sitter: CHECK!

Suitcases semi-packed: CHECK!

Passport located: CHECK!

Mail delivery stopped: CHECK!

Cash obtained from the credit union: CHECK!

 

I think I’m ready!

Maybe…..

It seems the older I get the more tentative I am. I guess that’s normal; us AGED to PERFECTION folks know what can go wrong, even when you think you have planned well.

So, we tend to over-prepare and fret and focus on disaster. And then as soon as we leave the house, we’re thinking of all the things we forgot to pack. Or did we?

We leave the house at 3:30 AM tomorrow morning for a flight that leaves at 6:15 AM. It’s kind of like planning for a field trip with a bunch of 8th graders when I was teaching: once I get on the plane, I can relax!

I’ll check in on the flip side, from the rain forests of Nosara!

 

 

 

A closer look at Nosara…..

I’m one of those people who has to see where I’m going before I get there. Maps of the area, photos, local blogs and news outlets. Compulsive, maybe? Whatever it is, I like to know what’s in store for me and words alone just don’t do it.

My daughters moved to Nosara, Costa Rica in mid-August, and now it’s time to visit. The fact that Sara contracted Dengue Fever a few weeks ago has nothing to do with me flying from NE Florida to Central America. Or that, even though I sometimes didn’t see her here in Jacksonville for weeks at a time, I kind of miss this adult child of mine. In any case, my plane leaves in about 40 hours or so, and I need to know what Nosara looks and feels like.

One place I’ve heard a lot about is The Salty Pelican, a meld of bar, restaurant, and hostel. Owned by a couple from Georgia in the U.S. (kind of in my back yard), the owners bought the property early this year, renovated, and reopened in July. My daughter told me that their Brunswick Stew is the best she’s ever eaten, even if it is served up in a tropical paradise. Read this recent article from the local Nosara newspaper to find out more about Kyle and Terri Christopher and The Salty Pelican!

salty pelican

 

One of the things Costa Rica is known for is their highly protected environment. There are no huge hotels built right on the beach. You have to take a short walk to get to the beach, but from what I hear, the walk is worth it. You might even see the arrival of the turtles, which must be happening right about now. Look in the background of this fantastic photo; no hotels, just lush tropical foliage.

See more fantastic photographs from the area on the website of the SalveMonos Association, an organization dedicated to protecting the monkeys and other wildlife and fauna in the area.

 

turtles in costa rica

Stay tuned for more before I leave this Sunday morning and as I stay in Nosara for the next week!

 

 

A room, a lodge? How about a CASITA!

We’re only 4 days from lift off, headed to Nosara, Costa Rica on assignment and to visit my daughters who moved there in mid-August.

I’m a planner. I can’t help it. I don’t go to the lengths my daughter does, complete with a binder filled with flight info, lodging, ground transportation lined up and paid for months in advance of the trip. But, it’s close…..

So, when it was time to find a place to stay in this tropical paradise for 6 nights, I used the regular tactics of asking for recommendations from those who live there and also searching online for lodges, rooms, and hotels. 

I narrowed the search down from there and here’s where we ended up: A CASITA! It has everything we will need (meaning we can make coffee as soon as our eyes open) and it’s on the same property where my kin now lives. 

The Casita

Nosara Vacation Rentals

They live in the CASA on the property, and will be there until at least next year. The property is gated and includes maid service. Howler monkeys in the trees outside are complimentary…..

howler monkey at casita

 

It’s the low season (translate: rainy) in CR right now, so prices are inexpensive. Just buy a rain poncho and prepare to luxuriate in a tropical rainforest….and check out availability of the CASITA!

Click or tap below for more information on this beautiful part of Costa Rica!

Learn more about Nosara!

 

 

Check it off for Costa Rica!

Flight arrangements made: CHECK!

We will be flying from Jacksonville to Houston to San Jose (the capital of CR, smack in the middle of the country) to Liberia. One major airlines and one local to get us from San Jose to Liberia. 

Ground transportation to Nosara: CHECK!

Nosara is OFF the beaten path. To say the least! Nosara Transport seems to be a lifeline throughout Costa Rica, getting people from here to there in a country that only has one major airport. 

Lodging arranged in Nosara: CHECK!

A casita! Right on the same property with my daughters! Nosara Vacation Rentals has been great to work with and offers a true value for your money. 

Pet Sitting Service: CHECK!

Our motley crew of rescue cats has grown to the point that we can’t leave them alone with bowls of food and water, much like I used to when I traveled for work. Courtney, from Courtney’s Pet and House Sitting, is coming over Sunday to meet the crew.

Traveling takes planning and attention to detail. In my younger years, I packed a bag and headed to the airport. Sometimes that worked……

It also helps to have some personal recommendations when you get your check list out! Feel free to poach mine…..Pura Vida!

hanging bridge

Sansa Airlines: http://crc.flysansa.com/en/planning-and-reservations

Nosara Transport: http://www.nosaratransports.com/

Nosara Vacation Rentals: http://www.iicostarica.com/area.html

Courtney’s Pet and House Sitting Service: https://www.facebook.com/pg/courtneylovespets/about/?ref=page_internal

 

 

 

 

 

Where Exactly is Costa Rica??

playa pelada

Playa Pelada, Costa Rica

PURA VIDA: Simply translated, it means “simple life” or “pure life” but in Costa Rica, it is more than just a saying—it is a way of life.

 

It’s been awhile, you’re right about that! But the years keep marching by, with or without a blog. Funny how that happens.

And that’s OK. Steeping oneself in the years as they flow by teaches us that sometimes we don’t have much to add to the conversation. But it does takes self-control to stop talking and just listen.

Since my last post, my daughter has married and moved to Nosara, Costa Rica. Yes, you read that correctly; COSTA RICA!

The young woman who grew up in one house, went to school with some of the same people her whole life, and then settled right here in her home town…….she packed her bags and got on that plane to live a saner, slower life.

I envy that. It wasn’t easy, don’t get me wrong. Look around YOUR house; could you get rid of nearly all of it, including your car, and move to another country with only a couple of suitcases? I helped them with garage sales, called in a professional for the rest, and waved good-bye as they disappeared into security at the airport. A bittersweet day. Actually, more bitter than sweet, if I’m being honest.

So, now what? She and I are tight. We had to be, as it was just the two of us here in our little house for all those years. Single mom, doted-on only child making our way through the years. So, what do you THINK I’m going to do about that?

You guessed it: I’m headed to Costa Rica! My first trip will be coming up within about two weeks, so I’m working on travel arrangements–Nosara is NOT on the beaten path, believe me–lodging, pet sitting while we’re gone, all those tiny details that can derail a trip if they are neglected. Age DOES have its advantages that way.

One major change for me is that I now have a wonderful man in my life, one who has my back, something I’ve needed for a very long time. We’re excited to take this adventure together.

Oh, wait. I forgot to tell you: You’re all going with us, so stay tuned! I will be posting from now as we prepare until we return, complete with pictures and video. You may want to visit this tropical paradise, too, and we can pave the way for you.

Get your virtual passports ready…….

Pura Vida!

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Nosara, Costa Rica

 

 

 

 

Family ties……

Remember the TV series entitled “Family Ties”?

I don’t have many of those. The reasons are varied, some known to me, others still (and might remain) buried deep inside the footlocker of my family’s history. But those issues are not my point here.

Recently I attended the funeral of an uncle, my mother’s older brother. At that coming together of friends and family to honor his memory and life, I met relatives that I didn’t know until the introductions were made that day. They are not distant kin, either; they are the children of my first cousin, the cousin I lived with my senior year in high school.

Where have we been the rest of our lives?

Family isn’t always blood, either, right? I also ran into–quite literally–one of my best friends from that same senior year. Heaven knows, there aren’t many of those for me, military brat that I was. She and I hadn’t had any contact since then. Almost 50 years ago.

Once we arrived at the gravesite for the service that day, my cousin pointed out our grandparents’ resting place, right next to that of this same uncle’s wife. My aunt, one of my favorite people ever. And this was the first time I had even seen their resting places, or even known where they were. I hadn’t attended their funerals, a fact that shames me now.

resk graves

Even sadder is that this familial amnesia continues for my adult daughter. She has little knowledge of these family members, something I would love to rectify with a road trip soon. A long one, to be sure, but better late than never.

Family ties have significance far beyond this moment, the one when we’re angry at a member of the group or are separated in other ways. They connect us to a tribe, a ready-made, hopefully well-nurtured, soft place to fall in times of trouble. These sturdy strings were never knitted together for me or my siblings. But it is up to me to get busy and start picking up the loose ends, don’t you think?

“The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another’s desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together.” ~Erma Bombeck