Monthly Archives: October 2013

The Godfathers

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If you ever get invited to a wedding in another culture, you should go.   Without hesitation- just go.  It will be so worth it!  We were honored to be invited to the church wedding of two of the young people that we have been working with the past 3 years.  (The civil ceremony which makes the wedding legal happened a few days before.)  The first thing we attempted to do was to discover the protocol for gift giving.  What kind of gift is appropriate to give?  How much money are guests expected to spend?  Are gifts brought to the ceremony or sent to the house ahead of time?  Is there any such thing as a gift registry?  Those are the questions we asked.

The answers were not so easy to come by.  After asking many people, both gringos and Ticos we learned that there were some upscale stores that do a gift registry.  Our couple had listed a store on their invitations… though often times there is no formal paper invitation to be had since there is no mail service delivered directly to the houses here… because there are no addresses, obviously.  Duh.  However, we were given a hand delivered invitation with the name of a store on it.  My husband proceeded to ask around for the location of the store.  He eventually found a website with no wedding registry information on it, but he did find the phone number.  After many calls to the store which was in a different city, my husband placed an order for a gift and asked for it to be delivered to the couple… after we got directions to the house where they were going to live.

So we thought that we all set.  We were familiar with the city where the wedding would be held and Josh had actually been to the church before, so we were good.  The last time we tried to go to a wedding in another town we spent 6 hours wandering lost in the mountains before we decided that we probably missed the wedding and we should just head home.  Turns out weddings don’t start on time either.  We probably could have made it still.

On our way to the wedding, the store called and asked when Josh wanted to come pick up the gift.  He was shocked!  He told them, “You were supposed to deliver the gift yesterday!  If you deliver it today, no one will be at the house.  They are all at the church!”  So after some bickering back and forth, they agreed to have someone deliver the gift the following day.  Strike one for the wedding guests.

Photo credit: Thomas Hawk / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Photo credit: Thomas Hawk / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

When we arrived at the church, we were sure the ceremony would not be starting on time.  The groom was standing out front waiting for us.  Josh whispered to me, “Oh I hope they don’t ask me to say anything spur of the moment!”  Well he lucked out, all the groom wanted to know was if we would be the “Padrinos” or Godparents of the newly weds.  My husband said we would be honored, but what do the Padrinos do?  The groom laughed like we were making a joke and said, “Oh, you just pay for the wedding.”  (Costa Ricans love teasing and sarcasm.)  And we all laughed… nervously.  We still had no clue what was expected of us.

As we walked into the sanctuary, I grabbed the sister of the groom and whispered, “Where do we sit and what do the Godparents do?”

She shrugged and pointed to the back of the center aisle.  “Just wait here for instructions.”  She said it didn’t matter which side we sat on.  We chose seats in the middle of one of the sections since we didn’t want to presume that the Padrinos would walk down the aisle or be seated at the front.  We were wrong in our humble assumptions.  Strike two for the gringos.

I was actually surprised that we started within an hour of when the invitation said the wedding would start.  I had heard that often times the time on the invitation is when the wedding preparations start for the bride.  So if the wedding starts at 10:00 am, that means the bride will be getting in the shower at 10:00.  The family might sit down to lunch while she gets ready and by 3:00 pm, everyone will be making their way to the church.  No one really knows when the service will actually start.  And no one is bothered by this except the Americans.

In Costa Rica, there is an M.C. that directs the ceremony calling each person down in their proper order like fashion models walking down the cat walk.  “And now we have the grandmother of the bride being escorted by her grand-nephew.  And now we have the Padrinos, please walk to the front Josh and April.”  We hastily jumped up from our seats, ran up the side aisle and walked back down the center aisle together.  At the head of the aisle I looked to the announcer for directions about which side to sit on or if we were supposed to come up on the stage or stay standing along the front like groomsmen.  He was already on to the next fashion models and we were left awkwardly standing at the front.  We slid discretely down into the front pew.  Strike three for the totally lost Padrinos.

Both sets of parents sat across the aisle from us in the front pew and the sister of the groom sat next to me.  It was all totally disorganized and no one seemed to care.  When we realized that we were the only ones who were bothered by this, we let the blush cool on our cheeks and relaxed our tense shoulders.  “Pura Vida” we whispered to each other.  That is the Costa Rican motto which really means “No worries mon!”  Just go with the flow.

After the ceremony we were uncertain what would happen next.  The announcer did something totally surprising.  He said, “If anyone wants their picture with the bride and groom, just come up on the stage.”  So for an hour the guests pushed and cajoled for a spot in line to have their picture taken with the new couple.  It was like a mad receiving line with iPhone cameras flashing everywhere.  Totally disorganized, and again, no one cared.

We didn’t know if there was a reception somewhere.  We didn’t see any gifts on a table anywhere.  (For the record, I did see some relatives whisk some packages into a car earlier on.)  We loitered around the back of the sanctuary talking with guests and family, waiting for some kind of sign.  When the groom finally said he had to get going, we figured that was the end of it.  We headed home to San Jose… hungry.

I had heard of weddings where there was indeed a beautiful cake on a table, but it turned out that the cake was cardboard and only one little disk at the top was real for cutting for the photo.  It seems that Hollywood has influenced Costa Rican culture in a way where young couples thought they wanted a cake since that’s what they do in the movies, but no one knew what to do with it.  And since cakes can be insanely expensive here (Most people don’t bake or even know how to use their ovens.  They store their Tupperware in their ovens.) they opt for a fake cake that looks good in the pictures.  So I was bracing for no cake.  I was quite shocked at no reception at all.  Strike four for the hungry Godparents.

The lessons we learned at the wedding made us feel honored that our friends had opened this cultural portal for us.  We left feeling proud to have navigated another pot-hole filled mile of culture and for having not embarrassed ourselves too badly by not knowing what was going on.  We were able to “roll with the punches” and we survived.  Plus we learned that not much flusters a Costa Rican, so we should just relax and enjoy the Pura Vida too.

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Hurry! Black Friday has started!

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The idea of Black Friday just hasn’t quiet caught on here in Costa Rica.  I would guess it’s partially because we don’t have a holiday like Thanksgiving to anchor the shopping day to.  So the idea of a big sale day just kind of hangs like a vague nebulous on the calendar sometime around this end of the year.

Even the concept of a “sale” doesn’t ring true here.  The the English words “sale” and “outlet” are used here, but they really just mean “come here and look”.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that prices are any different that before.  So between these two missing links in the culture- lack of a holiday and false cognates in the language- Black Friday just hasn’t clicked here.

Yesterday I saw a true example of this awkward adoption of American culture.  We passed a sign advertising a Black Friday sale from October 18 – November 3.  I wish I could have gotten my iPod out fast enough to snap a picture of the sign.  But in reality, I was laughing too hard to actually hold the camera still enough for a shot.

It’s these kinds of misunderstandings that just tickle my funny bone.  That’s probably why I get such a kick out of the website engrish.com where people post photos of misused, misspelled, or mispronounced English words found on signs and packages and t-shirts around the world.  But be forewarned, I am in no way responsible if you pee your pants while laughing at this website.  Laugh at your own risk… and You’re Welcome.

The Anti Nesting Instinct

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We still have 8 month left of this term.  Itineration is still too far away to begin disengaging from responsibilities and friendships.  But I can tell that I’ve already begun to lean into the change.  How can I tell, you may ask?  I have noticed a purging impulse has been activated in me.  I call it “The Anti Nesting Instinct”.

When a mother is waiting for a baby to be born, she starts frantically putting the house in order in preparation for her new arrival.  The Honey-Do list starts to fill up with all those little household repairs that have been ignored for so many months or years.  Mom-to-be starts filling up the house with new purchases and organizing drawers full of teeny tiny clothing.  That’s The Nesting Instinct.

Photo credit: jamelah / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: jamelah / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

So, logically, The Anti Nesting Instinct involves purging, cleaning out, throwing out, and giving away things.  It is recognized in the peacefulness of gazing contently into a nearly empty closet.  Its joy is magnified with each new pile of possessions successfully delivered to its new owners.  My recycling bin runneth over.

Last Saturday I tackled my daughters’ bed room.  It was a hoarder’s paradise.  The amount of cardboard and paper that I hauled out of their room was horrifying.  The scraps of old craft projects, plastic bottles rescued from the recycling bin, and half colored pieces of paper were pretty much the only things holding up my middle child’s bed.  I removed 4 full garbage bags of pure trash from their room, a mountain of toys and books that they had grown out of, and another bag full of clothes to give away.  This morning my daughter told me that she’s been opening and closing her closet door just for fun.  I understand this since more than once this week I’ve stood gazing with satisfaction into their super clean and nearly empty closet.  I love an organized closet.

Yes, the urge to purge has even manifested itself in my work at school.  I am tackling disorganization, clutter, and an absurd amount of pure junk that has been stored here since Jesus was a small child.  I am busting through cobwebs and pawing through moldy boxes in search of anything useful for my teachers before I dump the contents of a whole cabinet in the recycling bin.  Clean is a beautiful moment.

So even though it’s really too early to start thinking about leaving on itineration, my emotions are releasing their connection to the things I live with.  I have a mental To-Do list with dates attached to each task.  I will tackle these projects one by one and whittle away the last few months before we must face the overwhelming task of packing up the house for storage.  The Anti Nesting Instinct has kicked in.

Rain

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October is the rainiest month of the Rainy Season here in Costa Rica.  I actually love it.  We don’t get fall.  We don’t get first snows.  We don’t get more than a 20 degree change in temperature between “seasons”.  We get rain… and lots of it.  A few weeks ago the news was reporting that in one 6 hour period we got as much as 15 days worth of rain!  I don’t know how to tell you exactly how that compares to 15 days worth of rain in YOUR part of the world, but for us, it was like standing under a water fall for 6 hours straight!

Photo credit: Cia de Foto / Foter / CC BY

Photo credit: Cia de Foto / Foter / CC BY

I have no problem believing in the story of Noah and a world wide flood after having lived in Costa Rica.  In our first year here, back in 2010, it actually DID rain for 40 days straight.  (I bought a light box after that to fight the seasonal depression of sunless days.)  You should have seen the mud slides and washed away roads around here.  A whole community was wiped out when the side of the mountain slipped out from under a community of shanty houses built on stilts.  It was sad.   Sometimes it rains so hard here that the man hole covers float away!  Water will be gushing UP out of the storm sewers and will pop off the heavy metal covers and sweep them away.  You never want to drive into a deep puddle or you run the risk of landing your front tire in a man hole.

We also have sink holes here.  The soil is very silty and volcanic.  Plus the road construction technique here is basically to just roll out a slab of black top right on the top soil.  There is no substructure under most roads.  So when the heavy rains come, it often washes the dirt away from UNDER the road.  I remember once when we were in language school someone snapped a photo of a car tipped nose down into a newly opened sink hole.  They said when they walked to school the car was fine, but when they came home, the car was totally sunk into the hole!  People were putting a ladder down into the hole to get the driver out since apparently he was just starting up his car when it dropped 8 feet or so.  Right now our main highway is under major construction since a sink hole opened up under a newly erected Bailey Bridge which immediately fell just two days after it’s “grand opening”.  We are familiar with sink holes.

Photo credit: Jonathan Kos-Read / Foter / CC BY-ND

Photo credit: Jonathan Kos-Read / Foter / CC BY-ND

But inspite of all the havoc that the rain wreaks on the country, I find it cozy and comforting.  I don’t mind carrying umbrellas.  I have cute rain boots.  And I always say, “I won’t melt in the rain.  I’m not made of sugar.”  So getting a little damp isn’t a big deal.  I just put on dry socks at home and crank up the dehumidifier in my closet to keep my clothes from getting overly damp and clammy.  (Nothing worse than putting on clammy pajamas and climbing into a bed with damp sheets.)  That dehumidifier was a worthy purchase.

On rainy days I would love to be able to curl up in bed with my Kindle and a cup of Earl Grey tea and just listen to the white noise of the rainy world outside.  I don’t mind the rainy season.  I guess I’m in the right place.

Life is not fair

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“The coach stacked the team.”

“What do you mean?”  I asked my son.  He was sitting next to me on the bottom step of the bleachers, panting and sipping water from a squeeze bottle.

“The coach picked all his favorite players and put them on the other team.”

“So, you’re saying the teams aren’t fair?”  I was stalling as I contemplated what to say or do next.  I don’t believe that parents should always rush in and fix their kids’ problems for them.  I don’t like it when parents control the outcomes in favor of their kids.

“Yeah, basically.” My son responded with disgust and discouragement.

“So what do we do when life is unfair?”  I asked him.

“Suck it up and work harder,”  He responded immediately.  I smiled at his interpretation of our family values.

“Exactly.  When the teams are unfair, you’ll have to work harder to beat the other guys.  That’s all there is to it.”  And I sent him back to his team.  I wasn’t sure what he would do with that.  But I was proud to see that for the next half of the soccer game, he really stepped it up and gave it his all.  So much so, that he took a direct hit at close range and his ankle swelled up like a golf ball.  (Hopefully it will look better in the morning after ice, elevation and ibuprofen.)

Way to go Boy!  Not only did you give the other team a run for their money that night, but you demonstrated to me that you have absorbed the family values of no whining and no complaining, work hard and make the most of what life gives you.  You’re team didn’t win, but you have a strong character and solid values.  You’re a good sport in both games and in life.  I’m proud of you, Son.

Rescued from Drowning

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When I was in elementary school, my dad was hired as our church youth pastor.  I thought it was the best thing that could ever happen to a 4th grader because my sister and I got to go to all the youth group events:  hay rack rides, roller skating nights, camp outs, and bon fires.  On one of these summer events, we went tubing down the Apple River, splashing each other and flipping each other’s tubes as we floated down the lazy river.

The top end of the river had been dammed to make a small lake with an island in the center.  It was a small dam because at its headwaters, the river is not much more than a creek.  The small dam was sloped in a way that we could ride our inner tubes down it like a big water slide and at the end of the slide we were rolled and tumbled in the curl of water where the dam met the river.  It was great fun!

While we were waiting our turns on the dam slide (haha, I just made myself giggle) we paddled around the little lake and explored the island.   Some of us invented a sort of game where four of us would all sit on the sides of the same tube and on the count of three we’d all fall backwards into the lake.  Over and over again we’d scramble back up the sides of the tube, laughing and splashing the whole time.  It was great fun to be included in games with the teenagers!

I was having a blast until the very last moment.  No one gave a single thought to the fact that this last load of kids on the inner tube was very mismatched in weight.  We all counted to three and arched our backs to flop into the lake, but since I was the lightest in the group, the inner tube flipped over on top of me.  Before I could get out from under it, the other kids were scrambling back on top of the tube, their feet kicking me as I was trapped under the now fully loaded tube.

I was running out of breath, but I decided that to get out from under their feet I needed to swim deeper and then to the right.  Unfortunately when I sank deeper, my feet became tangled in the weeds at the bottom of the lake.  That’s when I got scared.  I could see the circle of sunlight in the center of the inner tube above me, legs dangling through the hole.  I reached up my hand, but I couldn’t touch anyone.

My lungs were burning.  I was scared.  “This is it,” I thought sadly.  “I’m going to drown within inches of the surface of the water.”  I stretched my arm a little higher, praying that someone would see me.

Suddenly, one of the teenage boys plunged his hand into the water and grabbed my hand with a strong grip.  He pulled me up hard.  As I broke through the surface that had seemed so far out of my reach, I gasped for air.  The boy didn’t say a word, but he draped my arms over the edge of the tube and began paddling towards the shore.  Everyone else on the tube was giggling and splashing, completely unaware of the fact that I had just nearly drowned.  The boy and I did not say a word to each other.  When we got to the shore of the lake, he held me by the shoulders to steer me as I weakly staggered to a sitting position on the narrow strip of sand at the edge of the water.  I sat there trembling.  Then he ran back to join the others for more fun.  I think he knew he had just saved my life, but it was too heavy of a thought to press into words.

I think about that incident when I read the Psalms.  David often speaks of times of sorrow or trouble when the waters are over his head.  He sings of how God lifted him up and put his feet on solid ground.  That’s what God does when we call out to him.  He reaches down and pulls us up.

“Save me O God, for the waters have come up to my neck.  I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold.  I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me.  I am worn out calling for help.”  (Psalm 69:1-3)

“I love the Lord, for he heard my voice, he heard my cry for mercy.  Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.  The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me.  I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.  Then I called on the name of the Lord, ‘O Lord, save me!’  The Lord is gracious and righteous, our God is full of compassion.  The Lord protects the simple-hearted.  When I was in great need, he saved me.  Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.” (Psalm 116:1-6)

Under Heavy Attack

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I walked to the refrigerator to begin making dinner.  My hand felt heavy and weak as I gripped the handle of the fridge.  I didn’t open the door.  I just laid my forehead against the back of my hand still gripping the handle and sighed.  This depression was so heavy that I physically felt tired and drained.  I whispered a silent prayer, “Lord, call off the attack.  I can’t fight this anymore.  I’m too weak and tired.”  A few tears fell from my eyes and splashed on the tile at my feet.  I know He heard my prayer.

From that moment on, I felt a turning of the tide.  I admitted my weakness and asked for help- two things I don’t do very often.  Though I don’t like it, I have begun to acknowledge and respect my own limitations because I no longer feel the imagined condemnation beating me over the head for not being stronger.  That was not from God.  That was the attack of the Enemy- and I finally recognized it.  When I asked for help, God rang the bell and called the match “over”.  HE had won on my behalf.

If you are fighting discouragement, read these words from Brother David Wilkerson and relax.  You can let God do the fighting for you.  You’re not alone.

When you are under attack from the enemy’s spirit of discouragement, you will
not feel like praying. But you still must go to the secret place and be in
Jesus’ presence. Do not worry about trying to pray your way out of despair.
This is the time for God’s Spirit to go to work in you to lift you out of the
pit.

When you go to the Lord, be honest with Him about how weak and helpless you
feel. Let Him know, “Jesus, I’m dry. I have no strength left. If I’m ever going
to get out of this depression, You are going to have to make it happen.”

In such low times, the Lord is very patient with us. He does not expect us to
exert some intense, fervent effort in prayer. He knows our condition, and He
sympathizes with us. Just sit in His presence and trust His Spirit to do in you
what He was sent to do. It doesn’t matter how cast down you are, He will never
forsake you!

We have the notion that every time we fail the Lord, the Holy Spirit flits away
like a bird because He is grieved. But how could God’s Spirit abandon me when I
need Him most? If He leaves me whenever I fail and fall deep into
discouragement, how can He be my Comforter?

Jesus promised us, “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another
Comforter, that he may abide with you forever . . . I will not leave you
comfortless: I will come to you” (John 14:16, 18).

When the devil’s heavy spirit of discouragement settles over your life, you may
be so distraught you cannot even whisper a prayer. But even so, you can talk to
Jesus in your spirit. Just tell Him softly, “Lord, help me. This attack is too
much for me. I can’t do anything but sit here in faith. I am trusting your
Spirit to drive it out of me.”

Beautiful Things

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This is something I found a while ago, and I’ve just been saving it for a rainy day.  I am just winding down the second of two intense weeks at work.  It’s nice to breath and watch a few minutes of creativity.  This makes me think of several of my students who are doodlers like I was when I was a teenager.  I wish I could give this song to each of them.  {Hearts to you kids!}

No room for jealousy, or is it envy?

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You would think that by listening to how people make small talk and how people interact with each other on social media that jealousy is something cute and harmless.  We banter about the phrases, “OMG I’m so jealous!” and “look what I’m doing, are you jealous?”  I think we’ve numbed ourselves to how cutting and dangerous jealousy really is.  If you don’t believe me, just try being genuinely happy for someone who has succeeded in life.  Hard, isn’t it.

Deuteronomy 5:21 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor’s house or land, his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

Jealousy has a sister named Envy.  I actually had to google the differences between these two words because in our culture, they are often interchangeable.  However, they are indeed different, according to one of my favorite nerdy websites “Grammar Girl.”  Jealousy is usually a relationship type of word meaning “apprehensive or vengeful out of fear of being replaced.”  Jealousy is the emotion you feel when you fear that you will lose someone you love to another.  Envy, on the other hand, means “to bear a grudge towards someone due to coveting what someone has or enjoys.”  Envy is the emotion you have when you want what someone else has.  So grammatically speaking, it is more accurate to say, “OMG I’m so envious!”

BEEN THERE DONE THAT

However, both jealousy and envy will tear you apart if you let them.  It is highly possible that you have looked longingly at the details of someone else’s life and envied them.  Perhaps you’ve envied their status or their possessions.  Perhaps you’ve envied their physical appearance or their lifestyle.  I’ve been there myself.  Honestly!  I had a Facebook friend that I hardly knew, but her photos showed such a perfect, carefree lifestyle that she made me pea green with envy!  I had to hide her posts or I’d have to repent every time I logged on.  (Turns out her husband was professional photographer who retouched all her picts before she posted them.  So that made me feel a little better.)  So I know Envy, personally!

But here’s my point, when you envy someone, you never see the whole picture.  Your mind zooms in on the detail that you are fixating on, and you don’t see the negatives at all.  You don’t see the price that the other person has paid to get that rock hard body.  You don’t see the pain that they have endured in failed relationships crushed by climbing the corporate ladder.  You don’t see the sacrifices they have made to get where they are.

NOT WILLING TO COUNT THE COST

As a missionary, yes, I could talk all day long about how wonderful it is to live in the tropics.  And you may envy me the life I live.  But you have the luxury of asking your parents to babysit your kids while you go on a date night with your spouse.  My parents live 3,000 miles away.  You have the potential to own your own house while I will borrow used furniture to fill a rental house for a year when I come home on itineration next spring.   I don’t own a house.  We have one car which belongs to the mission.  And this morning when I made my breakfast I found ants in my French Press… AGAIN.  You don’t see all that when you envy a missionary.

You also don’t see the hours spent standing in lines in government offices.  You don’t see the “tips” paid to police officers to ensure that they don’t syphon gas out of your car at night.  (Yes, police officers.)  You don’t see the mounds of trash that pile up in the streets or the stray dogs that tear into the bags and spread it all over your driveway.  You never give a second thought to flushing your toilet paper.  You don’t think to thank God for a hot shower.  And you’ve never had to use a bigger shoe than the one you were wearing to kill a cockroach.

So yeah, you may envy the pretty pictures of nature that the missionary posts, but unless you’re ready to live in that nature as if you were camping in your own house, you better just look around you and appreciate all that you do have.  Don’t zoom in on one detail of the missionary’s life while ignoring the high price he’s paid.  Walk a mile in a missionary’s shoes and you probably won’t covet what he has.  Envy isn’t a good thing.  Be thankful for what you have and don’t try to take what others have.  That’s healthy living 101.

Psalm 16:6   “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.”

 

Of Sloths and stuff

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This past weekend was a  holiday weekend in Costa Rica.  Here Columbus Day is called “Day of the Races” or Culture Day.  It was convenient that we have Monday off of school since most of the high school kids were on a retreat with our local youth group.  With the two big kids gone, and only the little one at home with mom and dad, we made spontaneous plans with friends to go to the beach for a night.  The beach is so much more restful when you only have one child to keep an eye on!

Normally packing to go away even for one night is like packing for a trip to the moon.  Not only must I pack for myself… which would only take about 30 minutes if that’s all I had to do… but I must also pack (or check the packing of) 3 kids.  We always bring food to the beach too.  We save money by eating breakfast and lunch picnic style so we can eat dinner at a restaurant… that’s a mother’s luxury.  So food for 5 times however many breakfasts and lunches there will be must be packed.  Then there’s all the swimming gear:  boogie boards, goggles and snorkels, sand toys and diving rings, sun screen, water shoes, beach towels, and inflatables.  Usually it’s all stored in one place between trips, but occasionally someone has taken things out of the stash and we must hunt down a lost pair of goggles or the bottle of SPF 85 that I bought last month.  It’s never as easy as I imagined it would be when we first talked about leaving.

Then because it frequently rains at the beach, we bring things to entertain the kids during rainy afternoons and evenings.  A couple of board games, a bag of Barbies, and our computers to watch a movie or two are the preferred methods of entertainment for the family.  I’m just happy with my Kindle and a chair on the balcony with a jungle view.

Once we get packed into the car, the fun begins.  Just getting out of the city for a while is relaxing.  Seeing the mountains split by the ribbon of highway clinging precariously to cliffs facing deep, cloud filled gorges lined with combed rows of coffee bushes causes me to relax my shoulders and breath in the scenery.  I love where I live.  All the way to the beach there are fruit stands marking the places where little towns touch the high way.  If you need a bite to eat, there are “sodas” or little Mom-and Pop diners accompanying the stands of “Mangas” and “Pipas Frias” all along the way.

crocsEven though we’ve seen them a million times, we always stop at one particular bridge to count the giant salt water crocodiles lounging on the banks of the Tarcoles River.  Then we walk back to the road side restaurant for a plate of Gallo Pinto (rice and beans) before continuing on our way to the coast.  As I sit on the wooden benches watching my children sip fresh fruit juice to wash down their rice and beans, I look up to the palm frond roof and think about how much I love this life.  I hear chickens and a rooster outside the door and an iguana climbs up the tree that serves as a wall for the dining area.  The heat is oppressive and I’m sweating through my sarong which only makes the fresh squeezed fruit juice all the more refreshing.  This is the life!

I can’t believe that I GET to live here.  When I stand on the beach and take in the scope of the bay I fall in love with Costa Rica all over again.   I realize that this is where some people come on vacation, but for me, this is my home.  And I never want to leave.

monkeyOne of our family’s favorite things about the beach is all the animals that we get to see there.  San Jose is closing down it’s zoo sometime this year, because it’s pretty pointless when you can see the same animals in the wild for free.  At the beach we spot howler monkeys, “titi” monkeys and white faced capuchins.  Iguanas the size of dogs sun themselves along the steaming hot pavement of the road.  It pays to keep your eyes on the trees, because sloths are everywhere as well.  This past weekend, we spotted a Momma sloth carrying a baby on her belly.  How cool is that?

slothI feel the stress of the last week melt off my shoulders when I consider all the amazing things about where I live.  I am reminded all over again why I love living here.  A weekend at the beach is just what the doctor ordered.