Tag Archives: relaxation

Of Sloths and stuff

Standard

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.

Where I learned something about myself

Standard

A few weeks ago my husband and I went away for the weekend, just by ourselves.  I think I can count on one hand the number of times that we have left our children and had a weekend getaway.  We have been in full time ministry for the last 20 years and we’ve been parents for more than 17 of those years.  Weekend getaways have been few and far between.  But this year we started the year with putting two dates on the calendar before any others.  We blocked out a week vacation for a “stay-cation” at the end of summer and we blocked out a weekend away just for us.

22 Kilometers (just under an hour) of winding, climbing dirt road.

22 Kilometers (just under an hour) of winding, climbing dirt road.

We chose a new location to explore on our getaway.  We took the very, VERY bumpy and long road up to Monteverde Cloud Forest.  As we climbed up and up the mountainous dirt road separating the coastal highway from the high-altitude forest preserve, I enjoyed the scenery and the ever changing flora without the bickering of siblings and the tired, whining demands of children behind me.  We played the music WE wanted to hear.  We stopped and took pictures where WE wanted to stop.  We bought and ate the gas station snacks that WE wanted to eat.  It was lovely.

Up, up in the clouds it was cool and damp.  It was the most Fall-like weather I’ve ever experienced in the tropics.  This Minnesota girls who was starting to miss the seasonal changes got her “fall fix” and was happy.  Our hotel was at the very end of the road, just before the entrance to the National Park.  It was quiet up there.  I liked that… a lot!

The little town of Santa Elena which services the tourists coming to the cloud forest was a kitschy little collection of souvenir shops, typical Costa Rican restaurants, and “Extreme” tourism offices.  If Wisconsin Dells were transported to the Swiss Alps, that would describe Santa Elena and Monteverde.  It was cute.  After all, who doesn’t love “Reptile World” and souvenir magnets?  We ate at an amazing restaurant built into a tree.  We pretended that the Swiss Family Robinson had opened a restaurant in Costa Rica.  The food was so tasty that we went back for dinner the next night too!

Eating at the Tree House Restaurant... the original Rainforest Cafe, I suppose.

Eating at the Tree House Restaurant… the original Rainforest Cafe, I suppose.

We decided to skip the zip lining adventure since we’ve done that a million times.  And we didn’t pay to go into the National Park.  It’s been our experience that animals pay no attention to the boundary lines of parks.  They go where the food is, hence, where the people are.  So we skipped that.  We took a very disappointing night hike with an Israeli family who talked incessantly and loudly, successfully warning any animals of our presence.  The best part about the night-hike was the gigantic tarantula we found in a dead tree stump.  Note to self:  if you’re ever lost in the jungle in the night, do NOT place your back against a dead tree unless you want to be instantly covered in prehistoric sized insects of all varieties.

After the successful ATV tour through the cloud forest.

After the successful ATV tour through the cloud forest.

But the absolute best part of the weekend was that I drove an ATV (4 wheeler) for the first time!  Josh had gone before a few times, but it was my first time.  I mainly agreed to do it for my husband’s sake.  I was the only girl in the group.  I was super nervous and cautious at first.  But once I got the hang of it, I could keep up with the men no problem.  And guess what.  It was a BLAST!  I was so proud of myself for learning to drive it and for being brave.  I really enjoyed it and will definitely be doing that again!

We also spent plenty of time just reading quietly, examining birds through binoculars while sitting in our front window, and just being together… without kids!  It was a wonderful weekend getaway.  We came home feeling refreshed and ready for the next challenges that life and ministry would bring our way.  We decided we need to do that more often.  It was lovely.

Relax and enjoy my Friendship

Standard

This is the devotional I read for July 9 and 10.  Yes, I bunch up the readings and then let them sink in for a while before I bite off another bunch.  I read the book “Jesus Calling” as my morning devos. and then I do longer readings from other books and a portion of scripture for my evening devos.  This blessed me, and I just want to share it with you.

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

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

“Stop worrying long enough to hear My voice.  I speak softly to you in the depths of your being.  Your mind shuttles back and forth, hither and yon, weaving webs of anxious confusion.  As My thoughts rise up within you, they become entangled in those sticky webs of worry.  Thus, my voice is muffled, and you hear only ‘white noise.’

“Ask My Spirit to quiet your mind so that you can think My thoughts.  This ability is an awesome benefit of being my child, patterned after My own image.  Do not be deafened by the noise of the world or that of your own thinking.  Instead, be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Sit quietly in My Presence, letting My thoughts reprogram your thinking.

“Relax in my peaceful Presence.  Do not bring performance pressures into our sacred space of communion.  When you are with someone you trust completely, you are free to be yourself… I know the worst about you, but I also see the best in you.  I long for you to trust me enough to be fully yourself with Me.  When you are real with Me, I am able to bring out the best in you:  the very gifts I have planted in your soul.  Relax and enjoy our friendship.”

~Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

Pura Vida: The Way to Carpe Diem the Good Life

Standard

We have a phrase here in Costa Rica that is unique to this country.  We say “Pura Vida” which literally means “Pure Life”.  This is a handy little phrase that can be thrown into nearly any pause in a conversation and usually elicits expressions of pleasant surprise on the face of every Tico who hears a Gringo or Gringa pull off a Pura Vida.  How’s your day going?  Pura Vida.  How do you like Costa Rica?  Pura Vida.  Do you want to go surfing with me?  Pura Vida.  Would you like another plate of Gallo Pinto?  No thanks.  (I just threw that last one in for fun.)

Anyhow.  Pura Vida is kind of the national phrase of Costa Rica.  It rings with the mellow tones of a laid back way of looking at things.  It typifies the Costa Rican way of going about life, or rather of letting life happen.  I like Pura Vida.  I’m kind of a laid back, go with the flow, HakunaMatata kind of a girl.  So Pura Vida suits me.

Just for the fun of it, the Pura Vida, watch this beautiful video of someone’s vacation to Costa Rica and breath deeply.  Relax and enjoy this.  Pretend it’s YOUR vacation video.  Kick off your shoes under your desk and enjoy a little Pura Vida today.  It’s on the house.