Sorry I’m not home right now, I’m walking in the spider webs, so leave a message and I’ll call you back. This is my life, as I walk through 2-3 gigantic, yet invisible spider webs on a daily basis (while singing No Doubt lyrics in my head). I am aware that the neighbors probably think I’m insane, as I do my invisible-spider-web-karate-chop-spin-moves, accompanied by simultaneous high-pitched screeching, usually also occurring at the same time as my get-away-from-me-you-stupid-mosquito dance. I’ve definitely had to get over my fear of spiders and bugs while living in Central America. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen a tarantula twice now…he seems to live in the Super Samara, the grocery store just down the street from our house, in the banana section (thanks again to Gwen Stefani for helping me always be able to spell b-a-n-a-n-a-s). And I still shop there. We have yet to make full-on frontal eye-contact, I usually see him scurrying quickly under a shelf, just out of the corner of my eye. I think he respects that I’m just not ready for that yet. Baby steps.
Sophie is fitting in well in Samara. She has met 4 other wiener dogs and it’s always entertaining watching a bunch of long dogs sniffing each other in circles on the beach. Her life is full of animal encounters and the hunter inside her never sleeps, or takes a day off. I just watched her chase a big iguana in circles around a tree, from the kitchen window, while scream-barking hysterically. Before that I witnessed a squirrel taunting her from a tree in our yard. As I watch he slowly creeps down the tree, as close as he can get without being within her reach, making squirrel noises at her. He finishes eating his fig and then throws the seed at her. He has pretty decent aim, and a pretty decent arm. By the way, the sound of figs being thrown onto our metal roof in the middle of the night, by Costa Rican squirrels with attitude problems, resembles the sound of gunshots.
We just got back from another kayak excursion. We threw our kayak in our forerunner and drove it down to the other end of Playa Samara and paddled out to Isla Chora again, at low tide. The water was calm and the pelicans dove into the water around us as we paddled out to the island. Once on the island we walked around, talked to the resident raccoon, hung out with hermit crabs, sunbathed, swam & snorkeled. We only saw a few small fish, but it was a blast. On our way back we witnessed a flock of about 50 small birds, diving into the ocean simultaneously after a school of fish. And for once we did not tip the kayak over as we were coming to shore. We’re getting good at this ocean-living lifestyle.
Our Spanish is slowly getting better. We are studying flash cards in between our 2-3 classes/week. A lot of it is just making yourself get out there and speak Spanish to people, even if you sound like an idiot. Like I did as I said to our gardener yesterday “hi, your name is Kari and it’s raining” (it wasn’t). Even though I walk away from every attempted Spanish conversation feeling embarrassed, that is how you learn. And Costa Ricans are so nice and patient, and usually willing to help you if you’re willing to try to speak their language. And if all else fails, just repeat “Pura Vida” over and over, which is how our conversations with the gardener, Mingo, usually go. Mingo did introduce us to a new fruit tree in our yard that we didn’t know much about. The fruit is big, green and pokey and is called Cherimoya. Apparently it tastes like a combination of peach, strawberry, pineapple, banana, & papaya. Mark Twain called it “the most delicious fruit known to man”. The creamy texture of the flesh gives the fruit its secondary name, custard apple. Mingo picked a big one for us and told us “dos dias”, so we will wait two days and then try it out.
The other day we went to a new waterfall, right outside the town of Nicoya, about 15 minutes from Samara. These falls don’t have a name that I know of, and they are very off-grid and not mentioned online anywhere that I could find. We turned down a random dirt road and after a couple kilometers of pothole driving we pulled off by a small gap in a barbed wire fence. We could hear the falls and hiked down a hill toward them. The water was a little dirty, so we chose not to swim and risk disease, but it was a beautiful & peaceful place to spend a few hours. The hike down involved many slippery, muddy rocks, so it is a little risky, which I found out as I slipped and fell. If there is a way to fall, I will find it! I never seem to outgrow my klutziness. Not sure if we’ll go back again anytime soon, but it’s nice to know there’s a waterfall that close to Samara.
Our internet has been going out a lot lately, due to weather. We are in the middle of rainy season, it pours all afternoon and all evening. We love the cool weather and the intense thunder & lightning storms. The heavens put on quite the show for us nightly. The sky lights up with multiple streaks of light and we brace ourselves for the booming crack that is sure to follow. The thunder is so piercingly loud, the walls of the house vibrate with it. Every night I think we are experiencing an earthquake, but it’s just angry Costa Rican thunder. That, or God hosting a bowling tournament. Sophie seems to love it though, as she loves any good excuse to bark. Hasta Luego Amigos!
"Let more joy into your life.
This world is given to us as a beautiful garden and we diminish it if we do not enjoy its fruits."
-Dr. Brian Weiss
Well, not every day is a vacation, and especially not the day I got stung by a stingray. Andy & I were swimming at Playa Samara mid-day, and as I was swimming out into the ocean, I stopped and put my feet down…right onto a stingray. It stung me on both feet and I instantly jumped into Andy’s arms, yelling that something stung me. It hurt like @#@!#!!! I didn’t immediately know what it was and described it to Andy as feeling like a squishy plant made of barbed wire. As I hobbled to the shore (trying not to make too big of a scene) Andy put on his goggles and bravely went out in search of whatever stung me, while I walked home to wash off my wounds (really glad in that moment to live ½ block from the ocean). He showed up at the house a few minutes later reporting that he saw a black stingray in the water right near where I was stung.
Luckily the pain only lasted about 15 minutes, I think I was lucky to not have been stung worse. I did pull out a small piece of stingray barb from one of my wounds, and my wounds were swollen and itchy for a few days. I’ve always been afraid of the ocean and I’ve made such great progress while living here, so I hope this doesn’t put me back! I’ve swam once since the sting, and I made sure to shuffle my feet the whole way out, as apparently that scares them off. I guess I’m glad I got that out of the way, hopefully now the odds are ever in my favor of that not ever happening again. Like ever.
On a happier note, we went on another road trip to Barrigona Beach (surfer’s beach). It’s a hidden beach that not many people know about, we had to walk through a small river to access it, and it has gorgeous white crystal sand and clear turquoise water. The waves are huge, the howler monkeys are loud and the hermit crabs number in the thousands. We brought along our new friends Mitch & Julie, and found a place in the shade to enjoy the beach. This is the beach where Mel Gibson owns a house, and we howled at some howler monkeys that were hanging out in the trees of his driveway. We walked up and down the beach, collecting huge shells, and Andy & Mitch played Frisbee on the beach. It was a spectacular day.
We were finally able to rent some life jackets & kayak paddles from Paco at Tico Surf, who rented them to us ironically the day before he left Samara to visit Bend, OR on vacation. Small world! Tell Bend hi for us Paco, we miss it. We finally took our inflatable kayak out at Carrillo and it did really well. It has good speed, and is easy to transport since it’s lightweight and can be packed into a small box. We only tipped over once, on a big wave as we were paddling into shore, which always seems to happen. It’s nice to have our own kayak and we plan to take it out as much as possible. Maybe we can even rent it out by the hour to tourists during busy season.
We’ve been meeting lots of great new friends and were invited to a game night over at Kalin & Julie’s place where we played Cards Against Humanity all night. We picked up pizza at Mama Gui’s for game night, and it was delicious. We had an avocado & shrimp pizza, an Indian chicken pizza and an eggplant goat cheese pizza. We’ll definitely have to eat there again. We’ve also been spending a lot of time at Arriba’s watching football, they have good food too. And last night we ate at Lo Que Hay, the pork tacos were incredible.
Our friend Julia is visiting again, so we got to spend more time with her. She invited us over to Kalimba for lunch and a pool party. We swam and drank boxed red wine over ice, with orange juice, all afternoon. It tasted just like sangria! And Julia still loves Samara and may end up moving here soon. Everyone who comes here seems to fall in love and stay forever.
Last night was our first night sleeping without the A/C on. It wasn’t very hot out, so it was a good time to try, but neither of us slept all that well. But we made it all night without turning it on! And I think we should reward ourselves with (and I think Andy agrees with me)…a full night of A/C tonight!
Here are a couple of quotes to end the day with:
Thank you for making us feel tiny, humble, inspired, and salty….all at once.”
“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods;
There is a rapture on the lonely shore;
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more.”
pura vida - "pure life"; to live a peaceful, simple uncluttered life with a deep appreciation for nature, family, and friends; a "real living" that reflects happiness, well-being, conformity and satisfaction.
We’ve had two Spanish lessons so far and have signed up for 3 days/week. It’s going to be a long, slow process but we’ve taken the first step. Our Spanish teacher is named Sarah and is just a 10-minute walk down the beach from our house. She also runs a bed & breakfast, and an Oregon couple on their honeymoon was just checking in as we were leaving class today. We continue to be surprised at what a small world this is. We managed to watch the Duck game on Saturday at Arriba, and even ran into a few fellow Duck fans from Oregon. The many beers we consumed may have helped to numb the pain we felt, watching our defense struggle. But no matter how the Ducks are playing, we are always proud to be from Oregon.
Last Monday we got up early and drove to the huge waterfall, near Liberia, called Llanos de Cortes. It was the most incredible waterfall I’ve ever seen. The water was so nice, cool & refreshing. You can swim in the big pool at the bottom of the falls, and walk up behind the falls and stand on the rocks. We also found a hidden smaller waterfall where you can jump off the rocks into the pool, and swim into a cave. We had such an amazing day. This was one of our favorite Costa Rica experiences. It’s about a 2 hour drive from Samara, so a doable day trip, and we plan to take all family & friends who come to visit us. The waterfall will only be an hour away from the house we rented in Playa del Coco for the month of November, so I’m sure we’ll take advantage of being closer and go as much as we can.
On the way to the waterfall we were stopped for about 30 minutes while an accident was cleared from the road. Apparently a BMW was driving way too fast and hit a motorcycle head-on and it did not end well for the motorcyclist. You’d think that would make everyone drive a little safer after witnessing that horrific scene, but as soon as we finally started moving we saw two near head-on collisions as impatient drivers tried to pass other drivers on blind corners. Moral of this story: Andy’s never getting a motorcycle while we’re in Costa Rica.
We were running low on coconuts so we took another day trip to San Miguel. It’s about an hour and 30 minutes away and is a beach notorious for being absolutely deserted, and for having many low-hanging coconut trees. We’ve been there twice and have yet to see another person on this beach. We cut down a bunch of coconuts and stocked our car. After researching the health benefits of drinking fresh coconut water, we’ve decided to drink it daily. Sophie, too. I even learned how to cut them open with our machete by myself, without cutting my hand off (very proud moment for me). We always keep a couple in the fridge, ready to be cut open after our morning beach walks.
San Miguel is a very special beach. We found so many huge, whole sand dollars. They litter the beach here. We also found many beautiful, colorful shells. Andy is in the process of making me a necklace rack, made out of shells, glued onto a piece of driftwood. How creative! I’ll cherish it for life.
The power goes out here for a few seconds at a time, multiple times each day. No biggie, it always comes right back on. I always say as long as it doesn’t go off at night, I can handle it. (No A/C and no fan at night is just not going to work for me). And of course, it finally happened! The power was out most of the night, and it was impossible to sleep. I need airflow. Hopefully that won’t happen too often. And good thing I have plenty of time for afternoon naps these days. I do think afternoon naps should be mandatory for all adults.
We’ve had a few people show up outside our fence, trying to sell us things. And the other day we had some Jehova’s Witnesses show up (speaking English). Am I really the only person who hides when Jehova’s Witnesses knock on your door? It’s just a natural reflex, I can’t help it. I really dislike when people knock on my door, trying to sell me stuff, especially religion. (Where is my No Soliciting sign when I need it? Maybe I need to make some in Spanish. Then I can knock on people’s doors and sell them No Soliciting signs). By the way, have you ever noticed that Jehova’s Witnesses don’t celebrate Halloween? Apparently they don’t like people knocking on their doors and asking them for things…
We went to Lo Que Hay the other night for a few beers & to watch the sunset on the beach. We met some more great new friends and made plans to check out a nearby beach we haven’t been to yet. If you’re ever in Samara, you have to spend some time at Lo Que Hay. It’s our favorite bar in this town. The vibes are awesome, the prices are great, & the view is spectacular.
Sophie met a 13-year old wiener dog on our beach walk yesterday. The Pura Vida life seemed to agree with him, as he did not look his age. Must be the coconut water. Even the dogs here are all Pura Vida’d out. They lounge on the beach, they hang out in the ocean, they play with each other, they nap at your feet. There is no aggression, no alpha dog, no anger, no fighting. Just Pura Vida. This country has a way of getting inside the veins of every living being that inhabits it.
Samara is one of the most laid-back towns on the planet. I’ve heard many people say this in the last few weeks. It just has such a mellow vibe. No one is ever in a hurry, nobody’s stressed, no frowns, no worries. Samara is unique, in that the locals and ex-pats all exist together, there is no dividing line. That is pretty rare for Costa Rica, I’ve been told. Here everyone accepts everyone else. It’s all One Love. We have definitely found our place in this country, and this wonderful, laid-back Bohemian town is really starting to feel like home. Pura Vida!
We found a place to rent in Samara for December & January. It’s a very nice condo with a small dipping pool, and A/C, for a reasonable price. It’s a relief to have lodging arranged for the holidays. We looked at a few places, but this one was by far the best fit for us.
We quickly realized that eating out & drinking out will cause us to blow right through our monthly budget, so we make all our meals at home and eat out once a week. Last week we tried El Lagarto, which turned out to be the best meal we’ve had yet in Costa Rica. It is an expensive restaurant for Costa Rica, but is one of those places where anything you order off the menu will be incredible. We started with 2 for 1 drinks, my pina colada was amazing. Andy ordered the bacon-wrapped pork loin and I had the stuffed chicken breast. Each was served with a baked potato covered in a delicious garlic sauce, and fresh grilled zucchini and a broiled tomato with an herb sauce. All their ingredients are local & organic. The food was so good, we can’t wait to go back. And after ordering 4 drinks and 2 dinners, our bill still only came to $50, and that is expensive for Costa Rica. Then we went to Gusto Beach and Lo Que Hay for after dinner drinks. We sat up on a 10-foot high beach chair, drinking our beers & watching the ocean.
We met a local named Larry at Lo Que Hay. He is a surf instructor at Tico Surf School, which is right in front of Lo Que Hay. I remember the first time we saw him out there ripping up the waves, dreadlocks flowing behind him. He was definitely born to be on a surf board, he makes it look so easy. His dad is from the Carribean side and his mom is from Samara. We quickly make friends with him and invite him over for drinks. He starts teaching us some Spanish words and says several times that we need to learn Spanish. And we have officially taken the first step and arranged our first Spanish class for next Friday. Our friend Kristi referred us to a lady named Sarah who teaches Spanish, and only charges $10/hour per couple.
The realtor who has been showing us houses recommended that we check out the beaches of San Miguel and Playa del Coyote, so we took another road trip and spent the day at a couple new beaches. And a new bridge had recently been built, helping us to avoid a river crossing (to Andy’s disappointment). At Playa del Coyote we found some low-hanging coconut trees and cut down a bunch to take home with us. We keep several in our fridge so we can drink fresh, cold coconut water each day. Sophie loves it. We also found huge whole sand dollars on this beautiful deserted beach, as well as thousands of sand crabs. Sophie had an encounter with a crab, as she chased it in circles around the beach, trying to eat it, as I panicked behind her, trying to save the poor crab’s life, as Andy laughed at both of us and photographed the whole event. Quite the ordeal.
A couple days ago we rented kayaks, $30 for 3 hours, and we kayaked out to Isla Chora, the small island off the Samara coast. It was a gorgeous sunny day when we started, crystal blue sky shining over the turquoise water. We got to the island and noticed a raccoon eating watermelon, surrounded by thousands of hermit crabs. We explored the island and sun-bathed for a bit, before heading back. On our way back we noticed a huge, dark storm rolling in, as we furiously paddled back to shore trying to beat it. The lightning was fun to watch from the ocean. We barely made it back before the storm hit, and we may have gotten knocked over in a massive wave (the guy who rented us the kayaks found our fall very amusing, and I have to admit I would love to have seen what it looked like), but we survived. And we can’t wait to do it again! We told Pablo, the guy we rented kayaks from, about our trouble finding kayak paddles and life jackets for purchase in Costa Rica. He said he could make us a good deal and rent some to us long-term. Finally! Hopefully now we can try out our own kayak.
The storm that began while we were kayaking lasted all afternoon/evening. It was a cool 75 degrees, so we walked all over town without even breaking a sweat! I love Costa Rica, but I have to admit that I miss the air in Oregon. Oregon air just tastes good and feels good in your lungs when you breathe it. Oregon has some good air. It tastes so cold and fresh. The air here tastes like sweat. HOT, muggy sweat.
Speaking of cool air, I love the early mornings here. I’ve never been a morning person and always loved to sleep in. Now I get up at 5:30am or 6am every day. The mornings are cool, quiet and peaceful. I love sitting with my delicious coffee, listening to the birds before most people are awake. And most nights I’m in bed by 9pm. Early to bed and early to rise around here. And I love it. Sleeping in and missing the peaceful, quiet, cool mornings would be a tragedy.
It’s so difficult to figure out what time it is around here. We have no clock in our house. My phone went nuts and is off by about 7 hours and 22 minutes. My lap top is a few hours behind. So determining the time often requires doing math in my head, which is not one of my best qualities. I constantly ask Andy “what time is it”? He always says “Who cares? Why do you need to know”? Good point. I don’t have anywhere I need to be at anytime, so I am learning to let go of knowing what time it is. It’s always Tico Time around here anyway.
Yesterday was our 6th wedding anniversary. (We were planning to go check out a huge waterfall that is about 2 hours away for our anniversary, but we decided to do that on Monday instead, hoping that a weekday morning will give us the waterfall to ourselves.) We started our anniversary morning with homemade French toast with vanilla and cinnamon and nutmeg, cooked in coconut oil, then packed a picnic lunch and headed to our favorite beach for a beach walk and ocean swim. Then we headed home to get ready for the Duck game, which we were able to watch online. At half-time we headed out to dinner at Casa Esmerelda. I had chicken in gorgonzola sauce and Andy had a tuna steak. Both were amazing of course. The restaurant had wi-fi so we were able to watch the rest of the Duck game on Andy’s phone at our anniversary dinner (I think that should win me wife-of-the-year-award). The Ducks won! The game was on the PAC-12 network, so we were able to watch this one. But for most of the other games we will have to befriend a bartender somewhere and beg them to turn on the Duck game. We will make sure that by the time we leave Samara that everyone here has heard of the Oregon Ducks.
Anyone who knows me knows that I love a good quote book. Throughout college, and after, I’ve always kept a quote book where we write down funny things that people say. I’ll leave you with some quotes from my Costa Rica quote book, weird things we only say in Costa Rica:
“I might even wear shoes today.”
“Look at that wall of jungle”
“Sophie, please stop barking at the monkeys”
“What day is it?”
“Where is my sweat rag?”
“Look at the balls on that monkey!”
“Get your shirt out of the freezer and let’s go!”
Kari Pinkerton Silcox
It would be a tragedy to die, having never really lived. Which is why my husband Andy and I quit our jobs, sold our house and decided to chase our dreams. We moved to Costa Rica without a plan, and this is the story of our adventure.