put down what distracts you, appreciate what surrounds you…
Life is so much simpler here. I never use the make-up I brought, or the hair dryer or curling iron. It’s so hot and muggy here that no one bothers to do their hair, a messy bun is acceptable for every female (and male) that walks this mellow beach town. You know what is prettier than a bunch of make-up? 12 hours of sleep, a natural tan and happiness. No amount of make-up can paint your face happy, well-rested and naturally sun-kissed.
I live in tank tops, shorts and flip flops. No wedding ring, no jewelry at all, no purse. I leave the house with nothing but myself. My purse, my cell phone, my camera all used to be my security blankets. Now I have nothing to mask myself from the world, the world can see me as I am and for what I have to offer, and not for what brand of purse I carry. It’s so refreshing to not need stuff anymore. The less I have, the happier I am.
The other day Andy and I were enjoying a drink at a beach bar called La Vela Latina, sitting up on a tall bench looking out at the ocean. I notice a couple below us, lounging in beach chairs. It’s obvious they are here on vacation by their sunburns, big camera, and overflowing beach bag. The afternoon sun is setting before them, the surfers just starting to trickle into the water to hunt their evening waves. Dogs run free, splashing in the surf. Horses trot up and down the beach. A gentle game of Frisbee lines the shore. I’m admiring the view the couple has in front of them, trying to think back to my first time witnessing these laid-back beach life scenes in Samara…
I turn to look at the couple, to analyze their appreciation for this experience, and notice they have each picked up their cell phones and appear to be scrolling through their facebook newsfeed. I watch them for 15 minutes, as they ignore each other, the setting sun and the beautiful beach scene painted before them, not once looking up from their gadgets. How sad to see them missing their right now, this moment they can never get back.
They probably saved for months for this ‘vacation of a lifetime’. And they are spending it laying on the beach, but not seeing the beach. They are spending it in a false technical world designed to make people monsters, consuming and not appreciating. Posting but not really living. Taking selfies but not being self-aware. I know because I recognize myself in them. When you dislike something about someone else, it is because it reminds you of something you don’t like about yourself.
In this moment I am so grateful to no longer have a purse, camera or a cell phone to distract me from the beauty of right now. Right now is all we have. I have the urge to share this notion with them…but I look down again and they are still absorbed in their cell phones so I know they wouldn’t be able to absorb the message. But I’d like to thank them for the reminder they gave me today. Gracias Gringos!
We are thoroughly enjoying our private outdoor sanctuary in our new Samara house. One of our hammocks now hangs in the corner, under shade. We also installed a hook for our hammock chair, out in the sun by the dipping pool. This is heaven and I am taking advantage of every moment I can in our outdoor paradise.
One afternoon I was swinging the day away in the hammock, thinking about how swinging in a hammock feels like the universe is rocking your soul, whispering through the breeze into your heart that (cue Bob Marley song) every little thing is gonna be alright. The sun shines on my face and the ocean wind whips the free strands of my hair in all directions, as I listen to the crash of the waves on the shore below. The sky begins to turn pink and I notice the sounds of the jungle transition to evening.
Suddenly I hear a commotion in the tree tops, and a deep, startling roar booms through the jungle air. I jump out of the hammock, alive with the excitement of our first monkey visit at our new house. Sophie barks furiously as the monkeys swarm the trees. Three sets of monkey families in three different sets of trees communicate back and forth, matching howl for howl.
I notice one monkey, sitting quietly in a tree, staring at me. I stare back. After a few minutes I win the stare-off and the monkey turns away. On her back I see a tiny monkey baby hanging on for dear life. His huge, wandering eyes bravely taking in his surroundings. He slowly climbs down his mother’s back, grabs onto the branch and peers at the jungle below.
His innocent, pure eyes meet mine, startled, as Sophie lets out a series of sharp barks. With my long camera lens I snap a million pictures. A larger monkey, with very big, noticeable monkey balls, appears out of nowhere and lets out a few shorts howls, letting me know this is his family and that I better check myself (and my little dog too).
I give this monkey family some space and wander over to photograph the next one. Thrilled to spot another mother and her baby, I fire off more photos. The jungle is alive with the sound of the howler monkey families, singing a chorus of monkey calls to each other. The sound is so incredibly loud, it echoes throughout the town. Eventually the monkeys quiet down, and making themselves comfortable they stretch out and lounge in the trees for an afternoon nap. Sophie continues to bark desperately, trying to engage a monkey, any monkey. Eventually I put her inside so the monkeys can nap in peace.
They, however, don’t extend me the same courtesy, showing up the next four mornings (and counting), at 4am, to scream and howl outside our window. A wonderful, startling jungle alarm clock that engages Sophie in a vicious pre-dawn barking war. It was pretty cute the first couple of mornings…but is quickly beginning to lose its appeal. (I know, I know, poor me!)
rules are made to be broken…
There are no rules here. The only rule is to enjoy yourself. In the states we make rules for everything: who can park where and when, check-in and check-out times, pool hours, speed limits, there are rules for everything! In Costa Rica there are no rules, or at least less enforcing of them. This leaves you with the feeling of freedom. You can do whatever you want (within reason).
What time does the pool close? NEVER! Swim at 3am if you want. What time is check in? NOW! What about check out? WHENEVER! It is so refreshing to not have the feeling of someone always watching you, counting the things you’re doing wrong and the rules you are breaking, waiting to give you a ticket or a fine or a tongue-lashing. Reverse psychology at its finest and it works! Tell someone they absolutely cannot do something, and they will want to do it. Remove the rules and it’s no longer as appealing to break them.
Life is different here, slower. In Costa Rica they will never bring you your check at a restaurant. They consider it disrespectful and instead allow you to enjoy your time with no feeling of rush. Even if you only order one $2 beer, you have the right to sit at that beach table and enjoy that beer all day long, if you feel like it. You have to ask for your check here, always.
In the states they are always rushing you out the door, shoving your check onto your table the second your food is delivered, wanting to turn the table over quickly. Treating you like a number, not a person. I remember nights where we spent $100 on fancy dinners, and 30 minutes after arriving we are being rushed out of the restaurant, wishing we could get our $100 and 30 minutes back. I love that the servers here encourage you to take your time. Enjoy the view. Let your food digest. Think about life. It used to be so rare for us to sit for an hour after our last sip of beer or bite of food, in pure, appreciative silence, just to enjoy the view. But it feels wonderful.
Costa Rica is trying to send the world a message: less rushing, more enjoying. The only rule is to enjoy yourself and to have fun. Are you listening? Are you ready to absorb the message? If not, no worries, the message will still be waiting when you’re finally ready. The message is clear and is repeated many times each day in this sleepy beach town:
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.