When my husband and I spontaneously quit our jobs, sold our house and bought one-way tickets to Costa Rica, I had numerous moments of second-guessing our decision. Constantly searching for signs, while worrying about the unknown, and while full of mixed feelings about leaving our home and loved ones in our dust, I over-analyzed every situation we found ourselves entangled in.
Being lost in San Jose at 2am, and not speaking the native language, was my first moment of regret. Being forced to drive our car through, not over, a dangerous river crossing was my second. Being struck at by a 6-foot pit viper was yet another. Getting stranded at a volcano, sliced open by a sting ray barb, and stung by a jellyfish...these moments began to pile up.
Looking back at all of those moments, I now realize if I had been offered an instant portal back through time, shooting me directly into the safety and comfort of our home we had just sold in Bend, OR, I would have gladly accepted.
But the first big sign I took to mean we were traveling down the right path, was the day we were introduced to our new constant companion. The only being that would accompany us on every adventure across the country, guiding our way safely and efficiently. A beloved friend, a loyal amigo, a vessel to make possible the daring dreams we were seeking.
It was the day we met our 1997 Toyota 4Runner.
BJC 535. That is her license plate, and that was the biggest sign to me that we were on the correct path in our lives. BJC were the same letters on the license plate of my car back home. From one BJC to the next. Someone out there was letting me know I made the right decision by moving to Costa Rica.
BJC now stands for Badass Jungle Car, and the beast has earned her name in the last 18+ months, as she has safely transported us through the best months of our lives, on the worst roads of our lives, all over the breath-taking land of "rich coasts".
She is an underdog, simply because she is 2-wheel drive in a country where 4 by 4's are worshipped. She is unfairly judged due to this label, on a daily basis. The sympathetic looks we get are offensive, as we reveal her hidden secret, whispering to her to not be ashamed and instead to wear her differences proudly, like a rainbow flag. We assure her that the bullies are just jealous of her sleek track record, along with her beast-like abilities and pure sex appeal.
Haters gonna hate. Meanwhile, we'll be at the beach...
With her powerful, purring engine, her ruthless and determined mountain tires, along with my husband's skilled driving abilities and heavy foot, we smile and wave at all the slow 4 by 4's we fly past, as we drive home each day on our "4-wheel drive only" mountain road.
Who doesn't love the story of a victorious underdog? Badass Jungle Car got us through the worst rainy season in history, while we lived at the top of a rugged, washed out mountain road, at times having to drive through landslides to get home. BJC never let us down. The odds were not in her favor, yet she rose to the top, to the literal top of our mountain, day after day, storm after storm, natural disaster after natural disaster. If cars could talk...oh, the stories she could tell.
Like the time she led us to a struggling sloth, trying to slowly cross a busy highway, with trucks barreling at us in each direction. She pulled over, and insisted we help the sloth to safety. Most cars in Costa Rica cause the death of sloths, yet BJC prevents them. A sloth-saving car...yeah, I'm pretty sure she has a stockpile of good karma now looming in her corner...(which can now be yours for only $7500! Who says you can't buy good karma?)
We'll just be over here changing the world, one sloth at a time.
Here is our friend Mr. Sloth smiling and waving at us with BJC beaming in the background.
Or the time she led us to a rare, secret low-hanging coconut tree, so we could stock up on fresh pipa frias. We lived on these pipas for weeks, which saved my life one morning from a horrific boxed red wine hangover (dang you Clos, never again).
Or the numerous times she took us on deserted beach drives, spinning through the sand, along the shore, never faltering in her confidence and always returning us home safely.
Or the endless days she granted us, swinging our worries away in a hammock, safe in her shadow, under her protective, motherly gaze.
Or the numerous Costa Rican traffic jams that she patiently waited behind.
Or the times she led us up rugged mountain roads, through potholes and rivers, to picturesque, expansive viewpoints of the coastline, like this view of the famous Whale's Tail beach above Uvita.
Or the many road trips she took us on, to explore the scenic valleys and colorful, rural mountainsides.
Or the countless new beaches she introduced us to and allowed us to fall in love with over and over again.
Or the unique, vibrant sunsets she witnessed beside us, as we admired the sun descending on another day in our pura vida paradise.
So many memories, so many experiences, so many friendships made. (Sidenote: it's extremely easy to make friends in Costa Rica when you have a car).
Right now is the beginning of the end to our 2-year Costa Rica trip, and we are preparing ourselves for the dreaded goodbye. Before the sun sets on this phase in our lives, we want to dedicate some time to finding BJC a loving new home who will treat her as we have: like a member of the family.
We purchased her in San Jose for $10,000 in July of 2015. We have taken incredible care of her, with regular maintenance and love. Her Marchamo is paid through the end of 2017. She will be available in the end of February, as we are moving back to the states. With just over 100,000 miles on her, she has an automatic transmission, guts made of steel, and a brave, strong engine.
Starting at $7500 (U.S.), we are open to negotiation, so please feel free to make an offer.
We live near the town of Uvita, along the Southern Pacific Coast, and can meet anyone within that area if you would like to see the car in person, or take her for a test drive. We will possibly be driving to the Nicoya Peninsula, sometime in the next month, and are happy to make some stops along the way if anyone is interested in meeting her.
Please email me with any questions, or to set up an appointment for a viewing/test drive, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or you can text us at (506) 8449-5829.
We do not receive voicemails, and have bad cell reception at our house, so please email or text only. And don't panic if we don't get back to you right away, we are out enjoying our last days of beaches and hammocks and sometimes we are unreachable for a day or so.
As we look forward to our future, we are sad to say goodbye to Badass Jungle Car, as she has been a true companion through the best days of our lives. She found her way into our lives easily and chose us at the right time. Now I am confident that she will find her way into the next person's life at also just the right time. And maybe that person is reading this right now.
Pay it Forward BJC, hasta luego and may we meet again someday on this crazy adventure called life.
Happy Travels and Pura Vida!
This holiday season was our 2nd tropical holiday season spent in pura vida paradise. A new tradition, where less is the new more. Hammocks replace gifts and our presence is the only present needed, tropical potlucks replace 12-course meals, and fresh ahi tuna and pulled pork and pineapple is the new turkey, gravy, and mashed potatoes.
My husband Andy's family came to visit during the holidays and we all gathered at a lovely beach house in Ojochal for a week. Relaxing by the pool, with an icy maragrita in hand, is how we spent our first few days. The long, winding, bumpy mountain road made it easy for us to stay put and enjoy our own personal piece of paradise. But eventually we made our way up another awful mountain road to indulge in some delicious wings and burgers at Bar Jolly Roger's.
Andy's sister Stacey and her husband Matt showed up a few days later. The 6 of us spent a few days floating in the ocean at Playa Pinuelas, which has become our favorite beach for swimming in the area. A part of the Marina Ballena Natonal Park, it is tucked into small cove, making the south end of the shore calm and safe for swimming. (Be cautious of the riptide on the north end of the shore however.)
One of our favorite experiences as a family was our Sierpe river boat tour, full of sun, sand, friendly Tico captains, secluded beaches and more wildlife sightings than we could have asked for. We saw so many incredible animals that this experience deserves it's own blog, so stay tuned...
We wrapped up Steve & Wendy's Costa Rican Christmas vacation with a family dinner at Exotica, one of our favorite restaurants in the entire country. Tahitian fish carpaccio, chicken breast stuffed with cream cheese, plums and bacon, a filet that melts in your mouth, flavorful pork and pineapple, and a round of mind-blowing desserts. If you're ever lucky enough to eat at Exotica I recommend the Cool Passion dessert, which is vanilla ice cream topped with homemade passionfruit sorbet and drizzled with blackberry sauce. Holy YUM.
For our Christmas Eve dinner we stopped at the "fresh fish guy" in Ojochal and went home to sear some fresh ahi tuna steaks, and fry up some fresh mahi mahi, for the best Christmas Eve dinner in the history of the world.
Christmas Day was spent lounging at Playa Matapalo in our hammock circle, eating a delicious potluck meal and playing cornhole, with our friends and family from Osa Mountain Village, as well as a few others who joined us.
While some of us swam in the ocean, and while others watched from shore, we witnessed a Christmas miracle. A pod of dolphins jumped and splashed in the surf, just beyond the wave break, also enjoying their Christmas dinner of fresh fish. Smiles could be seen all around, as some people witnessed dolphins in the wild for the first time, and as we all were full of gratitude for our unforgettable Christmas gift from Mother Nature.
I will take a hammock and dolphin sighting over a pile of presents around a Christmas tree any day of the year. Ending our perfect holiday, we all gather together to take a few group selfies, so we can always remember our Miraculous Christmas full of hammocks, pulled pork and pineapple sandwiches, peanut butter pie, tamales, dolphins, happiness, simplicity and togetherness.
(Thanks Charles for taking and sharing these awesome Christmas photos we will always treasure.)
And it wouldn't be a perfect beach day without a perfect beach sunset over the ocean, to tie our holiday up into a perfect, sunset-colored Christmas package.
Happy Holidays to everyone from Costa Rica! Pura Vida to all and to all a good night....
My aunt Janet came to visit us a few weeks ago, and Costa Rica put on quite the show for her. Waking up at our beach house to toucans and pizotes munching on papayas, and capuchin monkeys in the trees, the wildlife did not disappoint despite the unforgiving jungle rain.
As usual, the realities of living in Central America quickly caught up with us. When we tried to return to our home in Osa Mountain Village we were detoured by a landslide blocking our road.
#costaricaproblems - when a landslide blocks your road home so you have to stay an extra night at your awesome beach house for half price…you know, because the homeowner totally understands our 'costa-rica-landslide-problems'.
Finally we make it up our mountain road the next day, after the landslide was cleared, in our 20-year-old car loaded down with 6 people, 1 dog, 2 guitars and a bunch of luggage. And for the next few weeks the rainforest defended it's namesake with a vengeance, as the weather was unforgiving and the rain never stopped.
But without the rain there would be no rainbow. Through the heavy fog and rain, we were gifted one phenomenal, mysterious sunset glittering through the storm clouds, lighting up where the ocean meets the jungle.
Costa Rica likes to keep people on their toes, and we suddenly find ourselves living through history as the first hurricane on record is scheduled to hit the country on Thanksgiving Day. My cousin Julia and her boyfriend Kent were in Nicaragua at this time, planning to meet up with us in Costa Rica a few days after Thanksgiving.
Hurricane Otto was also scheduled to touch down in Nicaragua as well, so we were all preparing for the weather when we got word that there was also an earthquake. Julia and Kent were evacuated from their beach condo due to an impending tsunami alert after the Nicaraguan earthquake. Luckily they were both okay and now have a cool story to tell.
Already a holiday for the records books before it's even began: landslides, hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis on Thanksgiving. Mother Nature may be stubborn, but so are we. We refuse to let the numerous natural disasters get in our way and end up having one of the best Thanksgiving celebrations of our lives.
At Osa Mountain Village we had a potluck/concert at the community bar, everyone brought a dish and a good vibe, underneath cover from the hurricane rain. The food was delicious and each item was a hit. I made two massive pans of my cheesy-scalloped potatoes, which were gone in a moment. Our 2nd contribution was my family's famous, but deadly, peanut butter pie, which had people swarming like a Black Friday special.
A special thanks to my mom for sending me the recipe last minute, and to my Aunt Linda for introducing me to the recipe that makes me a hit at every party. And of course thanks to my Aunt Janet for helping me make it, and for being creative with our substitutions. Who knew natilla (sour cream) could replace Cool Whip and taste even better?? And the homemade oreo crust, instead of the usual store-bought version, only added that much more love to the newly named "Pura Vida Pie".
We spent the evening stuffing ourselves, drinking, and singing along to the wonderfully unique music of Christopher Hawley and Jose Trevino. A truly eclectic blend of golden vocals, creative drumming, and witty lyrics you find yourself singing for days. Gracias for the epic show guys!
This Thanksgiving experience only magnified what Thanksgiving should be about. No one spent the entire day on their feet, in the kitchen slaving away. (Can you imagine, in this humidity? No, gracias.) Instead we all contributed equally, enjoying the day from start to finish, celebrating every moment, happy to be alive.
No hurricane, landslide, earthquake or tsunami can get in our way. This holiday season has reminded me that Mother Nature is invincible, and we are not. So hug your people, laugh like a crazy person, drive through landslides, write a song about a hurricane, make peanut butter pie and make sure to eat it too. We only get to live this life one time. So do it and do it good.
Claim your own piece of secluded paradise, with this lovely property for sale outside Dominical, Costa Rica.
Ever wanted to quit your life, sell it all and move to paradise? You only get to live this life one time, so what are you waiting for?
Listed for an incredible price, this lovely 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom block-constructed home is nestled into 1 hectare (approximately 2.5 acres) of secluded jungle. Located just 10 miles outside of Dominical, this property is a steal at $169,500.
There are two inviting entrances, one from Lagunas de Buru, and the other from Hatillo. With a garage/bodega area, plus 1,000 square feet of living space, all cabinets and doors are made of cedarwood, giving the interior a warm glow. The house itself is only 4 years old, stainless steel appliances are 3 years old, including a Maytag washer and dryer. All appliances stay.
Surrouned by clear rivers and pristine waterfalls, with the constant sound of running water soothing your soul, you will feel the peace of this land as soon as you step foot onto it. With tropical fruit trees in abundance, and extensive hiking in all directions, this lush piece of property oozes the pura vida vibe that we all chase.
Only 6 miles off the Costanera, you will be a short drive away from the quaint surfing village of Dominical, which is known for some of the most consistent surfing waves in the country. Many lazy afternoons can be spent sipping a flavorful passionfruit basil margarita, or a fresh, ice-cold coconut (pipa fria), at a nearby beach bar, while watching the talented surfers rip up the waves.
Some of Costa Rica's most beautiful beaches are nearly at your doorstep. The Costa Ballena, the surrounding stretch of rich coastline in this area, is a special part of Costa Rica. It is named after the hundreds of humpback whales that migrate here every year to breed in the region's warm waters. Playa Uvita, the famous Whale's Tail beach, is a breath-taking piece of sandbar that is exposed at low-tide, forming the shape of a whale's tail.
With numerous beaches only a short drive away, you can choose a different secluded piece of sand to spend each day soaking up the sun, floating in the cleansing salt water, or swinging your worries away in a hammock.
A large part of what makes this stretch of Costa Rica so unique is the extreme biological diversity. Truly living amongst Mother Nature, humans are the minority and the abundant, exotic wildlife, right outside your door, will leave you speechless.
A bridge between North and South America, with beaches along both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, Costa Rica truly is a unique piece of Earth. An eco-paradise, overflowing with wildlife, beaches and happy people, it is no wonder this country is growing so quickly, as more and more people choose this as their forever home.
Buy now, while the prices are low, and this will be a life-changing investment into your future. Please share this with anyone who may be interested in owning a piece of pura vida paradise in Costa Rica.
If you have any questions about the property, or if you'd like to arrange a viewing, please email Cheryl at: email@example.com
As much as I love to blog about all the colorful birds, adorable animals and deserted beaches of Costa Rica, there is also a scary side to this country. Along with the cute animals come the creepy ones, the venomous ones, the deadly ones, the poisonous ones, the not-so-cute critters that make me scream like a mad woman when one surprises me.
One of our first encounters with a deadly animal upon arrival in Costa Rica was at the Tarcoles River, which is home to 40+ gigantic crocodiles. We have come across crocs many times since then, near beaches, in rivers, hidden in mangroves, lurking in the water or lounging on the shore.
For a girl terrified of spiders, Costa Rica may not have been the best choice as a place to live. But I am proud to say I am slowly getting over my arachnophobia. We have a tarantula that lives in a hole outside our front door, her name is Harriet and she is spectacular. I have no problem with her existence...as long as she stays out of my bedroom.
Harriet is not the only spider to try to claim our home as her own. You never know who may drop by around here...
Quite a few snakes have crossed our path during our explorations of Costa Rica, including an angry 6-foot pit viper who I am still trying to forget. Here are our best snake photos.
Scorpions are amongst the creepy critters we regularly encounter in Costa Rica. They are startling to come across, although our miniature dachshund Sophie ate one whole and didn't seem affected.
One of the most toxic animals in Costa Rica are the frogs and toads. The tiny, colorful poison dart frogs are one of my favorite things to come across on a jungle hike. When you come across one, do not touch them as they secrete an extremely toxic, poison. We see them daily around our house and yard. This is why our dog has to be on a leash when going outside now, she has been poisoned by the frogs and toads of Costa Rica too many times.
That wraps up our creepy critter tour....for now...until the next creeper makes its appearance. Stay tuned.
With our friend from Oregon visiting a few weeks ago, we decided to explore some new Costa Rican territory. My husband Andy and I have driven most of this country in the last 18 months, so we get excited at the thought of new roads. Packing up the car, the bumpy adventure begins and we head toward the town of Golfito.
Golfito, meaning "Little Gulf", is a port town in the Southern Pacific section of the country, near the Panama border. It is located within the larger Golfo Dulce, and the only thing separating this town from the open Pacific Coast is the Osa Peninsula. Famous for it's remote beaches, this area of Costa Rica is a surfer's paradise. Once you pass the town of Golfito you can choose between two beach destinations: Playa Pavones or Playa Zancudo.
Choosing Playa Pavones, known for being the longest left wave in the world, we only pause to admire the glowing, blue water and lush, green jungle along our drive.
Pavones is a charming, authentic Costa Rican town lacking the typical swarms of tourists that pack most popular destinations in this country. It is a small and remote surfing village, located along 10 miles of beaches which line the pure, crystal clear Golfo Dulce.
Parking our car in front of the police station, we stop to admire a pair of macaws munching on almonds in a tree above us. The "policia" stare at us with amusement, just as we stare at the macaws.
Off in the distance, not far from the police station, a surfer slowly puffs on a joint while evaluating the waves, his surfboard resting under his arm. We lazily stroll along a paved, winding path through a rustic, wooded beachfront park, peacefully absorbing the super chill vibe of this laid-back beach town.
Exploring the streets, we marvel over the vibrant works of art on every corner. I fall in love with a unique hand-painted mural of the local wildlife. I want to step inside and live there forever...
And a colorful, crafty sign of the small town of Pavones is too adorable not to stop and photograph.
Playa Pavones is one of the most desolate and remote surfing destinations in Costa Rica, and takes hours to reach no matter where you begin. It is a special place, and maybe in part because it is so difficult to reach. The sand is untouched and humans are the minority.
With a large and consistent surf, and a rocky shore, this famous, world class wave break is best left to the professionals. The best time of year to surf this break is between April and October, when the waves are at their peak and you can ride one for up to 3 minutes. Typical wave length here averages between 400-900 meters during these peak months.
Parking our car along the shore, we get sucked into a time vortex. The minutes melt into hours, as we are mesmerized by the young surfers ripping up the legendary wave.
A big wave break can result in big falls, resulting in some killer wipeout photos.
As the surfers tire, so do we. We move on with our road trip and as the late afternoon sun blankets the world in a magical glow, we pull into one last photo spot. A rocky cliff, with rugged stairs leading to the top, brings you to a breath-taking view point, nestled between two palm trees.
The sweeping, panoramic ocean view from the top of the rock is surreal, and life looks like a painting...
Our last stop is to photograph a sign that makes us all smile and gives us an appropriate reminder.
"Siempre Domingo" means "Always Sunday", which is a way of life in Costa Rica, and another way of saying "Pura Vida". No one knows what day it is around here, so every day is treated like Sunday.
With the sun beginning to descend, we turn around and head home. A wonderful day of exploring new beaches, towns and scenery, shared with good company, now behind us in the rearview mirror, but forever inside our souls.
Just another Sunday in the land of pura vida...
Tucked into the mountains, just above the entrance to the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica, lies a quaint, peaceful community that goes by the name of Osa Mountain Village, also known as Toucan Valley.
Located in an extremely biologically diverse section of the Earth, this jungle paradise is packed full of abundant wildlife, vibrant flora and fauna, dense jungle, serene waterfalls, friendly faces and overflowing fruit and vegetable gardens.
If you want a "typical tourist" experience when visiting this country, then you will be satisfied with crowded places like Jaco, Tamarindo, or even Manuel Antonio. But for those of you wanting to experience the "real", true, authentic Costa Rica, you will be much more satisfied at a place like this: immersed in nature, surrounded by lush, rugged jungle. Where humans truly are the minority.
The high elevation results in comfortable temperatures all year, and creates breath-taking views of the Pacific Ocean and Cano Island. We spend many evenings watching the vibrant, colorful sunsets over the water from our balcony.
After climbing the mountain road, about 7 km off the Costanera Highway and 40 minutes south of Uvita, the winding entrance to the village is inviting. The resident banana box, where you can always find fresh bananas, is usually our first stop.
Rows of villas line the streets, some located near the pool/bar/community center. Others, with more privacy, are located down at the bottom of the hill. They all feature balconies with spectacular views of the jungle cayon, and the sound of a waterfall raging in the distance.
The saltwater pool is expansive, with a swim-up bar and plenty of lounging chairs around the area. The bar has a TV with cable, a pool table, a ping pong table, and a set of cornhole boards.
Numerous refreshing waterfalls are within a short hike from the village, varying in size and difficulty. The largest is over 300 feet tall and is impressive from close up, and from afar, especially during rainy season.
With upper and lower garden areas, you have access to a seemingly endless supply of fresh vegetables for your meals. I love going shopping for dinner in the gardens.
Bi-weekly veggie baskets are filled with a variety of exotic fruits, fresh vegetables and herbs, and farm-fresh eggs. It is always exciting waking up to see what the garden fairy has left for us in our basket.
When you visit the lower garden, make sure to wander deeper into the jungle, and stop by the volunteer center. Say hi to Jose and check out the legendary pizza oven, which makes the best pizza we've had in Costa Rica.
If you're lucky, sometime during your stay, you may receive an invitation to attend a famous "OMV pizza night". "OMV Pizza Nights" are like Vegas...what happens there, stays there. (Except the leftover pizza. If you're extra lucky you may find yourself eating some for breakfast the next morning.)
If you're feeling adventurous while here there is a canopy zipline tour that goes through the village, which includes 10 zipline courses, an extension bridge, and ends with a Tarzan swing out over the jungle valley.
The wildlife is mind-blowing in this area. At our home we have had visits from three species of monkeys: white-faced capuchin monkeys, tiny squirrel monkeys, and howler monkeys.
And it is named Toucan Valley for a reason, Toucans are everywhere here! Here are some toucan photos taken from our yard.
Scarlet Macaws are only found in a few small parts of this country. We see them nearly every day at our house, and we have seen up to 20 of them fly by at one time.
Osa Mountain Village is a bird-watcher's paradise. Here are some other colorful bird photos taken from our house.
There are plenty of deserted and breath-taking beaches nearby to spend the day at. The nearest beach is Playa Tortuga. But our favorite beaches are secret, hidden Playa Arco, as well as Playa Linda outside Dominical, and the famous whale's tail beach at Playa Uvita. All of these spectacular beaches are within an hour from Osa Mountain Village.
The location is perfect, up high in the hills, just far enough from town to feel like your own secluded slice of nature, but not lacking the modern conveniences you are used to. Most villas and homes are equipped with wifi, A/C, hot water, granite counters, modern appliances, and much more.
The village has a community feel to it, and pot lucks are planned, and birthday parties or holiday gatherings at the bar. It is a place that feels like home the second you step foot onto the colorful, peaceful grounds. The laid-back vibe oozes into your soul within seconds. Osa Mountain Village/Toucan Valley is a place your feet may leave, but never your heart.
If this sounds like a place you could call home for a week, a month, a year or forever, then check out their website. There are empty lots for purchase, or completed homes with more privacy within a short drive of the village. There are villas for sale, or for rent. It is very affordable to rent a place here for a week, or a month or two, if you just need to escape the stress of life.
But be careful! Many people who show up here, never end up leaving. My husband and I arrived here, planning to rent for one month, and nine months later we are still here, and happier than ever. Osa Mountain Village/Toucan Valley has become our home, our family, a new way of life.
Take a look at their website to see what is available. Think less, jump more. What are you waiting for? Claim your own piece of paradise! Right now is all we have, so stop waiting to live...
Watching this nightmare of an election from afar in Costa Rica has given me a new perspective. It is like a puppet show…but it is yet to be determined who exactly plays the role of the puppets, the audience, or the puppet master. It depends who you ask I guess. We all have a different answer to this question, a different opinion…yet none of us are wrong.
It has occurred to me many times recently: What if politics is just a big scam? A massive distraction, pulling us away from what truly is important in the world? What if it isn't real? What if it is only an illusion?
I grew up in a small, conservative farming community in Eastern Oregon. A tight-knit area where everybody knows your name. A simple, but hard life. A community of hard-working farmers, with dirt under their fingernails and weathered skin from years of working outside amongst the elements. It's a good life, a satisfying life. An ideal place to raise a family. I credit the simple life and the small town I was raised in as a major contributing factor to my character today.
But at 18, I knew I was ready to get out into the world and see more. The thought of moving to a place where no one knew me, was thrilling. I could walk down the street and not have every person I passed by know my life history. It felt like freedom. I was young and naïve and had no idea about anything in life. I was oblivious to politics, the world's largest reality show. Sometimes I wish I could return to that naïve bubble of not knowing, not caring, back to the peace of mind of oblivion.
When I began college at the University of Oregon it was like going from one extreme to another. Living in a large city, surrounded by a diverse, liberal crowd of people. Everyone looked different, everyone dressed different. Everyone was so accepting of each other, and our differences were celebrated. In this open-minded environment I began to pay attention to what was happening in the world around me. And I also credit this open environment as another major contributing factor to my character today.
And now here I stand, 17 years later, stuck in the middle. I have a farming community of family and friends on one side of the fence, fighting for what they feel is right. I have another group of loved ones on the other side, afraid for their future for reasons I understand. Somehow, I see both sides. I recognize everyone's right to feel the way they do, for their own reasons. And I respect and support their points of view, and their right to express them.
That is supposed to be what makes America so great. We should be able to celebrate each other's differences and accept people for who they are and acknowledge their right to feel that way, whether we agree with them or not.
We all have different paths up this mountain we call life. The only people doing it wrong are those of us running around at the bottom of the mountain, yelling at everyone else that they are choosing the wrong path. Allow people the freedom and space in life to be who they are and to carve their own path.
We all have different reasons for voting the way we do, or for not voting. I don't care who you voted for. If you're nice to me, I will be nice to you. If you're an asshole to me, I will still try to be nice to you, because you obviously need it the most. And because I'm not an asshole, even to assholes. (Don't push me though.)
What I do know is that money, status, wealth…these things do not make you who you are. It is the content of your character that matters. When we leave this Earth, and this life, we don't get to take our stuff with us, our houses, and cars, our diplomas and degrees, our trophies, our victories, our jewelry, our guns, or who we voted for. The only thing we get to take with us when we leave is the person we are, the good we did while here, and the way we made others feel.
What if I told you this truly is all that matters in life? Would you believe me? Or would you go back to yelling in all caps on your "facebook friend's" timeline about what an idiot they are and how they are the problem with the world? If those last hateful words, and the way they made someone feel, were all you could take with you when you leave, would you still say them?
Remember you can never un-say words. You can never take away how your words made someone feel. But you can apologize. Two of the hardest things to say in the human language are "I was wrong" and "I am sorry". Being able to recognize your wrongs, own them and apologize for them, says a lot more about your character than your lashing out in anger does. It's never too late to be the person you want to be.
I ask you to stop what you are doing right now. Turn off your thoughts, dial down your hate and turn up the love. Close your eyes, clear your head. Take deep breaths. Imagine you are moving to a tropical, deserted island. You will have all the fresh food, water, shelter, and basic items you need to survive. You can bring 5 things with you, any 5 items in the world that your heart desires. Any 5 things that will make the rest of your days, on this tropical island, happy ones.
Let us assume your loved ones can come and visit you as they please, but which 5 things would you want/need there with you every day. Stop and think about it. Picture your life there, what you would do every day, how you would spend your hours and pass the time?
It's hard isn't it? To put all material needs aside and dig down to the core of who you are. Your true values. Maybe the answers to these questions are much simpler than you can comprehend at the moment. But after some thought I hope you are able to answer. These 5 things are all you need in life to be happy. And happiness should be our only goal.
Here are my 5 items:
1) my husband
2) a dog or cat
2) a hammock
3) a laptop for writing (but no facebooking allowed)
4) my favorite book so I can read it over and over
And if I'm being honest it was difficult for me to come up with 5 things. I could be happy with 2 or 3. When you truly put life into perspective like this, you see what is important, what is meaningful, and what is complete B.S.
My heart is breaking for America. Not because of who won the election, but because of how viciously we are all turning on each other. No matter who was elected, they will not be responsible for making America great again. That is on you, and on me. And it begins with love and kindness. If you truly loved yourself, you could never hurt another. So let's get back to the core of life, the reason for it, the golden rule. Treat others as you want to be treated. Sprinkle drops of kindness wherever you go. Be the person your dog thinks you are.
I have seen way too much hate and judgement recently. But I also see sparkling glimmers of hope behind the smoke. There is a heavy, negative, suffocating energy lingering in the atmosphere right now and I hope we all have the decency and courage inside our souls to join hands, light some sage, and burn that toxic shit to the ground.
Peace. Gracias. Namaste. OneLove. Pura Vida.
Our friend Jessica recently visited us in Costa Rica, all the way from Oregon. Through Osa Mountain Village we were able to get a great deal on a boat rental for the day. (Thanks John Magee!) Gathering a special group of friends, we began our day boating down the Sierpe river, or Rio Sierpe, through the lush mangroves, to meet up with the Pacific Ocean, on the Lobo Del Mar.
The sleepy town of Sierpe, tucked into the picturesque Diquis Valley, is the main access point for people wanting to explore the Corcovado National Park, Drake Bay, or Cano Island. The mouths of the Sierpe and Terraba rivers join together, forming the Terraba-Sierpe National Wetlands, which are some of the largest mangroves on Earth.
Overflowing with diverse wildlife, our boat tour along the winding Sierpe river, through the rugged mangroves, was thrilling. Within seconds our captain spots a mammoth-sized crocodile sunning himself on the muddy shore and pulls up so we can admire his striking beauty.
Around every bend, more wildlife awaits. The eyes of our Tico captain and deckhand are impressive as they spot a troop of squirrel monkeys from across the river and navigate us over to watch them pluck ripe berries from a tree, while chirping excitedly amongst each other.
The riverbed is brimming with elegant, colorful birds, and as we float by a sand bar I manage to snap a photo of a Bare-throated Tiger-Heron standing near a Little Blue Heron.
Our goal was to spend the day at Cano Island, but our captain is cautious due to the powerful waves that are breaking between us and the Pacific Ocean. He decides to pull up to a deserted beach to wait out the weather.
Walking the untouched shore we explore the pristine beauty, as a pack of howler monkeys howl at us from a tree on the beach and a family of 6 vibrant Scarlet Macaws noisily fly overhead. The deserted shore takes our breath away with its perfection.
The sand is a mix of sparkling black and deep tan. A bubbling creek, trickling down from the jungle and meeting with the ocean, mixes the two colors into a brilliant pattern. A painting by Mother Nature herself.
Back at the boat our captain expresses hesitation about crossing the wave breakers to get closer to Cano Island. Recently a boat similar in size to ours had capsized in these waves, so he wants to make sure the conditions are safe for us.
He pulls up in front of the breakers, observing the patterns, reading the ocean like a book, waiting for the perfect, friendly lull. As the waves build and come at us in all directions, he expertly navigates the boat into and around each one. It is clear he is a skilled captain, as he circles around several times, awaiting the right moment.
The deckhand discreetly begins to grab life jackets and hands them out to all aboard. He places the last one at his feet, which is when I realize how serious this situation is. I quickly pull my lifejacket over my head, secure it, grab onto the sides of the boat and start praying.
Jessica tells me that we are not too far from shore, so if we do capsize it will be a short swim and at least we won't be stuck out at sea for days…somehow this observation does not make me feel any better. I have had a few near-drowning experiences in my life and I have a lot of respect for the ocean. As these devastating waves crash around us, I do not want to picture myself outside the boat, in these waves, struggling to survive.
As a travel blogger, my last thought before we plow forward at full speed, directly into the waves, is that if we do capsize and I survive, at least it will make for an interesting blog post….as all my near-death experiences in Costa Rica usually do.
The captain seizes the moment, guns the gas and carves his path into the water. He sees what others cannot, using years of instinct and expert navigational skills, maneuvering around one wave, and into another. He uses our momentum, bobs and weaves, dodges and ducks each wave until the clearing opens in front of us that he was waiting for, and we finally speed to safety, leaving all the deadly breakers in our dust.
The boat erupts with applause, the Ticos cheer and high-five each other, smiling gleefully at their success. "Pura Vidas!" are shared amongst us all, the chilling silence is replaced by excited chatter and shouts as we marvel over our terrifying encounter with the angry sea.
Continuing on our route we eventually see Cano Island in the distance, and notice an intense storm quickly approaching the shore.
So instead we pull into Playa San Josecito, located along the edge of the Corcovado National Park, to spend some time snorkeling and lounging on the beach, happy to be alive and not wanting to gamble with the sea again.
Due to a wet landing and having to swim to shore I was not able to bring my camera with us, so of course we had the most epic monkey encounter of our lives once on land. Sneaking up on a pack of white-faced capucin monkeys we observed them for what felt like hours, as they foraged on the ground for snacks.
Andy and I laughed as one of the monkeys lifted up a heavy coconut, nearly his size, and walks off, upright, like a human, carrying it above his head. He gingerly walks up a bending tree trunk, finding the perfect spot. He dramatically lifts the coconut high in the air and slams it onto the tree branch, trying to get to the sweet water inside.
We eventually have to pull ourselves away from our monkey meeting, and pile back onto the boat to head back before dark. The waves have calmed down and the return trip is peaceful and calm. The scenery in the late afternoon light leaves us speechless once again.
The animals are not done putting on a show for us just yet. From the front of the boat Andy spots a sloth hanging from a tree over the riverbed, munching on leaves. The captain pulls up beneath him so we can snap photos, and notices two other sloths lounging in the trees nearby.
The evening sun starts to fade and night descends. We are happy to be alive. The sunset-colored sky is mirrored in the water below, and our magical boat day of exploring the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica ties itself up into a perfect, pink package.
Pura Vida to all, and to all a good night...
Costa Rica is a photographer's dream. Brimming with vibrant colors, smiling animals, secluded beaches, lush waterfalls, dense jungle, and rich countryside, there is no shortage of inspiration. As my husband and I roam the land of rich coasts, we have captured some pure photo magic.
Costa Rica is a special place, as it has stunning beaches along the Pacific Ocean, as well as the Caribbean Sea. With over 800 miles of coastline, and over 300 unique beaches, there exists the perfect beach paradise for everyone. The beaches are one of the main reasons we moved to Costa Rica.
BEACHES OF COSTA RICA...
Playa Manzanillo (Caribbean Coast)
Playa Chiquita (Caribbean Coast)
Playa Matapalo (Guanacaste)
Costa Rica is packed with abundant wildlife, which is another reason we fell in love with this country. One of our favorite animals to see in the wild is a sloth.
SLOTHS OF COSTA RICA...
A baby two-toed sloth.
An adolescent three-toed sloth waving and smiling at us after we saved his life as he tried to cross a busy highway.
A three-toed sloth mother and her baby.
Costa Rica has an immense variety of exotic birds and will make a birdwatcher out of anyone. Since moving here we have become avid birders and dedicate most of our days to birdwatching.
BIRDS OF COSTA RICA...
A ribbon of pelicans.
A top destination for surfers, the beaches of Costa Rica are known for their intense wave breaks. We love sitting on the sand and watching the surfers read the ocean like a book, carving their own path through the powerful water.
SURFERS OF COSTA RICA...
A young surfer at Playa Pavones on the Osa Peninsula.
Two surfers sharing a wave at Playa Dominical.
A surfer surfing the famous Salsa Brava wave break in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, on the Caribbean side.
Two competing surfers at Playa Barrigona, on the Nicoya Peninsula.
A surfer at Playa Dominical.
Famous for it's diverse variety of wateraflls, Costa Rica does not disappoint in this category. We have enjoyed many of the spectacular waterfalls in this country, but still have a lot more left to visit.
WATERFALLS OF COSTA RICA...
Catarata Llanos de Cortes
Catarata El Pavone
A 300-foot waterfall near our home in Osa Mountain Village.
The monkeys of Costa Rica have gifted us hours of entertainment during our time here.
MONKEYS OF COSTA RICA...
A mom and baby howler monkey.
A tiny squirrel monkey flying through the trees in our yard.
A young spider monkey.
Two white-faced capuchin monkeys making jungle love. (Jeesh, get a room.)
Costa Rica is overflowing with all kinds of animals, besides monkeys, birds and sloths. We are always ready with our camera to capture a new species.
ANIMALS OF COSTA RICA...
A pizote (coatimundi).
A green and black poison dart frog.
A colorful insect.
Our miniature dachshund Sophie, aka dogia Sofia, aka The Sophinator, aka Crab Killa, is soaking up every second of her pura vida days while they last.
IT'S A DOGS LIFE IN COSTA RICA...
And to round off our photo tour, Costa Rica is famous for it's rich sunsets over the ocean, layering the Earth below in a radiant hue of blinding colors. And no two sunsets are alike.
SUNSETS OF COSTA RICA...
Sunset at Playa Carrillo.
Sunset from our balcony.
Sunset at Playa Ventanas.
Sunset over Playa Uvita: the famous Whale's Tail beach.
Sunset from our balcony.
Pelicans flying into the sunset at Playa Samara.
My husband Andy and I, at sunset, on our favorite Costa Rican beach: Playa Carrillo.
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.