The Miracle of a Gas Station

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If I had a dime for every time I thought our lives would be ordinary, I’d be a wealthy woman! Instead, gratefully and thankfully I am rich beyond measure in a million other ways that money and possessions can’t come close to buying. Living an ordinary life..this just isn’t in the works for us.

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of visitors, with more on the way over the next two weeks, which we love. It’s fun to be a “tourist” in the place you live. There is something about sharing your dreams with people that is so magical. Giving them a glimpse as to the WHY we do, and act, and live the way we do. As adventurers and joy seekers my hubs and I relish these sweet moments to bring people to off-the-beaten-path places that we have known and loved for so long here in Costa Rica. We love sharing why this place is so special to us, and the decisions and (many)prayers that went into this and making it our home. We love sharing the obstacles that God put in front of us, the wait, and the right path that He finally put us on to get here. We are thankful for the friends and visionaries that we met over ten years ago, who we’ve stayed in touch with, and continued to inspire us on this journey. IMG_4924

Costa Rica isn’t for everyone, and we fully understand that. The way of life here is  S L O W (unless you’re driving) and rides on a timeframe that most people don’t roll on. A slow-roll vacation is one thing, but living by that day to day is a whole different experience. Thankfully my hubs and I are very patient and don’t get overly-excited when things aren’t in our time frame. It’s just part of life here. The water goes out, and the electricity goes out, sometimes during the hottest times of the year. Things break quickly, but it’s not always easy to fix them or have them repaired quickly. There are bugs. (have I mentioned that on a few past blogs HAHA) Some days the language barrier can be hard, although I can speak and understand Spanish pretty well (and am still learning and taking classes) there are times that it’s rough. Living on the beach, things rust and just quit working that you wouldn’t suspect. Phones and computers die quickly due to salt air. Growth is slow, and in fact, the village where we reside in is the same as it was ten years ago on our first visit. In fact, it has gotten smaller. It was these types of things we LOVED about it and why we fell in love with it. However, there are days that I just feel out of sorts, weary and this day happened to be one of those days.

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After a wildly-fun week with our daughter and her roommate visiting, going to some incredible places, playing tour guide, and driving the milage of a drive from here to Belize, I was ready for a quiet night at home on Saturday. My daughter and I drove into the city to take a tanned, sleep-deprived CW to the airport. I have to admit, I was a little….tired myself (a lot), unraveled and on the fray already. After leaving the airport we got onto the highway, to make the 90 min- 2-hour drive home. There was a lot of traffic as per the usual for a weekend. Then I could feel it. The air in our SUV started to feel “off” and a little warm. I looked at my temperature gauge and noticed that was rising towards the H! Hmm. I pulled to the side, which was a flat-out act of playing Frogger, and I turned the A/C off. When we left our beach town yesterday it was 91 degrees F (with a real feel of 109) IT WAS A LITTLE TOASTY! I thought…in all of my mechanical wisdom (none) that maybe using the air in such heat, the car needed a rest. I surely did! Once I shut the air off and sat for 30 seconds, the temp went down. “OK..good!” I said to my youngest Cub who was riding shotgun. We merged back into traffic, passed a tollbooth, paid our colones, and I looked at the gauge again…it was now all the way to the H. Hmmm! That means HOT! Which we were coincidentally, with no A/C, 100 degrees of sun on us, in the middle of the highway, just out of the city. I pulled back off onto the side of the road and shut the car off. I took a 30-second “Jesus take the Wheel” moment and texted my hubs who is in the States. THIS POOR MAN! This Saint of a husband of mine. What is he possibly going to do? What he did is what he does so well; calmly, coach me through a couple of different things. By the grace of God, we had water in the car. As surfers, we carry it as our after-saltwater rinse. I popped the hood, added some water where needed, but could tell the radiator was much too hot to open, and went to turn the car back on. Nope. Still overheating. I climbed back into the car and looked at my daughter. I said, “well….hmmm.” I got back out and stood in front of my open hood as cars raced by coming out of the tolls like racehorses on a track. Semi trucks were whizzing by and honking their horns. Tourist vans and shuttles screaming by, jocking for their position into two lanes after the width of the tolls. I stood staring at a steaming engine and for a brief second felt very vulnerable the helpless. We were far (12-15K) from the next gas station that I could tell on Google, but had mountains to climb to get there. I got back into the car to check on my daughter; I said: “Aren’t you happy that I don’t panic?” Which is true, but to be completely honest, inside I was feeling a slight tinge of alarm and dismay. I was in a “mother’s protection mode” but under the shield I felt a heave of my chest and was spinning a million things around in my head. Things that were coming into play; no mechanic, in a fair amount of traffic, the sun getting lower in the sky, which was great for the heat factor, but meant that sunset would be coming, leaving us not only in the dark on the road, but to drive (if we could) back home in the dark (worst thing ever) and EVEN if someone stopped, thinking about our vulnerability, being two gringas stranded, and the language barrier to explain the situation. I stood outside the car and whispered, “God. God in all of your power and mercy and saving, I NEED a miracle right now. Right this very moment, because honestly, I do not know what I am going to do.” 

IMG_4940Within 5 minutes of that whisper, a car pulled up. I was a little nervous because I couldn’t quite see who was in the car. I couldn’t tell who was getting out. Up walks this young guy followed by his sweet wife and baby. He said “You OK? I know you. From the gas estacion en Jaco. I work there, and I recognize you on the side of the road.” WHAT!? I was completely dumbfounded at this point, staring at this guy. And he says again “remember me? I know you from Jaco.” The miracle. I snap back together and say “YES! Oh my gosh, yes, I remember you, of course!” This young guy, from Jaco, 100K away, where we frequently get gas, and now will be THE ONLY PLACE we ever get gas, just happens to be driving back from San Jose with his wife and baby son and they recognize me. Sweaty, hair in a top-knot, baking on the side of the road, in a maze of cars, looking like a hot mess, they recognize me? The miracle. 

He starts peeking and poking around in my car and asks for mas agua. I pull out the few remaining bottles we have that are half-full, he wets the radiator and slowly starts to work the cap off. At this point, we were completely out of water. As this is happening another car pulls up, and an older man and his wife walk up. He brings out of his vehicle two big jugs of water. The miracle. The two men converse back and forth and look into the engine. They get the cap off and fill it with water. It was DRY, and the fan is not working. Nothing to cool the engine. The older gentleman pulls out a knife and starts to cut wires. I look at my daughter and smile as she’s Snapchatting this to her world fan base. and say, “is this really happening right now?” I ask the younger of the two guys if this is his amigo? “No” he replies, with a shake of his head. Just a random man and his wife. Good people. This older gentleman is slicing and splicing car wires and sparking wires off of the battery, all in an effort to get the fan running. He definitely knew what he was doing. Then he says “broken.” Ok, well there it is….. He splices wires back together and pulls out some electrical tape to secure them. Meanwhile, behind us, pull up two semi-truck drivers to add to our roadside party mix. They got out to share some conversation. They were great at blocking the oncoming traffic for us out of the hustle of the toll booths. Finally, the young man says “OK it’s holding a bit of water, but leaking. Please drive in front of me to the next gas station, so I know you get there safely.” I offer to pay them, and they would not accept the money.

The Cub and I hop into the car, the gauge is reading in the normal range, and we take off for the next gas station where we pull in, and the guy and his sweet wife and baby hop out, he pops the hood and fills the radiator again. This continues at EVERY gas station until we hit Jaco around 6 pm. (We left San Jose and the airport at 2:30p!!) Once in Jaco, he says “I can follow you to Esterillos if you like.” I knew at this point I was close enough to get home without running out of water. I was holding back tears. I could not believe the genuine, sweet gift that these people were to my daughter and me when we were in such great need. A random act of kindness from complete strangers. Once again I pulled money from my wallet and offered it to them. The only way I could think of besides my continued words of gratitude in my fragmented Spanglish, to repay them. I said, “Please, you saved me today! You were an answer to a prayer.” His sweet wife looked at me and shook her head no and said: “We do this for you de nuestro corazón because we love you.” (We do this for you from our heart because we love you)

Queue the tears. QUEUE. THE. TEARS!IMG_4932

The sweet guy asks if I have a phone and he puts his cell number into my phone. He says,  to please let him know if I need help explaining to a mechanic what’s wrong with the car (because as far as my Spanish goes I missed the Automobile Engine Course to explain) By the time my daughter and I got home, he had already texted me to see if we made it safely. The miracle. 

When we got home, our kids were waiting with our dog which they had kept all day. What a sight for my eyes. I was so happy to be back home. I FaceTimed with my hubs to fill him in. I laughed and cried a little over the story and sequence of events that played out. Laughing because nothing is ever ordinary and crying because of the enormity of graciousness, helpfulness, and love that I felt from complete strangers.

Number 5-million of WHY we love living here. The people. The kindness. Given, taken and shared. I try and talk to everyone, everywhere, even when I pull into the gas station and greet the attendant. Yes, I can be busy. I can be on my phone. I can be fidgeting with my radio controls, but I always think about people, because they MATTER. Maybe they aren’t having the best day. Maybe (doubtfully) I am the only gringa that decided to pull up and TALK that particular day.  I always share a smile. They are entirely free, and people LOVE receiving them. Thankfully, yesterday that came back to me. 

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Luke 6:38

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After Three

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Three plus months have passed here in Costa Rica. When we started this move-journey back in October of 2017, I had posted some funny, quirky things about being a “newcomer” to living here. Although we’ve been visiting here, for now, ten years, after moving, things shake up a bit and things are still shaking, (Hello earthquakes) but we have also settled into such a flow and rhythm. A great dance between flora, fauna, travel, visa trips, and the current between my hubs being back and forth to the States. IMG_3828

IMG_3829One of the most incredible things is our location. It was the very first place we visited in 2008. After deliberating about the Caribbean side, we decided on the Pacific with visits to the Caribbean. It’s a quick, easy drive from one side to the other. BEST decision ever! Stumbling on this little surfing and fishing village wasn’t by accident, and we know that. Divine intervention, thank you! The term “it takes a village” comes to life here. The most amazing people surround me. And WOMEN! Pioneers of this area that have lived here 25-30 years, who solo, came here to make a new life, raise their kids and really, KICK ASS! They are artists, yogis, restaurant and business owners. They are lovers of nature and others. They are bold and courageous and inspiring.  It’s like I am being raised again, by these nurturing, dauntless, confident women. Our independence bonded us, and I found it funny, that although the fact that I am happily married, I too chose to stay here alone on our very first trip here ten years ago, with our kids, when my hubs had to go back for work. Fast forward, and he is traveling, and I am communing with these life-givers, some of whom are married now, but with starts and stories from here, which ignite your soul.

IMG_3831So here some the funnies :

You do get used to the bugs. Ok, not all, but I do have an incredible Golden Orb spider living near my laundry line outside who is just spectacular. Look them up, they are remarkable.

We do laundry like the old days. Wash in the washing machine and dry (we do have a dryer) on the clothesline. It smells terrific and dries in about 10 minutes. Gracias al sol!

I still and will forever have to sweep sand from my house on an ongoing basis. All. The. Days.

I still and will forever have a sea-soaked, sand filled, stinky dog. All. The. Days.

Getting used to dish soap that is a paste instead of liquid.

We have reached Pro level at our consumption of avocados……really all fresh fruits in general.

Everyone has “a guy” as in “I have a guy to take you to buy a car, a guy to fix things, a guy for fishing, a guy to take you to the airport.” The list goes on. Having “a guy” here is GOLD!

Two words: Lizano Salsa.

The best “OxyClean” you could ever buy looks like a giant, blue bar of soap. Lather up the stains and allow it to soak. Better than bleach too!

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The Sea Pig (as we call her) in her new collar from a friend. Me encantan las Sirenas.

Being grateful that it takes 6 hours (yes) to open a bank account here because the bank is air-conditioned. And a BONUS that we were able to open it without letters of reference or someone coming along with us to “vouch” for us was a miracle. We got the nice bank teller that day!

When you buy a car, and the attorney and the insurance guy meet you at the dealer to fill out your documents.

When you’re doing yoga and a big fat iguana walks right down the center through practice.

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She’s so sweet waiting for me just outside the Supermercado.

People never come to the front door. They stand outside your gate and yell for you. You greet them and allow them through.

We keep our compost in the freezer in a soup pot.

The impromptu gathering of friends as you or they stroll by for a sunset walk, and you’re sitting outside, that results in drinks and a dinner date or morning coffee and a lot of laughter from your previous night of howling at the moon together!

Smack talkin’ friends that result in a surf competition, including judges, that draw a crowd and is the talk of the village on an early, sleepy Sunday morning.

Taking your sea-soaked dog to breakfast, to lunch, to dinner, to the supermercado, and to the bar.

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Super Bowl beach party. (Notice the sea-soaked dog)

Driving.

IMG_1955Monkeys.

Raccoons. In the house. (Yes)

Carrots. I actually think they need another mention, a round of applause and a standing O.

Carrots!

Belly-laughing when someone mentions Coatimundi.

It’s simple; it’s slow, it’s uncomplicated and couldn’t be more perfect.

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Merry Chritmas

As the whole universe waits for this blissful day to honor Christ our Savior’s birth; let peace, comfort, gratitude, grace, and joy surround you.
Two thousand seventeen was a year of change, adventure, travel, new experiences, laughter and

L O V E.

We feel blessed beyond measure for our family and friends, for our love for one another, and the gift of this life.
May God bless you richly as we head into a new year.
Merry Christmas!