Stolen Hearts

Going to take a little commercial break from my JMT posts. Just brief, I’ll be back at it in no time.

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Sunset at Playa Tamarindo

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Leaving Spokane for some SUN

We are back in Costa Rica now. Possibly our most favorite place on the planet. We started coming down here in 2007. Our first trip, all three kids in tow, changed us. Changed us in ways we never thought possible. G stayed 8 days before having to head back to the States. Our kiddos and I stayed a month. That sealed the deal, we were so taken by this beautiful and diverse country. So overcome with the climate, the people, the oh-so-chill atmosphere, that I honestly had a hard time coming back to the States after our month stint. I couldn’t even talk to friends and family about our time here because I was so emotional about the whole thing. This country captivated me and stole a piece of my heart that I knew I could never get back. Tears would flow as I spoke about my adoration of this place and felt that gut-pull of wanting to come back.

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At the Saturday feria. Photo credit to our sweet soon-to-be daughter in law.

Forward to now; this is our sixth time to this country. It feels like home to us. We feel its ebb and flow in our heart like the swells of the ocean. We catch our grove quickly after arriving. We eat typico, we never miss a sunset, we shop as locals at the feria every Saturday. We walk everywhere, eat fresh, and try desperately to brush up on our Espanol. Living in Idaho doesn’t allow for a lot of language practice. I have learned to watch TV (when we do) in Spanish and read everything I can in Espanol. It comes back quickly, thank goodness. There is nothing better than conversing with Ticos. They are some of the warmest people we’ve encountered. They have infectious smiles and even more contagious laughs. They never miss an opportunity to show their warmth towards us!

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Pura Vida

Speaking of Ticos, we just love learning from them. The language and their way of life and love are so simple. They live frugally compared to US standards but you’d never know it. They don’t seem too bothered or interested in making it big. They are humble and helpful to everyone around them. They DO work hard for what they have and they come home happy with what the day has allowed them. They have such pride in what they have, not boastful, but content with their life. They are sweet and genuine and love their families fully. They aren’t over-busy or over-stressed. Every day is full of Pure Vida.

img_0847This time we have decided to stay in Playa Tamarindo. We have been here before a few years ago, but only for a short weekend getaway from Esterillos Oeste. It’s bustling. It’s like the Cancun of Costa Rica. It’s full of gringos and backpackers from all over the world. It’s busy and full of bars and restaurants. It has some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen (although I have YET to see a bad one in CR) and it produces some extraordinary sunsets. Its water is warm (like the rest of CR) and it has great waves for all levels of surfing. There are vendors and shops everywhere. It’s very different from what we are used to in CR. Definitely more touristy but so far we are enjoying it. It’s close to the Nicaraguan border. A plus as we are planning to drive to San Juan del Sur and Granada in the next few weeks. I would say for a quick trip to CR it’s a great place. Long term, may be debatable. For us anyways. We are not accustomed to staying in such a crowded place and prefer more of the laid back, quiet villages to over populated, tourist hangs.

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A little SnapChat on the beach because….well, we are just dorks like that AND I laugh hysterically every time I see G’s face in this photo!

As we start our second week here we are definitely getting back into our grove with cooking at home and workouts. We are meeting friends and finding our favorite local shops. Coffee at Nordico is a must after a morning run and surf sesh and as I sit here sipping my cafe con leche I can hear at least 4 different languages being spoken. Incredible!fullsizerender

It’s so nice to be back here. It’s so free and allows us to clear our head of the chaos. It allows me to feel God at a whole new level. To see and taste the goodness of His love every day. To slow down, take a breath and marvel at what is important to us both.To quiet ourselves enough to hear His still small voice. To soak in salt water every day. To be nurtured by the sun. To eat pipa (Pipa fría is fresh chilled green coconut. It’s a perfect refreshment for a hot day – it is loaded with vitamins and gives you an instant burst of energy) and gallo pinto by the truckload! To allow what’s been bankrupt in ourselves to be filled.fullsizerender

Never Going to Say Goodbye

Our last week in CR was a whirlwind of crazy adventure.  After I had a one-day cold (seriously!  I love Costa Rican colds MUCH better than colds here in the US) we decided that we were going to take off to one of the last places in this amazing country that we haven’t visited.  Tamarindo!!  Like every driving trip we have taken in the country, it was a total crap-shoot on directions.  I hopped onto my IPad, and mapped out our route.  I knew once we left the house, and we didn’t have internet that the screen shot I had taken would be the only map we would have!  On one map, the driving directions said it would take 2.5 hours (hmmm) and the other map (on the same route) said 4 hours. (Bingo!) We packed up a few things and got up early to take off!  Surprisingly, the whole drive except, the last 20K were all paved and on a great highway.  We were a bit concerned that the actual route listed the start of this drive as a “unknown road!”  But like several times in Costa Rica and the many other places we have traveled, we know that the road less- traveled or “unknown” always seem to turn out the best!

Our only map

Our only map

We arrived in the highly bustling and active town of Tamarindo and fell in love immediately.  It was a sweet little, surf town, situated along a gorgeous coast line.  There were fun little shops, and tons of restaurants.  Definitely an excellent food town.  We strolled the streets, did some shopping and found a great little spot for some Happy Hour, and then set out to walk the beach.  It is amazing to me, the different beaches in this country.  From one ocean, on one coastline, such diversity in the sand.  White and powdery, course, cocoa brown, latte brown, black…you name it!  Tamarindo has fine, fawn-colored sand.  With miles of beach.   I always love a town that stops for their sunsets. Everyone!  I loved watching the surfers and paddle boarders in the water, stop to watch with devoted affection,  the incredible, fire-red, sun dip its way in to the Pacific Ocean.  It’s an experience you cannot miss on any day.  And why would you want to?  Even the restaurant staff wandered out onto the beach to watch the unimaginable beauty of that moment! Perfection!

Stop, pause, and see God's beauty.

Stop, pause, and see God’s beauty.

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Had to get a Volcano Brewing Co beer before we left Tamarindo.

Had to get a Volcano Brewing Co beer before we left Tamarindo.

After coming back to Esterillos Oeste, we decided that the rest of our week would involve zip-lining and surfing as much as we could.  We have zip-lined in CR before, down in Quepos, but we wanted to try a different outfit.  We found a place in Jaco that offered “non-beginner” lines….that’s all we needed to hear!  We set that up an for the next day and set out to find some waves.

Alli decided on a different board for the day, wanting a little challenge.  I have no intention of giving up the long board, but Alli was ready for a nice, short, sporty board.  Of course, she picked it right up.  I swear I would love to see this girl if she could find waves everyday.  She’s a natural.  Greg decided he was going to give the shorter board a go.  I had just come out of the water, and was on the beach, watching what I thought was going to be an epically funny cartoon about to play out in front of me.  Greg paddled out, and tried to catch a nice little white wave….and down he went.  He turned to paddle back out and then abruptly turned back and started in towards the beach.  I sat, wondering if he was hurt.  It didn’t look as if, he was rolled too badly by the wave.  But what you see from the beach is drastically changed when you are in front of a wave.  What I wasn’t expecting was for him to come up on the beach grabbing his foot with a jellyfish sting.  OUCH!!  The funny thing was that just an hour before a local guy had warned us to “be careful out there” because there were lots of jellyfish out there on this particular day.  Greg sat grabbing at his foot, in complete disbelief of this happening.  What were the odds?  We assessed his pain, which was severe, and the odd little bleeding “whip” across his foot, and called Alli in so we could get over to the Mas x Menos for vinegar.  I am still in complete awe, that this happened.  As the three of us talked about it, driving to the grocery store, we kind of feel that its sort of like a lightening strike….which has ALSO happened to this family (that’s another story) (maybe we need to buy a lottery ticket sometime!)  I ran into the store and came out and doused his foot in vinegar, which set him off to hopping around for a few more minutes, and then, just like magic, the pain was gone!  We decided that we better get fish tacos after that harrowing afternoon.  Any excuse for fish tacos, right!!  And really…we don’t need an excuse!

One of those unforgettable Father/Daughter moments, that I want to burn into my mind!

One of those unforgettable Father/Daughter moments, that I want to burn into my mind!

The next morning, we had an early reservation for zip lining.  We got into the shuttle with just 2 other girls that were in CR from Texas. Jackpot!  Always hard to zip line when there is a huge group.  We shuttled up a huge, winding, mountain outside of Jaco, then after a little uphill hike and about 50 stairs (great workout) we arrived at our first line.  Being in the jungle of Costa Rica is always so exciting, with or without a zip line.  The lush, thick, jungle is always teaming with all sorts of sounds, and animals.  This was by far the best zip-lining we have done.  They said, that it was not for beginners, and it didn’t disappoint.  LONG, long, lines that were so fast.  There is something about zipping above the trees, 600-some feet above the jungle, like monkeys, which we did see, of course!!

Crazy Scarlet Macaws

Crazy Scarlet Macaws

Toucan....Sam?

Toucan….Sam?

Sloths....gotta love their cuteness.

Sloths….gotta love their cuteness.

Lots of these little monkeys swinging in the trees watching us zip-line.

Lots of these little monkeys swinging in the trees watching us zip-line.

Leaving CR is always a test of our heart.  We are never quite ready to say goodbye, no matter how long we stay.  We are all salt-water junkies, sun devotees, and adore the people, the food, and the peacefulness of this special place.  Every time we leave, it’s like we  leave a piece of ourselves there.  But at the same time, we bring a piece of CR home with us.   I am thankful for every experience we have there, and feel blessed for the provision of being able to travel there with our family every year. This is the place, we regroup, reevaluate, reorganize, prioritize, gain perspective on life, renew, refresh, and gain a whole lot of knowledge on what and who are really important in our lives.

I am filled with gratitude for the restoration Costa Rica brings us, as a couple, as parents, as friends.  Until God allows us to travel that way again….. Pura Vida

La Sirena watching over the Pacific in Esterillos Oeste.

La Sirena watching over the Pacific in Esterillos Oeste.

EXTRA FUN PHOTOS~

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Great view of Playa Jaco

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He’s not having ANY fun, is he??

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Three little Monkeys

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Greg ready to fly!

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Alli flying over the jungle

Zipping over the jungle