My first sunset in Santa Teresa on the Nicoya Peninsula. I'm heading back this weekend for the third time in just over a month!
Now, contrary to what you might think, I did not set out to avoid my blog nearly all of last month–I promise! My life has settled into a busy routine since I moved to my third and final apartment (yes!), which makes finding long spans of time to creatively reflect hard to pin down at times, and at others just doesn’t compete with the other fun things I could be doing like spending weekends “disconnected” on the beach, market browsing for new fruits, watching a movie on a rainy afternoon, or playing (and losing) card games with Dan and my buddy Liam with vino tinto on the balcony overlooking parque nacional.
The Three Musketeers+Val snuck by a bull to get to the big tree on the Escazu hike. No swords. Pure guts.
Liam and I became friends years ago while studying in Argentina and hadn’t seen each other since 2007, until he joined me teaching a month ago. He now lives next door to Dan, and I’m just a five minute walk away. So now, we’re like the Three Musketeers, working for the same company and cooking family dinners together most nights of the week. Adorable, I know. I haven’t really thought of which of the Musketeers we’d each be, but I would definitely be the one to always lose at any and every card game the other two teach me. I’m what one would call a perpetual asshole!
Anyway, the highlight of last month was that I FINALLY had a visitor! Valerie, one of my sisters, arrived late Friday the 13th to my new humble abode near the Court House in San José. After four months of being away from my sister I was so excited to see her, as well as my adorable stolen jumper she was wearing that just barely didn’t make my “practical items to bring to Costa Rica” list. Shocker. You better believe I made her leave it! Anyways, having her here for 10 days was quite an adventure.
Val and my tica sister (missing Elena) keeping me company while I mixed the cookie dough by hand. I was so desperate for cookies I didn't care. Life without an oven=no homemade baked good=edgy Marisa dying for cookies!
First on the list was for her to meet Zaida and my tico family that I’ve raved so much about. So Valerie, Dan, Liam and I made the journey up the mountain and through the rain for what was easily one of the best evenings of the trip. Everyone contributed to dinner somehow; Dan manned the grill, Zaida cooked the sides, I mixed the margaritas and baked cookies, Liam played with Luna and Santi, and Valerie documented it all.
That night we sat at the table for hours, sipping wine, telling stories and jokes while trying to translate between languages for Shirley and Carlos. Some don’t really translate, of course, while others need no translation. It was so special for me to sit back and watch my tico family, my “family”, and my sister all mixed together at a table, laughing and enjoying one another. There are no words for that kind of contentment; when the people you love that have come into your life at different points, and know slightly different versions of you can enjoy each others company, and probably would do so even if you weren’t there.
Good times with the family -Zaida who was taking the picture. I'd say Dan won the funny face contest, hands down!
The next day, Dan the tour guide took us on the beautiful, slightly rigorous hike through Escazu. I was a little worried about Val not being accustomed to the altitude, but she skipped and hopped her way back down the mountain. Then the storm hit a few hours later. Not an actual storm, but Val’s illness rolled in as quickly and forcefully as the afternoon rains and didn’t really let up for the rest of her trip. She’s quite the trooper though.
Chilaxin on the beach with my sis
After a few days of rest in San Jose, we left for the beach in Santa Teresa where we stayed in an adorable yoga hostel and made quick friends with two English girls, Jordana and Lucy. I had gone to Santa Teresa just a week or so before with friends and fell in love with the beach, the relaxed, non-touristy beach town atmosphere, and the little restaurants all run by the Israeli families that have settled there who make the most delicious food. Especially a little place called Burger Rancho that makes not only amazing burgers, but the perfect mint iced-lemonade to go with anything on the menu! It’s no wonder Mel Gibson has a home there–the guy may be crazy, but he knows a good thing when he sees it! Finally, the yoga at our hostel proved to be fantastic as all of the reviews boasted and was the perfect warmup for a surf day!
Though I would have been perfectly happy just spending the time with my sister, it’s always fun to make new friends. The two traveled all over Asia together before starting uni in England and are kicking off their six months post-undergrad traveling together again through Central and South America. Apart from growing up together, they share so many memories and bonding experiences that they’re as good as sisters.
Val's first surfing lesson, a success!
The four of us spent most of the time together, lounging on the beach, and gabbing over guaro sours (the go-to tico cocktail) about our favorite Glee episodes and laughing through every crazy travel story we could remember. In fact, the only time we weren’t all together was just before that cocktail hour when I was attacked by a stray dog on the beach–kid you not! I was just walking from the surf shop in my new beach dress when a dog jumped on me from behind, tearing my dress and trying to do the same to my arms. No skin was broken, thank goodness, but I’d never felt the need to defend myself from a dog before and I’d say the worst part was knowing that I had to kick and hit and animal to keep myself safe. And it got violent! After we struggled for a good five minutes just around the corner from the beach bar, I joined the girls, quite shaken up, but nothing a good cry, a laugh and stiff cocktail couldn’t fix.
Val and I, no stray dogs in sight, not wanting to leave my favorite little paradise.
We spent the next day surfing, or shall I say Val and Lucy took a lesson with Shloamie, one of the many Israeli residents in Santa Teresa and Lucy’s quick crush. I surfed, and Jordana took photos of it all as she’s terrified of the water–understandably so since riptides are strong and tough to get out of without a board attached. We were also joined by another girl traveling solo for a week, though maybe I should say we were trying to dodge her for at least half of the time. Sounds terrible, I know, but she was a piece of work, to say the least, and I’m not someone to allow anyone to put a damper on my vacation!
Lucy and Jordana, the gems of our Santa Teresa trip!
We returned to San Jose the next day, tanned, relaxed and happy. Val’s trip flew by too fast. It was so sad to see her go, but I’m so happy she came to visit what has become my home. We lived it up, despite illness, and made the most of every moment together.
Man, all of this writing about Santa Teresa makes me so excited to return this weekend! I’ve become a beach bum, but a beach bum with friends! On a quick trip back to San Jose last Friday, Lucy and Jordana convinced Dan, Liam and I to head back tomorrow for their last weekend in Costa Rica. Let’s be real though, it took no convincing!
And so, another weekend, another adventure, more fun I promise I’ll fill you in on sooner rather than later. 🙂