Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year's Eve

Word for 2016: Be
In the moment
As I am 
The me I want to be. 
More later.  
Just had toast with people from here, Nova Scotia, France, and Germany. 
Now to the beach for a bonfire. 
More tomorrow, final thoughts. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Lazy Day

Wow. Im tired for some reason. :) 

Yesterday, I didn't take my camera with me to the beach. Wouldn't you know, I saw three of the biggest iguanas I've ever seen on the walk there and back, plus a handful of others.
Later I walked part of the same route with my camera and of course no iguanas were to be seen. 

It made me wonder of how often we look for things that are likely there in front of us yet we do not see because we are busy, preoccupied, and/or just oblivious to what we don't want to or can't see. Similarly, there are those times we are not looking and then get blindsided, or in my case, bombarded with Iguanas! I will say that on my later search for them with the camera, I ended up seeing the monkeys in all their glory (heh). 

It just made me think. I'm always looking for that perfect photo. The time I'm not looking, I automatically see one when this iguana is sunning on a fence post in the most beautiful light. Would I have seen him if I were actually looking? Do I get so focused on looking for photos that I miss SEEING? 
does that make sense? It made more sense in my head, before I tried to write it out. Like I said, I'm tired. 

Another quote from my book somewhat along the same lines:
"...Small amounts of appreciation every day have helped me morph into a friendlier and kinder person. I'm not looking outward as much as I'm just being grateful for the things in life I normally would have overlooked. When I plug in my coffee maker and it doesn't catch on fire, I am generally in a better mood." (p. 123)
Sometimes, it's the little things, right? 

Here is a photo synthesis (ha) of my day. 

Walking towards the gate, I became distracted.

Love. This. Dog. 

The mangrove board walk. 
Some of the mangroves died out when the river head was blocked and fresh water wasn't able to circulate. It'll take years and years to grow back. 

A Flock of Seagulls (actually Pelicans, I think).

Low tide. I like this beach because of the natural shade.,

It's vacant ...

If you know me you know why I had to stop for this.

Playa Junquillal, about 6 miles away. 

Pano of same beach 

Back at Playa Avellanas after surfing.

I love watching the sunset.

Tomorrow is my last full day, 😔
I am having a traditional Tico breakfast with the couple I am renting from. I am just otherwise hanging out near or at the beach I traded in my surf board for a boogie board because I can barely move my arms over my head. Ouch. I also have a game to watch ... 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Monkeying Around and Book Quotes

Random thought: so far, the worst part of traveling alone is the sunburned part of my neck. It's the only place I can't really reach to apply sunscreen. :-/ 

Monkeys! Have you ever been excited to be closer than ever to monkeys not in a zoo and then realize the best picture you get is of his ball sack? 

Well, fortunately that wasn't quite the case but it almost was!

So yeah, that was fun. I also saw this guy soaking up some rays. 

Today was best described by beach and new friends. The day started slowly - I was tired! I finally made it to the beach to read and swim. I left all electronic devices at my room. after I came back to fix a quick lunch salad, I took the camera for a walk. I followed the call of the monkeys. 

After that, surfing. It was definitely harder with a shorter board and no instructor but after I traded boards with a friend, it got better. I'm keeping the bigger board for next two days. Yay! 
Note to self: the polka dotted bikini bottoms are not meant for surfing. They are too easy to come off in the water. 😳 I came too close to losing them on more than one occasion. 

After cleaning up, we had wine on the porch of the owners. We = the couple from Austin and a guy from Nova Scotia who was previously staying in my room. We talked too long, as both dinner places we tried were closed, so we went to some people's house we met at the bar and they made us dinner. ;) Ok, the others knew them already, they just moved here a few weeks ago from Michigan. Dinner was finally served around 10. People here are just so nice, whether ticos or ex-pats. 

So I've been reading this book, Happier Than a Billionaire: Quitting My Job, Moving to Costa Rica, and Living the Zero Hour Work Week

I'll share some quotes.
"Our realtor explains that there are many of these expensive [gated] communities because Americans want to stay isolated. They do not want to intermingle with the local people but would rather live behind big walls." (p. 43)
So I'm assuming hey mean North American people because Costa Rican people are [central] Americans too. Seriously. If people with money want to go elsewhere, fine. But please don't Americanize it here. If that's what you want, stay away. I really don't understand this concept but have seen it in play. WHY? Isn't part of the draw of going elsewhere to experience a new culture? 

One more for tonight:
When talking about the inconsistencies of things we typically take for granted, such as water and electricity and thus learning to not sweat the small stuff, "it also explains why people are so nice here. They don't sweat the small stuff, and they focus on the present moment instead of obsessing over the past or future. Valuing what is mundane in your life, not just the spectacular, might be the long sought key to happiness." (p. 123)
Right? This makes perfect sense. Why do we always need more, bigger, better instead of being happy and content with the here and now? 
I do a decent job of this some of the time. In our hustle and bustle culture, it's no wonder there is so much anxiety about virtually everything. I'm guilty. Why sweat the small things so much, and instead focus on Pura Vida, pure life. Enjoy the here and now. Today. 

While some of this author's style is annoying with its hyperbole and off track stories, there are many quotes like this that just resonate with me so much. I have more pages dog-eared to share later. 

Some more pictures ...

Another nighttime crab beach shot. Seriously. This is nuts. You can hear them as you approach. This is only a small fraction of the total number.

Sweet cat at Casa Surf.

This is a catamaran being built by Lake Arenal. It's just off a narrow and rocky  road and while it is across from the lake, it's not a place I can see easily getting into the lake? Fascinating. 

Monday, December 28, 2015

Tales From the Road ... And the Beach

Lago Arenal this morning.

You know how when you are cruising down the highway and you see a police or highway patrolman in your mirror?? Your heart skips a beat, even if you are not speeding. In my case, it skips a few beats when this happens in a foreign country. And then he passed me and all was well again.

That was nothing compared to being told to actually stop by a Costa Rican police. I was cruising along, probably speeding as I was headed back to the beach and not too far from my rental. I come over a small hill and a policeman was in the road motioning me to the side. Fortunately, he just checked my license, passport, asked for my destination, and sent me on my way. Whew. 

A short while later, I stopped to buy a Sandia (watermelon) at a roadside stand. I still struggle with Costa Rican currency (colones) so was struggling to comprehend. A young man walked up, said 200 and something else in Spanish. I handed the man 2 mil. Turns out the young man bought it for me. They laughed at my perplexed look as I walked away. I did thank him a couple times. He told me to have a nice day.   

Earlier, I stopped for a snow cone (with sweetened condensed milk, yum) and managed to have a conversation with a man works ng. I always wonder if I am saying what I think I am saying. Anyhow, this stop was by this bridge over the Gulf of Colorado. I couldn't see water from up where I climbed because of all the trees. I thought this was an interesting bit of information. 

I have more to say about my visit with me tico family, but it will have to wait until I'm not tired. I do know I always have a place to stay. One quick tidbit - their house was very small by our standards, but works perfectly for the, and they were all very happy living on their beautiful land overlooking the lake. There are five people. I thought there were only two bedrooms, but there must have been a back one I could not see. I slept in what must have been the girls' room (ages 9 and 20). There were two beds. One bed remained empty. The older girl must have slept in her parent's bed. The parents and 9 yo slept on a roll out full sized mattress in the living room. The furniture had to be moved to make room for it. Had I realized the arrangements, I would have slept on that mattress but I doubt they would have allowed it because I was their guest. 💕❤️ 

My day ended with surf lessons. I'm not quite a surfer chick (yet) but I can surf! I think many burpees before I return will make it easier next time. Yes, NEXT TIME. The whole going from laying to standing centered and in the right spot is not as easy as it looks. It was fun, anyway. My private lesson was over 1.5 hours. I will feel it tomorrow. My lesson was taught by Dan from Nova Scotia; he runs a surf shop/hostel like place called Casa Surf. Definitely money well spent. I think I will rent a board tomorrow and get some more time in the water with it. 

Final thought. I'm pondering what I can come here and do to make a living and still use some of my skills. I have ideas floating around in my head that center around a non-profit. More later. 

I will end with some pictures. 

Who needs an electronic alarm clock when you have one of these just outside?

Sharky belongs to the people I rent from. He's pretty awesome and likes to come check out my digs.

Part of my tico family. 
Victoria, Génisis, Rosa, Alfonzo, me. 
Victor had already left for work. 

Another living fence with the lake in the distant background.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Road Trip and Other Thoughts

Yesterday, I passed a group of two couples who had just arrived to the beach.
They were discussing where on the beach they were going and what they were going to do. They didn't seem to be getting close to any decision. I walked by and just smirked. I can do whatever I want without needing to compromise. This solo traveling thing is pretty awesome. I think I'll do it again (she said on day two). 

Anyhow. This road trip started out a day trip and is ending up an overnight trip. No, no emergency or anything like that. I left my place at 7 to drive the 106 miles to see my tica familia from Monteverde. They actually live elsewhere now, so it was a closer drive. Tronadora, Tilarán, right above beautiful Lake Arenal. 

Getting to Tilarán was easy, but from there it took a few random turns to find a sign that said Tronadora. My map was only to Tilarán, and the road from there barely shows on a map. My Waze link they provided was not working after I turned data on, so I winged it to town. Fortunately there are not many roads in which to make wrong turns. I sent the link to Misty who sent me a screen shot but it still wasn't their house. So, I called them. I was able to say I was in Tronadora, I was lost, and I was near la escuela. Papa Alfonzo and daughter Génisis came to the rescue. Fortunately as they made their way to la escuela, they passed el collegio, which was where I actually was! Génisis saw me, I saw her, I honked, and just like that I was found, three hours after leaving my rental. 

So, a very short drive after I arrived at their house, high on a hill overlooking Lago Arenal. Alfonzo and Génisis took me on a walking tour of some of their property in my dress and sandals not made for wind or mud, respectively. They have chickens and cattle. 

This is Copetilla, who I had to bribe with a guava in order to take this picture.

Génisis with her calf Nieve.

Nieve had several guava.

And might have wanted a hand or fingers.

Beautiful Lake Arenal. There is a Volcano on the other side of the lake, Volcán Arenal. I'm not sure which was named first, lake or Volcán? I'm guessing Volcán.

Génisis drawing.

My last time here, I was so fascinated with the living fences. I am holding out for a better picture of one, but until then, this is what I have.

Another view of the lake.

After our hike and a delicious lunch of arroz con pollo, we sat outside, talked, and played volleyball. When I said it was time for me to leave so I could get back before dark, there was discussion. Some I understood (palabres, i.e. words), though mostly I just stared blankly. It was offered to show me around the lake for fotos and then I can go back tomorrow. I am so glad I agreed, although I was wondering where there was room for me. There are five of them and I've counted two bedrooms ... My small bag is on a twin bed in a room with a full size bed. Whatever. I'm flexible. 

Once we returned from our drive, we had an afternoon snack of fried plantains, homemade queso, cafe, and a dessert called boudine. That would have sufficed for dinner for me ... But then we had grilled chicken, tomato salad, boiled bananas verde, and of course rice and beans. So, I ate again. I haven't eaten three meals in a day in months, and the snack was enough to be a meal. And it was good. All of it. So. Good. 

And did I mention I was so glad I stayed? Here is one of many reasons. This was before we played pick up sticks, tic tac toe, ball games in the dark, and sharing Spanish/English words. Just precious. 

Does it get any better than that? And it was wrapped up in a decorative envelope. I don't need to buy any souvenir now. This beats anything I could buy.

Some ideas I have for next year's word:
Pura Vida (yes, I realize that's two words.)

Next up, surf lessons mañana after my drive back. Wish me luck! 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Day After Christmas ...

Oh the sounds are so much different here. No traffic, but the winds blow and the palms rub the sides and top of the house. The geckos chirp at night, probably hunting their dinner. Yes. They are inside my habitat, along with their dinner. There is also a screeching bird that woke me up at daybreak. And then there are the howler monkeys who like to let everyone and everything know the sun is rising.

My screened in sitting area is lush with plants and surrounded by trees. I have a place to cook and a sink to clean dishes. I love it here so far. 

My hosts, Gabriela and Rick, are very kind and helpful. I sat and talked to them for thirty minutes after my morning walk/run. She gave me two passionfruit - oh my, they are so delicious, even if they look a bit weird. You only eat the inside somewhat slimy part. 

Today was another day of friendly people. I came to the beach around 7:15 for a short run and ended up also walking a bit. I met Luis, who offered me a drink of water. He also said muy bonito nombre. 

Later, I met another Douglas. He seemed a little sketchy, but why wouldn't he he want to talk to a random cute and friendly American (I left bitchy resting face in Oklahoma)? I think he told me he was a Spanish teacher but he may have been telling me he would just be my Spanish teacher. He talked, had me repeat, and then smiled and laughed. For all I know, I agreed to a date later or he is expecting me to show up at the Green Iguana, where he either owns, stays, or works. Last I saw of him, he was blowing me a kiss as I walked away.

I found  the estuary, where it wasn't crowded - I was actually alone, I swam and did some stretches in the shallow water - including pigeon pose! Afterwards, I finally made it to the Marriot resort, where I took a swim and relaxed a bit before going back to Lola's. I spent some time at another Pacific beachfront bar called Lola's earlier this year. The Costa Rican version is much more loud, busy, and pricy. And the namesake isn't quite as personable. 

Meet Lola.

Tonight i had dinner with the couple from the other cabin here - a traditional tico meal. They are from Austin and believe UT football is the worst thing to ever happen to Austin. 😊 It's always fun to meet new people on vacation, same ages, and like minded in many areas. 

I have been pondering my word of the year for 2016. As I laid on the beach (which ended up a nap), my mind was going over what I want my 2016 to be and how do I make it happen. This isn't a resolution per se, but just something described in one word to focus on in order to impact everything else in my life. This year's word was stretch - beyond comforts zones, physically, emotionally, etc. I have some ideas but will mull them over some more. I fully expect it to come to my while savoring this part of this beautiful country.

Today's mileage: 13.4 miles total. One and a half to 2 was running. My glutes might be feeling it in the morning! Tomorrow is a travel day to visit my Monteverde familia. They live elsewhere now so it will be an adventure to find them!
Some pictures from the day: 


Like a giant bouncing ball.

But then it's sinking ... 

And then it was gone. 

Traditional Costa Rican meal, casado. i couldn't eat all of it. 

A hermit crab party on our walk to dinner. The rock is lava rock on the beach.