Tuesday, June 9, 2015


Costa Rica. My dad's vacation of choice for quite sometime. For no particular reason, Costa Rica was off my radar. Had I known what this vacation was all about, I would've moved it to the very top of our list.

We were welcomed by a late night Costa Rican style drive to our hotel. By this I mean an on edge, back and forth (every man, woman, woman hold that baby tight, dog beware) through what we're told is one of the most beautiful mountain roads. My love of a good roller coaster relaxes me through the ride. I do however ask, "so do a lot of these dogs get hit?" Without missing a beat, our driver says, "The smart ones don't." Makes sense. It's obvious; the dogs have these streets down.

After arriving at our hotel, we can only imagine what's on the other side of the shadowy grounds.

The next morning I'm caught between sleep and a dream, or so I think. I open my eyes and listen. I'm torn. I want to run and see what's making all the noise, but also want to wait for Dave. I lie still, trying to decipher what's coming from where. I swear some are two distinct sounds simultaneously coming from one bird. My patience is wearing. I look to Dave. When he's out, he's out. I think about waking him? I got it, I'll accidentally nudge him, but kind of hard. No... He's much too peaceful. Here, he should wake naturally. I hop to and pull the curtain. Frozen. I stand and stare. Green everywhere, with swooping, sweeping, bursts of color. I slide each of the doors open. A cool breeze blows through our room. The bird sounds are now amplified. This is enough for Dave to wake and join me. As we look on at all that's happening, I smile back at the tiny vision I'd created from the night before.

Just as distinct as the sounds coming from the rainforest, so are the people of Costa Rica, or the Ticos as they call themselves. Yes, warm and welcoming like other places we've been... but there's something else. What is it? At first I'm unsure, however it's something I seek. Something when found, I stick to. Over and over, there it is. The quality I chase. Maybe at first I was on animal overload, but I finally see. The people are charismatic, yet calm. Conversation isn't just for the sake of conversation. When they ask a question, it's because they really want to know... not just to fill space. They truly care for your answer. They internalize your words and respond in kind. They say what they mean, and mean what they say. I love this. They're genuine. They take the time. They slow for the moment. They aren't distracted by phones, or rushed and onto the next, in mind, motion, or body. They're present. They are with you. They meet you in the moment. We have rich, real, quality, exchanges. I eat this up. I eat them up.

Speaking of eat. I didn't just eat them up. I ate everything up. They had some of the best bread I've ever tasted. I couldn't stop, and of course, our nephew thought it best to always keep another basket coming, so I had to keep eating right? We wanted authentic Costa Rican dinners so we asked the guy who drove us horseback riding, "Can you take us to the place where you eat with your friends or family?" That night he took us to his hometown. Yes! We had the best meal ever. I asked many... some variation of, "What's your favorite food? What do you eat? What do we have to try before we leave?" The answer was the same. The Casado. The Tico standard. It's made of beans, white rice, some sort of protein, salad, tortillas, and plantains. They had many, but this one was the ultimate. The red beans at this place had been cooking on an open wood fire grill in a cast iron pot the whole day through. I have never! And the plantains... I'm sorry. I throw the towel. Wave the white flag. I won't even try. That good. They kept it coming the next morning with fresh pureed pear juice. It was earth shattering. Along with the juice of the Gods, the most perfect cinnamon roll I've ever tasted—not too sweet, not too gooey, super soft, yet flakey on all the right edges. And just the right amount of cinnamon is key in my baking book. They did it. They did it all with this one! I shall call it The Knock Down, Drag Out, Cinnamon Roll! I didn't overdo it! I was 'pat myself on the back' proud. Why? What for? What's wrong with me? Everything. I should've eaten twelve... for fear of never seeing my sweet soul sister again.

Ash disappears. Boom! Four more cinnamon rolls. I couldn't let them eat mine, right? Noooo! I was cursing him at the time, smothering him in kisses in retrospect. To this day... cinnamon sweetie visits my dreams.

I was impressed with the Ticos knowledge of their country. They're proud of where they live. It's obvious they have a true connection and deep respect for their history and culture. They probably weren't as impressed when they turned and asked, "So what does Tahoe mean?" And we all four hemmed and hawed, spit some various facts about Tahoe, and finally said, "uh, we don't know."

The Ticos also seem to know everything about all who roam including the insects and animals. I act a fool when it comes to any creature that moves. I try to keep it under wraps, but the closer I get, the more that spills. I have a stupid ear-to-ear grin and just want to touch whatever's near! I morph into a four year old. I look like an adult, but it's a lie. In any area with animal action and kids, Dave grabs my hand tight. He knows I'm tempted to launch, maybe push my way, or accidentally shove a real four-year-old out of the way. I loved when Aviana was around. She was my "in." Many of the Costa Rican people light in this same way. I could see the shine as they slowed to show us the swinging monkeys, or the toucans flying from tree to tree, or the sloth sleeping up on a branch. I could hear it in their voice as they described the dangers of the bullet ant, the dart frog, or the various venomous snakes.

These people have a great respect for their environment, the animals and insects, their people, the land, and the food they put into their bodies.

Something was stirring throughout the week, and as we made our way home, I felt a definite shift.  My vision and world tilted for the better. I suppose that's what each trip is about—seeing the way other people live, experiencing new things, and coming home a little different.

Upon arriving home, I learn that part of Costa Rica is considered one of the five Blue Zones of the world. I understand why.

The Toucans!

One of the highlights of our trip.

Dave's my polar opposite when it comes to anything that moves. He liked this guy though.

We were able to feed them. Their diet consists of avocado, papaya, and banana. They all left the banana.

Yep! The best way to feed a toucan!

They're so cute!

They talked... color coordinate their outfits for the day.

The answer is yes! He fit perfectly in my bag for the long trip home.

Our hotel backed to seventy four acres of rainforest. We explored every inch of these trails, which included five waterfalls. 

My (not so little anymore) nephew Ash.

My gosh. I was just graduating high school when he was born. I'm so proud of this kid. Although I took 4 years of Spanish, I've lost most all of it. Ash is fluent in Portuguese, so he did a great job of navigating us around Costa Rica.  

When I saw these two, I came undone.

Dave can't stand spiders. I couldn't wait to show him who was lurking just above our suitcase.

I got your back buddy. 

Standing on the edge of forever.

My daddy and me.

Best vacation suggestion ever.


Oh, you don't like BUNNY EARS?

Meet Carmel and Carmelita.

When I found out we could milk Carmelita, I almost died and went to heaven. 

I never thought I'd see the day!

It wasn't easy. Dave and I laughed at how much milk we collectively eeked out of Carmelita. 


I hardly ever drink milk, but we had to know?

The verdict. Fresh milk is what it's all about!

I think Ash begs to differ. 

The best zipline! This one was higher and faster than the one in Alaska.

Every time I look, this picture makes me laugh!


Everywhere we go...

There she is...


My nephew had the idea to float her leaves down through the water.

Good in theory, but not in execution. 

They got caught on the rocks ; )

We went to San Jose one day. When I'm with my mom and we see a church, she always wants to light a candle for Aviana, so we do. 

I have a habit of taking pictures of churches for my mom, so now I not only take a picture, but light a candle for Aviana too. 

When we went into this one, I realized I didn't have any cash to pay for a candle. Dave and Ash didn't either. I was going to make the long trek down the stairs and back to my dad. Ash thought that was crazy and said, "I don't believe in having to pay at church! Just light the candle for Aviana." I laughed because although I respect others wishes, I don't believe in paying either. When I hear my mom's words, "I bought so and so a prayer (or five)..." I don't think it sounds right, but think to each his or her own.

So on this day I didn't pay. I guess we made the decision to let the church donate a candle in honor of Aviana.

Next time I'll donate two, or four. 

"Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, 
she became a butterfly."

Yes she did.

You know the times you laugh so hard your cheeks hurt? This was one. 

I took my picture first and couldn't stop laughing. Then Dave was having trouble with his kiosk, so I helped him. The machine spit this little beauty out. 

I put the two together and wondered... who in their right mind would let these two hood rats cross the border?

Best souvenir ever.


~ The hummingbirds need their very own post ~


  1. Matt and I went to Costa Rica last year for our very first trip away in 10 years. It was great! Matt speaks Spanish (he is a spanish teacher) and so that was super nice! It was amazing - I agree.

    1. Wow Jenny! I bet that was a great trip! I didn't know Matt is a Spanish teacher. It sure makes it a lot easier to get around. But best of all, being able to communicate allowed us to actually get to know each other better. I was grateful to have my nephew. Dave and I make do with my broken Spanish when we go to Cabo, but I could see what a difference it made on this trip. I should really add "learn Spanish" to my list of things to do. Ha ha...who am I kidding ; )

  2. I will anxiously await the hummingbird post.....many a story about them myself....

    1. Hi Erin -

      I'm almost finished with the post, but it isn't a 'sign' kind of post.

      I'd LOVE to hear your stories about hummingbirds! Am I reading that right? Have they been signs? Will you share them with me?


    2. Those funky diamond question marks were supposed to be hearts...

      Take two!


  3. So happy for you when I see those great big smiles, what beautiful pictures!! One day I hope to be able to travel again, I'd love to go there ! The Avi leaves were of course one of my favorites, I can tell she "travels" with you ;) Always in your heart no matter where you're at. SO SWEET <3
    cindy in nc

    1. Thank you Cindy! Yes, there weren't any shortages of smiles in Costa Rica : ) I agree with you, the Avi leaves were one of my very favorite too ❤️❤️❤️

  4. Well I guess Costa Rica must be my next adventure! That trip looks lovely and as always your description gives the perfect picture in my mind. So happy to see you all enjoying the beauty.

    1. Hi Sarah,

      Thank you! Yes, add it girl! You won't regret it, especially if Lily's with you <3 I couldn't stop thinking of how much Aviana would've loved being there with us - all the animals, the trails, the food, the adventure of it all. It would have been her favorite out of all our trips...

  5. Beautiful pictures sound like a awesome trip. Loved the Aviana leaves & the candle lightning at the church she always travels with you-all no matter where you go great memories are always made. As always your writing descriptions is so great to read. Know You & Dave are enjoying Tahoe so much!


    1. Thank you Denise. It was such a meaningful trip. There was just something about it. Maybe because of where I am on this journey? It was really nice and transformative.

      And yes that Avi girl...


  6. What a beautiful vacation! The rainforest behind your hotel looked like a postcard. I can't believe how tame all the birds were - amazing! Looks like the perfect combination of a great location AND time with family. Perfect.

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