Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I've always loved Thanksgiving...there's something really amazing about a whole day devoted to being thankful. Not to mention being with sweet family and dear friends. And...the food. Ain't nothin' better than a leftover turkey sandwich.

As you might have guessed, our Thanksgiving this year is a bit's not exactly a Central American holiday, so it hasn't really occurred to anyone around here (other than us) that Thanksgiving is upon us. And it's summer we won't be firing up the ol' propane tank to cook a turkey or make a pumpkin pie.

But, we will be thankful.

In my kindergarten teaching days, I became all too familiar with the stories of pilgrims and Native Americans...and while I taught my students about the beginnings of Thanksgiving, I was quick to inform them that we celebrate Thanksgiving for one reason: simply to be thankful. Every year, I asked my students, "What are you thankful for?" Their responses made me laugh and cry...for the reason that they were nothing but honest. Some of my favorite responses to this question: "chocolate milk", "my grandma cause she loves me all the time", "oooh, oooh, cheetoes!"

While we sure are sad that we can't celebrate Thanksgiving with our families and our sweet friends, we sure are thankful for all the blessings we've been given right here.

Hope you're finding much to be thankful for.

Remember Me?

Here I am again. Maybe you've been missing hearing me ramble, and maybe you didn't even notice I was gone. Even I didn't quite realize it's been a whole eight days since I've had anything to say.

It sure is a rare event when I quit talking...and when I stopped to think about why I haven't had much to say as of late, I realized it's because we've turned into locals.

Not really, of course. But we've developed a level of comfort here in this tiny surfing village that has made it start to really feel like home. Most mornings we wake up, without the aid of an alarm clock, to a darkened bedroom...dark only because we close our windows at night to keep the wild animals out. (We do live in the jungle, remember?) We open all the windows up as we make eggs and Julia drinks maté...and then we eat breakfast to the sound of the waves outside. Most days start this way...and I promise not a day goes by that I'm not thankful for the fact that I get to spend every morning waking up slowly and eating breakfast with my girl.

After breakfast, every day is a bit different. Most every day, Julia finds time to read and translate, and I find time to send e-mails, immerse myself in wedding plans, and work on applications for graduate school. The internet has become a funny thing for in, can't live with it, can't live without it. I absolutely love that the use of the internet is a bit of a process for us, and involves walking to town and crossing our fingers that it actually works that day...this process makes our internet use very intentional, and most days I find I have an organized list of things to accomplish with the use of the world wide web. That said, it does make me a bit crazy that it is our only connection to our lives in 'merica. Simply picking up the phone and making a call or sending a quick text is a luxury we don't have...and frustrating as it can be, I'll go so far as to say that I'm fine with it.

Some days we go to yoga, or I go on a long walk up into the mountains. There was a day last week when we spent our afternoon investigating what to do with our empty propane tank. It was a bit of an adventure carrying the empty tank into town, trading it in for a full tank, and hauling it back home. By the end of the afternoon, our mission was accomplished. There was another day last week that we spent the morning surfing, and were so exhausted by the time we got home that it was all we could do to stay awake long enough to eat dinner and go to bed by 8pm. We've been to a local baptism, celebrated Julia's second local poetry reading, watched movies at a local film festival, and drank a whole lotta watermelon juice.

At this point, I'm sure you're becoming aware of our greatest gift here...time. It's quite a joy to not have to hurry rushing down subway stairs, or frantically looking at the's given me a better sense of taking my time and making the most of the moments I'm given.

So I haven't had much to say recently because our adventures just feel It's a life that makes me thankful everyday...and isn't that one of the things life is all about anyway?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Out For a Stroll

As I mentioned yesterday, our new favorite Sunday brunch stop involves a bit of a walk...which also could be termed a hike, because of the intense hills involved. Still, I ain't complaining.

We had the best time on Sunday, walking up the hills and arriving in lazy countryside.

Thought y'all might like to see...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Easy Like Sunday Mornin'

During our NYC days, we developed some favorite ways to spend a weekend. Every Sunday after church, Julia would turn to me and ask where I wanted to go to brunch. I’m convinced she only did this to let me know that I could have options if I so desired them, simultaneously knowing full well exactly where I’d ultimately choose to spend our Sunday afternoon. She sure is good to me.
Locanda Verde. It’s one of those ‘cool’ restaurants in the city...and this title means that there will be a 2-hour wait. Yes, even at brunch. It’s just a fact. I know, I know, for all you non city slickers out there, you’re outraged at this thought instantaneously...2 hours for eggs?!? Yes. It’s worth it. (At least I think so. If Julia weren’t so sweet, she would be rather inclined to agree with the fact that there’s no reason to wait this long for any meal.) We got to be rather good at it...reading the Sunday Times and being together made the waiting bearable. (As did the fact that we would soon be rewarded with tomato hollandaise and garlic roasted home fries...)
It was a damn fine tradition we created for ourselves. Especially after a few weeks of this routine...somewhere along the way, we became ‘regulars’. There came a day when we walked into a crowd of folks waiting for brunch...and instead of putting our names down, the hostess looked us in the eyes and said. “Good to see you two. We have a table ready for you now.” At first I thought it was some crazy kind of luck...and then, it happened again the next week, and the next...what a couple of lucky gals we are! (I’d be lying if I said this had nothing to do with Julia’s charm and kindness in winning over just about anyone...especially in this case, the powers that be at Locanda Verde.)
Sunday brunch will always be one of our favorite parts of the week...but when we moved here, it was hard to imagine finding ways to continue our tradition...’cause rice and beans for brunch just doesn’t have the appeal quite like a bloody mary and uovo modenese... 

But, leave it to me to find good eats in the middle of nowhere. It involves a bit of a walk...but we've found a place just outside of town that makes some mighty fine cuisine...and it's only fitting that it's owned and operated by Italians. This week, we couldn't resist the pizzas, but I can promise we'll be back for the roasted chicken and handmade buffalo mozzarella...(tradition demands it.)
Mission accomplished.
Our Italian Sunday brunch tradition can continue...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Weekend...

Tomorrow is Saturday...and that means, for me, the arrival of two events of great importance:

Farmer's Market and Football. Yee Haw.
Every Saturday morning, a local farmer pulls her truck into the park in the center of town, and creates a killer spread of fresh (and organic!) fruits and veggies. On our first Saturday living here in Montezuma, we both went into town together to check out this weekly event. Ever since, it's become my haven, and I get the shopping done while Julia gets work done at home.

When we lived in NYC, there was always something good to be found at our local farmer's market...but summer was the best, of course, because of all the variety. I swear I waited all year for some of those heirloom tomatoes...

But here in Costa Rica, it's summer now! So the market is teeming with treats...tomatoes, avocados, papaya, fresh herbs, pineapple, lettuces...ooooh, gimme some.

As for the second event of great's gameday. With the love I have for college football, I'm sure no one is surprised that I've managed to find a way to watch games all the way in Central America. Go dawgs...sic 'em.


I’ll admit it. I used to scoff at yoga. I never could seem to get excited about a form of exercise that seemed to be nothing other than glorified stretching.

Then, I was coerced into trying it. And, damn, it was really hard...I never imagined that those silly little mats and poses could actually involve some real ability. The hardest part for me was often being able to hold poses for more than a second or two. Blame it on a pair of hamstrings that are eternally tight, or a mind that tends to wander at the first opportunity.

But today...I did a headstand. Just like that. (Er, actually after weeks of practice and effort. Although I’ll take that feeling of accomplishment however I can get it.)

There are two reasons to practice yoga, I’m told...
The first, is to allow ourselves to experience our natural inclination: joy
The second, is to remove any blockages that might be hindering you from experiencing joy.
So cool. I'm starting to get into this whole yoga thang...


(PS...that photo at the top is a painting we saw in a museum in San José texture, huh?)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Go '

When I surf, I smile. I just can't help it.

Whether I catch a wave or find myself being catapulted into the foam, I always come up grinning.

There's something really glorious about the whole process. Being tossed around by waves that reach high above my's freeing. Makes me so aware of how big God really is.

Hope you're finding reason to smile, wherever this finds you.

Home Sweet Home

When we moved into our house here a few weeks ago, I breathed a sigh of relief. It was so nice to come home.
I didn't realize that I'd missed that feeling, as we've been taken SUCH good care of in the past few months. Every since leaving NYC, we've been so blessed to be able to spend time in the homes of dear family and friends...and in every way possible, they've taken better care of us and put up with us in ways that were loving beyond words. (Jonathan, Bonnie, and Mrs. G...I'm talking about y'all!)

As much as we loved being able to call 'home' to so many wonderful places, it's also been quite a thrill to build a home for ourselves in this little surf town. Every day is a bit of an adventure...but starting each day with our windows wide open to the sound of the surf ain't a bad way to begin the day.
There's something really amazing about being able to live a simple life...I suppose I'd use the word 'rustic' to describe our dear little casa, but that might not quite do it justice...
It really is quaint, but it's exactly what we need. Since we've been city gals for the past few years, we've relished the chance of pace.
Ain't many other places I'd rather be, anyway, than right here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Hard Day in Paradise.

Ever since I earned my driver's license, I've loved taking drives. Just driving...with no real route in mind. I often used it as an escape -- a way to get the hell outta dodge, literally and figuratively. When I was having a bad day, I was often quick to hop in the car and jam out to some tunes. I'd always choose back traffic on the road seemed to free me from the traffic in my thoughts. Most of these drives involved a fair amount of dirt roads, and lots of wind in my hair. Evidence of a drive like this from my Delta days...

Yesterday, I had a hard day. I know, I're thinking, this gal lives in paradise--there's no such thing as a hard day in paradise!?! Guess I'm here to prove you wrong...hard days find us everywhere we go. Sometimes you've gotta have the hard before you have the least that's what I've been telling myself. Sometimes it only takes something you weren't the form of an e-mail you can't believe anyone could have the audacity to send, especially someone from your own family. It was the kind of day I didn't wake up expecting to be tough, but then again, there aren't many days when I wake up thinking it's going to be a hard day. Call me an optimist, I suppose. 

And I found myself wanting to get in the car and go. But our life is a simple one...and we sure don't have a car. So, I walked. And walked. And walked. And I brought my tunes along with me. I found lots of dirt roads, and a hell of a lot of hills...when you live in a jungle, neither one is hard to come by. I realized pretty quickly that it wasn't that I needed a car to get outta dodge...I just needed to go.
Before I left, sweet Julia wanted to know what she could do to help make things easier...when I said I was going on a walk, she understood. There are some things that I just have to deal with by myself...but it was sure nice to have my girl to come home to.
By the time I got home, dust on my face and sweat running down my back, my head felt clear again. Forcing myself to run through my thoughts with nothing but my thoughts to help me sure wasn't easy, but damn, did it feel good.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Hang Ten.

Ah, surfing. How I've missed you.

My first experience riding the waves was last summer -- when we came down to this very spot to learn how to do just that. I might have done this before, but I'm still learning...

As a kindergarten teacher, I've always believed strongly in the power of positive reinforcement. When you're teaching a child something new, it's so essential to celebrate the small victories. I will never forget some of the faces my kids would make when they would feel successful -- you've never seen a bigger grin. I guess it's been awhile since I've really felt like I was learning something new...but today I couldn't help but be struck by how much I was acting like a 5-year old. Every time I caught a wave, I felt the need to make sure somebody saw me. When our surf instructor, Mauricio, would give me a thumbs up after riding all the way into shore, I smiled just like a kindergartner who just got a sticker for sounding out a new word.

The waves here will totally kick you in the face. For as many times as I'd managed to surf a wave, I also spent lots of my time swallowing salt water and falling off the board. There's something kinda glorious about actually being able to stand up and ride a wave into shore...but for all that glory, you've kinda gotta get beat up first. I have never inhaled so much salt water in my life.

Throughout my childhood, I wore a life jacket. Always. My sweet father first. He also made us wear helmets when we'd go on pony rides at the fair, and as a kid, I always deemed things like helmets and life jackets so not cool. But I wore 'em anyway. So maybe I love surfing because I am in the water and yet I'm not wearing a life jacket. (Don't worry dad, it's safe.) There's just something freeing about it, since the water literally carries you...when you successfully stand up on the board, that is.

Surf's up. Yeeeee haw.