Goodbye, Costa Rica

I’m writing this post from our room at the Hotel Casa San Francisco in Granada, Nicaragua. We arrived here on Sunday and are about to depart for León. Before I update y’all on the trip here, I wanted to write a bit about what the heck it was we were doing in Atenas, especially over the last month or so.

From previous posts, you know about our various adventures traveling around Costa Rica and the surrounding area. When not traveling, we still kept ourselves pretty busy. Emily was mostly working, which was made somewhat challenging by the preschool next door to us. Their play area was right across our driveway, and it sounded like this pretty much every day of the week:

I spent a lot of time at Su Espacio, which is a language school and cultural center run by a Tico-Italian couple, David and Corinna. I took two Spanish classes a week almost every week from David, who is a fantastic instructor. I highly recommend taking classes from him in-person or via Skype. 

For a few months, I taught an after-school English class to a group of kids ages 7-10 and some one-on-one English classes, and Emily tutored a nine-year-old named Natasha in various subjects for a while. We were both relieved from our teaching/tutoring duties by full-time volunteers for our last two months in Atenas.

I also got the chance to teach some music, which is a bit more in my wheelhouse. David and Corinna’s son, Nicola (Nico), who is well on his way to being fluently trilingual in Spanish, Italian, and English, really wanted to take violin lessons. We tried finding a quarter-size violin in Costa Rica, but it turns out that they’re tough to get. Undeterred, we ended up ordering a violin online and I brought it back from the U.S. after my tour with Silas Lowe in March. After a few months of lessons, Nico is doing great at playing such hits as, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” “Old Macdonald Had a Farm,” and “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” He also loves playing scales, which is fairly incredible.


Nico loves the violin!

Last month, I taught a music appreciation workshop with David to a group of about eight kids (attendance varied from week to week). We introduced various instruments to the kids, talked about types of music, and did some art projects related to music over the course of four classes. It was a super fun experience that culminated in creating found-object percussion instruments and singing “Yellow Submarine.”



A couple weeks before we left, I participated in a beer brewing workshop at Su Espacio taught by a fellow gringo, Doug, which was super cool. It was fun learning the whole process and picking up some of the brewing vocabulary in Spanish as well as English. The group was mostly Americans and Canadians who live in the area and we had a great time brewing and tasting some of the local craft brews.


Brewing beer!


Emily’s coworker Leah has the honor of being our last visitor in Atenas. Penny did her best to make Leah feel welcome.


Penny insists on snuggling all of our guests.

I also played my first and last show in Atenas at Etnia, a cool restaurant with the nicest owner ever, Camilo. My friend Norman, a Tico Celtic guitarist, and I worked up a couple sets worth of Celtic tunes and pulled it together in time for the gig. We had a great turnout and it was a fun way to begin our last week in Atenas.

We had an awesome time living in and exploring Costa Rica. It will be good to get back home to the U.S., but we’ll miss the mellow pace of life that we enjoyed for the past year. Of course, more than anything, we’ll miss the friends we made while living there. Here are many of them!


Us, David & Corinna


Us with Jonathan, his son Matias, and Cana. Cana is from New York and is a teacher in Atenas. Jonathan, her Tico boyfriend, is a crafting wizard who has a shop at Catuca in town.


Jorge and his cousin Cecilia, my Spanish/English exchange buddies.


Xiomara, who cleaned our house for the year. She loves our dogs and they love her!

Goodbye, Costa Rica! We love you forever.

Península de Osa

One of the best parts of living in Costa Rica for a year has been having the ability to see a lot of the country. That and fresh mangos. The last place on our list was the Osa Peninsula, and we checked that off over the 4th of July weekend.

We stayed in a cabin that we found on AirBnB just outside of Rincón on the shore of the Golfo Dulce. This was an amazing spot to chill out and Penny and Theda had a great time splashing around in the water.

Our first full day on the peninsula was pretty mellow. After driving into Puerto Jiménez to explore, arrange some tours, and grab some lunch, we found ourselves back at the cabin by mid-afternoon. Rather than twiddle our thumbs until dinner, Emily had the great idea to drive to Drake Bay. We still had plenty of daylight left, so we all hopped in the car and hit the road. Luckily for us, it hadn’t rained much, so the several water crossings in our path weren’t *too* scary. We didn’t film the trip, but to see the basic idea of what we did you can check out this video.


We made it to Drake Bay!



Our first tour the next day was at Rancho Raices de Osa, a cacao farm in Cañaza about 15 minutes north of Puerto Jiménez. The farm is run by German (pronounced Herman) and the tour was facilitated by his English-speaking daughter, Vanessa. Emily and I were the only ones on the tour and it was a wonderful experience. The leisurely tour had us wandering along a path and learning about the many other plants growing on the farm. Some of these are to exhibit various types of native plants, including poisonous ones and others with medicinal qualities. The tour ended up at a really spectacular rancho in the middle of the property where we ate some delicious food prepared by German’s wife, tasted chocolate, and learned the process of making chocolate. We also tried white pineapple for the first time – they’re super sweet, take a long time to grow, and don’t travel well, so you probably won’t find them in your local supermarket.

Later that day, we headed into Puerto Jiménez for a sunset kayak tour. We hopped in a double kayak and our guide, Enoch, took us on a trip up and down part of the Rio Plantanares, then out onto the ocean to kayak back into the gulf to see the sunset and wrap up the tour.

On our way home, we stopped at a bridge over the Rio Tarcoles that has signs that read, “Crocodiles in their natural habitat.” We’d crossed this bridge many times, but never before got out to look. I’m glad we did, since it was totally awesome.

First we spotted a smaller crocodile:


A small crocodile by its lonesome

Then another, much larger one:


Crocodile number two.

Then we crossed the bridge and saw this:


It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly a year since we moved down here. This was likely our last trip exploring Costa Rica. We will miss many things about living here, but we’re looking forward to the adventures ahead on our six-week journey home!

San Gerardo de Dota

We finally found a place in Costa Rica where it’s cold!

Emily and I were drawn to the mountain river valley town of San Gerardo de Dota by reports of its tranquility, fresh air, and beautiful scenery. It totally delivered.

Based on a recommendation from our friend and Spanish teacher, David, we left earlier than we’d originally planned so we wouldn’t be driving in in the fog/rain/mist. We managed to miss the worst of it, and descended out of the clouds on the Inter-American Highway into the Rio Savegre valley. The drive into the valley is steep and twisty on a road that’s a mix between bumpy dirt and bumpy pavement. Along the way, we stopped in at the restaurant at Dantica Lodge for some delicious pasta and great views of the valley (of which we took zero photos).

We continued down to Cabinas El Quetzal, our home for the weekend, and checked in to our super cute riverside cabin. After getting settled, Emily went to the lobby to borrow a couple wine glasses and we spent most of the rest of the afternoon on the back porch reading and relaxing. Dinner was expertly-prepared trout (a local specialty) along with vegetables and split-pea soup, after which we retired to our cabin and watched Frozen, initially in Spanish (“Libre soy, libre soy, no puedo ocultarlo más…”) until I figured out how to switch the audio to English.

Having planned to take the quetzal tour on Saturday morning, we went to bed early and woke up super early so we could meet our guide along the road at 5:30 a.m. The tour wasn’t described very well. Unlike my experience in Monteverde hiking through the cloud forest and spotting a quetzal, this tour involved standing on the road while the guide whistled a quetzal call and the quetzal responded. After 30 or so minutes of boredom and wondering why we were awake, we hopped in our car and moved down the road with the guide to another, off-road location. Jackpot! We saw four quetzals – two male and two female. We were there with a couple other groups with guides and were probably the youngest by twenty years. Is there a Christopher Guest movie about birders yet?

Exhausted after our unusually early morning, we had a pretty mellow Saturday and decided we’d push our planned horseback ride to the next day. Sunday came and after breakfast we hopped on horses at a very reasonable 8:30 a.m. with our guide. This was money well-spent. We rode along the river, crossing back and forth a few times, and ended up at a hiking trail to a waterfall. We hiked just under 1 km in to a small waterfall and cave and turned back to ride our horses back to the cabin. Emily and I had decided on hiking as well, and rather than go up to the unexplored national park on the way home, we opted for returning to the same waterfall hike trail and going all the way.

It was about 2 km along a managed, but still slightly treacherous trail to the much larger waterfall. About 3/4 of the way there in, it started raining. It was light at first, then as we got closer to the waterfall it turned into a proper downpour, just like you’d imagine in a tropical cloud forest. We got a look at the waterfall, snapped a quick photo, then hiked back out. Completely soaked, we returned to the cabin and changed, grabbed lunch at a nearby restaurant, then headed home.


Soaked through!

Our lunch is worth mentioning. It was delicious, but more awesome was that even though they couldn’t accept credit cards there and we didn’t have enough cash, they let us order food and then directed us to the Trogon Lodge (affiliated with the restaurant) to run our credit card to pay. It was like a trust fall with money, and we passed the test.


Fun facts:*

  • Quetzals don’t like the sun/heat, which is why you have to get up so damn early to spot them.
  • Quetzals eat wild avocados. The colorful weirdos grab them off the tree while in flight, sit on a branch digesting the soft fruit, then spit out the pit, which is about an inch in diameter.
  • There’s a reason why nearly everyone hikes in the morning in the cloud forest. Rain. Every day.

*The factuality of the above statements is not guaranteed.



Hosting family and friends!

At the end of January, my friends Bruno and Beth visited from Winters, CA. They only spent a couple nights with us, but it was really great to see them. I, of course, took no photos during their visits, but I was very happy to receive a couple bottles of the delicious and (somewhat) hard-to-acquire Pliny the Elder from Bruno.


Me and my Pliny.

At the beginning of February, I went on a trip to Granada, Nicaragua to renew my visa and visit my friends, Toña and Victoria (beers, of course). I spent a few days exploring the city, which is fairly lively and features lots of Spanish colonial-style architecture. I took a couple Spanish classes at Casa Nica Spanish School and had a bunch of great food. I recommend visiting, if you find yourself in Nicaragua wondering what to do.

After I returned to Costa Rica, my parents arrived from California for a twelve-day stay. Their visit prompted me to find new and interesting things to do in Costa Rica. We went into San Jose and visited a few museums — the Jade Museum, the Numismatic Museum, and the Pre-Colombian Gold Museum. All of them were great, but I appreciated the Pre-Columbian museum for its detail in describing the history of the native people before the Europeans arrived.

Along with Emily, we explored Zarcero, which is notable for its bizarre and awesome topiary in the center of town, and did some shopping in Sarchi. My parents later went back to buy a couple chairs!

My parents and I also traveled to two volcanos, Poás and Arenal, in a bit of a whirlwind tour. Luckily, we got to see the Poás crater on a clear day. The La Paz Waterfall Gardens were also great — Mom made friends with a toucan, and we saw lots of awesome former wildlife that were being protected by the gardens. Our good weather luck ran out at Arenal, but we did have a nice hike and some great food at Benedictus Steakhouse (highly recommended).

My brother, Alex, and his wife, Emily (confusing, I know), arrived about a week into my parents’ stay. On the day they arrived, we went on a tour at El Toledo Coffee Farm near Atenas, which I’d been wanting to do for a while. Their story of converting to organic farming is super interesting and provided a behind-the-scenes look into how that conversion works. Also, their coffee is great.

That weekend, we drove to Uvita. We stayed in cool house we found on AirBnB that was way up a rather steep dirt road, which had views of Parque Nacional Marino Ballena and the famous “whale’s tail” formed by a sandbar that is visible at low tide. We did the usual beach thing, and ate at a couple fantastic restaurants for dinner. Sabor Español in Uvita has delightful Spanish food, and it would have been the best meal of the weekend except we also went to Ylang Ylang, an Indonesian restaurant run by a Dutch couple in Ojochal. That might be the best meal I’ve ever had in my life, or at least tied for first place. It’s also a great place to catch the sunset. Thanks to Bruno and Beth for checking it out on their visit and recommending it to us!


Emily, Alex, me, Emily


Sunset at Ylang Ylang

To finish off the weekend, we went to Playa Espadilla, the public beach right near Manuel Antonio. The primary purpose of this visit was that my dad wanted to try parasailing. We had a great day, and he was able to check that off of his list!


Dad & Alex prep for takeoff. 

My parents left the next day, and Alex, Emily (of SF), and I headed to Monteverde to check out the cloud forest. There was a conspicuous lack of clouds, due to warm weather. Cloud forests are particularly vulnerable to climate change. We stayed in a super cool tiny house and went on a couple great hikes with Three Brothers Tours. They were really fantastic and I’d recommend using them, or another reputable tour company. With the help of Elberth, our guide, we saw animals we would NEVER have seen on our own. We also learned more about the forest itself and some of the history of the area. I think the great part about it was that they weren’t pushy about it, so it just felt like a better situation. Too often Emily & I feel like we’re getting scammed by tour guides promoting their services at the trailhead. I think hiring in advance is the way to go.

I’m so glad that friends and family have been able to visit while we’re here. We’ve all had a great time traveling around Costa Rica. We don’t have any other visitors lined up at the moment — who’s next?

Anniversary in Manuel Antonio

(I’ve been slacking in the blogging department. Here’s catch-up post one of two (maybe three). -Andy)

Emily and I celebrated our 1st anniversary on January 24th with a weekend trip to Manuel Antonio. We left Penny and Theda at home with a pet sitter and realized that it was our first trip without them since our honeymoon in Belize. It offered the tiniest of glimpses into what parents must feel like when they vacation without their kids: we experienced a strange feeling of freedom, worried a bit about what the dogs were up to, and enjoyed not having to hurry home after going out to dinner.

On the eve of our anniversary, we checked into our hotel, grabbed lunch, then headed to the beach. This is probably the most touristy beach setting we’ve been to here in Costa Rica — we were able to rent chairs and order drinks while sitting under an umbrella on the beach. While we sat, we were offered the chance to buy all sorts of things by intrepid entrepreneurs: cigars, ocarinas, wood carvings, etc. We also spotted folks parasailing, and decided that we’d do that the next day.


A dork and his beautiful wife.


Not us, but we swear we did it. Totally awesome.

That night, we were pleased to find out that our favorite restaurant in Sámara, El Lagarto, has another location near Manuel Antonio. We didn’t make it early enough, but I highly recommend grabbing a drink here, watching the sunset, then digging into some awesome grilled seafood or meats.

We went to Manuel Antonio before our parasailing adventure. It was hot and busy at the park, so I’d recommend arriving early in the morning and visiting on a weekday. Emily was smart and planned on swimming at the beaches, so she found some relief from the heat that way. Through all of the sweat, we saw these awesome animals!







All in all, it was a great trip. I’m looking forward to many years of adventurous anniversaries with Emily!

Vacation from our vacation

I’m not sure where the phrase came from, but I’m sure you, dear reader, have had the experience of getting back from vacation only to discover you need another vacation before going back to work. For the first time, Emily and I were able to pull that off! If you’ve been following along, you know that we had visitors for about ten days over Christmas and New Year’s. It was AWESOME. However, we were totally wiped out from having loads of fun, and needed some time with each other (and the dogs) to rest and ease back into normalcy. So, what did we do?

We went to hang out near a volcano that might still be active!

Obviously, since I’m writing this, we are fine. On the day we drove up to La Fortuna, the sky was overcast — seeing the area only on that day, one wouldn’t even know there is a volcano dominating the landscape. Luckily, the weather cleared up during our visit, so we got some decent volcano views from our hotel.


Volcán Arenal comes out to play

After the long drive, we kept it mellow on the first day. We soaked in the hot spring at our hotel, napped, then we went out to Kappa Sushi. Is it the best sushi ever? No, but the sushi boats are cool and it was a welcome variation from our typical meals.


Nice presentation.

High on our list of activities in volcano country was going to hot springs. We pulled out our trusty Lonely Planet guide and decided to check out Springs Resort and Spa. Staying there was not in our budget. However, anyone can get two-day access to their assortment of mineral spring-fed pools for two days for $60 per person. Not bad. The pools are fantastic – they range in temperature from about 80 F to 104 F, some have waterfalls, and in the central pool you can find the swim-up bar.


There is no deep end in the pool with the swim up bar. Smart.

Our last day was great. We went on a easy hike at Arenal Volcano National Park, where we spotted a coati and a sloth and encountered buses full of overly helpful tourists. Emily’s favorite quote: “Just up the way on the left, you’ll see a line of leaf-cutter ants heading back to their nest. VERY interesting.” After leaving the park (of course), we got some great views of the volcano while driving on the north side of Lago Arenal. For dinner, we went to a great restaurant, Benedictus Steak House, which has fantastic views of the surrounding area, and a simple menu featuring meats from livestock raised on the property. To cap off the day, we returned to The Springs resort for our second day of hot spring soaking.


Coati on the trail, totally in the zone


There’s a volcano up there somewhere.


The trail ends at this lava flow with a view of the lake.


Driving back toward La Fortuna along the lake, Arenal is revealed.


The view from Benedictus.

You might be wondering what the dogs were up to this whole time. It was mostly like this:


Penny and Theda needed this vacation.



Feliz año nuevo!

Well, 2015, you are going to be a hard year to top.

We got married, traveled and played a bunch of music, became an auntie and uncle to the best niece ever (HI MARLOWE), started learning Spanish, and moved to Costa Rica. Oh, and I just got a new writing job. Basically, everything’s coming up Triplett Lentz.

PicMonkey Collage.jpgWe celebrated Christmas with my sister-from-another-mister Sarah and her husband Doyle, visiting from Alaska. After a few days hanging out at our place in Atenas, we spent several days in the beach town of Sámara, on the Nicoya Peninsula. Due to some neck pain from the most white-lady injury possible (I got a bad massage that pinched a nerve), I spent a too-significant percentage of time during their visit lying on my back high on muscle relaxers. But we still got in plenty of sun and fun, and it was fantastic to see them.

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These handsome devils with their sangria.

The dogs were tick magnets out in that part of the jungle and both of them came down with tick fever — nothing antibiotics can’t fix, but boy is it nasty to pluck those parasitic little jerks out of your dogs’ ears every time they go outside.


Beach dogs

Shortly after Sarah and Doyle departed, we were joined in Sámara by Andy’s brother-from-another-mother Danny and his wife Courtney. We spent New Year’s Eve on the playa, where we sat closer to the fireworks launch site than any of us have ever been. The beach was full of celebrants building bonfires and releasing paper lanterns into the air, and the fireworks were incredible. Not at all a bad way to welcome a new year.


Danny, clearly having an awful day.


Love these two.

Currently we’re relaxing up in the cool north, amid the hot springs surrounding Volcán Arenal, for a few days before I fly to Boston to officially start my new job at Help Scout. So far, 2016 is off to a promising start.

A visit to the doctor

Murphy’s Law being what it is, this was the week — when Andy is at language school in Nicaragua, and our car is … somewhere? somewhere getting legal … ? — that I got sick enough to have to go to the doctor.

I get sick enough to go to the doctor about once every four years, so the prospect of needing medical attention in Costa Rica hadn’t occurred to me. (Tripletts don’t get sick, according to Dad. And when we do, we definitely don’t whine about it.) At first I tried to avoid it by going to the pharmacy. Costa Rican pharmacists are highly trained and all drugs other than narcotics are OTC here, so the pharmacy is a kind of inexpensive triage. But I must not have done a good job explaining my symptoms, because the horse pills they gave me didn’t help and I woke up the next morning feeling worse.

I realized I was only putting off a doctor visit because I didn’t know how it would work, and I wasn’t in the mood to figure it out. That’s a pretty silly excuse when you’ve had hives all over your body and an ocular headache for five days, so I finally put some shoes on and made the 15-minute walk to the clinic.

Linea Vital

The Linea Vital Clinic in Atenas. YES I thought to take a photo for the blog even when I was at death’s door. I’m very dedicated to you, Dear Reader.

Linea Vital is an ambulance service and walk-in clinic in Atenas — I showed up at 8 a.m. expecting to wait or be told to come back later, but I was the only patient there and Dr. Barrantes was able to see me right away. Both she and the nurse who took my vitals spoke English. After about a 15-minute consult she decided I probably don’t have dengue fever, and diagnosed me with an allergic reaction (to what I still don’t know, maybe detergent). She told me to avoid tomatoes and pineapple (:cry:), and gave me a prescription for Rupax, an oral antihistamine, after I wouldn’t let her give me a steroid shot.

She also commented that I am very white.

It’s easy to see why medical tourism is such a Thing here: The consult was $50 with no insurance, and the medication was another $5.50. If any of our American friends with lousy insurance need to get anything taken care of, now’s the time to visit — even with the plane ticket you’ll come out ahead, and get a vacation in while you’re at it.

The Rupax didn’t work quickly enough, and the next day I woke up feeling too crummy to work (which is pretty crummy, when you work from home). I took some Benadryl too and slept the day away. Today I woke up groggy but well enough to run a couple errands and get a haircut. Benadryl for the win, again. Seriously. Bless those little pink pills.

Importing Calvin to Costa Rica

On Monday, Emily and I went to Alajuela to begin the process of importing Calvin, our Subaru Forester. Why are we doing this? It’s the law. Unlike perpetual tourism, which is alive and well in Costa Rica, there are no loopholes for bringing a vehicle into the country. When you bring your car in, you have 90 days on your temporary import permit. The car either leaves the country before that, or you import it. If we were to keep it in the country illegally, we’d run into huge problems if we got into an accident or pulled over. If we made it through the year without any incidents, we’d have trouble at the border on the way out of the country. Rock and a hard place.

So, (mostly) law-abiding and risk-intolerant as we are, we decided to import our car. Lucky for us, our realtor’s dad has imported a few cars and provided us with very detailed instructions. I can’t emphasize this enough — we went from having no idea of where to start to knowing exactly who to call and where to take the car to get things going, as well as what to expect throughout the process. Thanks Bob!

The steps are:

  1. Import the car (pay money)
  2. Inspection (more money)
  3. Registration, title, insurance (again, money)

Luckily, the customs agent we chose, Mario, can take care of all of these steps. We had some trouble finding the customs agent’s office, but with a phone call and some walking around we made it to our meeting. The language barrier was tricky, but luckily Mario’s sister was visiting from New Jersey and translated for us. We had previously looked up our car on the AutoValor website to get an idea of what we’d be paying. However, that seems to be only an estimate, because the amount we’re actually paying is less than we expected.

After the meeting, we left Calvin behind and Mario drove us to a nearby bus terminal so we could get back to Atenas. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the right bus terminal. We asked for directions from the friendly agent and headed toward downtown Alajuela. The next bus terminal we found wasn’t the right one either, so we asked for directions again. After repeating this process a couple more times, we finally found ourselves sitting on the bus to Atenas, sweaty and relieved to be heading home. Since we’re car-free for at least a week, we’re very lucky to be in Atenas. Our house is close to the center of town, and it’s a very walkable city.

Later that afternoon, we walked over to the bank to transfer money to Mario’s account to cover the import tax and his fee. We waited in line for a while, making our way through the rows of chairs until we got to speak to a teller. He told us we could use our debit card for the transaction, but the fee would be pretty high. We opted to spend a couple days pulling money out of ATMs. After acquire the rather large amount of cash (sort of scary), I was able to make the deposit so the ball is now officially rolling.

I’ll update this post as the situation develops. If you have happened across this blog because you’re looking for information on importing your car to Costa Rica, please feel free to ask questions in the comments.

Update 1/18/2016:

This update is long overdue. Essentially, everything worked out perfectly once we transferred the money to Mario. After a couple weeks, we had our car back. Along with it were the new plates and three stickers for the windshield — one is just a sticker version of the license plate, the other two indicate that our Marchamo (road tax) and Riteve (inspection) are up to date.

A couple notes here — because we imported our car in November, we paid Marchamo for 2015, then had to almost immediately pay Marchamo for 2016 in December. If you have the option of planning the timing of your vehicle import, I’d suggest doing it in January.

By the luck of the draw, we got a license plate ending in 1, so we had to have our vehicle inspected again two months after the import inspection. This isn’t such a big deal — the inspection only costs about 10,000 colones ($20 US), and they only performed the safety inspection since it had passed the emissions test in November. It seems like a much more thorough inspection process than I’ve ever been through in the US — they check over just about everything — lights, turn signals, wipers, seat belts, steering, suspension, and brakes. It’s sort of fun being in the car for the suspension test, which bounces the vehicle around at different frequencies and amplitudes.


All the window stickers

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We are OFFICIAL! Or our car is, anyway.

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Beach Life

Moonlit beach walk. But we're not on vacation.

Moonlit beach walk. But we’re not on vacation.

Eleven days ago, we moved down from the eco-cabin in the cool hills near Turrialba to a studio apartment in Sámara on the Pacific coast of the Nicoya peninsula. It’s an awesome place to be for many reasons — we’re a short walk from the beach, there are great spots to chill and have beers while watching the ocean, and it’s really mellow here. Costa Rica is the land of pura vida and that spirit feels magnified on the beach.

We embraced that spirit when we arrived and found ourselves behaving as if we were on vacation, which manifested as going out to eat a lot, meaning we blew the amount of money eating out we’d typically spend in a month in Austin in the first four days of being here. Whoops! That inspired some conversations about how to avoid “vacation mode” while living in such an idyllic setting. To start, we moved the stove outside and purchased some utensils that made cooking, which we enjoy, more fun and comfortable in our previously sparsely equipped, indoor kitchen. Next, we made a list of meals so we didn’t need to think too hard what to make for lunch or dinner. Before, those conversations would lead to our throwing up our hands and walking to a nearby restaurant. Those two things have helped us rein in our spending a bit.

That’s a good thing, because the next part of our adventure is a little expensive — we get to navigate the process of importing our car to Costa Rica. This is a required step if you’re keeping your car in the country for more than 90 days. Luckily, we’ve had help with the process, so we know who we need to talk to to get this done. I won’t go into detail here, but it’s enough to say that it’s gonna take a few weeks, during which we won’t have the car, and it’ll be fairly costly. I’ll write a separate post for those who are interested as we navigate the process.

Penny takes advantage of nature's bidet while Theda supervises.

Penny takes advantage of nature’s bidet.

Back to the beach, specifically the ocean, which the dogs LOVE pooping in! They save it up, then when we go to the beach every morning and evening to let them run around, they wander out into the waves and feed the fish. All of that beach walking is great for the dogs, since they are then pretty wiped out for most of the day while Emily is at work and I focus on practicing, booking, teaching lessons online, and other tasks.

I want to give a big shout-out to the Samara Info Center located right by Lo Que Hay, a super-chill bar and restaurant. They offer all the information one could possibly want about the area and will book tours and Ticabus tickets for free. This is a fantastic service that I really appreciate, especially since my visa expires soon and I need take a trip to renew it. The folks at the info center helped me book a trip to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua where I’m going to take a week-long intensive Spanish class (4 hours per day) and stay with a Nica family. I’m excited to report back about that trip and I’m glad it was so easy to book!

Our next move is to Atenas tomorrow, where we’ll sign a lease and move into our home for the next year. We were planning to stay in Sámara longer, but we need to be closer to where we’ll be taking our car to be imported. We’ll miss the beach, but we’ll get back out here soon!

This cute little guy was wandering from table to table at Lo Que Hay looking for love (and maybe scraps)

This cute little guy was wandering from table to table at Lo Que Hay looking for love (and maybe scraps)

Lizards get big here.

Lizards get big here.

Laundry in the sink

We did laundry in the sink after an expensive experience at the only laundry service in Sámara, which happens to be in the same building as our apartment. Monopoly pricing!

The moon rests overhead while a local guy harvests coconuts using a long bamboo pole with a hook at the end.

Pura vida!

Pura vida! Also, time for a haircut!