Puro Amigos

One of my favorite things about welcoming guests to stay with us in Costa Rica is experiencing the country anew through fresh eyes. But I also know those eyes will take in everything. The gorgeous sea and the awful roads, the stunning sunset and the scorpions in the shower. These guests will feel the warm sand under their feet, and the oppressive heat, and the mosquito bites.

I thought about all of these things as we traveled to Liberia to meet Beth, David, Elsie and Kit on their arrival from the states. We’ve spent weekends with them before at their lovely family getaway on Hilton Head Island, but this would be very different. I hoped our jungle would be on her best behavior for them.

There was a happy reunion at the airport, where Camille proudly displayed a sign she’d made welcoming them to Costa Rica, complete with a unicorn sitting in a chair drinking a glass of lemonade, because, you know, that happens here.

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In true CR fashion, we had to do a quick tire change on our car. Then we proceeded down the highway to introduce them to all the road hazards that make these tire changes necessary.

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Beth and I had our car to ourselves, with the kids in the rental with the dads, doped up on dramamine. It was lovely to spend that time catching up, and it meant that when we pulled up to our house to take in the view, Beth was free to spew forth a number of happy expletives without little ears nearby. It is truly a magnificent view, but anything can be taken for granted when you see it day after day. I smiled as she reminded me how fabulous it really was.

The first night was spent unwinding at home, with the kids in the pool, ceviche on our plates, and beverages in hand. And it was 100% scorpion-free. We were off to a good start.

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Their first full day in Costa Rica, we decided to rent quads and show them around town. I wondered if we were in trouble when Beth had to ask me what exactly a quad was. However, David, having grown up in Alabama, was ready to go.

Happily, they all took to the quads immediately. Thanks to several previous days of rain, Nosara was a mud-bogging dream come true and our guests were perfectly willing to sacrifice their clothing to the mud pits. We deliberately aimed for all the huge holes, splashing water so high it often cascaded over our heads. We screamed and we laughed. We found a quiet road with no traffic, and we even let the kids drive (and only had one quad driven into the bushes and zero injuries).

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After much-needed showers, we met friends at the Black Sheep Pub. Beth and David had specifically requested to meet our friends, which I loved. Our people in Nosara are dear to us, as are our people in Savannah. To have some of them together in one place made my heart very full.

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Over the next several days, we checked a number of things off the Nosara tourist to-do list. I had my first experience zip-lining, and LOVED it. I had wondered if it would be terrifying, but found it exhilarating instead. I felt like a bird flying over the green valleys, listening to the monkeys howling in protest as I zoomed by.

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We rode horses on the beach. We hiked. We traveled up the road to San Juanillo to hunt for sea glass. We visited SIBU Sanctuary and saw the howler monkeys up close. There was surfing and there was yoga (pro tip: beer before yoga does not help with balancing poses…).

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We had dinner out and we had dinner at home. As I was cutting watermelon one night, Kit wandered over, plate in hand. I told her she could go ahead and get some.

“But how?” she asked. I hadn’t had a chance to grab a serving spoon yet.

“Just take what you want,” I said.

“But with what?” she pressed.

“Your fingers,” I assured her. Welcome to the jungle, Kit, where the rules go out the window.

Our last night in Nosara, we had dinner at my favorite restaurant, La Luna. It’s just off the sand of Playa Pelada, and Mother Nature offered up one of the prettiest sunsets I’ve ever seen. No photograph could do it justice.

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Thursday we left Nosara and headed northeast for the mountains. We had booked two nights at Rio Perdido, a resort near the volcanoes around Rincon de la Vieja national park, complete with thermal springs, mud pits and hiking trails.

The resort was stunning. Camille squealed with delight when she saw the kid-sized robe hanging in our closet, and immediately put it on. She declared herself “The Queen,” and swore to never leave.

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The food was good, the drinks were good, and the company was the best. We tortured the children by taking them on a hike where the signage was … well … unhelpful. We had a crudely drawn map in hand, but it didn’t reveal much, and signs like this were baffling. What did the dots mean? Was this braille?

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We were all rewarded for our efforts with a soak in the hot springs after painting our bodies with volcanic mud. Then we introduced Camille to the concept of a swim-up bar, where we had lunch submerged in the heated pool water, sitting on stools and watching the monkeys climb in the trees.

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It was a fantastic visit, and the timing couldn’t have been better. As of today, we have exactly four weeks left until we return to the US and leave our Costa Rican home. I don’t like times of transition, and all the details of leaving here and returning to Georgia have been occupying and worrying my brain. I badly needed a distraction. I needed a chance to experience this place again as a tourist, not just a short-timer expat beginning to say good-byes.

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What a terrific week with terrific people in this special place, with so many experiences and inside jokes that will stay with us always (“Queen Spaz,” “John Boy,” and “CHIROPRACTIC!”). So glad to share this Pura Vida with puro amigos!

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