I arrived in Costa Rica Tuesday afternoon after a very uneventful flight through Houston from Portland. I chose an overnight flight so that I would arrive in the early afternoon, knowing that it would be a trek to my friend Darcie’s house outside San Marcos- high in the mountains of Central Costa Rica (HIGH, as in, my hosts were concerned I would get altitude sickness). I have been meaning to come down and visit Darcie for almost two years. I met her through her husband Ben, with whom I attended grad school, and she and I have always had a great time together. Darcie moved to Costa Rica two years ago to run their coffee business while Ben has been engaged with international relief work in Iraq. I finally found the opportunity and so here I am.
Luckily for me, Darcie ignored my insistence that I could find my way to San Marcos on my own and met me with a cab at the airport. I packed ridiculously light – one gym bag – so flew through immigration and customs. Within 30 min of landing I found myself in a cab with a glass of box wine and a bag of sun chips, trying to find a working seat belt before we hit the intercontinental highway. 90 min later, with a break for a pitstop at a roadside shop/restaurant for fried pork nuggets (there is no other description), we arrived at her home above San Marcos, I unpacked into her parent’s guest house (who live across the street from Darcie and the kids), and we enjoyed another glass (or two) of wine before the kids got home from school.
The south prepared me well for the bugs in Costa Rica (as I am typing this I am watching a spider run across my bedroom wall). I made it a habit to shake out my clothes, shoes, and towels before use- mostly for cockroaches but also for small lizards – while here I am looking for tarantulas and scorpions (Darcie probably could have done without telling me her family’s house sits on what used to be called “scorpion hill”). I was warned very sternly, by Darcie and also her oldest Claire (6), to wear my shoes at all times and check my bed before getting in. I also find the “white noise” of cicadas and frogs at night comforting – and I find chickens hilarious and charming so it doesn’t bother me that their rooster likes to wander around my house and crow at all hours of the night. It also helps that chickens eat scorpions, so if they want to hang out by me, they can make all the noise they want.
My time here looks to be extremely relaxing. I really had no set plans or expectations for my time. I do intend to hit the beach at some point, mostly because how could I not, I love the beach and both the Pacific and the Caribbean are only a few hours away. However a trip out will require some arrangements made on my behalf by Darcie for Jose or Carlos to drive me into San Jose, where I can then join a traditional tourist experience with a chartered bus to a hotel on a beach somewhere for some snorkeling and sunning. I suppose that I could attempt to take the local bus to the beach from San Jose, however my Spanish is terrible and I am always getting lost, so that might not be the best idea. Darcie’s youngest Henry (3) helped me with a little Spanish on my first night, however he is pretty obsessed with crocodiles and we spent a good part of the evening drawing them on the floor and then crashing his toy cars into them, and I don’t think the words for “truck” or “crocodile” will be all that useful to me. Henry is also adorable in that he switches easily between Spanish and English while talking to me – which is hard for me to follow so sometimes he repeats himself when it is obvious that I am not following the extremely important information he is imparting to me.
Today looks to be my first short run since my arrival. I was encouraged by my hosts to give myself a full day or two to acclimate, so yesterday I just lazed around. After breakfast with the kids and sending them off to school in a cab, Darcie and I watched some World Cup and then took a cab into town for some lunch and grocery shopping. It is such a tiny town that everyone knows who she is and stops to say hi (it did crack me up when she sent me her address before I left – which is The Gringos in San Marco– apparently that is all she needs- and if you want to come visit, now you have the address!). Today will likely be more of the same – coffee, hammock, run, hammock, read, wine…perhaps plan family vacation to the Pacific or figure out where we can get some sparklers for a little 4th of July dinner/party we are going to have for the kids.