Costa Rica First Impressions

We’ve been in Costa Rica for 24 hours already.  We didn’t have much of a chance to anticipate the trip, with events we were leading and deadlines we had to meet right up to our departure date.  We are now starting to wind down and let ourselves enjoy this place.

I am enjoying it more than J-M at the moment because, while J-M arrived safe and sound, his luggage didn’t.  This means he has exactly one outfit to wear and an iPod to enjoy.  Because we find ourselves in the middle of nowhere, we can’t purchase the things he would really like to be using right now, including a bathing suit and sunscreen.  I suggested  risking a burn with a walk along the ocean and soothing it with one of the giant indigenous aloe plants that dot the landscape.  (Strange thing when you can use high speed internet but can’t access clothing.  Online shopping is not helpful at all.)

I’m sure it’s inevitable that one compares each new travel experience against past experiences.  If you have visited a tropical country before, you will be reminded of that place if you travel to a new one.  Within this first 24 hours, despite my best efforts to ignore them, I’ve had a bunch of memories, triggered by the views, the smells, the sounds, the climate, all colliding together trying to help me understand what or who Costa Rica is.  It’s mentally tiring and I’m yelling at my neurons and synapses, “I’m trying to relax here, people!”

I’ve spent time in Cuba, Bolivia and, of course, Ghana and I see them all in Costa Rica.  Mostly I’m reminded of Ghana because I want to keep asking John-Mark, “We could have gone anywhere in the world for this holiday and we picked the place we always go?”  Except it’s not that place.

We were able to use our missionary skillz and barter for a taxi instead of renting a car to get to our resort.  The whole long drive here from Liberia, with the windows down and our hair whipped around by the humid wind, I felt at home.  I thought, I know this place.  I know it’s trees and its ocean.  But something’s different.  I couldn’t pinpoint it at first, even as we passed by mint green or pink houses or saw familiar drinking spots or livestock along the roadway.  The difference isn’t just that the highway is perfectly paved, which J-M suggests tourism dollars have paid for.  Of course, the Spanish signs brought Bolivia and Cuba to the party.

It took me the whole drive to realize, this place looks and feels like Ghana except  for this one major difference: where the people at?  Seriously, we can’t find people.

The current hotel we’re staying at (until tomorrow) is run by a Swedish family.  I have spotted three local people, the server, the cook and the housekeeper.  In Ghana, there would be an attendant at every doorway, lining the roads, on the beach.  As we drove here, the whole hour and a half, there was no one walking along the road.  We even saw a TV on in a home and no one was watching it!  We’ve spotted a few local people on the beach, but they did not come near us, they stayed far, far away.

J-M reminds me this is not a disappointment.  This is exactly what we’re looking for in a getaway.  We do not need to be learning or meeting new people or trying to understand the culture.  On this trip, we need to be relaxing and enjoying each other.   Still, I think both our hearts dropped a little when he did his best to engage with our server by using Spanish when we were served our meal, “Muchas gracias!”

“You’re welcome,” the server answered.


Where we’re staying, Guacamaya Resort, at Playa Juanquillal


J-M tests the pool water.


J-M walks along the ocean in his one and only outfit.


Me, at our resort, smiling, in one of my many, many outfits.


Weather update – for those of you concerned that we would be spending a lot of time avoiding the weather because it’s the rainy season here. We had a beautiful sunny day yesterday with amazing lightning storms at night, but no rain.  Today it’s sunny again, but the proprietor of the resort told us, in English, that we could expect sun most days till mid-afternoon with short thunderstorms off the coast.  We’re off to enjoy the sun while we can!

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