Missing Iceland

IcelandLeading up to this year’s Iceland Airwaves festival, I started having dreams that I was headed back there. I’m still having them. About once a week, I have a dream that I’m going to Iceland on a last minute trip by myself. Usually I try to find a friend who can come along with me, but often I end up traveling solo.

I’ve heard that Iceland is a place you don’t go just once. You start saying, “The first time I went to Iceland…” instead of “That time I went to Iceland…” Now that the country’s otherworldly landscapes have tenaciously taken hold in my consciousness, I’m starting to believe it.

Last year when we were there, I decided that I wanted to go back for Airwaves this year. And not just that, I wanted someone to send me there to write about it. How is that for an audacious dream? Obviously, that didn’t happen. I didn’t work to make it happen, either. And I’m ok with that. My work this year has taken me in a different direction. That said, I’d never pass up the chance to go and write about Airwaves if someone wanted to send me in the future!

I don’t know why I’ve been headed there so often in my dreams. Maybe because I was there about a year ago, during a really transitional point in my life. A lot of things were changing, and Iceland gave me the space (literally and figuratively) to think and make better choices. Maybe it’s because the temperatures have dipped and the days are getting darker and I’m taking inspiration and encouragement from how Icelanders compensate for winter darkness with warmth and light and coziness. Whatever it is, I do know that I’ll find myself back there someday.

I’m thinking of sharing a little more Iceland here. Maybe it will help me figure out why it’s been such a presence on my mind lately.


How to Go Home

Nashville RosesDrive twelve hours with one of your very favorite people. You will not need music. You will not need podcasts. There will not be silence. When there is, it will mean something.

Make countless coffee stops.

Count six deer welcoming you back into Pennsylvania. You count in case your father asks if you’ve seen any. The road will turn, and the deer will look at you unafraid.

Stop in the town, on the farm, where you grew up. Smell home. Breathe deep. Be glad to share this with a friend.

Drive three more hours alone. Don’t be afraid. You will be too tired to think.

Drink more coffee.

Stare at countless stars over the turnpike to stay awake. They will keep you company. They will make you miss the sky you grew up with. There are no stars in Philadelphia.

Park your car and balance your belongings the block and a half to your apartment.

Drop your things on the floor. Crawl into bed, kiss the man beside you.

Nestle your feet between the warm cats on the edge of the bed. They’ve left a space for you.


CR Part 4: The Estuary

Tamarindo Estuary, Costa Rica

“An estuary is a partially enclosed body of water where fresh water from rivers and streams mixes with salt water from the ocean. Estuaries are areas of transition between the land and the sea.”
Chesapeake Bay System

…areas of transition between the land and the sea. All of Tamarindo felt like this, really. Cows, horses, crabs, and alligators all mingled together. It seems like an appropriate metaphor for the whole town — tourists and expatriates and Ticos, all interacting and sustaining each other. A great area of transition.

We traveled through the tangled mangroves, quiet and searching. We managed to catch a glimpse of a very shy alligator, catch a spider crab that joined us on the boat for a bit, and cross paths with some rather territorial cows. Oh, and disturb some ubiquitous sleepy howler monkeys, not pictured. One can only take so many photos of angry monkeys, you see.

Tamarindo Estuary, Costa RicaTamarindo Estuary, Costa RicaSpider Crab, Tamarindo, Costa Rica staredown


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CR Part 3: Food

Fresh Pineapple in Tamarindo, Costa RicaWhen I think of Costa Rica, I think of coffee, pineapple, dulce de leche, arroz con pollo, fried plantains, Salsa Lizano, and gallo pinto. My missions trip to Costa Rica in 2005 was my first independent travel experience, and I have a special place in my heart for the people, culture, and food.

This time around was no different. I met a wonderful barista named Lorena, ate fresh pineapple, got my hands on some Salsa Lizano to bring back with me, and met a older woman who runs the closest thing to a food truck in Tamarindo. Dona Rosa has been selling casado out of the back of her station wagon for over ten years!

I love eating while traveling, and I’m privileged to be able to write about many of my foodie adventures while traveling for The Town Dish. You can more read about my favorite spots to eat in Tamarindo over at the Dish now.

Do you have favorite places to travel and/or eat while traveling?

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CR Part 2: Monkeys Abound!

Howler monkeys in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Howler monkeys are a force.

I’ve met howler monkeys before. This was not my first Costa Rican rodeo. It was, in fact, my third. But I had never stayed somewhere where the monkeys were so abundant or loud or close to my living quarters. Lizards also abounded, but they are quiet creatures. Except when they’re attacking and devouring crabs. But that’s another story. (Sidenote: I legit saw a giant lizard eating a crab by the pool one day. There. I said it. Crunch, crunch. Violent and crunchy.) These teensy-tiny monkeys sound like an 800 pound gorilla when provoked. How does one provoke them, you ask? How about staring at them too long? Talking too loudly near them when they’re trying to sleep? Shaking a nearby tree? All of the above. Their howls made me jump and even kept some people up at night. But watching them interact with each other and their babies was worth it.

Howler Monkey in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Howler Monkey in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Lizard in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Crunch, crunch.