“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.
When 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?
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.
The week I spent in Costa Rica with Chad’s company absolutely flew by. I had hoped to let myself relax like never before, but I’m a sucker for adventures, especially on someone else’s dime. I’ve suffered from intense FOMO since I was a little kid, so I signed up for all the optional activities for the +1s, which turned out to be amazing exercise, but allowed me little time for the mental retreat I’d been craving.
The first day or so, we did have some time to relax and enjoy our surroundings before the activities began. The sunset welcomed us to Tamarindo, and Smoky, the dog of the house, adopted us as her own. During my first 36 hours or so in Tamarindo, I had visions of writing morning pages, scheduling blog posts, and learning responsive design techniques every day by the pool with this spectacular view. Throw in some beach yoga, books, and rare solitude, and this would be the perfect retreat.
But then the adventures started. And I can’t say no to a good adventure.
So, remember that time a couple years ago when I decided to do a series called “Flashbacks”? The one that never really materialized? Right, that one.
Well, I’m picking it back up. With Memorial Day almost behind us, the event I’m looking forward to most right now is going back to Costa Rica in June. It’ll be my third time there. I worked there on a missions base in 2005, visited again for our honeymoon, and am headed back because Chad’s company is having their annual summit there. I can’t complain!
So these days, I’m looking back to look forward. Thinking of where I was both times I was there and how I’ve changed since. How this time will be different and how it will be the same.
And yes, I took this photo on the plane on my way there for the very first time, almost ten years ago.