Why am I leaving Paradise? Well, to go to my next Paradise, of course.
9 things I will miss about Costa Rica:
1. The weather! Atenas’ claim to fame – “The best climate in the world” – may not be absolutely accurate, but it’s pretty darn good. You think I will be running around in skimpy little outfits posing with Flamingo in California? Nope. Especially in the mountains of San Bernardino where I will be dog-lady-in-residence. I will be minding three big dogs while my friends Lynn and Lucas get situated in Redwood City for their new work assignment. Once settled, they will retrieve their Husky, Lobo, and their Chocolate Lab, Cinnamon. Extra-large Toby, my Chocolate Lab and I will then trek to Lake Havasu for some book writing. The weather? Typically sunny, 108 degrees Fahrenheit. OK, maybe skimpy outfits are in order. I will most likely be wearing a sweatshirt in an air-conditioned room.
2. Pineapples, papaya, and mangos. The fruits and vegetables of the Central Valley are the most flavorful, juicy, and delicious I have ever had the pleasure of enjoying on a daily basis . Oh sure, I love the pineapples of Hawaii, the mangoes of the Philippines, and Georgia peaches. But. I can walk out my door, and pluck a big, fat, juicy lime from a tree in the yard and squeeze it into my ice-water. Or use my machete to chop off a few bananas from the ever-present “hands” growing on the banana plants.
3. The birds. Life in Costa Rica tends to be from dawn to dusk. Yep, 6:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. It’s a rare day that I can sleep through the morning cacophony of I don’t know how many species of birds that vie for the spotlight. My favorite is the Motmot. They are brilliantly colored with a unique tail that has a little fan on the end. I have a friend who can call up a Motmot by throwing a piece of banana from her back porch. Really. I was there. She throws the banana and makes a bird sound and Motmot swoops in for the prize while the peanut gallery (us) admires the beauty.
4. The view from my balcony. I spend hours upon hours on the balcony. I call it a balcony, but really it’s more like the best room in the house. And it’s big – it’s actually larger than the living room and kitchen combined in my tiny casita. It sits high above the village of Atenas, where I have a clear view of the steepled church, the park, and the rolling hills of the countryside. More than that, I have done most of my writing there, have entertained friends, have had twenty people at a sit-down dinner there, and have swung in a hammock with Toby, the extra-large Chocolate Lab laying underneath ready to protect the home-front should an intruder dare to enter our private space.
5. Pitching produce from my balcony. I’m a believer in reduce, reuse, recycle. By pitching my “wet” garbage off the balcony I am reducing my trash, feeding the critters that live in the area, and fertilizing the soil. I’m sure there will be watermelon plants growing soon. Only thing is – I have to pitch it out of range of Toby also known as “Hoover.” Toby will eat anything and everything. If I’m not careful, he will snatch my morning papaya right off the plate. It’s a fun game we play; I pitch something into the palms and he searches for it. I’m always surprised when he hauls up an avocado skin and chomps it up like it’s a rare delicacy.
6. Ceviche. There is good ceviche here. Mexico has good ceviche, as does Peru and Ecuador. Some say it was invented in Spain. I don’t know or care, really. What I know is my favorite local restaurant in Atenas, the family run “Mejor Clima” has excellent ceviche. As many times as I have studied the menu, I usually end of with the same thing – a large order of ceviche mixto (mixed). The mixto has shrimp as well as a variety of fish, onion and cilantro.
7. Rooster with pants. I live in a gated community near the center of town amidst the modest local homes of the general population. Many of these Costa Ricans maintain chickens and roosters even though they live in the “city.” One of my favorite sights is coming up to the closed gate where the rooster comes strutting by to see who it is. He has so many long feathers on his legs, he appears to be wearing fancy pants. I will miss Fancy Pants, and his entourage.
8. Bar-hopping with Jose. My favorite taxi driver has lived in Atenas his whole life. He’s a hard worker, picks us up at all hours, including 3:00 A.M. airport runs; he never complains and always has a smile on his face. This soft-spoken elegant man knows every nook and cranny of the area. He arranges the occasional “bar tour” and takes us to places most gringos would never see. I will miss José.
9. Friends. Most of all, I will miss my friends. Friends are chosen family. I will miss you. But. No big goodbyes. Just so long. See ya later! Yeah, that’s it – see you in the funny papers.
And yes. I’ll be back!