I like that I’ve been home from Costa Rica for two weeks, and it still feels fresh in my mind. I hate when you return to normal life after something amazing and it starts to fade into dream mode. If I think about it, there’s almost a sadness that Tico life is not my actual life, that I was just a seven-day visitor in a place and a community that felt so comfortable.
One thing I did not want to be in Costa Rica was a tourist who stayed in an all-inclusive resort only eating resort food and only talking to people who don’t live in Costa Rica. Granted, I really want to do this someday, like stay on white sandy beaches somewhere like Playa del Carmen and let someone bring me fruity drinks around the clock. But this was not that.
We stayed in a condo a few blocks from the beach and about a mile walk to downtown. We were in a neighborhood with locals living in apartments, timeshare owners visiting for their so-many-weeks out of the year and business owners running small cafes and consignment shops. It felt homey and safe, not something my terrified mother expected me to report from the streets of a third world country (gosh, doesn’t that sound so negative?).
Speaking of my terrified mother, I promised to never tell her the story of the time we got lost after dark in Costa Rica, but now that I’ve been home for a few weeks, that promise feels a little less important. And I’m home safe, so I think that speaks for enough, right? But, yes, lost happened. And it happened all over these streets in these pictures. It was in the dark on our first night in Costa Rica — after we’d only been in the country for a few hours, really — and after we walked to downtown in middle of a monsoon and then ate fish tacos at a sports bar while were were dripping wet and wiping smeared mascara from our cheeks.
We decided to walk home because it was before midnight — that’s the specific hour our shuttle driver said it probably wouldn’t be a good idea for us to be out walking around. But we forgot the street we were supposed to turn on and somehow we ended up a lot farther away than we wanted to be. It wasn’t so much scary, but annoying after a full day of flying, it made falling into our rental beds that much more awesome when we did finally find our way home in the nighttime rain.
Over the week, the neighborhood began to feel like home. I found myself walking alone and not minding sitting alone at cafes and restaurants to people watch and check email. It reminded me of college, in a strange and comforting way.