When Erin and I lived in Maui a short 15 years ago (was it really that long ago?!), it took us months to find a community there. We met people here than there, mostly at work, but it wasn’t until we met Becky that we felt like we had met someone that would remain in our lives for a long time. I can’t say with definitive confidence that we have found that here by any means, but we have met some amazing folks already in the last 5 days. The people here are the friendliest people on the planet. Everyone is happy, easy going and ready to share their worlds with us. Tourists and locals alike.
Two nights ago, I went out for drinks with the Director on the Costal Spanish Institute to discuss his website goals as well as chat about Tico life in general. Halfway through our conversation one of our Surf Guru’s showed up and joined us to hang out and discuss the merits of whether Costa Rican’s should fund their own non-profit groups or accept funding from the States. It turned into a fun, yet heated, discussion!
Yesterday, Franco and Elsie (our surrogate parents/friends at this point) took us to one of the most beautiful beaches on the world and I got to hear Franco’s entire history. They were originally from Venezuela, and moved to Costa Rica after Chavez and his government literally TOOK his house that he built with his own hands away from him because they wanted it for their own. They were so disenchanted by the terrible experience that they left Venezuela and moved to Costa Rica. Their son, Omar, is now the 23rd best surfer in the world and is Ben’s personal surf instructor. Over and over they reflected that while Chavez destroyed their world, they are also “grateful” for him purely because he drove them to leave and move to Costa Rica where they have never been happier.
Last night we met April, a 3 year old girl whose parents own a great pizza place down here in Tamarindo and she and Abby became quick friends. Language barriers aside, within minutes April and Abby were playing and her dad (who’s name has escaped me at this moment) was chatting with me about a new bbq grill he was testing out that he made from an old water pump. We were discussing where he needed to add air holes in the grill to allow it to create embers and not flame out.. His wife was our waitress and he was our chef. Beautiful restaurant.
Today we boarded the catamaran (Marlin Del Rey) we were enjoying for a sunset cruise and we met Barbara and Kathy from Santa Barbara. They are down here for a week long Best Friends Trip celebrating 40 years of friendship. The second we boarded the boat, they approached us and told us that they thought we were an amazing family. After sharing our story and hearing their story, we were attached at the hip and had a wonderful time together. Turns out Barbara lived in Maui for 10 years and raised her daughter there. We, of course, immediately connected about that and started comparing Maui and Costa Rica. We both agreed that Maui is wonderful, but Costa Rica is amazing. We enjoyed 4 hours of on and off conversation with the two of them and hope to run into them in town again before they head home.
After we returned back to Tamarindo, we went to the Voodoo Lounge for dinner and ran into another family with a little girl (Bella) that Abby gravitated toward. She was watching Dora on a little DVD player and Abby joined her for a little bit. We got to talking to her parents (Brian and Carrie) and it turns out they have lived in Tamarindo for 8 years and are raising their family here. We exchanged email addresses and hope to get together with them at some point soon to chat over drinks and dinner.
There are even more stories that I could tell. It’s just that kind of place. People aren’t shy here. It’s not an individualistic society. It’s a social place with families, stories and soul. I can’t wait to see what the next 5 months will bring. I know I keep saying it over and over and you may be tired of reading it, but we have never been so happy in our entire lives. Costa Rica is a magical place.