Fish with Jackets

It takes a lot to make me laugh. It’s not that I don’t get amused. I chuckle and smile a lot, but a good, solid, bring me to tears kind of laughter session has never been at my fingertips. Most often, this happens when I am with my family or with really close friends. Our time in Tamarindo, however, has been surprisingly full of laughter.

Ben, Jacob and Abby laugh a lot. They laugh because life is full of joy. They laugh when a wave knocks them over or when a monkey pees on them, (which happened to Ben yesterday). They laugh at each other, at us, and at themselves. They laugh all the time because they are kids. It doesn’t take much more than a belly flop in the pool to send all three of them into a fit of giggles.

Taking the risk to learn new things has naturally resulted in a humbling, child-like experience for both Matt and me. And, just like the kids, we find ourselves in fits of laughter as we fumble through the Spanish language, get tossed around on our surfboards in the ocean and figure out the subtleties of life in Costa Rica.

As we settle into our new home, back in town, we are thankfully “forced” to practice our Spanish once again. This time, however, it is not in the school setting we were in when we arrived in December. Now, it is real life situations that challenge our limited vocabulary and test our creativity.

Yesterday, Matt and I were talking about food with Ingris. She does not speak ANY English, so we couldn’t even rely on broken Spanglish. We were telling her what we like, what we don’t like, what we can eat and what we can’t. Matt was trying to explain that while he loves shellfish, he can’t eat it because he has an allergy. The explanation was a hack job to begin with, but when it came to the word “shellfish” neither of us could remember how to say it in Spanish. The word was crucial to the conversation and hand gestures didn’t help at all. Finally, Mattย  stopped, thought for a second, and came up with one simple statement, spoken in Spanish. “I am allergic to fish with jackets.” Ingris, sweet but stoic, broke into laughter. Matt and I also laughed.

It was later that night, however, that we were laughing so hard that we were crying. “Fish with jackets” was certainly hilarious, but it got us thinking about all the endless ridiculous things we have said over the last four months. The list is long…

By the way, shellfish is mariscos!



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  1. You bring me laughter of joy every time I see your pictures or read your posts. Your adventure has gone so far beyond your feet, they have given my family such great joy

  2. Fish with Jackets – LOL – you just made my day! I know from our time together in Costa Rica that laughter is definitely part of the

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