“I’m not a victim.”
“Stop acting oppressed.”
“This doesn’t represent all women, only the whiners.”
“What rights has he taken away?”
A beautiful, amazing movement happened yesterday. Millions of humans across the country (& even the world) marched in solidarity with one another in support of women’s rights. It was one of the most incredible grassroots efforts I have ever seen. I immensely regret not taking part.
That’s right, I didn’t march. The day after the election I made a commitment to volunteer on Saturday, 1/21 to offset some of the hatred I felt was weighing down on our country. That’s what I did. For some reason, despite the good I was doing at a rescue mission near my home, it didn’t feel as fulfilling as I’d hoped. I wish I’d been in Seattle marching on Saturday and volunteered today instead.
As I watched the photos and testimonies pour in from marchers on social media, I felt my heart soar with excitement. This was MY America. An America of people who practiced one of our most important democratic rights – assembling peacefully for what we believed. I felt proud to live here for the first time since the election.
And then, I started to see the negativity. The statements above to be precise. I’m not sure what these women who wrote these things believe about feminism. I’m not sure what news source or friend they received their facts. From an instant google search, you can discover it means the following:
“We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.”
The oh so real post-vacation blues hit heavy today.
I spent the holiday weekend in Austin, Texas with my two closest friends here in Washington. It was a fantastic, fun-filled three days. Coming back to work, working-out, and starting the Whole30 was a bit of a blow. Amplified even more so because my husband has officially deployed**. It’s been a stressful couple of months planning for this and now that it’s here (and by here – I’m here and he’s not) it makes the post-vacation low, even lower.
This is my first time dealing with a deployment, so unfortunately I have no advice or insight of my own. I have advice and insight from others, some of which has helped and some of which has not. The comment “you knew this day would come/you knew what you signed up for” has been particularly UNHELPFUL. If you know any service member significant others in your life, please resist saying that. Literally nothing can prepare you for the extended absence of someone you love so dear.
But alas, my blog is not about to turn into a journal of my deepest feelings. I have other outlets for those. Kind words are always appreciated, and once it’s a little less raw/emotional I hope to talk about it in a more constructive way!
Today’s post is about my first official day of the Whole30, which was pretty ambitious considering I got home from the airport at 10pm last night. I grocery shopped at 7am before working from home for the day and meal prepping between meetings and work. It has gone rather well for day one, all things considered. I spent the weekend in Austin letting myself enjoy BBQ, Tacos, Brisket Benedict (OMG), wine, and a bit too much hard liquor, so I naturally wanted to eat healthier today.
I bought the Whole30 book over the holidays and read it on my flight home just before the New Year. If you’re considering the Whole30 – Read. The. Book. One of the most crucial, stressed steps is you have to stick with this for THIRTY days. They outline really important reasons why you shouldn’t cheat, or why you should even start over if in fact you do. I wanted to kick this off on Jan 1, but after reading the book and understanding the purpose, I knew I had to wait until after my Austin trip. I was not about to do Whole 30 in the land of barbecue and biscuits.
Blogging about this on DAY ONE is to keep myself accountable. If everyone knows I intend to stick with it, maybe they’ll save the invite for happy hour or skip offering me a doughnut at work. Seriously guys – help me, I’m weak.
I am a huge advocate of meal prepping, even when I’m not on a diet or health kick because of how little time I have during the week. Commuting 2.5 hours a day puts a damper on daily home cooked meals. I’d highly advise meal prepping for the Whole30 to prevent cheating. This works for any healthy eating efforts. If you always have your prepped food ready to eat – you won’t grab something you’ll regret. Today, I made:
- Kitchen Sink Scrambled Eggs
- Baked Chicken Thighs
- Baked Sweet Potatoes
- My own recipe variation obeying the rules: cubed sweet potatoes in coconut oil with parsley & garlic salt. Baked for 30ish mins.
- Cauliflower Rice
- From the book’s recipe. I can’t find it online!
The main goal of the Whole30 is to change how you think about food, and a byproduct of the program could be weight loss. Again – read the book. This isn’t a diet or a lose weight fast plan. It’s about eating whole foods while cutting out certain harmful food groups for 30 days and to see how your body reacts/feels. I’m curious to see if I’ll have some of these sugar withdrawals everyone talks about, or if I’ll start crying every time I see cheese. God, I love cheese.
Observations after day one:
- Portion sizes are larger than I’m used too. I’m a 5-6 small meals or grazing all day type, so I wasn’t able to finish most of my meals.
- Without snacking or eating things I’m accustom to, I put all my food into the “MyFitnessPal” app (you’re not supposed to count calories either – I was just genuinely curious for my first day) and noticed I was under my regular calorie intake.
- I had to eat blueberries after my night workout because I was shaky. This isn’t too unusual. I typically need a burst of sugar after a workout. I know fruit needs to be eaten in moderation so I’ll probably stick to eating my fruit around workouts.
- There’s so much meat required/encouraged than I’m used to eating. I think I’ll need to meal prep like 2x a week for a handful of days so I don’t get bored with the same protein source.
- Drinking my coffee black was not as bad as not being able to put cheese on everything. HA.
- I’m so glad Frank’s Hot Sauce is considered Whole30. #blessed
I plan to have a half way update and end update, so stay tuned!
My mom and like 2 other people keep telling me to blog about all the places I travel so I am going to TRY and get an Austin post up by the weekend. We’ll see how cranky no alcohol and the inauguration makes me 🙂 🙂 🙂
Hope everyone else’s resolutions are off to a swimming start!
**Please do not ask about dates / whereabouts / details. I won’t be sharing any of that on my blog at any point. Thanks!
“When you have more than you need, build a longer table not a higher fence.”
It took me four days to decide how I wanted to reflect on this year, and months since I have been able to formulate a blog post. I could blame my lack of writing on busyness or struggling with my newly hosted website and all of its quirks, but honestly? I haven’t felt a call to write.
My calling this year has been to focus on people, not words. To help others, to be kinder and more compassionate. 2016 has lacked compassion and empathy in every way. From our government and our leaders, to the media, to our own neighbors – there is so much apathy and anger.
Even from me. I was furious with the election (the understatement of the year). I unfortunately still am. But I’m doing my best to have my life and my home be a source of love and friendship and laughter, despite our government.
I said the above quote to my husband recently, mentioning how we’ve really been building that longer table this year.
He laughed, commenting how we’d taken in more than one stray. He meant it in the best possible way as this past year we’ve opened our home to countless friends and family. Anyone who needed a place to stay during their travels or a job opportunity or a lease they had to break or in the case of our permanent roommate – a new place to call home for awhile.
We’ve welcomed them and helped where we could, providing suggestions or a meal or company. Most of these guests have been close friends I was elated to spend time with for a few days but all the same – we’ve done what we could to make people’s visit to the Pacific Northwest a little easier and a little more enjoyable.
It’s not much. I’m not changing the world. I’m no Saint. I swear & drink just enough to put me out of the running.
But I like to think in some small way every time we have a guest in our spare bedroom or add an extra plate to a meal without hesitation, I counter some of that hate spreading through America. I counter some of that anger towards groups of people facing discrimination. I make the effort to bring a little more compassion into the world.
When I reflect on 2016 I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished despite not achieving some of my goals (like a super epic blog come back). I’m proud of my marriage – how it’s grown and strengthened with time and how I can say 3.5 years later I have never loved that man more than I do today. I am proud of my health – how I’ve maintained a relatively similar body frame and continue to eat whole foods and workout when it’s feasible. I am proud of my career – how I continue to learn and improve at my job.
But mostly I’m proud of my empathy. I’m proud of my fierce passion to help others. I’m proud of being willing to share my home and my dinners when it’s sometimes inconvenient. I’m proud of calling out the hate and indiscretions of our leaders, because apathy isn’t something any of us should be proud of.
I have made a handful of resolutions for 2017. Cliche commitments about eating healthier and saving more money, but my biggest resolution is to become more empathetic, more willing to help others, and more willing to build on to our table.
We don’t need fences or walls this year. We need more compassion.
I was 13 years old when I asked my mom if I could use my babysitting money for a subscription to New York Magazine. I put my hard earned cash into those little envelopes the magazine companies would send out with a free magazine hoping to entice you to fifty others. I checked the box for New York Magazine and eagerly awaited its arrival.
The pictures and the city splashed across its glossy pages were unlike anything I had ever seen growing up in rural Minnesota. I was enamored. Urban sprawl and lights and fashion. Everything was happening in New York. I naively began researching boarding schools hoping I could find one with cheap enough tuition for the middle class white girl from Minnesota. When that didn’t work out, I set my sights on Columbia University. Reality set in my senior year when I actually had to apply to colleges and none of my applications were sent Columbia or NYU’s way.
No, it wasn’t until much later at twenty-four years old when I was Skyping my good friend who had gone to college on Long Island and I decided I was just going to make this happen. I was going to see New York City with her as my tour guide since she still worked on the Island. We booked the tickets and the lodging, planned our daily itineraries, and off I went Memorial Day Weekend of 2016.
Stepping off the subway in Manhattan the first time after riding it from where we stayed in Queens will be forever engraved in my memory. It was like the pictures of the magazine jumping off the page and surrounding me. Bryant Park where they once held fashion week, the New York Public Library from the Day After Tomorrow, Fifth avenue’s designer stores where the wealthy shopped. It was all real. As were the busy, head down, scrambling to their next destinations New Yorkers and the awe-struck, staring at the buildings scraping the heavens tourists like myself. The character of the city took my breath away. The infamous buildings and streets used in so many movies and television shows. The expansiveness of it all; from a bird’s eye view the city spread out for miles upon miles. We attempted to conquer as much of it as we could in three and a half days with 90 degrees and some serious humidity.
For lodging – we had a great experience with our Airbnb in Queens. Definitely felt safe and it was cheap. For my night alone, I opted for a hotel I’d absolutely recommend and stay in again – the Archer Hotel just south of Midtown. Fantastic customer service from all the staff. Great roof top bar. Centrally located. Very clean. Especially awesome bartenders who were friendly and chatty with the party of one Washington girl despite how busy it was.
Before sharing my itinerary, I’ll note that I hadn’t seen my friends in YEARS, so a lot of our evenings were spent at our Airbnb catching up instead of out of the town. This weekend plan could definitely take advantage of more of the night life, and it could could even squeeze in more of the tourist staples – Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, etc. But for me personally, strolling the streets and taking the city in was often more than enough.
A Long Weekend in New York City
- Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center
- Times Square
- Afternoon Broadway play
- Midtown exploring
- St. Patrick’s Cathedral
- Back to Woodside for the most epic pizza in Queens (I’ll have a whole post devoted to the food, don’t you worry)
- Upper East Side
- Central Park
- Natural History Museum
- Midtown for late lunch/dessert
- Back into Central Park for a nap
- Happy hour at a rooftop bar
- Walking the highline
- Greenwich Village exploring
- 9/11 Memorial
- Subway to Brooklyn
- Exploring the Brooklyn Bridge park area
- Walking the Brooklyn Bridge
- Little Italy
- Archer Hotel for check in / relaxation
- Drinks and dinner solo at the Skyglass Rooftop Bar
- Bryant Park
- Upper West Side and Central Park
- Brunch & a pickleback shot with a college friend + more exploring of the Upper West Side
- Back to where it began with exploring the New York Public Library
- Late afternoon flight -> Back to the hotel to grab my bags -> to Grand Central station via train to Jamica/JFK shuttle -> goodbye New York
The perfect little weekend in NYC. A weekend I am too eager to recreate again soon. I did come to terms with the fact that although the city was amazing to visit, I actually don’t regret not living there. Conversations about rent, the job market, and congestion worse than the Seattle area pretty much sealed that deal.
A lovely place to visit, but I’ll keep it that way. Hopefully again and again and again.
“One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.”
― Tom Wolfe
Considering I have been pretty much missing-in-action from W&W since our Costa Rica trip, I figured I’d kick things off with my first Wildcard post. I could jump into travels, fitness, or marriage but I want to take it slow. I’ll get into all the heavy stuff (like the 105 lb dead lift workout I did tonight!) in due time.
What have I been up to?
Obsessing over all things fall.
Trying out my birthday kayaks for as long as the weather will allow.
Forcing this boy to take annoyingly cute fall photos. This wasn’t one of them.
Learning how to run in frigid temps again. Thanks for the stamina, Alaska.
What am I loving this week?
For starters the new Halo Top flavors, especially S’mores and Oatmeal Cookie.
This jam by Cobi.
My new Sam Edelman leather jacket from Nordstrom Rack that was like HALF the price it’s listed as here.
Thrillist for providing the ultimate list of the best margaritas in San Diego. We intend to divide and conquer on this list in two weeks. Give me all the spicy margs.
This movie blowing my damn mind and making me want to pay for my car/house/life in cash.
What am I hating this week?
The narcissist demagogue running for president. This one’s for you, ya ass hat.
The price of plane tickets for Thanksgiving weekend. The Mr. and I are attempting to meet up somewhere between Washington and where he’ll be training for month, but we’re trying not to spend our salaries on tickets. *sob* Any holiday airfare tips?
The double click unlock feature on the new iOS. Stahhhhppp.
What do I want to shout at the top of my lungs?
“Don’t cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.”
Happy Wednesday, y’all! Feel free to share anything you’re loving, hating, or wanting to shout into the void.
I’m baaaack. And this sweet, little space of mind has a whole new look. I have missed Wanders & Words so much. When I made the decision back in early September to start blogging consistently again I wanted to approach this right. I dropped my wordpress.com account, decided to host my website, and now I own it. From every font choice and color, to every inch of the layout – this baby is all mine.
What can you expect from this makeover?
Well beyond just the aesthetic changes (I’m in love with the new logo Y’ALL), you can expect a few familiar posts:
Adventures: Where have I been? Where am I going next? What makes travel easier? How do I plan? Where do I find the cheapest flights? Why do I love airports? What airline/places are military friendly? Weekend trips. Day trips. 2 hour excursions. You name it.
Fitness: Over the past year I have been surfing, skiing, weightlifting, hiking, training for a half marathon, crushing said half marathon, kayaking, running random 5K’s and just exploring every facet of fitness (except spin classes because I tried one and it was horrible). I’d love to run another half, or pick up Crossfit again, or do one of those crazy spartan runs with fire – and share the struggles and triumphs here.
Food: New recipe? Meal prep plan? Margarita review? My experience eating my way through New York? I do warn you all that unlike previous versions of “Fitness & Food Fridays” this won’t all be healthy. The reality is – I love food. All food. Kale and donuts. Quinoa and prosecco. Chicken and chocolate chip cookie dough. I’m keeping it real this time around.
I’ll also be adding posts about:
Married/Military Life: Being married is such an important part of my life. When you couple our marriage with this job that deeply impacts our life decisions, these posts will delve into both aspects. How do I handle the constant questions about marrying young? How the move from Alaska to Washington was and what did it entail? As a military spouse, how does Alaska differ from Washington differ as a duty station? Why is being married literally the best thing ever?
Wildcard Words: What am I loving? What am I hating? Who do I want to vent about? *cough* Trump *cough*. What is making me smile? A song I can’t get out of my head. A current event I can’t believe. Instead of a flurry of random venting, I’m just going to condense it down into a wildcard post. Sort of like a get out of a jail free card. These will be all over the place. Sort of like my blog was before – just condensed into once every other week or so post.
What I won’t talk about:
My job: I’ve gone back and forth on this for a while, but I’ve concluded my current job is not a part of my life I want to share anymore. I enjoy and struggle with my career in marketing, and I’ve decided that this platform isn’t the place I want to vent or brag about it. My job is my job. This is for fun.
Book reviews/reads: This one makes me sad because I am SUCH an avid reader, but I wanted to channel my focus into a few main topics and my passion for reading didn’t make the cut. *sob* I have too many interests, I know. Feel free to ask me for a book suggestion ANY TIME. More than likely I’ll direct you to Looking for Alaska by John Green, Prep by Curtis Sittenfield, or The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. Or obviously the entire Harry Potter series.
Why the refresh?
I am so different than when I started this blog. My goals, dreams, hobbies, passions, job, writing style, personality etc etc etc. A new look felt necessary if I was going to keep writing and using this as an outlet. This blog has never been to profit or to journal. It’s sharing my life. It’s my art. It’s an archive of things I’ve done and see. It’s providing others with an opportunity to relate or agree (maybe even disagree) or to get ideas or inspiration for their own lives. It’s for conversation, for reference, for fun. It’s for me and it’s for you. I’m excited for this and I appreciate the 1, 10, or 100 people who may pass by and read any of these words.
“So what do we do? Anything. Something. So long as we just don’t sit there. If we screw it up, start over. Try something else. If we wait until we’ve satisfied all the uncertainties, it may be too late.” – Lee Iacocca
I stumbled across an old quote I had saved that spoke to me more today than at any other point in my life –
Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs.
Now I’m drinking Rose for dinner, staying up past my bedtime, and dwelling on these words. As an adult I have found it is so easy to become jaded and lose interest in things that I once felt a deep passion for. Writing is a perfect example of this. At 10 I was convinced I’d be a novelist. At 20 I was convinced I’d be a journalist. At 25 (two weeks people) I write emails and scopes of work for clients and their projects.
Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for my job and thankful my words are used in any way at all. But what a cop out – to quit writing as even a hobby because I feel so exhausted and burnt out from the writing in my current career. My last blogging entry (mid-April?) is about as evident of this as a I can explain.
I am always urging my husband to follow his dreams. I want him to do what makes him happy. Currently that’s a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army, but if he ever feels that isn’t for him, I always want him to feel supported to quit and find something else.
Why don’t I extend the same kindness to myself?
Again, I am thankful and content with my current position for now. Executing national email and direct mail pieces for my clients is fulfilling in a way that I had never experienced before, but I see words like the above and can’t help but feel my potential is so much greater. My passion is so much different. My drive and determination is getting lost in the hours and demands of others.
I once had a boss who told me he saw so much potential in me, he could see me running my own business one day. I felt my pride in my work ethic and commitment to do well surge. It was one of the greatest compliments I had ever received.
I have tendency to thrive on routine and safety. To find solace in the comfortable and in doing what I’m excellent at and nothing else. Not just good, mind you. If I’m not excellent – I usually just quit.
But what a thrill I think – to pursue a passion so deeply and fearlessly that failure is not an option. That doing poorly at first or for awhile is not only expected, but embraced. To stop quietly obeying the directions of others and live your life by your own rules.
“Mediocrity will never do. You are capable of something better.”
― Gordon B. Hinckley
I am capable of something better. I have a big enough head thanks to good parents and studious grades throughout my adolescence that I know I am destined for bigger, better things.
But at what point do I live my words instead of just writing them down?
My 25th birthday seems as good of a time as any. A quarter of a century old has brought me wisdom (or a reality check) in a way I am endlessly thankful for.
We have just one life. Just one.
I have always written about things that move me. Things that I’m passionate about. Things that have affected me deeply. It’s why I write about travel, about books, about my family, about fitness, and most of all, it’s why I write about love. I love writing about love.
Nothing has brought me more joy and emotion that loving someone and being loved.
Today I get to officially celebrate 3 years of pure joy and raw, emotional love.
I won’t offer advice or insight today. Our story is our own. From the smiles to the tears, to the nights spent cuddled next to each other and those spent thousands of miles apart. For over six years we’ve been figuring it all out together and for three years today, we’ve been figuring it out as a married couple.
I am insanely proud of our marriage. We were kids when we were dating, kids when we got married, and according to both sets of our parents, we’re still kids now (Disclaimer: we’re both the babies of the family so we’ll be affectionately referred to as the kids until the end of time). For being “children” though, we sure do a hell of a good job at being husband and wife. We love deeply, communicate well, respect always, plan wisely, spend within our means, and grow closer through each trial.
My favorite part of all? We always say yes. To adventure, to new opportunities, to each other, to growth, and to love.
Loving this man has been the biggest, most empowering, fulfilling thing I have ever done.
I am a better person (and a better feminist) for understanding the sacrifice and selflessness of unconditionally loving another.
Cheers to three amazing years. There is no one on earth I’d rather adventure with than you, my love.
“I knew I did from that first moment we met. It was… Not love at first sight exactly, but – familiarity. Like: oh, hello, it’s you. It’s going to be you.”
– Mhairi McFarlane
I read the travel writing compilation of Don George before I left on this trip. His book, “The Way of Wanderlust” struck a yearning in my heart for places I’d never considered visiting until he wrote about them. From hiking Kilimanjaro to relaxing in the Cook Islands to exploring hidden temples in Cambodia. George’s words have a way of making one feel as if you’re right there with him, and upon snapping out of the trance, an intense urge to buy a plane ticket immediately.
Reflecting on Costa Rica, I wish I could describe this country as perfectly and poetically through the written word. Unfortunately I feel my favorite memory from the trip has to be accompanied by pictures to tell the story accurately. Maybe one day I’ll be a great travel writer, or maybe I’ll always need the pictures…
It was hot. Nine in the morning and the sun was already beating down with such ferocity I knew my cheap straw sunhat and sunscreen applied over an hour ago were doing little to protect my skin. We had also been trudging along the beach for the past fifteen minutes, so sweat had began to form at every crease of my body. I glanced up to Michael, about 10 feet in front of me, diligently marching towards our final destination, surfboard in tow. He’d insisted on grabbing it before we entered the park, so I had little sympathy for his struggle as he shifted it between arms every couple of minutes.
Looking past him, I could see the end our of trek. The Whale’s Tail in Parque Nacional Marino Bellana. At low tide Playa Hermosa and Playa Uvita, two beaches along Costa Rica’s southwestern coast, joined to form the infamous Whale’s Tail. From the moment I saw the aerial view on one of the many travel blogs I poured over prior to our trip, I knew I had to see it for myself.
I wiped my forehead and adjusted the backpack on my shoulders. Many around us were making the same trek to the end of the Whale’s Tail, but some had plopped down right on the narrow stretch of beach for a break. I envied them. They didn’t have a husband on a mission. I picked up my pace and briefly wondered how many Pina Coladas I was walking off.
After five or so minutes, the soft, wet sand began to be sprinkled with rocks and I looked up from watching my feet to see we’d reached the end. The rocky, tide-pool filled end of the whale’s tail. Michael had come to a stop and as I tried to maneuver around rocks to reach him I understood why. Our flip flops were no match for the jagged, soaked terrain. We’d planned to walk to the very end so he could surf and I could sun bathe, but there was at least 500 ft to go and no chance we’d make it unscathed.
“So much for that,” he said begrudgingly and I sighed in agreement. “Well, I saw some bigger waves back where we entered in the park. Let’s just go back there. Closer to food and drinks. Maybe you can find some shade.” I grimaced thinking of the walk back, but knew my face was already beat red. Without another word he turned around and walked away. A bubble of anger rose up in my throat. I was disappointed enough by our anti-climatic whale’s tale adventure, but his disinterest in anything but surfing was beginning to piss me off. I stubbornly contemplated sitting down right there among the tide pools to take in the turquoise ocean crashing into the black rocks of the tail’s end all by myself. I glanced back to see how far he’d made it and instead, I saw the view.
The stretch of beach that led us out to the tail had already begun to disappear back to the ocean. But each time the waves retreated, the jungle, mountains, and marshmallow clouds before me reflected in the wet sand. To describe it as simply “stunning” would be a travesty. Frozen in place and humbled by the earth, it hit me.
Walking out on the Whale’s Tail to stare at the ocean wasn’t the point. One could stare at the ocean from any position on shore. Travelers walked out on the Whale’s Tail to look back. They walk out into the ocean to see the land from a different perspective.
I stood for a few moments longer before Michael called to me. He pointed up at the mountains with a delighted expression. I smiled in spite of my annoyance just moments before. Sharing this with him, with the person I love more than any other, was so much more important than being bitter he rather surf than meditate. I jogged to catch up with him – a feat considering the sun only blazed more fiercely as we approached mid-day.
We walked in sync back to the main beach together, silently sharing our awe of this place we had the privilege of visiting. Just before we veered right to settle into our palm tree hangout, I saw it. The very point where the beaches met. The very tree from which the whale tail grew each morning and disappeared each afternoon at high tide. My head must have been down on the walk out to have missed it, so focused on the destination I’d forgotten to enjoy the journey. Or, I had simply needed a new perspective.
I snapped the picture. Michael yelled back to say he could see the perfect spot up ahead. I turned away from the edge of the world and find that weeks later, it is forever seared in my memory.
Thank you for the memories, Uvita. Pura Vida.
“Now more than ever do I realize that I will never be content with a sedentary life, that I will always be haunted by thoughts of a sun-drenched elsewhere.”
I am probably in the minority when I say I did not visit a foreign country until I was 23 years old, and my first was Canada. A lovely, diverse country I’m sure but fairly anti-climatic when in search of experiencing a new culture. I grew up in Minnesota after all. We both hold our vowels equally long and wear parkas 9 months of the year.
Costa Rica was my first true foreign experience.
– Hardly anyone spoke English. M thankfully speaks Spanish pretty well and was able to act as a translator for us, but I wish I’d brushed up a bit as I was hopeless.
– Driving was unlike anything I’d ever seen, with cars and motorcycles weaving in and out of traffic with little regard for the bicyclists and walkers on the sides. Speed limit signs seemed to be a suggestion and it appeared to be a game of how close you could get to the on coming traffic when trying to pass. I was more scared while riding in our shuttle from Uvita to San Jose than I was at any other point in the trip (even when walking through an area notorious for poisonous snakes).
– They don’t automatically serve water with your meals and nearly every server acted confused when we asked for “agua” with our alcoholic beverages.
– Despite Costa Rica being the third world* we saw just as much wealth and “middle class” homes as we did shanty tin roof set ups. I admit we only saw the Puntarenas, San Jose, and Arenal areas but there was less poverty that I’d imagined.
– Tipping isn’t the norm, so the few people we chose to tip practically hugged us with gratitude.
– “Browsing” a store does not happen in Costa Rica. Every store we visited had personal shoppers that asked you what you needed and sought to help you find it quickly. If we would politely decline their help, the person would proceed to follow us around the store and if we quietly spoke to each other about something like a hat – our friend would pipe it in with the price or that they had it in another color. I had a feeling this has more to do with theft then anything…
– Everyone seemed #BLESSED to live there. We didn’t run into one cranky Costa Rican. The guides, drivers, and hosts we asked about living there spoke of Costa Rica as if it was the best place in the world. They had no intention of leaving and seemed humbled to call it home. The beauty of the country and the positivity of its citizens makes it easy to see why Costa Rica is the happiest country in the world.
*I feel it’s important to comment on referring to Costa Rica as the third world. I was aware before I went that it was a less developed country, but I actually didn’t do significant research on how developed it was or wasn’t until after I returned. Costa Rica has a growing economy, a great healthcare system, clean water, the lowest homicide rate of any other Latin American country, and a successful democratic republic government. But, it also has one of the highest poverty levels in the world and has a lot of work to do with infrastructure. Calling it the “third world” still seems outdated and inaccurate. It’s a less developed country, but its economy is growing and tourism helps.
It was difficult driving by tin roof establishments that span a city block to arrive at our luxurious hotel situated on a cliff side overlooking the ocean. But that hotel employed ALL native Costa Ricans from the hosts, servers, cooks, masseuses, maids, grounds keepers, etc. Just as we try to buy and eat local in the United States, we did the same while in Uvita. Everything I read online predicted the country thriving in years to come.
Overall, for my first taste of culture shock I am humbled and thankful I got to experience it in this beautiful, joyous country. Below you’ll find a few moments I captured on camera when I realized I wasn’t in Kansas anymore…
Costa Rica Pt. 3 will be all the pretty views. I promise.
“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.”
― Anita Desai
Til next time,