Merry Christmas! The sun is shining, monkeys howling, the sand is as golden as ever and I can’t think of a place on earth that feels less Christmas-y than Dominical, Costa Rica. There’s a rooster crowing from the farm next door and every once in a while a cow forces out a long, lowly “mooooo”. In a place that’s more tropical rainforest than winter wonderland, how do two white legged Canadians go about celebrating the holidays? On any normal Christmas, we’d gorge ourselves on shortbread and turkey, followed by a game of street hockey in the snow, then warm our bellies with mugs of hot chocolate and Bailey’s while we watched “It’s a Wonderful Life”. In lieu of hot chocolate and snow, I’ve taken to humming “Feliz Navidad” around the hotel room, just so I can say I’ve had some kind of Christmas song stuck in my head. In Canada, every store I’d walk into would be playing a different version of “Let it Snow” and I’d curse the loosey goosey version by Jessica Simpson stuck on replay in my head. Now, I’ve taken the place of the department store sound system and Tyler the role of unimpressed shopper. It’s holiday bliss! We talked about downloading our all-time favorite movie, “A Christmas Story” (you’ll shoot your eye out!), but realized there’s no WiFi. Maybe I can find some pink bunny jammies and have Tyler re-enact it for me. Any way you wrap it, Christmas just isn’t the same without friends, family, and the warmth of home. We’re going on a hunt for turkey tonight, but I have a strong feeling it will be casado con pescado (rice, beans, and fish) for us as I haven’t heard any turkeys gobbling from the farm next door.
Six days until we fly back! Disgusting how time insists on marching along with such fervor. Post surf retreat, we’ve transitioned into a week-long “healing” retreat, allowing our bruises, joints, and muscles to recuperate after the beating they took in the surf. Of course, this is also known as sitting on the beach and doing nothing. In fact, an afternoon at the public beach on the fringe of Costa Rica’s Manuel Antonio Park was an exercise in seeing how little energy we needed to expend to still have all of our needs met. After settling ourselves in a couple of ocean-side beach chairs, we enjoyed walk-up service from vendors offering everything from massages, to parasailing, to beers, to fresh ceviche. We bought some sushi out of one guy’s cooler, a couple of fruity drinks from a charismatic bartender, and proceeded to lay the day away. The village of Manuel Antonio is by far the most touristy place in Costa Rica we’ve visited, so it was somewhat jilting at first to have vendors coming up to us constantly with offers of this or that. I think to myself as another vendor approaches with bits of pottery hanging off every possible appendage “if I wanted it, I’d ask for it!” For the most part though, after saying “No gracias” once or twice, they peacefully proceed to the next camera toting tourists down the beach. Despite the aggressive market for tourist trinkets, it’s nice to have paved roads, plenty of food and beverage options, and public restrooms within reach.
Our last stop before flying home will be four nights in Puerto Viejo – our first time on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. Apparently the country’s eastern coast has a rough, tough reputation for drugs, theft, and general bad behaviour (this coming from Ticos on the west coast who have an obvious interest in keeping tourists on “their” side of the country). But we’ve booked our stay and hope to spend some last lingering days in the good company of sand and sun before gallivanting, like a couple of nicely browned Christmas turkeys, back to reality.
In the meantime, to family, friends, and anyone reading, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas from the bottom of my heart. Feliz Navidad!