Be Happy: Spring 2014 Freak Out

Hepburn  -1 How can you forget how blessed you are and not be happy?  Most people have certain freak out times in their lives that they will never forget. I have a few periods of my life that I will never forget, but the most recent freak out was the spring of 2014.

I was retiring from my job in education after twenty-eight years that went by in a flash of light. I was experiencing problems with friends and a boyfriend relationship, and I was going to be a Gigi (a grandmother), and I would be turning 50 in September. Can we say emotional roller-coaster from hell?

My decision to retire was a hard one, but after seeing the financial breakdown, it was the smart thing to do. I loved the people that I spent my day with in the office,  and I enjoyed the administrative parts of my job. I did not enjoy grading one hundred essays a week during certain weeks of the school year. I loved helping other instructors and being the go to girl for online English problems. It was rewarding, and I felt like I was actually making a contribution to the online program at ICC to move in a forward motion.  When I saw on paper how my salary would increase if I stayed four more years, I realized it would not be the right choice for me to stay. I am a breast cancer survivor who does not believe in counting on tomorrow. At this point, my prognosis is good (if I change my life style), but how mad at myself would I be if I worked more years and then realized that my time on this earth was up.  This was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make.  What would be my new normal?

I am a Virgo control habitual list making freak, so change sometimes throws me for a loop for a little while.  I did have a deep desire to live somewhere else for a while and travel, so that is what I did-hence the Charleston and Costa Rica trips. I still plan to travel a lot and meet new people and see new places. Who knows where I will end up, but I know it will be a fabulous place.  My heart is beating a little faster as I think about the places I am going to go one day.

I had an amazing support system. I cannot say thank you enough to my friends who have stood by me and checked on me where ever I was. The hugs, lunches, daily counseling sessions and pep talks from my friends were my shelter in the storm.  My friends believed in me when I felt emotionally drained.   They said, “Go for it. What is the worst that can happen? If you can handle the worst scenario then you got this.”  I cannot thank my daughters enough who were excited about my adventures and encouraged me ever step of the way. My family was supportive but worried.

A grandmother in September- Wow! My kids are not old enough to have kids! Oh wait, they are 27 and 24. I guess they are old enough.  I think the first shocking thought was “My baby is having a baby”!  To make it even more interesting, it is a boy baby.  I know baby boys pee in your face and love Bob the Builder. Who is Bob the Builder? Is that Barbie’s friend? Am I old enough to be a Gigi- Yes, I am.

I am excited about this new addition to my life that I will love very much.  I have a great rocker thanks to Jane’s grandmother, and many books to read to my grandson. I love to rock and read as we called it when the girls were little.  I can give him candy, and I do not have to pay his dental bills. My daughter and son-in-law will be amazing parents, and the support system they have is unbelievable.

I will be 50 in September. Do I feel 50? No, and those that know me will definitely agree that I do not act my age even though sometimes I guess I should. I do try to preserve my face and exercise – Yes, I have a vain and shallow side. Doesn’t everyone? Thank you Retina A and Botox.

This made my thoughts go in a different direction. What have I done with my time on this great earth? There are so many things that I could have done better, but no dress rehearsal is allowed, and don’t you hate that phrase about hindsight is 20/20?  You get one shot, and it passes by so fast.  What could you do better? I have so many things that I need to work on in my life to make me a better person; I want to be loving and kind to everyone and never cold and judgmental.love is an investmnet

My new normal for now is teaching a couple of online classes and working part-time for a great business; therefore, I am a very busy lady as I wait to be a Gigi. I hope to declutter my house soon, get the little trees out of the flower beds when I have time, and Thursday night starts this Ole Miss girl’s football season. Hotty Toddy!

My feet are on the ground now. I am still finding my way and adjusting to the changes in my life, but my life is good.  I hope your life is good also.how to live- hepburn

Audrey Hepburn was an amazing classy lady. Cheers to her!My Fair Lady Breakfast

Gratitude and Pay It Forward

My summer discoveries are really simple: practice gratitude and try to make someone’s day a little brighter with a smile, a hug, or a kind word or all three. If I repeat myself in any of my blogs, it is because I need to write those words again for me.

1. I feel gratitude every day for my wonderful life. Being grateful for all that I have and all of  the wonderful opportunities I have experienced keeps me balanced.   Solitude and meditation work for some people, and it did help me, but I tend to gravity toward interaction with people.  (I first wrote medication and that may work better for some people.)  Whatever you need to feel grateful for your life, go for it!   I felt extreme gratitude every morning when I looked at the view from the balcony. Everything that happened in my life led me to that balcony and to that wonderful feeling of inner peace.  Trying to preserve it now, but it is a struggle when you enter the familiar rat race.

2. People enter your life and people leave your life and that is as it should be. Do not spend too much time trying  to understand the how’s or why’s.  Some things are not meant to be understood; they are meant to be accepted and used as a life lesson. Remember the love you received from those people because you would not have been a part of your life if you did not feel loved on some level and for whatever reason, it is where you wanted to be at that time in your life.  As Elizabeth Gilbert said, “Whenever you think of them, send them love and light.” Cherish the good times.

3. Surround yourself with people that bring out the best in you. Do not be around people who delight in finding and pointing out your shortcomings. Everyone has things that he/she does not do well. Pointing out the inadequacies of others will not make your inadequate behavior any less noticeable. We need to be lifted up and  challenged to never stop growing, learning, and embracing new things and new people. Find the people that after you talk to them you think about your conversations, and you feel enriched by being around them and you want to investigate that new book or that idea that they present.

3. From my life book, Eat Pray Love,  “let it go”. Focus on the joy of living. You can only control what you do. Everything else is out of your control. The world will not stop turning if you just let go.

4. You know from when you are young if you are one of those people who want to know the how and why and if you willing to go the extra lengths to find answers. I knew I was one of those people from a young age, but I made choices that allowed me only to look at life from a small window. Keep looking and searching for your pot of gold. Everybody has different dreams and different ideals of what he/she considers to be “the good life”.

5. Human beings are amazing creations that are adaptable and filled with love.

6. Happiness is not measured by material things. I saw the happiness and the love that comes only from having food, shelter, and clothing and someone to love.

What would happen if each year companies modeled a “Pay It Forward” initiative like Bell State Bank and Trust? This program illustrates Anne Frank’s statement.
Check out this link shared with me by my mentor:    http://payitforward.bellbanks.com/
Pay It Forward: 2013
“In 2013, Bell State Bank & Trust and Bell Mortgage employees again had the opportunity to Pay It Forward by giving back to the communities we serve. Each year since 2008, every full-time employee has received $1,000 and every part-time employee $500 to Pay It Forward as they see fit to those in need. In what has become a year-round tradition, our employees carefully consider their Pay It Forward gifts. Our Pay It Forward gifts since the program’s inception are nearing $5 million that has been given to people in need and causes we care about.

This past year, we made an addition to Pay It Forward that doubled its life-changing impact. Through our “Pay It Forward: Community Connect” component, each employee selected a customer, vendor or community member who themselves had the chance to Pay It Forward to an individual, family or organization in need.”

Have a wonderful week!

Costa Rican Return

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Pirate’s Beach: Thank you Bill for taking me to see this beach!

A few travel hints and my Costa Rican departure story should assist you when you visit Costa Rica. Was it hard to leave? Oh, yes! It was hard to leave the beautiful beaches and the sense of calm and peace, but all good things come to an end. Does anything last forever?  No, not on this earth.Costa Rica 295

1. Bring enough contact solution. Very few people in Costa Rica wear contacts and maybe the ones that do get the solution at the eye doctor’s office. I started looking at every store, and I did not see any solution then I found it at the farmacia in Flamingo. I mentioned it at dinner with Dave and the radio DJ that does the radio show at Flamingo Hotel. He said he purchased saline solution  in a bag and  then withdrew it with a needle for his contacts. I think most people that can afford the laser surgery have that done because it is so cheap in Costa Rica. All dental and medical procedures are very affordable.

2. The climate is different for each section of the country. Getting weather for different sections of this country is a little tricky. I read online that the nights can be really cool. Well, that was in San Jose not Playa Flamingo, so the blue jean jacket, the sweatshirt, the work out jacket, the ankle skinny jeans,  and the scarves were not needed. Packing fail again! I did survive with five pair of shoes for the entire trip, so that was a success.

3. You must arrive at the airport at least two hours before your flight.  If you are late then you will be told that you will take the next day’s flight. There is an exit tax to pay to leave the country. It is $29.00. There are places that you can pay it before you get to the airport. There is only one in the area where I was located, and it was at the Playa Flamingo Hotel, but it was inaccessible most days. I did not have any problems when I arrived at the airport paying the tax. When I arrived, I took the Airport shuttle which was very nice and very safe, but it was expensive. With tip it was around $90.00.  For the trip back to the airport, I booked through Eoctrans, and it is only $50.00 if I am the only one on the shuttle. If more people book for that flight from this area, then it will only cost $25.00. I was the only one, but it was a very nice peaceful ride and worth the money.

5. The currency here can be understood by doubling the sum or something like that: Below is the official rate.

1.00 USD = 540.649 CRC

500 colones  =  $1.00
1000 colones=  $2.00

By the end of the trip, I was doing a better job with the conversion. (Do not ask Bill or Dave or the waiter at Marie’s if I was improving.)

6. There are English channels on the TV. I found Warner the second night I was there, but I thought that was all I had. Bill came over and showed me the other three channels that you have access to with basic cable. I was going in to Big Bang withdrawals until I found it on Warner!

7. Books- As most of you know, I am a readaholic. Bring your books with you. Marie has a share area at her restaurant that was a lifesaver and Linda (from Washington) also shared her books with me before she left.

Since I shared my trip with you to get to Costa Rica, I wanted to share the return. After paying the exit tax and checking my bag in at Delta with the help of this nice man who assists people for tips, I went through security with ease and headed to the wait area. Because of the departure of my plane being at 12:55 and getting to the airport at 10:00, I was hungry. For a mere $30.00, I had a fruit smoothie and a small quesadilla. They have you at the airport early, and they take full advantage of it. I shopped a little, but I did not buy anything. The chocolate covered coffee beans, almonds and fruit were very good. They had free samples and free coffee. Brit coffee is very good.  There was a cowhide purse that I really liked, but not to the tune of $200.00.Costa Rica 407Costa Rica 408

Our departure was smooth, and the flight was a good flight.  The plane landed in Atlanta and went through passport check which the form is now electronic if you are a US citizen then we waited in line to get our bags, re-checked our bags and then went through security again. This took around one hour and thirty minutes. It was a long painful process. Then I proceeded to gate B 32 and purchased a salad, brownie and a water. While eating and talking to Lori, we were told that our gate had been changed to  A 9. I gathered up my food and started the hike to the next terminal and then rode the little train to terminal A.
The terminal was packed, and we waited and waited. A storm came through so our flight was delayed. We started boarding around 10:40, and we all got on the plane then we waited because we had NO pilots. They had been detained by the bad weather on another flight. I arrived in Memphis at midnight, and my dear friend, Lori, was waiting on me with a welcome sign.  We made it to my house by 1:45 a.m. She had to be at work at 8:00.Costa Rica 410

As Hemingway stated in The Sun Also Rises, there is a price for everything that is good and my Costa Rican trip was very good.
“Women made such swell friends. Awfully swell. In the first place, you had to be in love with a woman to have a basis of friendship. I had been having Brett for a friend. I had not been thinking about her side of it. I had been getting something for nothing. That only delayed the presentation of the bill. The bill always came. That was one of the swell things you could count on.
I thought I had paid for everything. Not like the woman pays and pays and pays. No idea of retribution or punishment. Just exchange of values. You gave up something and got something else. Or you worked for something. You paid some way for everything that was any good. I paid my way into enough things that I liked, so that I had a good time. Either you paid by learning about them, or by experience, or by taking chances, or by money. Enjoying living was learning to get your money’s worth. The world was a good place to buy in. It seemed like a fine philosophy. In five years, I thought, it will seem just as silly as all the other fine philosophies I’ve had.”
― Ernest HemingwayThe Sun Also Rises

Please click on this link, and after you read the list, wait on the pictures at the bottom to load:They are so funny and so accurate!
13 Things Only Solo Travelers Will Understand

 http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/13-things-only-solo-travelers-will-understand.html?mid=20140808&ref=mail&uid=9583

Costa Rican Wednesday

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My Costa Rican Wednesday started with a scenic drive to Rincon Largo  and then I was able to see the beautiful birds at Dave’s house that he feeds every morning. These smart birds take the dog food (that he puts out for his roaming dogs that never stay home) and dips the dog food in water to soften it and then they eat it. Smart birds!CR 9 001

The beach was amazing again today, and the waves were huge. This lady had more fun with her board then all of the kids combined.  I also played in the waves,  and I was taken down several times. I have never seen waves this high. CR 9 034CR 9 019CR 9 025

The Costa Rican beach snow cone is amazing. The snow cones have powdered sugar and what we call eagle brand condensed milk poured over them for $2.00.CR 9 031

After the beach, I had lunch at Marie’s and gave her a big “See you later” hug, not a good bye hug.   I will share more with you next week about my different adventures. I am preparing for home and trying to spend as much time with my friends as I can before I leave.

To all of my Costa Rican friends, ” See you later”.

Yes, I had the tourist pics made!

Yes, I had the tourist pics made!

 

Bill and Marie- more about our great Saturday later.

Bill and Marie- more about our great Saturday later.

Costa Rica: Chili, Tuna, and Sea Bass

CR6 049It has been another great week in Costa Rica with Chili, Tuna, the Beach and Sea Bass.  When  Bill mentioned Monday that the best chili was in Coco,  I was ready to go.  We drove over Monday to shop and eat Chili. The main store we wanted to visit was closed, so we looked around a little while and then we walked to La Vida Loca in Coco Beach.  Bill ordered the chili, and I spotted Coors Light in the cooler, and the mountains were cold.  We had a great time and as always in Costa Rica, the scenery is breathtaking. CR6 042 CR6 046

Wednesday night, I had great seared tuna with Dave at Embere’s. The owner was very kind as he brought a fan and put it by our table. This was a very colorful place with a hotel and a restaurant. The restaurant was on the second floor looking down at the pool. PangasCR6 045

Thursday, Ron picked me up for lunch, and  I asked him could we go by the bank.  I had not been to the bank since I arrived.  When you enter the bank here, you go through a  metal detector, and your purse is searched then you take a number and have a seat. Your number is called and then you go to the teller. Ron speaks Spanish which is comforting, but the young man behind the counter could also speak some English. It reminded me of being at the DMV for  license renewal. We then preceded to Tamarindo to the very nice  French restaurant, Pangas. Ron said that I  could not leave Costa Rica without having the snapper. It was very good. The view of the river flowing in to the ocean was very pretty.

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In the trees above us as we ate lunch.

In the trees above us as we ate lunch.

After we left there, we drove toward town and someone hollered at Ron. It was his friend Katarina, so we parked and walked to her restaurant the El Coconut for a drink. She is a very interesting lady who has lived in many places: Norway, the US, Paris, England and Costa Rica. She left home at 16 and began her travels.  As she talked about her parents, the love and respect that she has for them is apparent. She said there were two rules: 1. Your plane ticket must always be open, so you can always come home. 2. Call at anytime from anywhere.

Katarina

Katarina

Thursday night was the radio show at the Flamingo Beach Resort Hotel.  This is where I had the wonderful sea bass. Afterwards, we went to the Shack for live music, and as you can see, we had a great time.

Claudia  and Sue

Claudia and Sue

 

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I will return your fan.

Dave playing with the band.

Dave playing with the band.

I would like to say a big thank you to all of my new friends in Playa Flamingo, Costa Rica for letting me share your wonderful life for a little while.

Life in Costa Rica

CR 4 019 Life in Costa Rica is very different, but as with all of God’s children Maslow’s first hierarchy of needs must be met to sustain survival.  

The air in this country can be many different things. It can be muggy at times almost like a Mississippi muggy but not quite that strong then at times it feels very light. The mountain air is so pure and clean, as is the breeze from the beach air which you can feel in most locations. I think what makes this place so special is the mountains and the ocean coexisting side by side. We are in a drought in this area, but we did have rain yesterday. It was the first rain since I have been here. Here at the condo the plants are watered, but I see beautiful flowers on the side of the road that are not being watered. One thing that has made me happy is no sinus or allergy meds the entire time I have been here.

CR 4 009The food in this region is basically rice, beans, and fruit  with some meat. There is sea food available on the menus, but not the amount that you would think would be in a coastal town. I thought the food would be hot and spicy, but it is not. Breakfast on Thursday with Ron  and Bill was very good. We went to Estero Azul which is located on the beach. The gallo pinto which is rice and beans with a side of bacon hit the spot. It was my first bacon since I left home. Thursday for lunch, Bill and I drove to The Green House, and I had amazing guacamole.

Bill and Claudia

Bill and Claudia

Ron and  Bill

Ron and Bill

 

CR 4 027Thursday night is  the radio show evening  at Playa Flamingo resort. The radio station broadcasts from 5 to 7, and your first drinks are two for one.  I made a new travel friend,  Tracy. She lives in Vegas, and she loves to travel. With just a little notice, she will be ready to hit the road. She found a great trip on Groupon for her trip to Costa Rica. The festival Friday night was entertaining. We arrived at 5:00 to hear Dave’s band play, and  we also got to see the Guanacaste dancers preform then Bill, Dave, and Brian, and I went to Tubla, an Italian restaurant. I had a brick oven calzone that was very big.

The pool at Flamingo resort

The pool at Flamingo resort

 

View of the beach from the  bar on the second floor.

View of the beach from the bar on the second floor.

Ron made his amazing clam chowder this weekend, and he shared with his friends.  I am eating a small portion each day to make it last longer.  By the way, lime rules in this country. You have mayo with lime, and my chips are barbecue with lime.  The price of food in this area is expensive but easy to access.

The water is easy to drink. It actually taste better than the water at home. I am not walking around with a water bottle in my hand all of the time. I still must have one with me when I leave the condo. Some habits never leave.  The predominant  beer here is Imperial Light. There is a good selection of different wines and alcohol. I have not had sweet tea or my version of half and half sweet tea since I have been here.

I am enjoying the condo. It is a perfect size for me.  I usually do not use the ac during the day, but I  do use it at night in my bedroom, so I can sleep. I think I was conditioned for this in Charleston when I was sleeping on the second floor where the air did not work well when it worked. I sleep well with the hum of the ac, and I can some mornings go back to sleep after the birds start their morning routine.  There are more English speaking channels on cable than I previously thought.

By the end of this trip, you may be very tired of beach scenes, but I cannot get enough of them.  Great environment and great people equal a great trip. Love and laughter to all!

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maslow's hierarchy of needs five stage pyramide

To understand the other parts of his hierarchy, check out this site.  http://www simplypsychology.org/maslow.html

Zip Lining in Costa Rica is Amazing!

Hike
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Hard to pose for a pic when you have just landed.

 

My first zip lining experience in Costa Rica was amazing!  The tour guide, Goose (Heiner Monge), picked me up at 7:45 at the entrance to the condo. (He is not sure why his mom gave him a German name. Yes, I asked.)

Monkey eating his breakfast

Monkey eating his breakfast

Aw we entered the long driveway to the Westin, Goose spotted monkeys in a tree. He stopped, so I could take pictures. This type of monkey is called the Screaming Monkey. It is not a pleasant sound in the mornings. They eat only leaves and flowers. We preceded to go to the Westin to pick up Andy and Jana.  A delightful couple who were on their celebratory twentieth wedding anniversary trip. They live in a small town in New Jersey which is twenty minutes from the Big Apple. They were waiting on us at the lobby of the Westin Hotel. This place was very impressive. You can get one night all inclusive for $800.00 a night.  I am not sure if this includes golf, but it does include all you can eat and drink.

http://www.starwoodhotels.com/westin/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=3560&language=en_US

At that time, I realized that it was going to be the guide, Jana, Andy and me  for this tour. I was happy about the individualized attention that we would be receiving.

Jana and Andy

Jana and Andy

 

We drove to Liberia and then we took the road to the mountain that would take us to the Rincon de la Jungle Adventure.  The road was not like any of the roads we have in the USA.  There are no words to explain driving on a gravel road up a mountain with ruts and potholes. Goose was an excellent driver who maneuvered the roads with ease.

When we arrived, we were greeted and given fresh Guava juice. It was so tasty and refreshing. We preceded to get in the back of a thing like a wagon that was attached to a John Deere tractor and then we rode in that for maybe fifteen minutes then we elected to take a hike to the mud bath and hot springs. The great thing about the small group was we could make decisions about how we wanted to spend our time. The hike was not an easy trail with many steps and a small path through the jungle. We did see a pretty waterfall and a few animals. Hike

When we arrived at the mud bath, we were hot and sweaty, so we changed to our bathing suits and proceeded to rub mud all over our bodies, while doing this, we met a young couple that attends Charleston College. The young lady’s hometown is Costa Rica, and the young man was from Atlanta.  After muddying our bodies, we let the mud dry then took a very cold shower to wash the mud off before entering the hot springs. There were three different pools with different temperatures. Jana and I started with the coolest temperature pool and preceded by stages to the hot one. It was very relaxing.

After this experience, we changed clothes and walked up a very steep hill to find our horses.  We mounted our horses and started the ride. I would have to say this was my least enjoyable part of the tour. The reins of my horse was a thick rope that was too big, and it was a circle, so I felt a little out of control. Of course, my horse wanted to run and be the leader of the pack.  The trails were narrow and steep. It was nothing like a Mississippi trail ride!

Goose and our rides

Goose and our rides

When we arrived at the main house, our lunch was waiting. It was delicious: pork chop, rice and beans, fried cheese, fried banana, squash soup and bread. Dessert was flan. We were also given more guava juice.

After this we started another steep uphill climb to the zip lining area. We decided to forgo the slide because we did not want to change to our bathing suits and then change again and then walk back up the mountain to zip line.

CR Excursion 052Zip lining was my favorite part of the day! We did eight lines and the scenery was amazing. I did not feel any fear as I thought I would. We had an awesome group doing it with us: the young couple, a family of four with two adorable young boys, and then our group of three.

After the fourth line, one of the zip line guides asked me if I wanted to go with him and do the bird pose. Of course, I did, then after that I rode with him again and did the upside down pose. It was so much fun. It was a great adrenaline rush. He made a video, but it is too long to post. I will work on that when I get home, so I can post it and give everyone a big, big laugh.

After the zip line was over, we headed in the direction of home, but we did stop by and do a small coffee tour on our way back. The guide explained that coffee is not grown in this region because it is too dry. The coffee of Costa Rica is grown further south where more rainfall occurs. The coffee was so good that you did not need sugar or creamer. I bought a bag to enjoy while I am here.

This is a great tour to take when you visit Costa Rica. I booked through Claudia at http://www.infoflamingo.com and the tour was though Ecotrans.  Goose was an exceptional tour guide. I would recommend zip lining in Costa Rica.  We had an amazing day.

Tours advertised in Tamarindo in dollar amounts

Tours advertised in Tamarindo in dollar amounts

Costa Rican Expat Hospitality

Flamingo Beach

Flamingo Beach

I am having a wonderful time in Costa Rica, but as with anywhere you are the hospitality of the people you meet  are what make your visit memorable.

Friday night, I went to a rib place.  It was a big place with a pool table and a band was set to preform later.  If you want to open a business in Costa Rica then I would recommend a Rib Shack.  The owner did say that he was not being shipped quality/big ribs. He said the ribs were small and hard to cook for fear of over cooking. The sauce was good. They also do not cook enough ribs, so get there early. Ribs are featured every Friday night.

Saturday, I walked down to the beach close to my condo. It is a pretty beach, but the water is not as clear as the neighboring Flamingo beach, and the sand is dark, and the waves are not as strong as Flamingo Beach. It was an enjoyable excursion because there is something that is drawing about the boats in the harbor, and my view looking back toward the condo was breathtaking. I met a delightful lady walking on the beach who is a foreign language teacher in North Carolina. She is originally from France, and she teaches French and Spanish in a middle school. She was here to take classes to improve her teaching skills and to sight see. She is the one who convinced me that I needed to rent a bicycle. She is also a solo traveler like myself,  and she bicycled everywhere, but she does speak Spanish, English and French. The people you meet enhance your journey.

Harbor to the right of the condo

Harbor to the right of the condo

View from the beach of the Flamingo Resort

View from the beach of the Flamingo Resort

Saturday night, I ate at Cocolocos with Bill. He is a great tour guide.  It is a small beach side restaurant at the south end of the Playa Flamingo Beach. It is quaint with very good service, and the sea bass and the sangria were good.  You park on the road and walk to this location. Use your phone or a flashlight to see the potholes if you venture to this location.  I met a talented photographer who works at the restaurant named Manfred J. Rodriguez. I hope to talk with him before I leave and share some of his work with you.CR 3 019

http://cocolococostarica.com/

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Sunday, I walked to the Flamingo Beach. I had borrowed a chair from Ron, but I was afraid that it would get heavy on the walk, so I packed my Bubba Gump back pack that Kelley had purchased on a New York trip and away I went. It is not a bad walk going because it is downhill.

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It is beautiful beach with colorful water and strong waves The temperature of the water was perfect.  To the right are mountains with houses and to the left are mountains with houses. Some of these places, I was told, rent for $10,000.00 a week.  There was a masseuse on the beach. If my funds hold out, I will try a massage before I leave. There were several jewelry people, and I have a new ankle bracelet that I love. I rented a chair for $4.00, paid $5.00 for my new ankle bracelet and $1.00 for water. It was a $10.00 beach day. I will have to do better. Beach days should be free!

I thought I was in decent shape. No, I am not in any shape at all.  The hour walk at Veterans Park in Tupelo did not prepare me for the uphill walk on my return. I need to do this walk every day, and I am sure I will because the world begins at the bottom of our road that comes to the condo.

I  visited with  Claudia this morning about a bicycle and excursions after breakfast at Marie’s. I booked an awesome excursion for tomorrow. I cannot wait to share it with you later in the week. I will rent the bicycle later.

It is like being in paradise every morning when you wake up, but I do miss my cell phone! I want to hear my girls say, “I love you”, and I want to hear about the days of the people I love, but there is a freedom to sitting on the beach and not checking your phone every five minutes.  E-mail and messaging on Facebook really helps.

It is hard to explain what I am doing here to strangers.  I think they get the wrong impression that I am a trust fund kid, or I am a wealthy divorcee. Wrong on both accounts!  You are here for a month. Why?   I am just a lady looking for people with beautiful hearts and for beautiful places. I will be a retired instructor in Mississippi in the  middle of August who has firm legs from climbing mountains and a great tan and wonderful Costa Rican memories.

Hasta luego – until later……

Costa Rican Expat

July 4 and CR1 101
My Balcony View

My Balcony View

 

I am now a Costa Rican expat.  To begin the departure for my expat trip in Costa Rica, Lori and I bounced out of bed at 2:25 a.m., and we quickly got ready and headed to the airport. The ride passed quickly to Memphis as we chatted and solved a few of the world’s minor problems. I cannot thank Lori enough for making this sacrifice of sleep for me.  I arrived at the airport in time for a Skinny Chocolate Latte before boarding. On the first flight, my seatmates were great companions. The guy on the right side was a lawyer from Memphis who attended Ole Miss Law School, and he was going to San Jose to meet his father and his friends for a blue marlin fishing trip. They were to meet and board a boat at 5:00 for a weekend trip that would begin 120 miles from shore.  The young lady on my left was beginning her senior trip with ten other young ladies, and they were headed to the Bahamas. She will enter UT Chatt in the fall. She wants to be a nurse and work with veterans because her father and step-father were both veterans of the Vietnam War.

As soon as everyone was seated, the pilot announced that there was a problem with the hydraulics, so we sat on the plane for an hour and forty-five minutes. While we were waiting, the airline played some really good music.  One song took me back in time to May of 2013, and I wanted to hear a British voice.

Everyone on the plane was connecting in Atlanta. Panic started to arise.  No one made his or her connection. While we were in the air, Delta re-booked all of us on connecting flights. When we arrived, we were all checking our cells to see what time we would get to leave. I was scheduled to leave the next day. I went to a Delta phone, and the lady re-scheduled me to fly American Airlines to Miami and then Liberia, Costa Rica. I would arrive in Liberia at 7:00.  I notified the condo and my driver, and then went in to a full blown panic about the bag I had checked in at the Memphis airport with Delta. I talked to three Delta agents and one American Airline agent and walked many miles in the Atlanta airport. They rerouted my bag and hoped it would be there. In my carry-on bag, I always take an extra set of clothes just in case my luggage does not arrive. I had gym shorts, undies and my computer and my make-up, but no toothbrush! I will re-think the contents of my carry-on bag for the next trip.

My lawyer friend was not quite so lucky. The boat would not wait on him to arrive in San Jose at 8:00, so he was trying to fly to Honduras and then to San Jose. I hope it worked out for him. He reminded me that I did have a month and that he had only four days, and he really wanted to go fishing. My other companion was on a 4:00 flight; she was happy.

While I was waiting for my Miami flight, I was paged to the counter. Why do we always gravitate toward the negative thoughts? As I was walking toward the counter, all I could think was that I was going to be bumped because of my late booking. Oh no! I   was being bumped to first class because the guy with the knee brace needed the exit seat for more leg room.  I have not flown first class since Daddy stopped buying my plane tickets. It was wonderful! A big seat that will move in many different directions, better snacks, free drinks, a mint, and the best part was great conversation with Dr. Mark who was a fascinating man. We discussed higher education, religion and the city of Miami. You can learn a lot in a short flight. He was a very nice man.

On the Miami flight to Liberia, there were only thirty-five people.  It was heaven! Everyone had three seats. I met a darling couple who was on one of their honeymoons. He lists properties with airbnb. After arriving in Liberia, it took twenty minutes to exit the plane, find your luggage and go through customs. I was by this point very tired and excited that it was a fast transition. My driver was waiting with a sign with my name on it. I forgot to a picture of the sign. He was a nice guy who spoke very little English, but he was a very safe driver.

After I arrived at the condo, I was met by a nice young man and shown to my condo, and it was exactly what I wanted it to be.  I walked down to the Monkey Bar for a burrito and a long awaited cold beer.

When I was awakened this morning at 6:15 by the sound of the birds, I jumped up and ran to the balcony. I could not see last night what my view would be. I knew what it looked like on airbnb, but I had no idea what it would look like in person. I was a very happy camper as I sat on the balcony and drank my tea. You know I am a coffee girl, but I found one small packet of tea in a drawer.July 4 and CR1 097

After a shower, my focus was finding groceries and breakfast. I heard two men speaking English, and I stopped them and asked them about breakfast and a grocery store. They told me to go to Marie’s and eat and the grocery store would be at the entrance of this street.

I saw something that said Automart- I thought that it was an automobile place, but it is a small store.  I walked on to Marie’s and had breakfast. While at Marie’s, I met four new friends: Ron, Bill, Claudia and the owner Marie.  They are all residents of this country. Bill is considering moving to Charleston, so we are going to trade information. Claudia is a beautiful German girl who runs a bicycle and a tourist shop.  Maria is an English girl who has been in CR for many years, and she is a beautiful lady with a kind spirit.  Ron is a fun loving guy who plans to visit England and Africa in August. He has also been here several years.  I am going to try to start learning the Spanish language. Breakfast at Marie’s was amazing.

Breakfast at Marie's

Breakfast at Marie’s

Ron offered to take me to a big grocery store and show me Flamingo Beach. On the driving tour he also showed me a local restaurant, the bank, a yoga studio, and many other places, and then we stopped at the grocery store which was not as big as the size of the Dollar General in Tupelo. Groceries are more expensive here. I spent $115.00, but that will be cheaper than eating out for each meal. The kindness of people always restores my soul.  I am so thankful for my new friends. Ron said, “Expats must help each other.” It made this Hemingway girl so happy to be called an expat.

Local Restaurant View

Local Restaurant View

My groceries are put away, and my clothes are unpacked. Now, I am ready for more fun!

Costa Rica Countdown

Liberia-960-x-420

The Costa Rica Countdown has begun! I have heard that preparation and anticipation of a trip is just as rewarding as the actual trip. I beg to differ! I think when I am looking at the view from the condo balcony, and the to-do-list is checked off that I will enjoy the actual trip more than the planning.

When you book a room through airbnb.com, make sure that the only charge you will incur is the price of the room. Get the price in writing from the owner or the organization. There should be no hidden fees from the owner like the electric bill or a hidden deposit.  This confusion resulted in many e-mails, and it was partially resolved, but it was stressful.  Airbnb supported me to a point, but they would not back me 100%. The owner of the condo agrees to the company terms when the property is listed; therefore, there should be no other charges or cash transactions. I take some credit in the misunderstanding, but it will not happen again when I book a room.

Car has been reserved. I am super excited about a driver standing in front of the airport with a sign with my name on it.

Your credit card company and your debit card company must be notified if you plan to make any international transactions. There is a 3% increase on your debit card for cash advances.  My credit card company would only issue me a pin by mail – not helpful!

Shots- Yes, that was today.  Typhoid and Hepatitis A and then an extra one for Kayden’s arrival in September.  Two in one arm and one in the other arm. I am a little sore, but it is not as bad as I thought it would be.

Packing- Clothes were easy, but I packed too much again, so I re-did my packing. I have a washer and dryer, so I can wash clothes. I will be willing to wager that I will once again wear only half of the clothes that I pack.

I tried to find a magic number like four pair of gym shorts, four dress shorts, four dresses and four bathing suits.

Toiletries are very hard for me to limit!  Yes, I want my Victoria Secret body wash. I am a toiletries ho (Thank you, Jenny, for that phrase.) – Yes, I need my lotions and potions, and I think Vaseline can literally cure everything.

Of course, there are other important things that must be taken care of before you leave like nails and a pedi.

I have an early flight, and Lori has volunteered to take me to the airport. I would have never asked her because of the ungodly hour that we will need to leave, but she is willing to sacrifice sleep for me to go on an adventure. She is always with me in spirit.

I hope this is going to be my Pray part of my Eat, Pray, and Love journey. There has been so much joy in the last six months and so much love showered on me, but there have been major changes and disappointments in my life, and I need to embrace all of the happy changes and let the disappointments flow in to the ocean, and think about what I want to be when I grow up. People enter your life for a reason and for a season. Sometimes the purpose of their visit is clear and sometimes it is not, but you must trust and believe that when one chapter closes a better one will begin.

lady in ocean

Also if you want to see your family and friends, leave for a month. They will want to hang out with you.  My social calendar has blossomed.  A few friends are yearning to visit me, and I hope they are able to pull it off and do Costa Rica with me!

The Costa Rica Countdown continues.  Thank you for sharing my journey with me.

Cheers!

CR drink

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