Spencer’s Journal – More Adventurous Than I Had Planned

Arriving in our Hotel (more like a hostel) in Escazu, San Jose, Costa Rica. Beautiful view out the window to the valley below.


We arrived in Escazu, San Jose, Costa Rica on Wednesday, August 29th!

You’ll notice that’s 5 days ago, and I haven’t written a post yet.  Well, that’s because I was afraid of what I might say.  The truth is, I’m scared.  This is going to be harder than I thought.  Much harder.  The heavy burden of responsibility to provide for my young family has been threatening to squish me right back onto a plane to the US.  Thankfully, my wife is braver and wiser than I.  She has given me the courage and perspective to calm down and give this a good, honest try before retreating.  We did want an adventure, after all.

The Good – Here’s what we love about Costa Rica so far:

(See the photos we’ve been posting on Facebook since we got here.)

Perfect weather.  The temperature is between 70 and 80, no matter what.  We love to eat out on our balcony, whether it’s a clear-morning breakfast, a sunny-afternoon lunch, or a thunderstorm dinner, the temperature is always perfect.  It’s kind of weird, actually.  I’ll see outside and anticipate feeling hot or cold as I step out, but then I’m not.

8 AM breakfast from our beautiful balcony in Escazu, Costa Rica.

Gorgeous jungle
.  I love seeing parrots roost in the tropical trees right outside my window, the sound of rain on banana leaves, the rich soil, and the luscious green.  I love that our kids get to see nature at it’s best.

Beautiful thunderstorms.  There’s something about tropical rains that soothe my soul.  I have noticed that we can’t help but smile and laugh at each other when a sudden rain hits.

Our first tropical thunderstorm in Costa Rica

No bugs
.  Despite the seemingly perfect breeding grounds, there really aren’t any bugs.  We’ve seen a spider or two, and have got a couple of mosquito bites over the last 5 days, but the lack of bugs has been a very pleasant surprise.

Delicious fresh fruit.  We love fresh fruit.  We left behind our 28 fruit trees to come here, and we are pleased to report that we have definitely traded up in the fruit department.  There are fresh coconuts, bananas, mangos, pineapples, star fruit, guavas, avocados, oranges, limes, cherimoyas, papayas, passion fruit, and Austin’s favorite, rambutan, on every corner.

Austin’s favorite, rambutan. He is so cute eating these things.

Clean water
.  We drink the Costa Rican water right from the tap, which is a very nice convenience.

Fresh air.  The Costa Rican air always has that wonderful, just-been-washed smell.  The gorgeous view to the valley below is clear of any smog or visible air pollution.  And since the temperature is always perfect, our windows are always open, filling our house with this wonderful air.    (I guess if you want to be technical, we can’t actually close our windows since most of them don’t have glass, just screen and bars).

Beautiful view from the balcony at Hotel Escazu with early morning haze.

The fresh Costa Rican air comes right in through our half-glassed windows.

The Bad

Lots of petty theft.  Being safe here is going to require much more conscious effort than I had anticipated.  As a father charged with protecting my young family, this is my biggest concern.  In the US I felt safe carrying around my Canon T2i wherever I went.  Here, I do not.  Video and photography were major parts of my big plans for Costa Rica.  So far I have been too nervous to take my camera outside of our hotel for fear of being robbed.

I had read about petty theft being an issue in Costa Rica, but I hadn’t quite grasped the severity of the situation until I sat next to a very nice Costa Rican, Monica, on the flight over from Newark.  In passing,  Monica casually mentioned the importance of not holding one’s cell phone too loosely or too high because somebody will see it as a target and snatch the phone away.  “It’s not that bad,” she assured me.  “They don’t want to hurt you.  They just want to take your phone.”  I did my best to look unfazed, but the truth was that her casual tidbit of streetwise safety had scared the caca right out of me.

My nerves were already sensitive from the cell-phone-snatching advice from the plane as we arrived at our hotel around 11 PM on Wednesday night.  The hotel owner showed us to our room, and as he slid the metal gate to our room open, he said, “Nobody has ever been robbed from this room, and that is saying something!  This is one of the safest rooms in Costa Rica.”  His assurances did not have the effect on me that he had hoped, I am sure, which brings me to my next point.

Metal gate to our room in Hotel Escazu.

Toilet Paper
.  The resorts and stuff have good plumbing that can handle toilet paper being flushed.  But we won’t be staying in resorts and stuff, so we’ve got to put our toilet paper in the trash.  Not the end of the world, but not super cool either.  (Luckily the hotel we’re in now can handle flushed toilet paper, so one less thing to deal with for the time being.)

Rain.  Watching the rain is fun.  Walking in the rain is less fun.  Since we don’t have a car, we will be getting wet.  Umbrellas aren’t very effective against tropical storms.  Zack insisted I write this one down because he “hate[s] getting wet.”  :)

In Summary

I think I can now say that we have officially transitioned from the idea-phase of our adventure to the living-phase of our adventure.  The idea of adventure is far more romantic than actually getting out there and getting your hands dirty.  Ideas are safe, certain, and organized.  Living is a bit messier.  I am grateful for my wonderful, courageous wife who is braver, stronger, and wiser than I ever imagined.  Adventure, here we are!

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