We made our way down out of the mountains and began the long trek to the sea. In terms of mileage it’s really not that far, but the going is slow.
This would be our final time driving to the beach, and in a nod to the very difficult journey we had our first night in Costa Rica, we decided on a different approach. We decided to take the little shortcut road, the one with the river and the cow. The one we’d avoided that first night. We were feeling experienced and perhaps a bit arrogant.
“Wheeeee!!” squealed Camille from the backseat, a big change from the last time we were on this road, when she was exhausted and terrified because we were lost. The river looked deep, and as we plunged in we found that it was deep. Water sloshed over the hood but Lee kept his foot on the pedal and soon we were on the other side. Oh man was I glad we hadn’t attempted that as our first river crossing, at night no less.
Pulling up to the house, we were excited to show my parents the view, and to have them meet our friend the beach. She had begun to feel so familiar, as though we had a claim to her, and her to us.
And thus began our final days in Costa Rica. We took my parents to a couple of area beaches. We went to Marvin’s house again to buy some fish. We revisited the Black Sheep Pub in the mountains of Nosara, where a family of howler monkeys played in the trees adjacent to the Beer Garden. We even got a good glimpse of a mama and baby. I could’ve watched them for hours.
But mostly we hung out at our beach, Playa Azul. Camille discovered a fun spot where a river washed into the sea. The river had carved a path in the sand and left behind a sand wall perfect for jumping. Granddaddy discovered a planed log on the beach and slid it into the river, providing a most excellent raft.
Lee and I spent hours hunting for sea glass. There was something so relaxing about it, so cathartic. I found that I could completely clear my mind and just wander, eyes fixed to the ground, lulled by the sound of the surf, and rewarded periodically by the discovery of bright treasures.
Camille spent hours taunting the waves, first yelling into the salt air, “IS THAT ALL YOU’VE GOT?”
Then the sea would respond with an enormous crescendo that would send her fleeing.
My dad was the first one brave enough to scramble high up onto the sharp rocks for a bird’s eye view of the crashing waves. It wasn’t easy to get up there, and I was always a little afraid that a rogue wave would wash us out to sea, but the vista was beautiful. The powerful waves would curl and form tunnels, and we would watch birds soar over the crests looking for fish.
We were treated to some more incredible sunsets, and spent most evenings in rocking chairs by the pool watching the sun turn into an orange fireball and disappear. Darkness followed quickly, a great backdrop for stars and fireflies.
We took my folks to the Tiki Hut restaurant in Marbella, where I decided that every restaurant needs hammocks.
Marbella means “beautiful sea,” and I couldn’t have picked a better name.
Our final day at the beach, I tried not to be sad. I tried to enjoy the view and not dwell on the closing chapter, but it was difficult. There was a part of me that was ready to be home, to sleep in my bed, to drive on easy roads and shop at Publix.
But everything we had experienced – all the things we had seen, people we’d met, adventures we’d had, all the ways we learned and struggled and succeeded, all the time we’d had together as a family – I didn’t want it to end. I told myself that I’d give up Publix. I’d drive on treacherous roads. Sometimes, I could imagine this being my home. My life.
But the problem was that we were living a fantasy. Even if I did live in Costa Rica, I’d have to work. I’d have a schedule, Camille would have school, and we’d have responsibilities. Lee and I joked that we needed to figure out a way to find good-paying jobs as sea glass hunters. But those don’t exist. And I know I would desperately miss my friends and family – they make a place “home,” and I’m not sure I could ever feel at home without them.
My comfort was two-fold. I was comforted by all the fantastic memories, all the pictures, even this blog – I knew they would help mentally transport me back here when I needed it. We changed on this trip, I could feel it. We learned to scale back, to slow down, to let go, and I didn’t want to lose those adaptations. Keeping the memories fresh, I hoped, would help us hang on to them.
And I was comforted by the knowledge that we did this once, and God willing, we may do it again someday. Maybe not soon, but maybe one day. I felt like a stronger person, having stepped outside my comfort zone and thrived. And we felt like a stronger family too. And no plane ride home could take that away from me.
Pura Vida, my friend. Until next time.