Memories of a Happier Time: Costa Rica

Absence, loneliness. The Theme.

Just like Ireland, when I landed in Costa Rica I didn’t have anyone to tell I had arrived safely. Before bed I didn’t have anyone to video chat with and wish good night.

I’m not saying I don’t have ANYONE to talk to. I definitely reached out to a few people, but it’s not the same. I didn’t have her.

It was impossible to avoid Christine this morning. I was sitting on the hotel veranda, sipping coffee and looking out over a coffee plantation. My breakfast was made up primarily of tropical fruits, cold cuts and cheese. The experience was so similar to one we shared the time she accompanied me on a work trip to Costa Rica.

There was that loneliness again.

Instead of dwelling on her absence I did something different, I thought about our trip together. I can’t say this made me feel better, but it did make me feel different. And different is good.

I arrived a few days before her so I could get work accomplished. She was very nervous about this because she had never traveled alone to a foreign country. She took a redeye and arrived early Thursday. Her phone wasn’t working so there were a couple nervous hours where I imagined every bad thing possible happening. She finally got to wifi and let me know she was fine. It was a huge relief. She slept while I finished the day and when I returned to the hotel I took her to my favorite restaurant in San Jose. It was a place a friend and I found on a previous trip and the steak and wine are amazing.

See, this is the thing about not having someone to share my travel days with. The hotel I’m in right now is ridiculously nice. I love it. I’d usually take some pics, send them to Christine and then we’d immediately plan to visit together some day.

We stayed up late. Some super annoying guy at the hotel bar bought us drinks and then proceeded to hit on my wife. We laughed so hard about it later when we returned to our room.

We had breakfast together (similar to the one mentioned above) in the morning and then I had some work I had to wrap up before we left. I sat at the desk while she worked on packing up. I kept putting my laptop down so I could help. We finally left for the beach around noon.

It’s a two hour drive and we hadn’t had lunch so we stopped at a small cantina just off the highway. My Spanish is poor, Christine’s non-existent. I helped her order some chicken and a glass of mango juice. The food was delicious.

The young woman, maybe 16, who served us was starring at us, chin in her palms. Christine made up an entire backstory for her and was convinced the server was dreaming of a life away from the small village. It became fact in her mind, and we laughed about it later.

We made our way to the hotel. It was at the end of a long dirt road and totally isolated. I was nervous. But when we arrived the place was clean, the pool was nice, and it was right on the beach.

We took a dip in and walked on the beach a little, but it was already getting dark so we went back to the hotel and had dinner. The bartender was incredibly nice, trying to teach us Spanish through his broken English. We all laughed. We ended the night on the rooftop patio with the only other guest at the hotel, an aging professional surfer spending his retirement chasing waves. The stories were amazing.

I lied. We ended the night in each other’s arms.

The next morning we were up late. We had breakfast at the hotel, went for a swim in the pool and then made our way to the beach. The water was so warm. Neither of us had ever been to a tropical ocean beach and it just felt amazing. We reveled in it.

We walked to town for lunch, a little over a mile. There were some kids who were crawling all over the place. On the backs of our booth, the floor, whatever. Christine hated parents who let their kids do this kind of stuff so we left after our meal instead of enjoying a second drink at the bar. On the way back Christine realized she was getting sunburned. I pulled off my sunshirt and let her wear it.

There were also the lizards. They’re everywhere. Usually this would make Christine nervous but in her brave way she decided to embrace it.

Shade was over the pool now and a swim sounded nice but the place was filling up. We decided to take a nap and were awoken an hour later by claps of thunder. The pool was empty, because only idiots would go for a swim during a thunderstorm. We got in our suits right away.

The sun was getting low (it does that at 5 in Costa Rica) so we went back to the beach to play in the water and watch the sunset. A rain storm suddenly broke above us just as darkness fell. The other people on the beach fled. We sat on the warm sand, in the warm rain watching the lighting.

I don’t know how long we sat there. I know the tide caught us twice and we had to move back. There were little crabs rushing from the water. We talked about life, about our dreams. We kissed. We held hands. We talked about the future we were creating, how far we’d come, how maybe buying a little house in Playa Hermosa and spending winters there and summers in Ireland wouldn’t be a bad way to spend our final years together.

I don’t know that I’ve ever felt closer to her than I did in that rain storm.

Finally, fingers pruned, we returned to the hotel for dinner.

We left in the morning and stopped at a fruit stand. Back in San Jose we decided to eat the mangos. They were amazing but incredibly messy. We stood next to each other at the bathroom sink stuffing mangos into our mouths, juice dripping down our arms all the way to the counter. More uncontrollable laughter.

We spent a couple more days together, me at work until four and Christine exploring the city alone, a huge accomplishment she was very proud of.

Like everything else, it ended. She flew home, I joined her a couple days later.

It was such an amazing time.

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