This is the last post about Costa Rica. I promise. When you embark on such an epic adventure like the one we went on, it’s hard to stop telling stories. But I assure you that these are the last ones.
I’ve learned this summer that there is great danger in traveling to other countries. I’m not talking about the danger of armed robbers or drinking the water and getting explosive diarrhea. I’m talking about the danger of comparison. It’s dangerous to go to a country and compare it to your home country. Dangerous because it can taint your trip and/or your time back at home if you focus on what the other place does better.
It’s easy to encounter inconvenience in another country and think, “This would never happen in America.” Likewise, it’s easy to return home and think, “I wish America was more like such and such place.”
Having traveled a bit, I’m learning that the key to comparing countries is to focus on what you appreciate rather than pointing out the crappy aspects of a nation (because let’s face it, we’ve all got major crap in our country). And when I return home, I’m being intentional about not griping about what America lacks and instead focusing on the great things we do have. That being said, the following are 10 areas I can’t help but compare when considering Costa Rica and Southern California.
1. The roads
Home: Sure, we have crazy frustrating traffic and aggressive drivers who are quick to throw the bird, but we also have an efficient road system with clearly marked signs, paved roads, and addresses.
Costa Rica: Okay, so yeah, it would have been a touch easier if our destinations had actual addresses, but then we would have missed out on the adventure of looking for a “giant blue billboard” which was our cue to turn right. And rather than complain about the windy mountain roads, we found joy (and a little bit of terror) in crossing rivers like this:
2. The flora
Home: I love the palm trees. Admittedly, I probably love them a little too much. I’ve lived here all my life and still take pictures of them lining the freeways. I later delete them so people won’t scroll through my camera roll and think, “Wow, Katie’s life is so pathetic. She has tons of pictures of freeways and her cat.”
3. The churches
Home: I love my church. Really love it. There’s something cool about going to the church you grew up in. I can still see myself in the pews playing tic-tac-toe and eating Mambas with my siblings while some boring old man droned on and on about Jesus. (The boring old man was Chuck Swindoll. Gosh I wish I had been old enough to understand him!) The teaching today is just fantastic, so if you’re ever looking for something to listen to while you drive or run, check out Mike’s sermon series HERE. I highly recommend the most recent series about the Holy Spirit.
Costa Rica– In the first town we stayed in, we were serenaded every night by a tiny church of about 15 people singing worship songs for hours. Literal hours. You guys, they sang , “This is the Air I Breathe” for no less than 40 minutes. I’m not exaggerating. What they lacked in ability, they made up for in endurance. It was truly quite impressive. The Christians in Drake Bay proved that they are seriously desperate for Jesus. We, on the other hand, were desperate for them to sing a new song.
In the second location, I woke up at 5 AM on Sunday morning because a woodpecker tricked me into thinking we had visitors knocking at the door. Since I was up, I went for a early run and discovered the town church:
The bench obsession continues
4. The car washes
Home- I love those $5 drive-thru car washes. Does anyone else still get super excited every time you go through one? When my friend Nirupa was visiting from India, I took her through one of these because I think they are that cool. I realize now that it was probably a strange thing to do.
Parked in the middle of the stream washing both the inside and the outside of his car. Brilliant.
5. The breakfasts
Home– Breakfast is my favorite meal. I love sugar cereals and some of the only things I know how to make in the kitchen are omelets, french toast, pancakes, and smoothies. When I transferred high schools, some kids knew me as “burrito girl” because I brought a giant breakfast burrito to class every Wednesday. So yes, breakfast is kind of my thing. And I’ve had some memorable ones this summer. The girls cross-country team had a pancake breakfast after practice that was both fun and delicious:
My grandpa reading the bible to my grandma.
How sweet is that? Grandma, bet you didn’t realize I snuck a picture:)
Well, everyone but Katie enjoyed the view. She kept her eyes closed the entire time.
6. The restaurants
Home- I love eating out. I do it more than most because cooking for 1 sucks and Chipotle never gets old. When my friend Christy returned from 3 years in Madrid, she went on and on about how great it is that there are so many good places to eat so conveniently located. I may have mocked her for being so excited about restaurants, but I too appreciate all the good, cheap food.
At the second spot, we discovered that the only restaurant in town serves AMAZING food and offers an AMAZING view of the entire valley. Sure, Trent discovered a shockingly large beetle in his rice, but that didn’t slow any of us down. Our cook was also our waiter and the owner of the joint and we were certain he must be cousins with the “most interesting man in the world.”
Isn’t the view breathtaking?
7. The swimming
because everyone had one of those, right?
8. The porches
Home- I love sitting on my parent’s front porch. There’s something comforting about watching the sun set in the place you’ve watched it set for nearly 30 years.
9. The beaches
Our house in the one with the pointed roof on the right. We didn’t hate it.
10. The company
Home– It’s no secret that I enjoy my family. We live in a 10 mile radius of each other and get together all the time. This is why the 14 of us spent a week together in a cabin at Bass Lake and never got annoyed. Check that, my mom did get a bit annoyed when we kept talking about the cd my dad found in the player called “Erotic Moods.” But apart from that, we got along wonderfully.
Costa Rica– This country was crazy beautiful, but it would not have been nearly as much fun if not for the weirdos in the group. We created a surprising amount of inside jokes in just 7 days and memories that will last till we’re old and grey. Here they are, both the red and blue teams, my traveling companions and Costa Rican family:
“S yeah! Head butts happen. Nice to meet you, Heather. Here comes the BOOM!” (all said with zero inflection in voice)
The official scum of the earth (known for her love of dogs and hatred of fast horses)
Our presidente, fish-fryer, translator, planner, and jelly-fish-stings-don’t-hurt-me-bad-ass.
Our photographer, navigator, holder of things, and official grass spotter. The most low-maintenance gluten-free gal you’ll ever find.
” Livin’ the dream”
“Oh yeah! Si se puede!”
This was the type of group that strangers want to hug:
I can’t say I blame them.