There is so much I could say about Costa Rica…you know, the typical things everyone knows: the black sand was unbelievable, the rainforest was a presence to be reckoned with, you must try the zip-lining…blah, blah, blah dinner party talk. I could focus on those things, which I’m in no way trying to disrespect (because they were indeed all I hoped for), but other things stood out to me more. It wasn’t the sunset cruise or horseback ride that got me…it was our last night on the beach at the end of the adventures when the real one started.
Though Costa Rica is incredible, aside from some unique rock formations, there’s nothing particularly aesthetically special about most of the beach in Tamarindo. Once away from the volcanic rock, the sand is brown, and the water a little murky. The Caribbean beaches would chew it up and spit it out along with the ones I’m accustomed to up and down the Carolina coasts. Maybe this is why the beach there made me feel home to begin with.
It isn’t a perfect paradise by text book definition. It is something else though…this is a beach with diapered gold-skinned babies decorating the sand with tiny footprints. This is a beach with dogs diving into the water chasing sticks thrown by whomever might have one. It is a place people speak to one another…a place where surfers hide from the things they left somewhere on another planet similar to where I’m from. I didn’t quite realize how immersed I wanted to be until that last night.
My legs were still sore from riding my bike everyday, something I hadn’t done in at least 15 years. My two girlfriends and I had gotten to the beach a little later than we’d hoped, trying for a ” hail Mary” in the tanning department. However, it was just a little too late in the afternoon, and we knew it. We found ourselves getting bored and a little put off at the lack of sunlight when we went to drown the humidity at the shoreline. I don’t know which of our husbands barreled the football our directions, splashing us with the cool Pacific water, but that’s what started it. Somehow this led to one of us getting tackled, then it was a game of three prissy girls playing against 3 guys who were suddenly 16 again.
We forgot about wanting a tan, protecting designer swimsuits, or bitching about getting a little sand on us. Instead we sank into the laughter around us, became only our spirits, and let Tamarindo have us. One of my girlfriends went back to her childhood with two brothers and found her grit again. She laughed in the face of her blonde highlights, and scoffed at her frilly bathing suit top. Another friend, the one with the long sexy legs, ventured back to a time when those legs were scraped up and a little gangly and used them like a spider-monkey would when trying to tackle our husbands. I could see her running around in the dirt after cheerleading practice at her grandmothers farm again. Neither of my friends were mothers right now, even though they are incredible ones; they were just knobby-kneed, sand-covered beings without any responsibility.
I’m the shortest of all of them, and probably come in a close second to spider-monkey-legs for prissiest. However, my inner-child showed up too. I remembered the only summer I decided to be a tomboy. It was the year my Aunt took me to a braves game and bought me a ball cap to wear. I wore it backwards with my long blonde hair that I didn’t know how to fix properly flowing from underneath…I was about 10. On the beach I became her, the girl I was the summer of the braves hat when I climbed trees, got stung by a caterpillar, and held my own trying to beat up my bigger cousins. I would just focus on looking little and non-aggressive while staying low to the ground and gritty. Tamarindo did this to me again at nearly 28 years old. I was hitting our husbands at shin-height and knocking there legs out from under them like a little gremlin. That’s who I really am anyway.
Costa Rica gave me a gift that doesn’t come in abundance. The vibe there alone woke my friends and myself up inside in our purest places. We got the relaxation we wanted, but it didn’t come in the form of rum punch on the beach. It came by taking us back to that child-like place which is the only one we are ever that free. We got the adventure we wanted with proudly-worn scrapes and bruises to prove it. Costa Rica was beautiful no doubt, but the greatest part was getting a little bit of something we didn’t even know we missed back.
We played until the sun went down, turning the water gold then black. When we knew it had to be over I think everyone felt a nostalgic lump trying to shack up with their tonsils. However, we’d bonded like kids in the summertime, and we knew at least we would always have Tamarindo. ~pura vida~