Recap: Summer 2017

I start new faculty meetings at Greens Farms Academy (GFA) tomorrow. Holy heck. It seems like yesterday that we were preparing to leave CR and head to NH. The Wolfeboro session ended 3 weeks ago today (WHAT?!?) and we have since visited upstate NY, spent a week in Wolfeboro, spent time in NJ, and are now in CT. While it’s been an incredibly fulfilling and meaningful summer, I can’t say that it has been restful. The flip side of that is that we have connected with SO many friends and family and that is why we moved back in the first place. So really, our hearts are full which means it was an A+ summer.

Em did a ton of traveling this summer – I think she was in NH for 12 days for the entire month of July – so it was a whirlwind trying to connect, trying to plan the next stage of our life, you know, the small things. We are looking forward to finally settling into our place in CT (short term rental from 9/1-12/1 so not really settling) in a little over a week. Before that we have Allie Bird’s wedding (!!) and a Labor Day trek to Montauk in the works. Our new car is really coming through for us.

In the interest of time, and the fact that I’m feeling lazy, here is a picture overview of summer 2017. Thank you to everyone who made it what it was. It was another summer of professional growth mixed with an amazing amount of laughter.

IMG_3943

Wolfeboro Year 6 – let’s go.

IMG_4417

Heaven – AKA Girls’ Campus

IMG_4447

Campus Heads

IMG_4464

Like a boss

IMG_4500

My favorite place

IMG_4575

GC Crew 2017

IMG_4613

Hike up Mount Major

IMG_4658

Is there anything better?

IMG_4692

My 2nd cousin (I think, I never understood the 2nd cousin distinction) – AKA mini mi

IMG_4709

Family

IMG_4715

 

IMG_4719

Reunited

IMG_4736

IMG_4756

Brilliant

IMG_4772

We got to know Zula a lot better this summer and she was SO happy to be an off-leash dog again.

IMG_4794

Wolfeboro at sunset

IMG_4810

View from our dock

IMG_4822

IMG_4826

Can’t compete with the sunsets

IMG_4881

Family time

IMG_4901

Reconnecting with some of the best

IMG_4903

Creepy trees

IMG_4919

We bought a car!

IMG_4953

These two win the award for most jumps off the dock in a 12 hour time period.

IMG_4977

Cdub

IMG_4987

Dock spiders in residence

IMG_4991

 

IMG_4997

IMG_5021

Ladies’ Night Hoops

IMG_5022

Cheesing

photo4

Since 2002

photo5

Milo meets Bowdoin and Bentley

IMG_5063

IMG_5069

IMG_5123

My dad was home from Ghana for 3 weeks and my brother was home from Seattle for 1 week – it was pretty perfect.

IMG_5144

Princess

IMG_5153

Advisor in training

IMG_5249

4 year anniversary – 8/3/13

IMG_5705

GC Crew at the end of year party. #rockstars

IMG_5316

Us with the happy couple

IMG_5401

Hamlin sibs

IMG_5427

Where’s Charlie?

IMG_5442

Hamlins in Chaumont

IMG_5468

Sunset over Lake Ontario

IMG_5474

IMG_5489

Lunch with Aunt Jane and Uncle Steven

IMG_5490

IMG_5524

IMG_5527

Bike ride around the point

IMG_5542

I’ll be here

IMG_5555

Boat ride on the St. Lawrence river

IMG_5567

Like mother like daughter

IMG_5583

IMG_5593

IMG_5605

Quick stop at Hamilton College on the way back to NH

IMG_5612

My faves

IMG_5632

We decided to camp out on GC one night

IMG_5627

Bed hogs

IMG_5644

View from the top of Bald Knob

IMG_5657

Happy Place

IMG_5670

Dog Whisperer

IMG_5698

I learned how to sail

IMG_5766

Ready for the (unsafe) ride from NH to NJ.

IMG_5765

Troopers

IMG_5774

Crew heading to Courtney’s bridal shower!

IMG_5788

Family

IMG_5794

IMG_5817

Eclipse time

IMG_5848

My new school is pretty punny

IMG_5842

IMG_5851

GFA – 2 minute walk from my new classroom

 

Finally – it was pouring rain on our last day in NH (which helped with the packing) so I went through some old photo albums. Figured these are worth sharing as my hair cuts were particularly strong (and I’m happy to say I made it out the other side):

There you have it. Looking back through all of these is an important reminder of how lucky Em and I are to have health, happiness, and friends/family. Thank you for everyone who supported us through the last 2 years including all the moving parts that came with an international move.

Looking forward to fall in New England – football, pumpkin beer, friends, Catan, beach walks, dog hikes, and much more. We miss our CR family and at the same time it’s hard to reflect on all that happened in the last 2 years.  I think once we are settled and the newness wears off the impact of the last 2 years will finally sink in. Until then, we wish our CR family (those still there and those who have moved on to MA, NY, China, CA, and beyond) all the best as they make their transitions.

Ok – if you made it this far – congrats. And come visit.

K

 

 

Advertisements

The Costa Rica Years

And just like that, the time for closing this chapter of our lives has arrived. When I step back and think about it, these past two years feel like a blur. That’s always the way, isn’t it?

When we made the decision to take the job in Costa Rica, I was nervous about leaving behind our friends, family, and everything we knew for two years. What events would we miss out on? Would we regret it? Now that we’re at the end of it, I have realized that you can do anything for two years. As I get older, chunks of time mean less and less – meaning that 2 years really isn’t much anymore (only 6.25% of my lifetime). So by that logic, in 2061 when I’m 75 years old, our time in Costa Rica is how fast 4.7 years will feel, right? So it’s all relative? I digress…

I also want to recognize that the fact I am leaving with that perspective – that you can do anything for two years –  is a reflection of how wonderful this experience has been. I’m sure others have found themselves in situations that made it seem like they might not make it two years. So this perspective makes me forever grateful for this time in our lives.

So as we do the final preparations for Friday’s 7 am, one-way (!!!!!) flight to Boston (with 2 dogs in tow – wish us luck), I figured I would throw out a few reflections on these last two years living in Costa Rica.

1.) Distance isn’t as scary as it seems

One of my biggest hesitations I had about our move was being away from friends and family. I was afraid our relationships would stop or that we would lose touch. This experience has proven to me (even though I knew it rationally) that it takes more than distance to get in the way of the meaningful relationships in our life. For example, many of our friends and family made the trek to visit us over the last few years. Sharing this place with them was not only fun but deepened our ties and added to our list of experiences together. And while many people wanted to visit and weren’t able, we connected while we were home or via Skype. So, even though it’s scary, distance isn’t the end all be all. This doesn’t mean I want to live away from friends and family forever, but that if an opportunity takes you away for a few years, jump on it, make the most of it, and invite as many people as possible to come visit :-). Here is a little collage of the visitors we have had over the last few years (and it doesn’t include the people who were able to stop in for a meal before/after the airport!):

 

 

This is also a good reminder that by leaving Costa Rica we are creating new distance between the people that have become our family these last two years. I am so grateful that we all decided to be in CR at the same time and to share all these adventures together (and there are many others not pictured). Thanks for helping us make these two years so memorable.

A

This year’s end of the year BBQ

IMG_7707

Last year’s end of the year murder mystery party

2.) Keep Exploring

The number of times we have hopped in the car and driven over 5 hours for a weekend adventure here in Costa Rica is massive (I can’t count them on 2 hands at least). We had the mindset of, “When will we be here again? Maybe never. Let’s do it.” In retrospect, I can count the number of times we did that in 5 years in Boston on one hand. So what’s the difference? From the start, we knew Costa Rica wasn’t forever. Maybe it would be 2 years, maybe 5, but we knew we had a finite amount of time to explore the beauty of this place. This made it hard to make excuses or to put things off. This approach to weekends (and life) is one that I hope we keep with us as we enter this next chapter. Stop making excuses. Go on adventures. While it’s easy to stay close to home for a weekend, why not go and find the small towns, the beautiful hikes, the state parks, the little cafes. That is one of our goals – don’t stay stagnant. Don’t stay grounded to Southeastern CT. So please – hold us to it. And join us for some adventures.

3.) Get Outside

I have been blown away by the impact sun has had on my health and happiness the last two years. Before our move to CR, I had lived in New England my whole life and therefore was in snow from November-April (más o menos) for 29 years. I didn’t mind. It was just what happened. Until I moved to Costa Rica. And we had sun every.single.day without fail. I was happier. I felt better because I didn’t look sickly white for half the year. I wore shorts every day. I played tennis outside all year round. I walked the dog(s) WAY more than I did at home. Every single morning as I walked I would look up and feel the sun on my skin and realize that most people in my life were freezing and that I was extremely lucky (and made a good decision).

And while I can’t change the climate in New England, the reminder here is that there is sun in the winter in New England, too. It’s not warm and I can’t go swimming – but there’s sun. And being outside is really what we love. So while during the winter in New England it’s easier to stay inside, curl up under a blanket, and watch Netflix – I want to keep getting out. Learn to love the snow and not just deal with it. I want to cross-country ski and run with the dogs on the beach in December. So again – help me out with that one, ok?

4.) Keep Stretching

On one of the first trips we took when we got to Costa Rica (Cahuita on the Caribbean side), we came upon a stretch moment. We were hiking and the trail took a muddy and overgrown turn into the jungle and all our wildest fears (read – snakes) came to life. We walked a bit but turned around. We weren’t quite ready to go there. Since then, we have hiked that trail fully. We keep referring to these as stretch moments. Moments where the right move is to take the risk. But to take the risk when you feel ready to own it. That first time we weren’t ready. It was too much of a stretch – we probably would have pulled something. But the second time it wasn’t. And we did it. And it rocked. So I want to keep stretching. Not rupturing a muscle but stretching. Going outside our comfort level (within reason and because it’s healthy) because 99% of the time it’s worth it. On that note, I also really need to actually stretch because I can barely touch my shins. But that’s a totally different issue.

That’s a Wrap!

So we land in Boston on Friday and on Saturday will head to Wolfeboro to spend another summer at Wolfeboro: The Summer Boarding School. I’m looking forward to leading Girls’ Campus again and helping our students grow and thrive and to working with young educators as they develop their empathy and ability to connect with young people. We have quite the crew and it’s going to be an unreal summer. Here are a few pictures (from last summer) of the fun I am about to jump back into. These are what’s helping me get through my fear of flying. I just keep telling myself – you will be in NH in 4 days, you will be in NH in 4 days. And if that is true, that means I survived the plane ride. That’s some sort of algenbraic property I’m sure. Yes – fears are super rational.

IMG_0026

Our cabin – Can’t wait to jump off that dock every single morning.

IMG_0077

Lake crew. We will have an additional baby Cooper with us now, too!

IMG_0383

Family time – there will be SO many Nicholsons and Van de Krols in NH this summer I can’t even control my excitement.

IMG_0531

The GC crew from 2016. 5 of these fantastic women will be with us again for the 2017 session.

In late August, after Wolfeboro, we will move to Connecticut (Fairfield Country area) where Emily will continue working for Global Online Academy and I am will join the Greens Farms Academy (GFA) faculty as the 8th-grade science teacher and 8th-grade dean. I’m looking forward to learning a TON from working in the middle school, too. Side note: If you know of any cool apartments in the area that want to rent to us for ~6 months, please let us know :-).

We have (half-jokingly here) disappointed so many people with our next move. When they say, “What’s next?” and we respond, “Connecticut!” we have mostly just gotten blank stares and an, “Oh.” Ya I know – seems like it’s a bit of a downgrade. But we are so excited for all this next chapter has in store for us. And if we keep these lessons in mind we can make Connecticut just as exciting as Costa Rica (or at least close). So here’s to reconnecting, to exploring, to going on adventures, and to stretching.

Thank you, Costa Rica, and bring it on, Connecticut!

The Final Countdown – Beach Weekends

Montezuma (weekend of May 19th)

A few Fridays ago, Em and I headed to Montezuma on the tip of the Nicoya peninsula. The journey included a 1.5 hour car ride, a beautiful hour-long, sunset ferry ride, and another hour car ride. It was a beautiful start to the weekend (even though we almost missed the ferry).

IMG_4061

IMG_4060

IMG_4064

We stayed at an unbelievable Airbnb. If you ever find yourself in Montezuma, you MUST stay here. Our plan was to explore the beaches and do a waterfall hike. In the end, we barely left the property and the pictures will tell you why. There was an infinity pool, a yoga platform overlooking the ocean, and Buddha statues everywhere.

IMG_4149-EFFECTS

Heaven

IMG_4067

Sunrise view

IMG_4071

Morning reflections

IMG_4151

IMG_4093

Buddha

We stayed in our own little casita and the owner, Lokita, had a house on the property as well. The casita had a patio that was perfect for lounging and reading and relaxing. We spent the entire weekend reading, doing yoga, jumping in the pool, repeat. We left the property twice – to go get food.

Here is a quick video of the grounds and our peaceful casita (and the birthday boy).

We realized that most of our weekends are jam packed – we like to hike, meet up with people, and explore the area – so we rarely get to just chill and relax. We gave ourselves permission to just relax this weekend and it was fantastic.

IMG_4099-EFFECTS

This is where we (obviously) spent the majority of our time.

 

IMG_4083

Milo got to spend his 10th birthday sans-Zula on the perfect porch – he was pretty happy.

IMG_4117

Pura vida

The garden on the property was spectacular as well.

IMG_4104.jpg

While we were in Osa during Semana Santa, the howler monkeys were out of control. It felt like they were in bed with me from 2 am -4 am. I have regretted not taking a video ever since. So when the howlers were blessing us with their presence at 5 am on Saturday morning – I knew I had a chance to redeem myself. This isn’t as dramatic as it was in Osa but it gives you an idea of how loud and insane sounding howler monkeys are. Every time I think it’s the Black Smoke from Lost.

Manuel Antonio (Memorial Day Weekend)

Over Memorial Day weekend, Em and I headed to Manuel Antonio with our friend Callie. This is where we spent Thanksgiving with my parents and Jeff two years ago. We thought we would be back a handful of times but we hadn’t been back since – it felt like a great place to go for our last trip.

On Saturday, we headed into Manuel Antonio National Park for some hiking, wildlife, and swimming.

 

IMG_4194

IMG_4177

IMG_4189

Raccoon with a collar?

IMG_4191

Just hanging

IMG_4179

View after climbing 300 stairs

IMG_4183

Worth it

IMG_4178

Spirals of nature

FullSizeRender

IMG_4197

Heavenly

IMG_4200

Last beach selfie

After spending a few hours in the park we decided that, since we are adults, we can have cake for lunch. It was UNREAL.

IMG_4205

Treat yo self

IMG_4206

View from “lunch”

On Sunday, we found a hike right down the road from our Airbnb. The directions said to go to the river and there “may or may not be a trail.” Just “walk down the river for 30 minutes and you will arrive at a 30 ft waterfall.” What could go wrong? We had a blast and were so happy to have Milo and Zula running around, off leash. We were joined by 2 dogs from the neighborhood. Zula is still learning how to interact with other dogs so this was a huge win. She almost looked like she was having fun.

IMG_4218

Dog friends

IMG_4291

Siblings

IMG_4214

IMG_4289

Figuring it all out

 

IMG_4222

Green for days

 

IMG_4229

IMG_4235

Rewards

So – I hate heights. And I’m a huge baby when it comes to jumping off things. I wish I could blame the rope swing incident of 2001, but I was a weeny before that. However, the knowledge that we were leaving in 3 weeks gave me the courage to jump and I’m so glad I did. Conquering fears always feels good. I even climbed up and jumped a 2nd time.

IMG_4257

Launch moment

IMG_4255

IMG_4256

IMG_4263

Made it!

Em and Callie both jumped too – bravo. Sorry, I don’t have any documentation. Lots of stretch moments all around. Here is Em contemplating her jump:

IMG_4240

There was a rope swing at the waterfall but you can be damn sure I didn’t go on it. There was a couple at the waterfall and the guy asked if I was going to go on the rope swing. I told him no and that I had had a rope swing accident – when I showed him my arm he said that it was the most legit phobia he’d ever heard of. I agree.

For those of you who haven’t seen my deformed arm, I had a rope swing accident in 2001 that left my arm permanently weird. For example, I stood on the left side at our wedding so my “weird arm” wouldn’t be visible in pictures. Long story short, when I jumped off a rope swing at 15, the rope wrapped around my arm and I was hung by my arm for a good 5-10 seconds. There were lots of heroics on the part of my uncle Wally and somehow nothing broke or was dislocated. The ER had no idea what to do with me so they took some x-rays, gave me some Advil, and put it in a sling for a few weeks. The experience definitely taught me a lesson – don’t take risks and play it safe. Just kidding – but for real – that might be a little part of why I tend to prefer to be in control at ALL TIMES.

 

1929229_514207172695_7629_n.jpg

2001 – Here was my arm a few days after the accident. There are so many things wrong with this pic – the cut-off, the visor, the friendship bracelet necklace – adolescence is never kind.

So that’s it – 2 beautiful weekends away and a trip down memory lane.

We fly out 11 days from now and there is a lot to do between now and then – including selling our car which is not going well/not fun – but I know the time will fly by. Ed Sheeran concert tomorrow night which should be a blast.

We will write one more post as a final reflection on our 2 years here. But if you couldn’t already tell, we don’t regret a thing.

 

Early May Adventures

As I write, we are officially less than a month away from our move back to the States. Em is a little sick of my daily countdowns – but I guess we all process things differently. We have a lot coming up in the next few months – a summer session at Wolfeboro, lots of work travel for Em, a car search, an apartment hunt, a new school, reunions with friends and family (my dad will be home from Ghana for 3 weeks this summer!) – so it’s easy to look ahead. With that being said, this country is too beautiful, and the time with our CR family is too valuable, to wish away the days. We are trying to pack in as much as possible while also responsibly preparing for the next step. Fingers crossed.

One of the biggest lessons we hope to bring back from our time here is the sense of adventure. I can’t count the number of times we have hopped in the car and driven 5-6 hours for a weekend trip over the past two years. I can count, on one hand, the number of times we did that in the previous 7 years. This is a silly example but I keep using it; Em and I never went to Vermont together. VERMONT! Burlington is 3.5 hours from Boston and we just never got around to it. So our hope is to keep this going – to keep exploring, to keep learning, and to keep expanding our views and experiences. Again – fingers crossed.

Sam and Meg’s Visit – Turrialba

At the beginning of May, Em’s brother Sam and his girlfriend Meg came down for a hot second. They arrived Friday night and flew out Monday afternoon – they get huge props for making the trip. Over the course of the long weekend, we went white water rafting in what is known as one of the top rafting rivers in the world and then spent two nights at an incredible Airbnb. It was in a super remote part of the country, a 4×4 was ABSOLUTELY necessary for our arrival, and I never wanted to leave. It was one of the most comfortable places I have been in a long time. It was a farmhouse on a working farm and at the same time was extremely modern. Em and I now know the type of house we want to buy. The farmhouse was made for lounging and chatting and playing cards and we made sure to do plenty of all three.

The house also had a massive collection of hats and we made sure to wear those during most of our waking moments.

Thanks, Meg and Sam, for coming down and being our last visitors in Costa Rica. So happy you made it down.

IMG_3788

We survived rafting.

IMG_3797

Favorite pic of the trip

IMG_3841

crew

IMG_3846

Hats for days

IMG_3858

Can you tell they’re related?

IMG_3845

IMG_3842

Siblings

IMG_3831

Cuties

IMG_3833

Of course

 

IMG_3860

An intense game of Estes

 

IMG_3828

Hamlin trait – can nap anywhere

IMG_3810

Fancy breakfast

IMG_3814IMG_3813

IMG_3805

Turrialba erupting behind the house

 

FullSizeRender 2

Sunrise

 

IMG_3794

Perfection

The garden was absurd. Here is a sampling:

Weekend Away with Annie and Eduardo – Río Celeste

This past weekend we headed to Tenorio with our friends Annie and Eduardo (the couple who, in March, pulled off the most beautiful Costa Rican wedding of all time). Tenorio is home to Río Celeste. Río Celeste is known for its Gatorade Ice blue water. There are no filters on these pics – it is really that beautiful.

We stayed at a French lodge that had a breathtaking view over two volcanos and included delicious dinner and breakfast. When we were hiking we made sure to enjoy the scenery and then took advantage of the unique, extremely green accommodations while laughing, playing cards, and drinking wine late into the night. We did a quick hike on Sunday and ran into an anteater – so it was pretty much an A+ weekend. So happy we got to explore this part of the country and that we got to share it with such great company.

IMG_3901

Not a bad lunch spot

 

IMG_3899

Green on green on green

IMG_4010

Bon appetit

IMG_3997

Sunset

IMG_3912

Yikes bikes

IMG_3955

IMG_4014

Late night visitor

IMG_3979

IMG_3946

Seriously it was this blue

IMG_3922

IMG_3977

Taking it in

IMG_3973

IMG_3968

Normal river meets insane river

IMG_3963

Hopping the fence

IMG_3929

#crew

 

Since I started writing this post we have planned trips for some of our last weekends here – Montezuma and Manuel Antonio for sure – so at least the sadness of leaving is leading to good things.

When in Turrialba, we set our alarm for ~5:00 so we could watch the sunrise. Here I am taking it in (with the help of a warm blanket). Let this picture be a reminder of how precious these last 2 years were and how much more lies ahead.IMG_4043.JPG

April 2017 – Hikes, Cousins, and Semana Santa

Today marks the 3 month anniversary of Zula becoming a part of our family. For those of you who have worried about Milo’s transition out of “only dog” status – he is doing just fine.

IMG_3742.JPG

Bringing Zula into our family and training her has been a challenge and humbling – we don’t know her history and getting her to trust us is a slow but rewarding process. We also don’t know how old she is – somewhere between 1.5 and 3 years – so the fact that she could still be a puppy is not lost on us. There are some days where I am so frustrated with her and then remember how she was treated before we got her; she isn’t going to forget that in a few short months. Poco a poco. We hope she will chill out a little in the next few months before we fly with her back to the States.

Pico Blanco

A few weeks ago we did one of our favorite hikes in the area, Pico Blanco, and decided that Zula had proven herself enough to be allowed to come. When we hike, Milo knows enough to stay with us; he is too scared to ever go off the trail. But we didn’t know what Zula would be like. Would this be her opportunity to run away and never come back? We bribed her with tons of treats as we started and then let go of her leash (she dragged it behind her so we could catch her if need be). We were pleasantly surprised that she stayed with us and seems to like being a part of our family unit. We would lose sight of them for a few minutes (as they tore through the trails of the cloud forest) only to turn a corner and see her sitting, looking at us, wagging her tail, and checking in to make sure we were still there. I think we made the cut. We left feeling really proud of her (and ourselves) and happy that we are making progress. Here are some highlights:

FullSizeRender

IMG_2236

 

IMG_2253

IMG_2259

We made it to the top.

IMG_2258

Will behave for treats.

IMG_2260

IMG_2261

#foodpriorities

IMG_2280

IMG_2289

Beautiful view of the central valley

IMG_2293

Taking it in

IMG_2296

 

IMG_2303

Pretty steep drop off and hot dogs

 

IMG_2504 (1)

Slowly enjoying each other’s company

 

IMG_2311

#elevationsunday

Cousins in Costa Rica

At the beginning of April, 4 of the Nicholson cousins made their way down to Costa Rica to visit with us on the Pacific Coast. I have to say, when they first threw out the idea I thought, “Great – but no way they will pull it off.” But was I wrong. They flew in from Seattle, NYC, and Boston and we had an incredible weekend exploring, swimming, and laughing together. I can’t express how great it was to see them and how lucky I feel to have such an incredibly fun and loving extended family.

We hit 4 beaches in 3 days and each one was more beautiful than the next. One of my favorite moments was swimming at Playa Flamingo and getting absolutely CRUSHED by waves together. Other highlights include sting rays swimming around us as we watched the sunset, winning $7.50 at the casino, and staying at a great airbnb with the nicest caretaker on the planet. Here are some highlights:

IMG_0007

Crew

IMG_0008

IMG_0011

IMG_0017

Taking it in

IMG_0020

IMG_0021

Some Final Four action

IMG_0023

She left $50 up

IMG_0024

Kan Jam at Playa Hermosa

IMG_0026

IMG_0029

Kan Jam Enthusiasts

IMG_0030

Crew at sunset

IMG_0054

IMG_0034

“It’s the Italia!”

IMG_0032

Bfast at our airbnb

IMG_0033

Zula loved the airbnb – totally fenced in so she was a free dog all weekend.

IMG_0036

Playa Conchal

IMG_0037

IMG_0039

Cousins

IMG_0040

Playa Flamingo

IMG_0043

IMG_0046

One last selfie

IMG_0049

 

Semana Santa

For our last big trip before we moved back to the States, we decided to travel to the Osa Peninsula. It is the last place we really wanted to visit and a part of the country that we hadn’t yet explored. So last Saturday morning we dropped the dogs of at the Vet and Breakfast (where they would be treated like royalty for the week) and started our 7-hour drive down to Puerto Jimenez.

map-of-osa-peninsula-costa-rica-.jpg

IMG_2399

Reading about Osa while stuck in traffic

IMG_2401

Studying up on our Costa Rican wildlife

The vet & breakfast sent us a few pictures of Milo and Zula over the course of the week. While we worried about them at first these pictures confirmed that they were juuuust fine without us.

IMG_3740IMG_3741

Puerto Jimenez

Puerto Jimenez is a cute little town located on the Golfo Dulce (Sweet Gulf) – it is the most populated town on the Osa Peninsula with a population of ~2,000. We were so fortunate to have the opportunity to stay at a friend and former colleagues’ home in Puerto Jimenez. Yessenia and Eric were so generous to open their home to us (while they were stuck in Meriden, NH in the snow) and allow us to use it as a home base. We spent 2 days in Puerto Jimenez exploring Playa Preciosa, Playa Pan Dulce, and Playa Matapalo. Such a beautiful area and a great place to slow down and relax before the trek in Corcovado National Park.

IMG_3527

Playa Preciosa

IMG_3547

Sunset from the Puerto Jimenez estuary

IMG_3541

One morning we went horseback riding through the trails and on the beach in Playa Preciosa.

IMG_3561

IMG_3565

IMG_3581

 

IMG_3583.jpg

Favorite picture ever

 

IMG_3594

Not a bad view

IMG_3609

Playa Pan Dulce

IMG_3617

Playa Matapalo

Spirits were high after this incredible day and then we ran into some car trouble. I will spare you the details here and separate out a little blurb about this experience at the end, but it revolves around us getting too excited about monkeys and basically destroying the transmission.

IMG_3631

The nicest strangers of all time – 6 km tow, on a dirt road

IMG_3738

See you later – our car getting a 350 km ride back to our mechanic in Escazú

 

Corcovado

After spending a few days getting to know the area, we prepared for our 3 day/2 night trek in Corcovado National Park. Corcovado is home to 2.5% of all of Costa Rica’s biodiversity and it didn’t disappoint.

We started by taking a 2-hour taxi ride to Carate and hiking 3.5 km to La Leona station where we checked in. From there we did the 16 km from Leona to Sirena where we stayed for the next 2 nights. Let me say – this first day was beautiful but so challenging. Walking about 20 kilometers, many of those in blistering heat on the shadeless beach, combined with heavy packs was grueling at times. Despite being much flatter than a lot of our hikes this year, heat and sun were not to be underestimated. I don’t think I have ever sweat that much in my life.

corcovado.gif

Some highlights from that first day:

IMG_3691

IMG_3635

 

IMG_3658

just keep swimming…

 

 

IMG_4118

IMG_3659

IMG_3653

Pretty much sums up how delirious we were after an hour walking on the beach (at noon)

 

IMG_3654

Enough complaining – it wasn’t that bad

 

IMG_3664

 

IMG_2419

Final river crossing before Sirena (there are often reports of crocodile and bull shark sightings here). A fun fact to learn after we crossed.

 

IMG_3669

Bunks at Sirena

IMG_3680

IMG_3681

Sirena outpost

IMG_4187

Arriving back at Sirena on our 2nd day

We arrived that night in time to unpack and walk a kilometer down to the beach for sunset. It didn’t disappoint.

IMG_3673

IMG_4167

The second day we hiked 10 km around Sirena to look for wildlife. We saw SO many animals including a tapir and her baby. Pretty cool.

Our guide Michael was super knowledgeable, friendly, and put up with our attempts to speak with him in Spanish.IMG_3689

IMG_3685

Here is a compilation of some of the animals we saw over the three days:

IMG_4200

Favorite pic of the trip – sloth and her baby

IMG_3718

Monkeys for days

IMG_4097

IMG_4255

IMG_4138

IMG_4114

Scarlet macaws are everywhere

IMG_3639

White-nosed Coati eating some bananas

IMG_4125

IMG_4134

Collared anteater

IMG_4136

Golden Orb spider

IMG_4153

Beautiful trogon

IMG_4146

IMG_4180

Caiman

IMG_4183

Great Guan

IMG_4197

Orange-collared Manakin

IMG_4206

Tapir!

IMG_4231

IMG_4235

IMG_4239

White Collared Peccary

IMG_3735

Our crit list!

IMG_3736IMG_3737

On our last morning we were up at 4:30 to start the 20k trek to Los Patos. As we entered the forest, this was the scene around us. The third day was all in the lush forest – fairly flat for the first 13k and then pretty steep for the last bit.

 

IMG_3698

Let’s do this.

 

There were a few rivers crossing on our last day and one of them involved a free pedicure. I was expecting a sucker type fish so was a little thrown when they were actually doing some gentle biting.

IMG_3731

IMG_2412

IMG_3723

We ended at Los Patos around 12:30 on Wednesday feeling exhausted but also extremely proud. We did 50k in 3 days and felt like we were able to take in not only the incredible wildlife but the vegetation and primary forest around us. Definitely a once in a lifetime experience.

Drake Bay

Before heading back to Santa Ana we headed to the other side of Osa to Drake Bay with our friends Erica and Ravis. They were also exploring Puerto Jimenez and were nice enough to let us attach ourselves to the end of their vacation (since we were now carless). We took on the nutty road (30k dirt road) to Bahía Drake and that afternoon hiked on a really neat trail to a secluded beach for sunset before enjoying some of the best food I’ve had in a long time.

IMG_2432

IMG_2434

IMG_2436

 

IMG_2440

Questionable hanging bridge, great company

 

 

IMG_2442

Perfection

 

IMG_2452

 

 

IMG_2461

Nom nom nom – margaritas, pizza con, and pesto.

 

 

 

IMG_2469

Drake Bay Airbnb porch perfection

 

Just to end the trip with one more curve ball we got a flat tire on our way out of Drake Bay. The 9-hour ride back was pretty brutal but we were all closer at the end – we’d have it no other way.

We move back to the States 2 months from tomorrow. Really hard to believe. Excited for our last visitors – Em’s brother Sam and his gf Meg – to come down in a few weeks and to also soak in the last moments with our Costa Rican family.

 

On generosity and kindness:

Though we intentionally tried to minimize the car trouble saga in this post, it is easier to do in writing than it was in the moment.

The car trouble we had on our first full day of vacation was a constant, nagging threat to the “vacation vibes” we were going for. Car trouble seems to have a way of bearing additional car trouble fruits as you try to get back up and running, you know? (ex. “Oh no, our car won’t move!…oh no, we’re on one of the most isolated roads of all time and have no cell service!.. oh no, the sun is setting!…oh no, it’s Sunday of Semana Santa, the most important religious holiday of the year and there are no tow trucks or mechanics open!…oh no, we wanted to sell this car in a month and the part we need to fix it is $$$ and will take a month to ship from the states!…Oh no, how will we get around for a month?!” Yeah, thanks for letting us indulge in some of those dets– it’s cathartic.)

BUT, overshadowing the logistics and problem-solving was our overwhelming gratitude for the boundless generosity and kindness strangers showed us in a circumstance where —  all parties knew–  we would never see one another again, let alone return the favor someday. For example, a sampling of the acts of kindness:

  • The first car that passed us on the side of the road stopped
  • Despite having a car full of hungry children in wet bathing suits, they towed us back to town and remained with us for three hours, well into dinner time, on a holiday. When we insisted that they’d done enough and we could manage the rest on our own, one of the parents said, “No, you know this is good and it’s important for our kids to see this. This is a lesson: if you see people in need, you have to help.”
  • A mechanic came out of his house as we limped by and spent over an hour under our car on the side of the road, fishing parts and pieces out if his garage, trying to identify the problem. Neighbors and friends came out of their houses and did the same. He followed us to our house to continue working on the car and seemed startled when we compensated him for his time and work. On a holiday.
  • When we were finally towed back to the house we stayed at, our friends Erica and Ravis came right over and took us to the grocery store so we could be prepared for our 5am departure to Corcovado.
  • A few days later, when E & R came to the rescue again and were driving us all back to San Jose, their car got a flat tire on a road even worse than the road we broke down on, ELEVEN people stopped to help until we were safely on our way.

In a time where, frankly, it’s pretty easy to feel pessimistic and skeptical about the state of our world and feel uncertain about the goodness of people, an experience like this one is a real booster shot of optimism, reminded of the benevolence we’re all capable of and the impact that can have. We’re all capable of doing a little more, a little more often. So, with that, here’s a promise to look for more opportunities to pay this one forward.

And, also to buy one of these.

Pura Vida.

K & Em

PS – The Vet and Breakfast just dropped Milo and Zula back with us and along with them came this magical magnet. These people are the best.FullSizeRender.jpg

Winter Highlights – Waterfalls and a Wedding

Now that we know we are moving back to the states in June, we are trying to appreciate every moment we have here in Costa Rica. I am currently writing on my porch in shorts and a tank top. Meanwhile, my mom sent me this picture from NH. We are hoping that if we soak in enough warmth/sun now it will make next winter in CT a little more bearable. We shall see. It works that way, right?IMG_3402.JPG

Bajos del Toro with Lacey and Stewart

At the end of February, Lacey and Stewart came down to visit and I met them in Bajos del Toro. Em was in the states for Grandma’s 90th birthday (I was bummed to miss everyone and Em was bummed to miss Lacey and Stewart). I had heard a lot about Bajos del Toro and told them that would be a good place for us to go since they are into hiking. Little did I know that I asked them to meet me in one of the most remote towns in the country – there are 1.5 convenience stores and 2 bars/restaurants in the town. I was nervous at first but it turns out that this was just the scene we were looking for. We did some karaoke in town on Saturday night and enjoyed hours of hiking and swimming during the days.

233.jpg

This was the only remnant of our karaoke night (it started as us stopping in for 1 drink and end 3 hours later having had 4 rounds bought for us). This dude had an incredible voice and serenaded us throughout the night. Lacey and my rendition of “Twist and Shout” didn’t bring the house down as we thought it might.

On Saturday we went to Catarata Tesoro Escondito which is home to unbelievably blue water. We spent the morning in awe of the color and plunging into the icy cold water. I don’t think I’ve been in water that cold before (or maybe I’m just spoiled because I’ve been swimming in the Pacific/Caribbean for two years). Some highlights (FYI – this is the actual color of the water, no filters used):

165

158

Before our swim

150

163

 

170

Plunging into the ice depths

174

#roommates

191

IMG_2943

After refueling with our 3rd casado (we pretty much had casado for all 6 meals) of the weekend, we headed to Catarata del Toro to get some stair training in. This was an enormously powerful waterfall that required us to walk down (and then up) ~400 steep, concrete stairs. Well worth the trek. The Pilsens we packed to enjoy at the bottom of the stairs were hugely helpful in keeping our spirits high for the hike back up.

208

209

View from the top – pre-400 stairs.

217

IMG_2976

IMG_2981

So many colors and textures

The next morning (after the infamous karaoke night) we headed to Paraíso Manantiales which was a spectacular trail that brought us by 8 waterfalls and ended on a orange rock ridden river.

249

We had to cross this questionable hanging bridge and Milo was having none of it. So I treated him like the baby he is.

IMG_2986

IMG_2993

Making our way down to the river

252

Made it

IMG_3033

264

Colby in Costa Rica

262

IMG_3004

Heaven

IMG_3017 2

IMG_3030

275

Right before I ran into a snake

So I was minding my own business – walking with Milo toward the 7th and 8th waterfalls – when I stopped to take it all in. The sun was shining, the grass was green, it couldn’t get any better. We kept walking, I looked to the left, and saw this MASSIVE and DISGUSTING black snake outstretched and sunning itself. It was at least 2 feet long and so gross. I turned, called Milo (who is too dopey to have noticed) and started screaming, “HUGE SNAKE. HUGE SNAKE (super original).” Needless to say, we didn’t get to the 7th and 8th waterfalls. I was thrown for a while – it was my first Costa Rican snake encounter in the wild (other than seeing them coiled up in a tree). I didn’t know what kind it was or whether it could kill us so I was pretty much done exploring by the river. We ran into the man from karaoke (see first picture) on our walk out and he said not to worry it was just a black milk snake and that he has them in his bed all the time. Gross.

I had such a great time connecting with Lacey and Stewart and laughing, and laughing, and laughing. They share my preference for being in the middle of nowhere with not a person in sight so it was perfect. Our airbnb had a great little porch where we read, enjoyed cervezas, and caught up. For less than 48 hours together we packed a lot in.

Photo credit to Lacey for most of these pictures. She was one of “those” tourists with a camera around her neck the whole time but it was totally worth it.

Annie and Eduardo’s Wedding

Two of our good friends from here in Costa Rica got married last weekend in Samara. Every moment was stunning and such a beautiful representation of who they are together and of the lives that brought them to where they are. It took place at the all-inclusive, beach front resort where they got engaged last year. Gorgeous.

Friday night everyone met up on the beach for a pre-wedding day drinks.

IMG_3231

Beautiful tradition in Annie’s family. The kids, when fighting, had to sit back-to-back and say/yell what they love about each other. Modified by Annie’s older brothers to embarrass them in front of everyone at the wedding.

IMG_3241

Sunset drinks

IMG_3247

Calm before the storm

The day of the wedding everyone spent time enjoying the area and taking in some sun. Em and I went for a long beach walk, swam in the ocean, napped on the shore, and spent a solid amount of time in the pool enjoying the swim up bar. A+ day.

The ceremony on the beach was stunning.

IMG_3249

Heading to the ceremony. I swear other people had drinks, too.

IMG_3253

IMG_3252

Waiting for the big moment

IMG_3255

Scene of the crime.

There was a cocktail hour on the beach followed by sending off Chinese lanterns with well-wishes for Annie and Eduardo.

IMG_3258

CDS Crew

IMG_3297

IMG_3262

IMG_3269

Groomsmen

IMG_3309

IMG_3298

IMG_3340

Congrats to Annie and Eduardo for pulling off an incredible weekend. We wish you a lifetime of happiness and can’t wait to keep the celebration going!

Upcoming Adventures

  • Looking forward to getting dinner with Voyles next week who is here on vacation with a grad school friend (couldn’t make it work for the weekend, unfortunately).
  • Nicholson cousin extravaganza next weekend – Ross, Tess, Kevin, Leah, and Willa will be blessing Costa Rica with their presence. Can’t wait to play in the waves with those fools. Hoping to recreating some of this as well.11009973_818527582155_8701924559055431707_n.jpg
  • Em and I are heading to the Osa Peninsula for Semana Santa. We’ll be doing a 3 day, 2 night trek in the rain forest. Osa is the most undeveloped part of Costa Rica and home to Corcovado National Park. Hoping to see wildlife we haven’t seen yet. Huge shout out for Eric and Yessenia for letting us stay at their place. #kuaprideforlife

That’s about it. Hard to believe that in less than 3 months we will be in Wolfeboro and back on the shores of Rust Pond. Hope everyone up North is surviving the winter. Hang in there.

K

January and February Updates

Suddenly we are four months from the end of our time in Costa Rica. A more reflective (and sappy) post will be coming shortly. For now, however, here is a photo recap of the last few months of adventures.

After the winter stomach bug debacle we decided to take a long weekend to Arenal before I headed back to school. We stayed on the quieter side of the lake and did some exploring of the trails and caves. It was beautiful and so, so windy.

img_2273

This guy welcomed us to our Airbnb on our first night.

img_2280

View from our Airbnb

img_2281

Em had to work that Friday so I took off on a waterfall hike. It was spectacular – here are some highlights.

img_2288

img_2292

img_2294

img_2299

img_2301

I was the only one there – it rocked.

img_2303

img_2305

img_2315

img_2322

img_2328

img_2332

No – thank you

img_2333

img_2334

img_2336

img_2337

img_2339

img_2342

img_2343

Introducing – Zula

You may have seen this video that went viral last year of a Costa Rican dog park. It has ~900 stray dogs and you can go frolick with them for free on the weekends. We found a time that worked and headed that way with some CDS friends. It was as perfect as it looks.

img_2402

The Alpha

img_2425

Dogs everywhere

img_2413

img_2436

Lots of kisses

img_2420

We can’t even handle how exciting this is

img_2438

img_2442

img_2448

Take note of the dog on the left… yup, you know where this is headed…

img_2453

img_2461

img_2462

img_2469

img_2471

img_2485

img_2492

AND the view was beautiful

So that was Saturday morning. On the way there Em and I had the, “There is no way we are coming home with another dog” conversation. Anyway, Sunday afternoon we drove back and picked up Zula (as we have named her). She was the most submissive dog there and really seemed overwhelmed by the number of dogs (we are projecting that on her to make ourselves feel better about being impulsive). She had been abandoned and tied to a church a month earlier and had been at the Territorio de Zaguates ever since. Our time with Zula started as a foster situation; if she got along with Milo we would keep her for a week and see how it went. That went well so the idea is that we will foster her for 5 months (cause 5 months with us is better than 5 months there) and see where we end up. And now we are pretty sure we are bringing 2 dogs with us back to the states. All we need is to buy another Subaru and we’re back in the game. Milo isn’t sure what he thinks yet but he’s being a champ.

She’s the best. Very sweet. Very smart. Very eager to gain our love. She is ~2.5 years old (the cone is from us getting her neutered). We can’t wait for everyone to meet her. We are being crazy dog people and obsessively watching dog training videos and training her (thanks, Doggy Dan). We all know how well Milo listens so we’re trying to get this one right.

img_2508

img_2519

img_2532

img_2537

img_2587

Women’s March

There was a small women’s march in San José that we got involved in. We went to town making signs and loved seeing all the creative ways people were able to express their desire for empathy, understanding, and kindness. There needs to be a whole other post for my thoughts around the election but that will have to wait; I don’t have the energy at the moment. My new favorite past time is trolling Trump on twitter so feel free to follow me there at @k_nicholson.

img_2551

img_2553

img_2563

img_2550

img_2567

img_2565

img_2566

Shout out to the CDS mantra from 2015-2016

img_2558

We ran into a CDS student at the march. He rocks.

img_2569

Connected with teachers from one of the other schools in the area.

img_2579

COSTA RICA-US-POLITICS-TRUMP-INAUGURATION-PROTEST

img_2560

Past Weekend with Alyssa

Em’s childhood best friend, Alyssa, made the trek down to Costa Rica to soak in the sun with us. We ventured to Rincon de la Vieja and Nosara and along the way laughed and laughed and laughed and ate our way through the most delicious restaurants on the coast.

We spent our first day in the Rincon de la Vieja national park hiking and enjoying a mud bath and natural hot springs.

img_1989

Hanging by some volcanic activity

img_1991

Taking it all in

img_2003

Beware: I took too many selfies

img_2009

img_2012

img_2024

Reenacting their high school year book photo

img_2052

Mud princesses

img_2057

Perfection

img_2064

img_2068

img_2075

On our second day we headed to my favorite beach in Costa Rica (Playa Penca). We were the only ones there for the first 30 minutes and the water is the most perfect green/blue you’ve ever seen. After a 15 minute bumpy ride and a 10 minute walk down you reach this oasis.

img_2757

No one for miles

img_2743

img_2732

img_2738

The water is (always) calling her

img_2750

#1 man

img_2756

img_2767

Lunch on the way out of town

After lunch we made the 3 hour ride to Nosara and our car (somehow) survived with no flat tires. The first afternoon/night there we took in the sunset at Playa Guiones. Here is the progression of that beautiful night:

img_7809

img_7812

img_7818

img_7822

img_7823

After a 2nd serving of tune poke (DELICIOUS) at dinner (10pies – nom nom nom) we headed to bed early to prepare for our surf lesson that next morning.

We only have one picture from the surf session and it’s from before we went. This pretty accurately sums up how everyone was feeling.

IMG_2771.JPGEveryone survived and even though we couldn’t lift our arms the next day it was a blast. We had one Blue Crush moment where we all were surfing the same wave so that will go down as a top 10 life moment.

After a late afternoon walk on the beach we headed to the best restaurant in Nosara to celebrate our last night together with many courses and refreshing cocktails.

img_2782

img_2790

I can picture this power crew roaming the halls back in 1995.

img_2793

img_2810

Sunset cocktails

We are so grateful that Alyssa spent some of her valuable time off to come visit us!

Finally, this trip came after a hectic couple of weeks as Em and I tried to decide our next step. In the end, we have decided to move back to the Northeast (for now) as I accepted a job as 8th grade science teacher and 8th grade dean at Greens Farms Academy (Westport, CT). I can’t wait to join a community that felt so welcoming, committed, and driven from the first moment I stepped on campus.

We will be back on the shores of Rust Pond this summer at Wolfeboro before we relocate to the GFA area.

That’s it for now. Four more months of sunshine to soak in!

K

Winter Break – States and Staycation

Winter break always comes at the perfect time. As most educators have experienced, it’s the time of year where you are sick of the kids, they are sick of you, and you can handle about one more day, and then, magically, you have a long break. You come back and everyone loves each other again. It’s superb. Well done, schools, well done.

Winter break has been especially nutty the past 2 years as I have almost 4 weeks off because of the Costa Rican calendar. This can be a bit tough because Em’s schedule doesn’t match up with mine but she can take some vacation days and we make it work. This year we decided to head back to the states for a brief trip (12/17-12/26) to see friends and family and then spend the rest of the time exploring the beautiful country that we currently call home.

As many of you know, I am an overplanner. I want to pack in as much as possible all the time. Which means that even a small deviation from the plan can throw everything for a loop. Enter Copa Airlines.

Long story short – we arrived at the airport 2 hours early for our 8 am flight from San José to Boston. After waiting in the line for 2 hours (all the while being told we will absolutely make our flight) we got to the counter to find out that we don’t, in fact, have seats and that the next flight out is the following day. This is not going to work. That night we had planned on having dinner with my mom in Boston and then sharing a hotel room so that we could get some quality time together. This is especially important when you see each other only a few times a year. Em did some impressive negotiating to get us on a flight that day but instead of arriving in Boston at 5:30 pm we arrived at 12:30 am which, obviously, meant no dinner or QT. Bummer. We complained about it enough on social media at the time so we’ll stop it there. Luckily we live ~25 minutes from the San José airport so we got a few extra hours of sun in before our new flight but it was still wicked annoying.

img_1865

The view from the pool at our apartment after going to the airport once. Not a bad place to wait out a couple hours before our new flight.

img_1867

Landing in Atlanta (before going onto Boston). Does this really help anyone’s flying anxiety?

After getting to our hotel at 1:30 am and getting out our final feelings of hate toward Copa (we’re over it, can’t you tell?), we got ready for a jam packed day on Sunday. The Nicholson crew, once again, rallied around our arrival and had a pre-Christmas get together so we could see everyone. Thanks to everyone for such an incredible effort. We are so lucky.

I’d like to point out that my family’s commitment to the Patriots is not to be underestimated. Pats played at 4:25 that day so the reunion was over by 3:00 so everyone could be settled for kick off.

15625598_10211374975391632_1870680498072170895_o

15578027_10211374980671764_895290198535831578_o

My wonderful family (and the creepy snowman)

15493323_10211374972471559_6241018527477141993_o

My dad’s in Ghana so I decided to bring him with us and tease him with some Dom’s steak tips

15591528_10211374975191627_710787106898492352_o

Gang’s all here.

15626445_10211374974591612_4165755531200484225_o

Maybe I can convince them to come back to the East Coast.

Later that night we got together with the Colby crew. Three of my best friends in the world – Reg, T, and Jax – cleared their schedules to do a Sunday night sleep over. We spent some time with the significant others (we missed you, Matt!), and watched the Pats smoke the Broncos, and then the 4 of us went out to dinner to catch up. The night ended with us watching a 45 minute DVD I made in the spring of our senior year of college. I’m happy to report that we all have our lives together much more than we did from 2004-2008.

20 hours together was way too short but was still enough to tide me over until we all get together again. So thankful for these 3 (and their significant others).

img_1895

Since 2004

img_1905

Freezing while we walk to breakfast.

img_1894

Since 2001

I also got to spend time with other friends from Rivers and grad school. I probably tried to fit too much in but there are too many people that mean so much to us and being in Boston without seeing them feels wrong. There was not enough time to see everyone and I hope to connect with even more people next time we’re back.

One day I was able to spend time with my former colleague and close friend, Maureen, and we walked from Harvard through Central to the Charles. Boston is breathtaking (even when it’s 15 degrees).

img_1909

img_1911

Huge shout out to Em and Sam and MC and Katy for hosting us in our whirlwind trip. SO great to spend some quality time with you guys. We miss you tons!

After our quick trip in Boston, we boarded a bus and made our way to NYC. We had a plan to go out to dinner with Emily’s brothers and their significant others to celebrate Charlie and Courtney’s engagement (we weren’t able to celebrate with everyone when it happened in October). Dinner turned into karaoke turned into 2 am. Highlights include: All I Want for Christmas is You, Creep, and Tubthumping. No one felt great the next day but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

img_1921

Reindear muffs

fullsizerender-4

Calm before the storm

img_1933

Central Park

FullSizeRender 6.jpg

img_1940

Crew

img_2037

Dopey Hamlins

img_2043

img_1983

img_2021

The next day we made our way to New Jersey to spend a few days with the Hamlins. After a fantastic dinner the first night and lots of laughs over our new favorite board game, Code Names, we took a turn for the worse. We ruined Christmas Eve by being in bed and getting sick ALL day so that the 8 lobsters Em’s mom got for dinner that night were consumed by 4 guests (2 stayed away since we brought the plague to Pennington). We were able to get up for Christmas day but went way too hard at Christmas dinner and ended up being in bed again all day on the 26th (and having to push our flight to the next day). We feel terrible about ruining Christmas but everyone else escaped (for the most part).

IMG_2080.JPG

One of my favorite gifts – a manta band with the GC mantra.

Because of the fiasco on the way to Boston we were upgraded to business class on the way back. There is no better time to have an upgrade than when you’re feeling sick. It almost made the whole disaster on the way to the states worth it.

img_2088

Business lounge before the flight

img_2097

Look at all that leg room!

img_2106

Home sweet home

 

We had planned to go to the Osa Peninsula upon our return to Costa Rica. However, we felt like we weren’t 100% and had to cancel the trip (don’t worry – we’re going back in April). We decided to do a stayvaction instead. We took advantage of the fact that Em had a 4 day weekend for New Years and hit the beach twice, did a spa day, and hiked in one of the nearby National Parks. Here are some highlights:

img_2125

img_2128

img_2134

img_2147

img_2155

img_2164

img_2169

img_2171

Found a screen saver while hiking

img_2175

img_2178

img_2181

img_2191

img_2192

img_2198

img_2224

Lizard welcoming us to the spa

img_2233

View from our massages

img_2234

Quick stop at the croc bridge on the way to the beach

img_2242

Back to the beach we go

img_2243

img_2246

Finally using our hammock

img_2248

Lastly, we were in our apartment watching a movie at 11:50 on New Year’s Eve when we decided we had to stop being 100 years old and go ring in the new year. So we went up to our pool, which looks over the Central Valley, and saw this (video below). There must have been, no joke, 200 different firework displays going off. The video quality is awful but anywhere you see a flash is a different group setting off fireworks. It was unreal. We went back to our apartment at 12:15 and the fireworks were still going full force. Costa Rica knows how to do it.

That’s about it. I have another week off so we’ll see how much I can bug Em while she’s working. We’re going away to Arenal this weekend which will be fantastic and on the weekdays I’ll be stalking schools as the job search picks up. Fingers crossed.

Happy 2017, everyone.

K

October and November – where has the time gone?

I knew that year 2 would come with a bit of a slow down with blog updates and reflections but I didn’t expect it to be this drastic. I think part of this is a good thing; we are more acclimated and feeling like this is home (for the time being). At the same time, year 2 of a 2 year contract comes with a different vibe as we have to consider whether or not we will head back to the States (for good) in June. We are still looking for options and batting around pros and cons – so stay tuned.

With that being said, a lot has happened in the last two months. Em’s aunt Maryann visited from NYC, I turned the big 3-1, my aunt and uncle, Mary and Jay, visited from Montana, we went away for Thanksgiving (our first holiday without any other family), and we continued to live our lives and enjoy the moments we have here.

This will be a mostly photo blog (which I think is what most of you want anyway!). Enjoy.

I had a long weekend in October and Em’s aunt Maryann visited from NYC. We were fortunate enough to stay with her at the Four Seasons in Papagayo (somewhere we hadn’t been yet) and zip lined, lounged in luxury, and had a great time catching up with her. Here are some highlights. A once in a lifetime long weekend to say the least.

img_1149

Zip lining adventure

img_1165

Super thrilled about the beach

img_1172

Heaven

img_1201

img_1212

img_1217

img_1225

img_1232

What a spoiled little Four Seasons pup

img_1252

early morning hermit crabs

One thing we have noticed is that we haven’t been getting out and hiking as much as our first year. I blame laziness, great out-of-town trips, and an increased ability to find craft beer. With that being said, one Sunday we jumped in the car and headed to Braulio Carrillo National Park – a place that we have driven through a half dozen times but never explored. Callie, Em, and I strapped on our hiking sandals and trekked through this beautiful forest.

img_1317

Cheesing for days

img_1307

Spider friends

img_1309

Green on green on green

img_1321

No words

img_1323

We took a questionable “path” to this river. No snake bites so we’re calling it a win.

img_1326

Nature’s textures.

img_1330

Callie catching a free ride

At the beginning of November I turned the big 3-1. Not as scary as 3-0 but still making progress. When Em asked what I wanted to do I said,” Pizza and cards” (which shouldn’t surprise any of my family members after the summers spent at the cottage). And man did Em and friends pull through. Low key and tons of laughs even if there wasn’t a ton of winning. #CostaRicanfamily

img_1341

We miss you, Tara!

img_1345

Bday crew (minus a few!)

img_1346

Most delicious cake

img_1357

Em and I played tennis at our apartment the night of my actual birthday. I was able to take it all in and appreciate where we are and the beauty around us. Thank you, Costa Rica for slowing me down.

In the middle of November I took a long weekend when my aunt and uncle visited from Montana and we had such a blast catching up. We explored a variety of beaches and spent some important QT together. They were up for everything – off roading, river crossings, mud baths, hikes, learning new card games, coffee liquor, and so much more. What an unforgettable trip!

img_1485

We were able to join Mary and Jay at their beautiful time share – thanks for having us!

img_1371

“sand” at Playa Conchal

img_1390

Family

img_1384

What a day

img_1381

sneaky incredible view

img_1391

our own private beach – Playa Penca

img_1393

fullsizerender-38

Got home just in time for this

fullsizerender-14

Rincon de la Vieja – volcanic activity

img_1425

fullsizerender-34

img_1447

Rope swing arm out in full force

fullsizerender-19

Mandatory artsy bridge pic

img_1449

Mud baths (note the grey hair!)

img_1459

Preparing the mud – my ring survived (don’t worry)

img_1458

 

img_1460

Doing work

img_1468

img_1473

Can barely move our faces to smile

img_1476

Paradise

img_1481

#Nicholsons

Right after our trip with Mary and Jay, Em traveled to Seattle for a GOA retreat. It is always great for her to get together in “real time” with her colleagues. Unfortunately this trip lined up with the USA vs. CR game in San José. I was so excited to head to the National Stadium (as we hadn’t been) but bummed that she couldn’t join us. The US got smoked 4-0 and it was so fun to be in that environment with such avid and loyal fans.

img_1515

The crew

img_1491

What a venue

img_1508

#patnation

img_1513

img_1532

#Ticosscored #crowdgoeswild

Most recently, Em and I traveled to the southern part of the Nicoya Peninsula (another place on our bucket list) and stayed in Santa Teresa for a 4 day Thanksgiving break. It was hard being away from our families for the first time on a holiday (a first for both of us) but we loved exploring, being together, and slowing down. We spent a lot of time at the beaching, tried surfing again, and just relaxed. We can’t complain.

Here are way too many pictures of the beach – but I can’t narrow it down!

f2

Ferry sunset

f3

15 minutes later

img_1706

b6

b4

b5

My #1 man

surf2

surf

surf3

Trying out surfing – way more terrifying than it looks. #smallestwavesever #istillcouldntgetup

h3

Milo holding down the fort at our airbnb

m1

m2

m3

Massive drift wood

m4

m6

m7

m8

m9

m10

m11

m12

m13

m14

img_1716

Beach art – so many colors

So there you have it. We head back to the states from 12/17-12/26 and we are hoping to catch up with a ton of friends and family. Lots to be thankful for these days.

Pura vida,

K

 

 

Travels in Panama and Tortugero

We’ve been back in Costa Rica for a little under 2 months now and a lot of our time has been spent adjusting to a new campus, moving apartments (and downsizing in a BIG way), doing some day trips, reconnecting with friends, and then taking two really wonderful trips to Panama and Tortugero. There are still things on our bucket list in Costa Rica and we are in the 2nd year of a 2 year contract down here. That doesn’t necessarily mean that our time is coming to an end but that we have a decision to make. So what better approach to take than, “It’s now or never.” Hopefully we can keep it up.

On our first few weeks back we did some exploring in the area. We went to the wind turbines in Santa Ana which was really neat. It was quite the trip to get up there. Well done, car. There wind turbines supply energy for over 12,000 homes a year. Read more about them here.

img_0671

They weren’t kidding.

img_0663

Overlooking the Central Valley

IMG_0646.jpg

Another weekend we went to University for Peace in Ciudad Colon and hiked in the trails. This is where we went with 20 other new staff members our first weekend here last year. It was fun to reminisce about that trip and all that we have learned and experienced since moving here a year ago. A little dog (that we named “Dee”) joined us at the beginning of the hike, went all the way to the end with us, and turned around and walked us to our car. She and Milo were close friends and we were tempted to scoop her up and bring her home with us.

img_0739

img_0748

University for Peace

We had a 4 day weekend in the middle of September to celebrate Costa Rican Independence Day. Em and I took the opportunity to travel to Bocas del Torro in Panama. It was quite the trek but we had some great travel buddies to keep us company. We stayed at an incredible airbnb. It’s in the middle of nowhere but it was truly heaven on earth. If you are interested in going here’s the link for the place.

I chose a few of my favorite pictures to share and the rest are in the video I made which is posted below.

img_0796

Our travel buddies – shout out for waking up at 4am and beating the traffic. Here we are walking over the Panama/Costa Rica border.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR1014.

What a cutie

GOPR0928.jpg

img_0902

I finally got my act together and started using the GoPro that Em got me for my graduation from grad school and put together a video of pictures and videos from our trip. Check it out here: Our Panama Video.

One of the big things on Em’s bucket list in Costa Rica was to see turtles. There is a specific season (~June-October) where you can see them on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica in Tortugero National Park. This fall has been busy with moving and getting settled and so we found one weekend that would work. We made the trek for one night, 1.5 days (which in retrospect was crazy) but we crammed a lot in and loved every second of it.

To get to Tortugero you have to take an hour long boat ride to the town where there are no cars (it was the best). So we spent time walking through the town, went in the beautiful pool at the lodge, walked on the beach to look for baby turtles, ate a ton of rice and beans, went on a night walk to see turtles, and got up for the 5:30 morning ride through the canals of the National Park. While we were delirious on our bus ride back we realized we were there for less than 24 hours.

Tangent: The reason I hadn’t used my GoPro a lot was because it was glitchy and would freeze sometimes. I got it working in Panama which was great. I also got it working for half our trip in Tortugero and felt like I learned some things from Panama and was excited to make another video. I was excited to captured our Tortugero trip in that way too. Near the end of the trip it froze and wouldn’t do anything. When I got home I was trouble shooting with no success. So I tried updating the software (as recommended on the website) and it froze during that too. And deleted my entire SD card (and therefore all my shots from Tortugero). So there were tears. And I’m still bitter. Luckily we had taken pictures on Em’s nice camera as well as on our phones. It obviously doesn’t change the fantastic trip we had I was just looking forward to making another video so we could always make it come to life. Tangent over.

Here are some pics from our boat ride to Tortugero. I’m so impressed with the way the boat drivers navigated those massive boats through a shallow, windy canal. Made me miss the days of driving our 15 horsepower rowboats from Danforth to Ossipee Lake. #glorydays #cousins.

IMG_1094.JPG

IMG_3822.jpg

Can’t stop won’t stop.

img_1011img_1009-1

img_1020

Safety first

img_1024

Then the canals open up to this

Here are some shots from the lodge where we stayed.

img_1042

Lunch time buddy

img_1035

Beach for days

img_1083img_1085

That afternoon we headed into town to explore and then walked back on the beach to look for baby turtles. No luck on the turtle front but the sunset was beautiful.

img_1045

Heading to town

img_1055

Turtles!

img_1047

Ready for our sunset baby turtle hunt

img_3849

Tracks from a momma making her way back after laying eggs the night before.

img_3856img_3861img_1074

That night we went on a night tour to look for momma turtles laying eggs on the beach. We dressed in all black, left all electronic devices at home, and were silent. We were real ninjas. We saw 3 Green Sea turtles heading back to the beach from laying eggs – they were HUGE. Like at least 5 feet long huge. We also saw a turtle laying eggs… and she happened to do it on a preexisting nest. So as she laid eggs baby turtles were crawling out and trying to run for their lives. We saw about 50 of them scramble toward the water. Good luck little guys. As this article says, “If you are born a sea turtle, the odds are never in your favor.” 0.1% of all baby turtles will survive to adulthood. Ouch. I was also impressed with how much the guides made sure we didn’t interfere with the process of the turtles. Very impressive and so important.

The next morning we got up bright and early for a 5:30 ride into the National Park to see some wildlife. It did not disappoint. First some shots of the wildlife we saw.

img_1547

Sloth sloth sloth – in fairness this was from our bus ride into the park but still.

img_3835img_3874img_3895img_3898img_3902img_3917img_3923img_3932img_3937img_3946

img_3948

Mid jump

img_3959img_3963img_3966