Thanksgiving Break – Family Time in Manuel Antonio

Last week we had our first visitors here in Costa Rica. Having people from home here actually brought on my first bout of homesickness but having them here makes it all worth it. It isn’t that I didn’t know what I was missing; I absolutely knew. But having my worlds collide in this way has made it hard to transition back into work and to life here. Part of that might also be because I know I’m going home in 3 weeks for the winter break. Regardless, I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to live in this incredible country and to get to share it with the people I love. So come visit. No seriously. Send us some dates and let’s make it happen. You will love it.

Our friends Kim and Eliza were here for a short visit before they headed on to their adventure in Quepos. We had a delicious dinner at Saúl and I was happy to actually wear long sleeves for one of the first times.


Side note: you can definitely feel the weather changing here. It has been the rainy season for most of our time here and we are now entering into the dry season. That means the mornings are a little bit cooler and that I can walk home without trucking through a torrential downpour. As I walked out of the house the other morning to head to school (in shorts and a t-shirt) I was thinking to myself about the changing weather. I was thinking how I was happy about my wardrobe choice because if I wore a long-sleeve shirt I would sweat through it in 5 minutes (life is hard). As I was patting myself on the back for my outfit choice, I looked up to see a Costa Rican dude wearing a full on winter coat (with a fuzzy hood) zipped to his chin. He couldn’t hang in NH.

But I digress…

The day after we saw Kim and Eliza, my brother arrived from Seattle. A special shout out to him for the LONG day of travel he endured to get here. Em, Jeff, and I headed out after school on Wednesday to meet my parents in Manuel Antonio (about 3 hours from Escazú). On our way we had to make a stop at the crocodile bridge to get smoothies and stretch our legs. IMG_4614

Once we arrived we headed to dinner and began another week of eating fish, fish, and more fish. Tuna burgers and ceviche was a great way to start out the holiday weekend. The gang was officially back together.IMG_4618

On our first full day (Thanksgiving) we headed to Manuel Antonio National Park where I was able to reap the benefits of having my cedula (residency) for the first time. The entry fee was $16 for a visitor and $3 for a resident – little victories.

We spent the day with our guide, Miguel, who was able to spot animals out of now where and who kept referring to my dad as “Señor Bill”- a name that has stuck. We saw sloths, spider monkeys, white-faced monkeys, cool insects, iguanas, and more. We also jumped into a waterfall for a nice little Thanksgiving shower.







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(This picture was actually taken from the back porch of the airbnb we rented, but it’s still going in the wildlife sequence here. These guys visited us a few times during our stay — Squirrel/Titi monkeys — they were both of our favorites.)


At the end of our time with Miguel he dropped us at one of the beaches within the park. There are a couple different beaches and they are all pretty quiet and beautiful. We were a little perplexed when we arrived at the first beach to find no one in the water. We quickly found out that there had been a crocodile there that morning so people weren’t allowed to swim. We were still able to soak in some sun and snap some pics.




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Luckily there was another beach just on the other side of the peninsula. It seemed like a pretty short distance for a crocodile to travel but apparently it was ok to swim. We jumped in and made sure to take a Thanksgiving selfie to send to our friends and family all over the world.


Over the course of the holiday weekend we also spent a lot of time at the main beach in town. We’d go in the morning when it was quiet and walk the beach and found a perfect place to park during the day that was isolated and in the shade. The more I’m by the water the more I think this is where I should live. You have no choice but to be happy when the sun is shining down and you’re floating in the water. The week included lots of walks on the beach, throwing Milo into the waves, and body surfing.IMG_4856











Also, one night this happened:IMG_4740

Jeff, Em, and my dad went up parasailing at sunset. Once they got up there they saw the dark, ominous clouds that would open up 25 minutes later into a lightening storm. But they survived so it all worked out. I should mention that while they were up there my mom and I enjoyed a glass of vino blanco on the beach. Much more my speed.IMG_4750

We had our Thanksgiving Dinner at a beautiful hotel that has the most ridiculous view I’ve ever seen. It was the first Thanksgiving that I didn’t eat turkey but a tuna burger and ceviche was a close second (picking up on a culinary theme?).

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On our last full day Em, Jeff, Señor Bill, and I went zip lining. Part of the canopy tour included going on the longest zip line in Central America; it was ~8/10 of a mile long. It rocked. It was a double line so two people could race side-by-side. I crushed Emily. See it for yourself here. I would like to thank all the rice and beans I’ve been eating for the victory.







Yep – you’re seeing that right. Em went upside down on one of the zip lines. I will never do that. Ever.

We also spent time at night just listening to Jeff play my travel guitar. It’s so fun to watch someone do something they love that much. He also attempted to teach us how to sing. This culminated in us trying to do a 3-part harmony to “Didn’t Leave Nobody but the Baby.” Jeff’s patience is incredible.

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On Sunday we all headed back to Escazú. My parents rented a tree house on airbnb that was about 10 minutes from us. It was adorable and Leroy and Juanita, the people who run it, were so welcoming and so fun to sit and chat with. If you ever wanna come visit or you know someone coming to visit – check out the listing. Definitely a cool experience. It looks out over the central valley and the grounds at their place are out of this world. They also have 3 adorable Ridgeback dogs. It’s like heaven on earth.IMG_4864



IMG_20151130_121659448_HDR - CopySunday night we headed to Tiquicia – a restaurant in San Antonio with a stunning view. The road to get there is definitely the steepest road I’ve ever been on and every time we arrive I kiss the car to thank it for getting us up there. There is a panoramic view of the Central Valley. It’s breathtakingly beautiful.





From there we ended back to our apartment to watch the Pats/Broncos game. It was a tense night with a tough ending but it was so fun to watch with everyone. Happy to hear that Gronk’s injury isn’t as bad as we first thought.  My favorite meme from the game:


My brother was great enough to book his flight back to Seattle for Tuesday so that he could stick around for Monday night hoops. It was a blast and we got to guard each other the last game (neither of us scored on the other which we decided was for the best). I was grateful to have Em and my parents there as super fans. It also inspired me to actually remember how to shoot which felt really good.


I also had the chance to show my parents around CDS and my mom and I took the obligatory “first day of school” shot with the CDS emblem and the US and Costa Rican flags.IMG_20151130_154123182_HDR - Copy

Over the last few weeks I have been taking informal spanish lessons with one of the CDS students. He has been super patient with me and it’s been a lot of fun. I still sound terrible and know about 58 words but I’m getting there. Here’s a story we wrote in class this week. Em and I are going to try and write some more of the story at home – stay tuned.


Finally, while poking around on my YouTube channel to upload the ziplining/Monday night hoops videos I re-found the video for the Flashmob we did at Rivers a few years ago. Not to brag but we’re up to 35,744 views. If you haven’t seen it yet check it out – it was pretty fun.

Hope everyone had a great holiday with friends and family. Looking forward to heading back to the States in less than 3 weeks!! NJ, NH, and Boston – here we come!!

Pura vida,





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