November travels 

Hola, and happy Thanksgiving! (Actually I’m not sure if I’ll finish this post today, so perhaps happy day-or-two-after Thanksgiving!)

I am writing this post on my phone while sitting around in an Airbnb in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. My brother is here visiting, and we came to Santa T with some friends to celebrate the holiday. The sun just finished setting, and I am finally getting over a killer cold and enjoying the calm before Hurricane Otto. It’s a good day indeed. 

So, as I sit here waiting for our two little butterballs to finish roasting, I figured I’d whip up a quick blog before whipping up that box of mashed potatoes on the counter (sorry, punny mood I guess!).

The last couple of weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind! First, my exciting news (and I’m sorry to my Lincoln friends who are reading this, since I haven’t shut up about this in days)…I got my Costa Rican license!!! 

I didn’t have to take a written or driving test or anything, since I have a valid NJ license. But it sure was a test of will and strength! First, I should explain that the license was a necessity…not to drive any old car (my NJ license is fine for that)…but to rent a car here because I’ve been in the country for over 90 days. Since my brother was visiting and we had travel plans, the ability to legally rent a car was paramount. So folks, we had some high stakes here. 

The first time I went to the place (called COSEVI but is basically the DMV but with longer lines…yes you read that right), I ended up on a bench crying because the one day I went, they weren’t giving licenses to foreigners (for apparent “administrative motives”). The place was open and ticos could get licenses, but alas, immigrants could not. This was extremely stressful for me, due to my work schedule and general inability to get back there. I think I was mostly just bummed that I didn’t get to do something I was excited to do on my own. Everyone had kept telling me to just let HR from work take me, but I needed to meet the challenge of doing it alone for some reason. So I left feeling deflated that day. 

After some reflection, I figured out a way to leave work for a while on a different day (gracias, mae), and I tried again. This time I prevailed! It took four hours and a heckuvalot of patience, but I got it!

In case you’re curious about the process, here’s what I did:

  • Get checkup at doctor’s office for $40. Checkup included measuring my height, telling doctor I’m right-handed, and reading four letters on a wall for an “eye exam.” Money well spent, I guess? (I actually did this on the first day I went, so it was out of the way when I went back.)
  • Quadruple check that I had two copies of all required documents (passport, NJ license, CR cédula)
  • Freak out in my own head that there was some document I didn’t know about that I forgot to copy
  • Sit on extranjero (immigrant) line waiting to be called (2 hours). Excellent Spanish practice talking to the others in line
  •  Go upstairs. Wait on line. 
  • Talk to girl at desk so she can check my photocopies. Write my “address” and signature directly on the photocopies (there is no official form or anything)
  • Go to other desk and have the jefa check my paperwork. Get approval 
  • Go downstairs to another desk. Woman writes my name in a ledger and instructs me to go pay
  • Walk the mile-long concourse to go pay 
  • Learn that my payment info is not yet in the system
  • Get back on the end of caja line to try again
  • Learn that my payment info still is not in the system
  • Walk the mile again to go find out why payment is not there
  • Directed by woman at desk to go ask jefa
  • Jefa says it’s authorized and instructs me to go back to caja 
  • Walk the concourse again…my info was magically there
  • Pay ¢5,000 
  • Walk the concourse again
  • Get photo taken 
  • Obtain license!!! 

Ok, that was not supposed to be such a long digression, but if you know me by now, you know that’s what I do!


Last week, Pod, Chelsea and I went on another little adventure. We went to Matapalo, a small town south of Manuel Antonio, to participate in the liberation of the baby sea turtles! Our amazing Spanish teacher Paola told us about the event, which was pretty cool because it wasn’t overly touristy. 

It was a somewhat rainy weekend, but we still found time to enjoy the beach, relax, go out for a fun dinner in Dominical, and of course spend time with the tortugitas!

You don’t really want or need all the details from the weekend, so I’ll just share a few pics! 

After our weekend adventure, we had a very short week at work, and now, as I mentioned in the beginning of this post, we are in Santa Teresa. The one difference between this part of the post and the first paragraphs is that now I write this with a full, satisfied belly. We brought turkey and all the fixin’s with us, so we were able to have a real Thanksgiving dinner!

Kevin flew in from Vegas yesterday, which was stressful (for me, not for him) because Hurricane Otto (the first hurricane in Costa Rica in recordable history (Redmond, 2016)) was on its way, and I was so nervous his flight would be canceled. 

Fortunately, it wasn’t canceled, although it was diverted to Liberia (the airport in CR, not the country in Africa)! That’s about 5 hours away from me, so I was worried he be stranded. But again, my worry was unfounded, because he only ended up being delayed about two hours, and he finally made it to San Jose.

Kevin’s arrival meant we could still make the 9am ferry to Santa Teresa. He, Pod, Dave, and I got up at the zanja of dawn and made it to the dock with an hour to spare. Plenty of time for some delish pinto to fill our bellies!

An added bonus is that we got to take the ferry over with another group of friends who were traveling to the same area. I’m sure you’ll hear more about them after our ATV/moto adventure on Saturday! 

The afternoon was a little slow for me, given the aforementioned killer cold that I’m currently battling. So, Kev, Dave, and Pod grocery shopped, swam, and hung out while I basically sat around getting some rest. But then we did made a delicious gringo Thanksgiving dinner, which, as I mentioned earlier, we just finished with. 

The dinner basically explains how lazy I’m getting toward the end of this post because the triptophan is kicking in quite quickly! I had all this poetic stuff planned about the sunset and the colors of the sky, but I’m too tired to write it all out. So instead, along with some pics from our day, I’ll share a screenshot of my brainstorming. That’s the best I can do at this point. 

I’ll end here with the pics, as well as the cliche reminder to you and yours to have a very happy Thanksgiving!! There’s a lot of rhetoric out there about the racist beginnings of the holiday, but I just like to think of it as a great excuse to value time with friends and family and reflect on all we are lucky to have in this world. I hope you were able to do the same!

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