We all have the things we hold on to. 

The end-all be-all worst-day-ever things, that time I wrote this and thought it was clever things. 

They carry words or sounds that someone gave us a long time ago and never fail to take us back there, places we prided ourselves on being sad to leave. 

I listen to a song you sent me in the car as someone who saw me as imitable tells me she's reading something I wrote her, stamp slightly upturned and penmanship deliberately rushed. A little gesture swimming in the bottom of my backpack that sits at the top of her top drawer. 

Don't be afraid to give them out. 

Costa Rica Day 11: Goodbyes

We woke up this morning to a monkey that had entered our room on the prowl for a snack. The little guy slipped into the room through the ceiling rafters, darted to a bag of granola lying on our coffee table, snatched it up, and had disappeared before we could register its presence (and I could open up the plastic bag of cereal for him).

Over breakfast, our friends at the hotel spotted a sloth crawling by on a nearby tree, and Priya again managed to snap a sleuthful shot through a telescope!

After a morning of taking in our surroundings (including a pair of endangered scarlet macaws flying across the sky) one last time, we hopped on a boat  that would take us to our plane across the bay.

Our 45-minute flight to San Jose was scenic as ever, and helped us trace much of the Pacific coast of the country as we sped along.

We now sit at the airport in San Jose, hardly feeling ready to leave behind the treasures of this country, but feeling as "pura vida" as ever!

Costa Rica Day 10: El Rio Sierpe

Our last full day in Costa Rica was a hectic one indeed! We started off the morning at 6:00, embarking on a motorboat tour of the mangroves along the Sierpe River. We “mangrovers” were able to spot a group of white-faced monkeys, a couple of crocodiles, a handful of baselisks, a pair of nesting macaws, and a boa constrictor on our trip, that was seven hours total in length.

This left plenty of time for activities the rest of the day! After a light lunch, Priya and I trekked down through the forest to the hotel’s beach, where we found a large troupe of white-faced monkeys, playing a game with one of the families’ pet dog! Priya fervently took photographs as I enjoyed the sand.

We raced up from the beach back to our room to convene for afternoon horseback riding on the beach. The four of us galloped into the sunset, my horse Suaso enamored of the waves and constantly hungry (much like myself).

We got back from our equine adventures just in time for the first course of our meal before we left for a nighttime tour with Tracy, the Bug Lady of Osa. This incredible woman and her husband showed us all sorts of nighttime creatures in the forest that we never would have come close to noticing otherwise, such as the tailless -- scorpion, trap door spiders, and the famous red-eyed tree frog. Her anecdotes about the natural world along the way were eye-opening and awe-inspiring, and we couldn’t look at the forest the same way as we walked back to the hotel for dinner.

We just got back after another wonderful meal at La Paloma Lodge, our warm home for the past few days.

Costa Rica Day 9: Isla del Caño

Today was our day of water! We started off the morning zooming  to Caño Island in a motorboat. About 30 minutes into our 45-minute ride, I commented to Mama, "I wish we'd seen a dolphin." Just then, our tour guide exclaimed, "¡delfines!"  and asked the captain to follow the four fins he had spotted in the distance. Moments later, our boat was surrounded by a group of between 30 and 50 false killer whales, individuals from the third-largest  member of the dolphin family. The playful creatures surrounded our boat on all sides as we sped toward the island, cameras in hand.

Once at the island, we started snorkeling. I hadn't been in several years, and the experience was as awe-inspiring and breathtaking as I remember it seeming to my 9-year-old self. Today, we managed to spot the multicolored Parrotfish, royal blue Giant Damselfish, adorable Moorish Idol, and a school of about 500 Green Jacks, moving together to impersonate a much bigger animal and avoid predators. Their hues and moves were beautiful.

After about an hour in the water, we moved to Playa San Josecito, my new favorite beach! We had a lovely picnic here and enjoyed some waves before heading back to La Paloma Lodge.

Tired after a morning of sun and sand, Priya and I got to work relaxing by the pool, soon joined by our good friends Leila (7 years) and Emme (3 years).

Refreshed, we washed up for dinner, where we sat with Elizabeth and Brett, a lovely couple from Chicago enjoying their honeymoon on Osa Peninsula. We really enjoyed talking to them over dinner, and I now sit typing this post, only briefly interrupted a second ago by an hourglass tree frog the size of a paperclip hopping onto the edge of my computer monitor. Another night in Costa Rica!

Costa Rica Day 8: Osa Peninsula

We woke up this morning to our outdoor bathtub and the chirping of birds and insects outside our window at Nayara Hotel near Volcán Arenal.

After breakfast, we spent most of our day on the journey to Osa Peninsula, which is located at the southwest tip of the country and home to at least half of all species living in Costa Rica. 

We traveled for 3 hours by car, 45 minutes by plane, 15 minutes by boat, and 10 minutes on foot to Paloma Lodge, where Priya and I have the best window in the world.

We just finished dinner with the wonderfully warm and large-hearted Marxe family, meeting Hope, Isabelle, Emme, Austin, Diane, and Unik and enjoying a joyful conversation about travel, school, and our times in Costa Rica. A lovely end to the first day of our year!