Ahhh… today was the first day back to school after spring break. Alas, I knew this day would come, but I am also incredibly grateful for the (much needed) opportunity to recharge last week.
Andy and I went to Tamarindo, Costa Rica with my parents, who co-own a condominium right near the beach. Tamarindo is like a home away from home for me… we started going there about twelve years ago when our family friends (the other co-owners of the condo) suggested that we try a new vacation spot. For years we had taken summer trips to the Outer Banks. Sure enough, we all fell in love with the location, and our families decided to invest in some real estate.
Costa Rica truly is a magical place. I realize that I am speaking from a visitor’s point of view, but the general vibe I get from Tamarindo (and the vicinity) is laid back and positive. Pura Vida is a common phrase in Costa Rica, that transcends beyond just words, but more as a way of life. The phrase literally translates to ‘pure life’, however it can be interpreted as “no worries”, “it’s all good”, or something to that effect.
As I reflect on my time in Costa Rica, I am more aware as to why this trip was particularly meaningful: I took time for myself, I did things that I wanted to do, and I did not have to worry much about a schedule. It was so unlike my usual busy weekly routine. It was so nice. I got to read a book that wasn’t assigned for class! While hanging out by the pool! Interestingly enough, the book is very relevant to my line of work, but the point is I got to choose it. The book is called Swarm Intelligence: What Nature Teaches Us About Shaping Creative Leadership. If I wanted to sleep in, I could have… but my mom and I established an enjoyable routine of walking each morning around 7:30 (and taking a few selfies!). Costa Rica is currently two hours behind the East Coast, so we naturally woke up early.
We walked the same route each day, approximately 2.5 miles down the beach and back. Although we always had conversations during our walks, I made a point to observe the scenery and document it on occasion. The trees were so resilient… some of them seemed to grow from out of nowhere. Costa Rica is currently at the end of its dry season, but many plants manage to survive the droughts.
Besides our morning routine, the days were pretty open for whatever. When I wanted to take a break from the sun, I would sit inside and drew or paint. I created a ‘Spring Break Mini Masterpiece Challenge’ for my students, to encourage them to do something art-related/constructive over the break. I participated as well. Unfortunately, I’ve gotten so far behind in my daily drawing sketchbook. It was fun and inspiring at first, but sometimes it became more of a burden on my super-busy days (it would lose priority, but I still tried to make time for it). The Spring Break Challenge was an easy way to make some small, detailed drawings. A few of mine:
In the evening, we went down to the beach to watch the sunset. That view never got old… each sunset had its own unique quality, and each stage of the sunset was beautiful in its own way.
We took a few day trips to other beaches, Playa Avellanas and Playa Grande. We visited Lolita the pig (her mom was Lola, the name of the restaurant in Playa Avellanas), played beach bocce, boogie-boarded, and of course, enjoyed the scenery.
On our final night, we went to a nearby attraction called La Senda. I could go on to explain more about what it is, but I think the website may give better information. The experience is different for each person. Essentially, we walked silently through a large labyrinth that had been designed upon an energy field. For me, the experience was meditative and relaxing. I found myself mindfully observing the various cacti that lined the edges of the labyrinth (later learning that there was a pattern of three short variety between each tall one). At certain moments during my walk, I felt a deep sense of emotion, as though I was about to cry; but not necessarily out of sadness, more out of realization.
Once we reached the first center point of the labyrinth, we had the opportunity to create a small painting. The canvases were about 5×5″, with pre-drawn concentric circles and straight lines that split the canvas into four sections. My mom and I would have loved to stay and paint for hours, but it began to get dark, so we decided to continue on the second portion of the labyrinth. The sun eventually began to set, and I found myself closing my eyes every so often because it was getting more difficult to focus on the cacti. I had to open my eyes periodically to see where I was going, and to keep with the curve of the path. We reached the second center point with just minutes of daylight left. Once the sun had fully set, I used a flashlight to guide the way out of the labyrinth. It was interesting to see sporadic flashes of light as other people passed by in silence, moving at their own pace. Upon our return from the labyrinth, our hosts providing a home-cooked, three-course meal and served it at a long dining table out on their property. What a great way to end our trip!
I’ll end this post with a bit of wisdom from a wooden sign: