Costa Rica: Days 1 and 2

Until I put my feet on the ground in Costa Rica, I was hesitant to say with any certainty that we were going there. If 2020 taught me anything it’s that nothing is guaranteed. Expect the unexpected.


In January of last year, I had a pivotal phone call with Jim Hurly, Amarillo physician and the author of Green Bay: A City and Its Team. He’d sent me a text about wanting to talk about working on a second edition of the book, which I originally designed a decade ago. I replied to his text that – yes, I want to work on the second edition – but we needed to have a chat first if he could call me when he was free. When we spoke, he anticipated me telling him there was something wrong with me medically, but instead I told him about Dad’s diagnosis, which he understood perfectly since he’s a pathologist. He knew immediately that Dad’s situation was grim, and he replied with something I didn’t expect: “When this is all over, you and your family should go to our house in Costa Rica.”

At the time, I tucked the thought away in the back of my mind. I was still trying to understand what Cardiac Sarcoma meant, and I certainly didn’t know a pandemic was just six weeks away from changing everything. I told Chuck about Jim’s offer, and I eventually told my sister, but I didn’t think much about Costa Rica until weeks after Dad passed away – some ten months after that phone call. It was a whiff of an idea that existed somewhere in the future, intangible. It was nothing concrete. Honestly, I wasn’t even sure where Costa Rica was other than south of Mexico.

To make Costa Rica a reality, Becky and I knew several things needed to happen: Mom needed a new hip and a passport. We also needed a COVID vaccine so traveling internationally wasn’t so risky. When we told Mom about the offer, she needed some time to process what it meant – surgery, passport, traveling overseas for the first time since 1990… But, she didn’t push back. She opted in! The new hip came in December, the passport was applied for in January, and the vaccine was well on its way by March. We booked our flights and hoped for the best.

Still, I wouldn’t say with any certainty that we were going. Anything could happen.

Arriving in Costa Rica

The journey to CR wasn’t without its own knots to untangle, but eventually all nine of us showed up at the Atlanta airport early on the morning of June 11, which happened to be Jackson’s 15th birthday. (He was thrilled to wake up in one country and go to sleep in another on his actual birthday.) We had a stop in Miami, which none of us had been to. Even at this point, I still wasn’t 100% convinced we were going to Costa Rica. The flight could’ve been cancelled and not rebooked. We could’ve had any number of emergencies happen. I’M TELLING YOU: 2020 broke my confidence.

But sure enough, we got there. I’ll save you the two-hour wait in the customs line and show you our happy faces in the van on the way to Casa Breeze:

If I could go back in time, I would set up a camera inside the house to catch our faces as we walked in. WE ARE BUDGET TRAVELERS. This isn’t how we roll. None of us really knew what to do with our bodies. My photos do not do the house justice. (Seriously, just go to the website for better photos.)

The house manager gave us a tour, and I was at a loss for words. I kept locking eyes with Chuck, as if to say, “Is this real? Are we really here?” I was in yoga pants and old running shoes, for goodness sakes! My hair was in a messy bun, and we all smelled like airports and had travel body odor. What business did we have in this kitchen anyway? NOBODY TOUCH ANYTHING.

Once we were left alone in the house, we grabbed our phones and took photos. We needed *actual footage* to prove it WAS REAL. With an hour left until sunset, we threw down our things, hopped in the TWO golf carts, and drove 60 seconds to Playa Conchal – truly the most beautiful beach I’d ever seen – to watch the sunset.

Best birthday ever, Jackson?

We did pinch ourselves. A LOT. Sometimes we just exchanged glances to make sure it wasn’t a dream. After dinner at a restaurant in the neighboring W Hotel property, we came back to the house for a night swim.

We all slept hard that night and woke at varying times the next morning. It was a slow day with plenty of time for the beach and pool.

Casa Breeze is located in Reserva Conchal, a golf community on Playa Conchal, in the Guanacaste region. There’s the W Hotel on one side, a Westin Resort on the other, and a beach club for homeowners and their guests in the middle. The water was a perfect temperature. I don’t usually get in the ocean, but I got in THIS ocean.

On our first day at the beach, a few of us borrowed kayaks from the beach club to explore the water.

Iguanas, coatimundis, and howler monkeys roam the property, though we didn’t see any monkeys until later in the week when Chuck and I went horseback riding.

Becky and Jeff had a regular Coati visitor on their balcony upstairs. They look like a cross between a monkey and a raccoon.

Dinner on the second night was at the beach club, and we made sure to go while it was still happy hour AND in time for sunset. (See below for evidence of me on the trip – camera in hand, of course. Thanks, Jeff, for capturing me in a photo!)

After that first evening, we had five full days in Costa Rica, so we made a conscious effort to do as much as we could without overbooking ourselves. Next up: a sunset cruise and snorkeling on a catamaran. 🙂

Costa Rica: Day 3

error: Please, no copying.