Costa Rica: Day 6

Wednesday was our last full day in Costa Rica, so we kept the day light and planned a special dinner – one we wouldn’t be cooking. On the suggestion of Jim and Breeze, we booked a private chef – Jean-Luc Taulere, eighth-generation chef and owner of Coco Loco on Playa Flamingo. Though he was born in Florida, his father is from the South of France, near the border of Spain, and together, with Jean-Luc’s mother, ran several successful restaurants. Jean-Luc convinced his parents to move to Costa Rica and work with him in the restaurant industry.

(A quick peruse of Jean-Luc’s client list – the former president of Costa Rica and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Oscar Arias, Tom and Gisele Brady, and CEO of YouTube Susan Wojcicki – tells me that they’ve been very successful in Costa Rica.)

We chose the dinner menu from a list of options, and they were accommodating when we picked Tropical Elegance but needed some things swapped out (fish instead of beef and a nut-free dessert for Owen). Honestly, the whole process was as foreign to us as staying in Casa Breeze. We were out of our depth. EVERYONE ACT COOL. ACT LIKE YOU’VE BEEN HERE BEFORE. (Note: We had not been here before.)

But before we enjoyed our dinner, we enjoyed our last full day in Costa Rica.

For the first time that week, it rained during the day. It actually rained in the way we were afraid of long before we arrived in Costa Rica. There was a threat of rain every day, and it very well could’ve rained every day in the town closest to us, but Costa Rica had Florida weather – hot and humid, then a short downpour of cool rain, followed by a bright blue sky. But really, we’d missed most of it, or it only rained at night when we were all tucked in bed.

With the threat of rain a little more serious, those who wanted to jet ski got to it early in the day.

Jean-Luc and Erick, the waiter, showed up around 6 p.m. to start preparing our food. We chatted with them and sat at the bar watching them prep everything. As a journalist, I struggle to leave people alone in circumstances like these. I’m compelled to ask questions and learn everyone’s story.

I tried not to interview them in that annoying way – when someone’s just trying to do his work and that one person won’t shut up.

Look how beautiful our table was:

Before the sun set on our gorgeous trip, we took a family photo on the back patio.

Then it was time to eat. I’d never eaten out of a fresh coconut before, and I’d never had mussels. Both were glorious.

Becky and I enjoyed a tuna steak while everyone else had beef. So beautiful and absolutely delicious.

I wanted a thousand servings of dessert. I could’ve eaten buckets of that espresso mousse.

It was one of the most delicious meals of my life. I’m not exaggerating, and I’m pretty sure my family members felt the same. Every bite was divine, and we all struggled to eat slowly so it wouldn’t be over too soon.

But of course, it all had to end because that’s how it goes. The week had been a dream. Sure, there were bouts of logistical headaches – traveling with nine people from two states, COVID restrictions for international travel, discerning what was worthwhile financially and what wasn’t – but those are things I’m choosing to forget about. Instead, I’m choosing to remember how beautiful the ocean was. The boat. That house. Those sloths. This meal. All the memories.

I snuck this last photo of Jeff as we were waiting for our transportation to take us to the airport the next morning. We were all packed and checking the house for things we’d forgotten, and there was Jeff – soaking in the last few minutes of sunshine before a long day of travel. If I had to guess, he was taking a mental picture and thanking God for the blessing of this experience.

This photo perfectly captures how I’m choosing to feel about our week in Costa Rica. It was a gift that cannot be repaid. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that we accepted because of Dad. He is missing from all of these photos, but he would’ve been the first person to say, “Go! Do the trip!”

So we did.

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