Costa Rica, Baby!


For several years now, my daughter and I have taken a vacation together around the time of my birthday in January—a welcome reprieve from the brutal  MINNESOTA winters. In January 2017, we headed to the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.


Our travel there took a long time and included both a plane and a bus ride. We arrived after dark in Cahuito, the resort town we were staying in, and we were famished. 


Our hosts, Enrica and Davide, who were from Italy and spoke English, Spanish and, of course, Italian, greeted us and recommended an Italian pizza restaurant (of course!). A bottle of wine, excellent pizza and a few minutes later, there was a calico cat on my lap (my favorite coloring of cat). I knew then that this would be a beautiful vacation.

Early the next morning a cacophony of sounds pierced the air. The howler monkeys screamed, and the tropical birds chirped. The smell of sea salt and the sunshine on my face made my heart soar. We enjoyed toast with jam, coffee and fresh fruit and drank our coffee on our front porch as we planned our week.  


The farmer’s market overflowed with fruits, baked goods, coconuts and plantains, vegetables and fresh meat. We came upon a quaint place offering fresh crepes, which we ate with freshly blended pineapple juice (amaaaazing!). 

We noticed two ladies setting up grills in the street. They began grilling up some tasty looking chicken skewers. Another woman set up a table and a cooler with a handwritten sign saying, “Fresh Ceviche–shrimp, fish or both.” Our delicate American stomachs felt like these would be risky foods to try.


We noticed, to my delight, that the town welcomed everyone, even dogs and cats that wandered in the streets. We enjoyed a Coca-Cola and conversation at a soda shop. We loved that there were no standard “hours of operation” and everyone was relaxed.  

There was never a rush, and everyone greeted us: “Hasta mañana!” I loved the simplicity of it all, and it became clear why tourists love the “don’t worry, be happy” philosophy.


We spent several afternoons at the beach at Cahuita National Park where we encountered many animals like howler monkeys, sloths, snakes and a friendly raccoon I nicknamed Charlie.  As we soaked up the sun, Charlie helped himself to a bag of chips. I tried to explain to him that that I would be happy to share, but my daughter chastised me. I just smiled, grabbed the bag and offered him some more. He took them calmly and walked off to munch on his treat. 

We saw more animals at the sloth museum as well as at the Sanctuary. We also got to sample chocolate and watch them make it right in front of us at a cocoa farm.  

The best part of the week was riding a horse. On a beach. In Costa Rica!  Riding that mare at a full gallop with the waves crashing in, I cried silently from the pure joy of something so beautiful.  Our guide even stopped halfway through our ride, took the machete off his belt, hacked down a green coconut and cut out a hole for us to drink the sweet but refreshing coconut water. 


January 2018 will be a trip to Isla Mujeres in Mexico. And then in 2019, my 50th birthday, we will be visiting Belize.  I am very grateful that my daughter and I get to take these trips together. My daughters have always been the best things that have happened to me, and now I get to share such amazing times with them.  I am one very lucky mom!


Dawn Sanborn is a professional photographer, art instructor, foodie and world traveler. She is also a raccoon whisperer.