Feathered Aspen



When we drove into Samara, it was hot.  All of us were sweating, and Luna was crying.  After a couple of weeks without a carseat, she officially hates riding in the car.

Villa Espavel is about a 10 minute walk from “downtown” Samara, which is really just a mainstreet that has a few restaurants and shops.  To walk to the beach from our AirBnB, we can take two routes:  one passes through a campground with bar beneath a large open-air palapa, and the other circumnavigates a pasture with skinny cattle.

Horses roam the beaches and road at will.  One day as Lu and I were walking to the beach, one brown and one white horse began following us, sedately clip-clopping in single file.  The man at the carwash laughed when he saw Lu’s glee, and informed us of their names:  Buen Amigo y Buena Amiga, los dos amigos.

It’s an easy little town with lots of broad American accents, plenty of expats, and a quirky, rural feel.  There are surfers with big hair who have been here a long time and out of shape tourists who are just passing through.  There are no resorts built up along the sand, and the homes that flank the beachfront are not ostentatious.  They are small and well-kept with big windows and open-air kitchens.

In Santa Teresa, the waves were big, the surf was strong, and the people were stunning: bronze and well-muscled, with long beachy hair.  Here, the crowd is a bit more humble.  There are retirees, a few extra pounds, sensible footwear, and Ticos with babies in diapers playing in the surf.  More sunscreen and less bronze.  There are more mamas here, and the surfers stay closer to shore.  Everyone gets around by bike, and the grocery stores and supers are a little less expensive.

It’s nice.  The Villa is in the jungle and has a large shared pool that’s perfect for the girls.  A yoga shala situated above the laundry room is lined with palm fronds and banana leaves.  Butterflies fly through, and I can hear howler monkeys, frogs, and crickets as I lay in my final shavasana.

Lily and Lu headed straight for the pool that first night.  Joshua went off to return the rental car and pick up so groceries, so I kept an eye on the older two and nursed Luna until she had forgiven me for putting her in a carseat for three hours.

The next morning, we had breakfast, I did yoga with the older two, and then we walked to the beach along the pasture.  We quickly discovered that the surf here was much more gentle, and the girls were happy to play in warm, calm waves.  Luna sat on the sand where the waves could tickle her toes and she dug her little hands into the sand and shrieked as she splashed the water.  Over the course of the week, her solo sitting posture grew stronger and stonger.

Back at the Villa, the girls napped while I went out for a run along the beach, and afterwards, we headed back out to the beach again to watch the sunset.

At some point during the day, a fisherman came to the Villa with a bunch of fresh shrimp in his trunk.  For $20, we purchased two kilos of fat, lovely shrimp, and that night and the next, Joshua made the most delicious shrimp dinners.  So. Good.

And that’s how the days passed.  Joshua woke up early to run.  We woke up and began breakfast.  We ate outside for every meal.  Joshua was nice enough to take charge while I did yoga every morning, and the older girls either did some yoga with me (or on top of me) or swam in the pool.  We headed to the beach with a boogie board from the Villa, and then we played in the waves or explored the tidepools or looked for shells for a couple of hours.  We walked back, stopping at el Super Iguana or the panaderia for groceries or snacks or maybe a cafecito.  The girls swam when we got back, we ate lunch and then they took naps (or they didn’t… After spending one too many hours over the course of this trip cajoling children to sleep, Joshua suggested we throw in the towel to save our sanity.  So we forewent nap the past couple of days.  I’ll let you know how it goes J ).  I ran during nap, and then we headed back to the beach to watch the sunset, usually with the bribe of ice cream at some point during the day.

Yesterday was a little different.  We walked through the jungle to Playa Izquierda, where we had the beach to ourselves.  The surf was a bit stronger and the water was rockier, but it was a great spot to search for shells.  On the way, we spotted two coati galloping through the jungle and over the path, which only made me a little concerned over what they were running from (Lily says, “Mommy, I think they’re chasing something!”  I thought and did not share that they were the ones being chased.)

The Villa has three other units, and we’ve met a German family of four with two older kids and an American family from Austin with two kids ages 14 and 7.  The younger kiddo has provided some much desired other kid interaction for Lily, and they’ve swum together the past two nights for nearly two hours, only coming out once we insists and their lips are nearly blue from the chill.  The parents are really lovely, and we’ve sat by the pool chatting and exchanging stories from our days and our lives back home.  It’s been really nice.

I’m happy to report that Lily is quite the swimmer!  She announced to me this evening that she can now “keep her head above water” while she’s swimming, and she no longer needs me to watch her while she’s in the pool (ha!  Not quite ready for that.)  Between swimming at least three times a day and playing in the ocean, she’s been in the water for most of the week, but when she was on the hike yesterday, she was unstoppable!  She wanted to know what was up every side trail, and she begged us to let her see.  We acquiesced, even though the mosquitos were bad.  It’s hard to deny a kid that wants to hike up hill to see the views!  She’s expressed that she’s quite sad to be leaving Costa Rica, and she’s very concerned that she won’t have as many opportunities to swim, though she does miss Oscar and Thibodeaux.

And speaking of long walks, Lily and Lu have gotten into the spirit and found the joy in taking long sunset walks in the surf.  Spontaneously, they’ll leave their little sandcastles (or pits…  I feel like they dig more pits than building sandcastles.) or retire from the waves and then just start casually walking down the beach, side by side.  It’s been one of my favorite things to see.  They’re so sweet, pointing out shells to one another and stopping to admire the waves or the sky.  They can go on for ages that way.

Though Lu has now been in the jungle for a month, her fear of insects remains acute.  If she’s shrieking, it’s likely because she saw a fruit fly.  Speaking of shrieking and flies, last night Joshua spotted an enormous and lovely katydid that looks like a large, green leaf.  We were admiring it and taking some photos, when it flew off, startling me.  “Where did it go?!” I said, a little freaked.  “It’s on you,” Joshua replied.

I screamed.  Like, loud.  And the girls, seeing my fright began screaming too.  Joshua gently removed the katydid from my shirt, and I began laughing.  I mean.  I couldn’t even help it; it was so big!

It’s rained more while we’ve been here, but though when it pours it’s intense, it’s never really caused us to alter course or change our plans.  It’s a warm rain and during the day, it never rains for long (though it can rain all night).  We’re in the pool and in the ocean so much that being wet doesn’t feel like a bother, and on days like to today when we were wicked hot, it was a nice relief to have a passing shower.

The mosquitos are a little worse here, but with the high-powered ceiling and porch fans running, they don’t have the occasion to land often.  Our AirBnB has screens, so sleeping has been quite comfortable.  Only on our walks to and from the beach have we acquired our many bites, but even then it’s not nearly as bad as Mexico or Minnesota.

It’s been absolutely wonderful, and I can’t tell you how lucky we feel to have been able to take this trip and experience these many adventures.  It hasn’t always been relaxing (um.  Three kids.), but it has been a great gift to spend this time together as a family, seeing and doing new things in a new place, and I know I’ll always cherish the memories that we’ve made here.

So thank you.  Thank you to Joshua for all of your hard work, and congratulations on making it to your first sabbatical.  It was a good one, and we feel so lucky to have been able to enjoy it with you.  Thank you to Nana and Grumpy for coming along for a week and enjoying some of this beautiful place with us.  A huge, huge thank you to my mom for helping us get our space ready for AirBnB by helping out with the girls and cleaning, as well as taking care of Oscar and Thibodeaux.  And another huge thank you to Weston for helping manage and host our AirBnB guests and for cleaning between their stays.  We feel so grateful for all of your help and support, and with the proceeds from AirBnB (over this past month and for the next couple of months this summer), we’ve been able to pay for our plane tickets to Costa Rica and all of our AirBnBs while we’ve been here.  How amazing is that?!

Now send us good vibes and good luck for our travels home…  Tomorrow we make the 4 hour drive back to San Jose and then on Wednesday, we board the plane at 12 pm and arrive in Denver about 12 hours later!  I’m both sad to say goodbye to this wonderful place and amazing month and happy to be heading home.  Joshua says he’s looking forward to being dry for a bit, Lu misses Margot and Wally the most, and I’m feeling rather enthusiastic about going back to a place that doesn’t have quite so many invertebrates of the stinging, venomous, flying or slithering varieties!


Author: Ellie

Wife, Mom, Adventurer...

4 thoughts on “Samara

  1. Good stuff here, El. I do want to point out that should Lily need swimming opportunities that there are lakes within two miles in almost every direction from our little home in Minnie:) Be well and thank you for keeping us posted.

  2. Well it’s taken me quite a while (I’ve nursed my kiddo twice while reading), but I’ve caught up! Safe travels home and looking forward to more pics and video!

  3. Ellison – It was so fun to find your blog the other day. We would love to repost it on Villas Espavel’s facebook page. Do you have a fun photo of your kids in the pool? If so, I’d love to use it in our post. I hope you’re enjoying a beautiful summer back in Colorado

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