Pura Vida con las chicas

One of the tragedies of my adult life is that I’ve found myself living so far away from most of my dearest friends. Take, for example, my best friends from grade school. We live plane-rides apart: Seattle, Denver, Los Angeles and San Francisco. With busy lives (jobs, spouses, children) — coupled with the high cost of travel — we rarely get to see each other. It requires a nearly super-human effort to get us all in the same place, even though we generally want nothing more than that.


My year of 40 is also their year of 40, give or take a few months. I knew I wanted to see them, and a 40th birthday trip felt like something I could get them to rally behind. Also, in “year of 40” style, I wanted us to go somewhere I had never been. Nine months after the planning began, we made it: a week in Costa Rica, all together.

Readers, it was everything I had hoped it would be and more.

Sunset over Playa Guiones, Nosara, Costa Rica

We were looking for a town in which we could do yoga and go surfing. Astrid had heard of Nosara from a friend, so Ashley set to researching it, and the town seemed to meet our requirements. After settling on the last week of September (based on everyone’s travel and work schedules), we booked our flights and reserved a bungalow at the Harmony Hotel.

The pool at the Harmony Hotel

One noteworthy thing about traveling to Nosara is that it is a 2 ½ hour drive from the nearest airport, and the second half of that drive is on a pothole-ridden dirt road, making for one of the bumpier rides I have ever been on. The natives (and the expats who have discovered Nosara) like this feature, as they say it keeps a lot of the tourists away.

September is the rainy season in Nosara, and the weather report in the days leading up to our departure was incredibly depressing. 100% chance of rain: morning thunderstorms, afternoon thunderstorms, evening thunderstorms. This was the forecast for every day I was to be in Costa Rica. I packed my raincoat, books, playing cards. I figured I would have to hunker down in our cabin, and I was rather disappointed at the prospect.

Sunny days. Umbrella used as sunshade or prop.

Fortunately, the forecast was a vast overstatement. Most days, an afternoon or an evening thunderstorm would roll in for a half-hour or an hour. Nada mas! These thunderstorms were epic: lightning, heavy rain, loud claps of thunder. I actually loved the rain, which didn’t impact our activities at all.

Better still, the rain keeps tourists away. I suppose the threat of a “rainy season” makes most people choose a different time of year to visit CR — all the better for us. The town was like a ghost town. There was one couple with a baby who stayed at our hotel; our yoga classes only ever had 1-2 participants besides us. We had the pool, the restaurants, the vast beaches, almost all to ourselves. Some of the businesses had shuttered for the season, but enough restaurants were open to keep us fed, and we wanted for nothing.

Aerial yoga (a first!): we comprised 5/6 of the class.

Our days in Nosara were like a dream: a beautiful, leisurely pastiche of eating well, physical activity (run/walk/surf/swim/yoga), time for ourselves, and time with friends. We could fit so much in our days, when there was no work to interfere, no children making demands, no commute to rob us of precious minutes.



Yoga in paradise

The next time I’m asked, “What would your perfect day be like?” I might respond with a description of my last day in Costa Rica. It went like this:

Wake up. Go surfing. Eat a delicious breakfast. Read and relax for an hour. Do an intense level 2/3 yoga class. Indulge in a tropical green smoothie. Get a massage. Shower, read some more. Go out to the beach for champagne at sunset. Watch as a sea turtle makes her way to the ocean, having laid her eggs. Walk to a restaurant and enjoy dinner and drinks with friends. Walk back to the hotel. Sleep soundly.

Mama sea turtle crawls back to the ocean

Our trip was magical, in part because of Nosara, and all it offers, but moreso because I experienced it with my friends. I cherish them. I already miss our belly laughs, our stories, and our pondering of life’s great questions.

Champagne on the beach at sunset

Fortunately, we have agreed to do this again for our “year of 45.”