For those of you out there that, like myself, read a lot of blogs, you might have heard that Dan from Single Dad Laughing came out last week, publicly announcing that he was gay.
I’m not a huge follower of Dan (prior to this the only thing of his I had ever read was his excellent post “I’m Christian, unless you’re gay“), so if it wasn’t for so many other blogs out there commenting on this, I probably wouldn’t have even known. But, this caused a big stir in the blog world, and while I believe the support he received far outweighed the negativity, he was still met with a lot of less than positive comments. People saying how sad they were for him. How he wasn’t going to heaven. People praying for his son. Etc. etc. etc.
When I first started reading blogs, I have to admit, I was really really really surprised by how many Christian and Mormon bloggers there were out there. Not that I was surprised that Christians and Mormons blogged, but I was surprised by how much they talked about their faith, and how big a part of their blog it was. I was surprised by how prevalent the Mormon culture was in the blogosphere. I read a lot of Mormon blogs, and when I first realized this, it kind of became a game for me… “is this person Mormon? What about her? Oh… I don’t believe she has ever mentioned wine, she must be Mormon!” I was just surprised, because in my real life, in San Francisco, religion/faith/my relationship with God, is not a huge part of it. I have friends who are very religious, friends who are hard core atheists, friends who are agnostic and not quite sure, but our group is diverse and religion isn’t something that our social circle centers around.
As I have become more attuned to the world of lifestyle blogs, one thing I’ve realized is just what a bubble I live in in San Francisco. While this may seem obvious to many, it still surprises me. I’m still caught off guard when I read comments about gay marriage being a sin, or how being gay is a choice, or how if you are gay you are not going to heaven. I am stereotyping here, but in my experience, comments like these are mostly from the more religious bloggers. BUT, please note that I am also very aware that many religious bloggers don’t feel this way.
But for those that that do? Well, I just don’t get it. I understand that there are people out there who think, based on a very old book, that being gay is a sin, but I don’t understand why people would feel the need to degrade other people because of it. I don’t believe that being gay is a choice. I believe you are born that way and I believe that God loves those that are gay just as much as everyone else. I believe in marriage equality, and I believe two people that love each other, regardless of how they identify sexually, should be able to get married.
During our own wedding ceremony Kevin and I asked our officiant (a friend) to read a passage from the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage, which ended with the the sentence “civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family…because it fulfills yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition.” I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to decide whom to marry, and the opportunity to do so. The day I married Kevin was one of the best days of my life, and I don’t think it’s fair that right now, only certain people are allowed to have that experience.
The fact that I even feel the need to write the above still kind of boggles my mind, since most people in my real life feel similar, but lately, reading blogs (as well as this past election) I’ve realized just how many people out there feel differently. How much farther we still have to go. What a battle we still have left.
And so I wanted to share this video that I saw the other day. A video one of my very good friends posted on facebook. A friend who happens to be gay and lives in a state that just legalized same-sex marriage, a fact that makes me so happy. You may have already seen it, but if not, I hope you watch.
“When I was in churchThey taught me something else If you preach hate at the service Those words aren’t anointed And that Holy Water That you soak in Is then poisoned When everyone else Is more comfortable Remaining voiceless Rather than fighting for humans That have had their rights stolen I might not be the same But that’s not important No freedom ’til we’re equal Damn right I support it.”
After a few days deep in the jungle, hanging from trees and tempting fate on ATVs, I was more than ready to switch gears and do nothing but relax. It had been rainy our first few days, but the weather could not have been better for the second half of our trip. Sunny, breezy, high 70s. Gorgeous. We moved out of our all glass homes and headed over to our rental house in Dominical.
The pictures of the house had looked amazing, but I’ve had more than a few experiences where the pictures look better than the reality, so I didn’t want to get too excited. As we drove towards Dominical we saw a huge house sitting on a cliff, a house that looked conspicuously like the one in our pictures, and we all started to get really excited.
Well, the house we drove by wasn’t it, but it was right next to it, and OH MY GOD you guys, was it fantastic! It was right on a cliff which overlooked all of Dominical, and the views were magnificent. The house was HUGE and gorgeous and pristine and fancy, and for a few days we pretended to be rich people who own million dollar homes like this. Oh to be in the 1%!
One more thing… I think it might have been owned by Mel Gibson.
Okay, well, I’m not actually sure about that part, but there were a ton of pictures throughout the house of Mel Gibson with who I think is the owner, and he had clearly been there before, so in my head, I’m just going to pretend we stayed at Mel Gibson’s Costa Rica getaway. Sound good?
In a wonderful coincidence, two of our friends from San Francisco were also in Costa Rica, staying in the Manuel Antonio area. They came down for an afternoon and we all lounged and drank and ate fresh ceviche, and it was just a great time. It also happened to be Heather’s birthday the next day, and since we didn’t have a cake or something similar, we had to improvise.
Yes, that is an avocado birthday… cake? Not sure what to call it, but it did the job.
The next day was Thanksgiving, and unfortunately, it didn’t turn out quite as we had planned. I woke up in the middle night having some serious stomach problems, and these stomach problems continued throughout the day. I was so so so mad at myself because I am always so careful when I travel, sticking to bottled water and purrelling my hands like crazy, eating pepto before anything questionable, but well, I guess I got careless, and shit happens. The six months I spent in Southeast Asia I was okay, but less than a week in Costa Rica and I was down and out. I felt like such an amateur! Montezuma is a quite an asshole, and his revenge is no joke.
Since I couldn’t leave the house we rescheduled dinner, and had… pizza. The guys watched football and drank beer, so the day was rather American after all.
Fortunately I felt significantly better the next day, and our days of doing nothing and eating could resume.
We took a side trip to Manuel Antonio Park, where we enjoyed a day of monkeys and sloths and all sorts of creepy crawly things.
The beaches were beautiful, the sand was soft, and the views were amazing, but I’m so happy that we stayed a bit outside of that area. It was so touristy and as soon as you stepped out of your car you were bombarded by people coming up to you. It had a completely different vibe than Dominical and Uvita, and confirmed how happy I was with our choice to stay where we did.
The rest of the trip we pretty much we just relaxed and slept and ate amazing food. Every night we would sit outside and watch the sunset, and I would just be overcome with gratitude. Grateful that I was in a position in my life where I was able to take trips like this. Grateful that my one of my best friends from high school, someone I rarely get to see anymore, was able to do it with me. Grateful for my husband and the life we are building together.
And grateful for the stunning breathtaking sunsets we were treated to every single night.
Sunsets: Good for reflection. Good for the heart.
Even on our way out, at the busy and less than stellar San Jose airport, the sunset was still nothing less than phenomenal.
And there you have it. That’s pretty much the gist of our Costa Rica vacation. We ate. We drank. We laughed. We loved. We relaxed. We sought adventure (and survived!). It was wonderful. Costa Rica is a beautiful country, and like so many other places I’ve visited and loved, I left a little bit of my heart there.
In the next few days I’m going to try to put together a little travel “guide” that includes more of the logistical information… where to stay, places to eat, things to do, etc., etc. If you have no interest in going to Costa Rica than this probably won’t mean much to you, but hey, it’s my blog and I love doing this kind of stuff, so there you have it.
After a long red eye and short layover in San Salvador, we arrived sleep deprived but happy in San Jose. Kevin had wisely decided that driving four hours to Uvita on little to no sleep was not a good idea, so instead we decided to spend our first night at a coffee plantation about 30 minutes outside of the city. We hopped into our rental car and off we went (for those interested, we used Service Car Rental and had no problems at all, I’d highly recommend them, especially with all the horror stories I had heard about other companies).
Finca Rosa Blanca, the coffee plantation, was gorgeous. It’s less than 30 minutes from the airport, but you feel like you are a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of San Jose.
The rooms are decorated fabulously and each one is full of character. We stayed in La Piedra and I loved it. The sitting area had wall to wall windows and the views were just breathtaking. Lush and green and exactly what you would expect Costa Rica to look like. After checking in we walked around the property, had some wine on our balcony, and just vegged out. It was the perfect first day. The place is pricey (it was the most expensive of all the places we stayed), but if you are too tired to embark on a long drive right when you get there, it is totally worth it for a night in my opinion.
Remember when I posted that picture of the women in the robe on the balcony?
Oh how I crack myself up.
We left the next morning and drove the four hours to Uvita. I was warned that the roads were the worst roads you could possibly imagine, so I had braced myself for the worst. However, it wasn’t bad at all. The freeway was normal and the drive along the coast was stunning.
We had been told that renting a 4×4 was essential, and when we finally got to Uvita we realized why. Outside of the main freeway, nothing is paved. It’s all rocky dirt roads, most of which go up mountains. As I mentioned before, there are no addresses or street signs, so the directions to our hotel were literally along the lines of “turn on the dirt road across from the bank, continue 50 meters, pass a small stream, turn left on the first dirt road after that stream, if you see a small cemetery you have gone too far,” etc. etc. I actually found this rather helpful as I am directionally challenged, so descriptions like this were fine for me, and we made it to the hotel easily. But let me tell you… that ten minute drive was BRUTAL. It was the most uncomfortable rocky road I have ever been on.
The hotel we stayed at, Oxygen Jungle Villas, was deep in the jungle, and all the villas were made completely out of glass. It was really pretty and unique, but… I’m going to be honest and say that if we could do it again I probably would have stayed elsewhere. Though beautiful, I felt that it was a little overrated for what it was, and that we could have the same quality for less elsewhere. But like I said, it was certainly gorgeous.
We decided to get the adventure part of our trip out of the way, so that we could just relax and chill out the end of our trip. We went zip-lining at Hacienda Baru, and while it wasn’t as intense as some of the other adventure parks in Costa Rica (Casey was a little upset that we were not going over 600 foot ravines or jumping off cliffs), it was still a lot of fun.
Casey and Carolyn had told us that one thing they really really really wanted to do was rent ATVs. So the next day, that’s exactly what we did. Unfortunately Kevin’s back was acting up and the zip-lining had only made it worse, so he decided to just hang out at the pool.
Okay, so let’s just make it clear that ATVing is not something I would normally do. Out of all the “adventure” type options out there, it wouldn’t be at the top of the list. Or really, on my list at all. But Casey and Carolyn said it was awesome and I didn’t want to miss out, so I went along. The tour we did was described as “a very scenic, easy paced tour that takes us over the mountains and into some deep jungle providing us with many spectacular ocean & valley views.” When we got to the tour place I told the owner that I was a bit nervous because I’d never driven an ATV before, and he assured me that it was super easy, and even, relaxing.
I was scared shitless 95% of the time. We went up STEEP cliffs that were slippery and hard to navigate, over huge mountains with no roads, and deep into the rainforest. During one of the breaks Carolyn said “aren’t these views just amazing?” and I said I wouldn’t know because I was too scared to look anywhere but directly in front of me.
However, the views were to die for.
As in you almost died viewing them.
As proof that my fears were not in vain, at one point Carolyn flipped her ATV and got pretty banged up. We all FREAKED THE EFF OUT (I started yelling “help! help!” at the top of my lungs as if that was going to do anything), but fortunately she was okay. The ATV didn’t land on her (barely), and she didn’t fall off the cliff she was a mere three inches away from, so outside of some serious bruising, cuts, and scrapes, she was okay.
A few hours in, our tour guide asked if we were hungry and wanted to stop at the grocery store for some snacks. We said yes. We drove through a little town with no more than ten houses, and stopped outside the “grocery store” to buy some food.
Not exactly what we were expecting, but we picked up some chips and beers (for later) and hopped back on those vehicles of terror.
I will admit, the overall experience was pretty awesome, and the views were incredible. Being alone in the rainforest, cruising through completely green, completely isolated jungle made me feel like I was in avatar!
But I probably won’t be renting an ATV anytime soon.
Before I bombard you with photos, I thought I’d share a little bit about how this trip came to be.
About six months ago Kevin and I decided to do a trip over the Thanksgiving holiday. We didn’t know where, but Costa Rica had been on our list for awhile. Kevin did an exchange program there was he was in high school (nearly 20 years ago!!! he is old!), and he had been wanting to go back ever since. As for me, there are about a bazillion places I would still like to go, Costa Rica being one of many, so I was a-okay with that plan. We found a good deal for tickets from SFO to San Jose and booked it. Kevin works for a travel based website, and because of that we are able to get access to a lot of great travel deals and perks, something we are both so grateful for as it allows us to do more of what we love: travel.
Costa Rica is a small country, but the landscape varies and there are so many options. Most people that I have talked to tend to do half their trip inland, deep in the jungle and rainforest, visiting volcanoes and cloud forests, and then spend the other half right on the beach.
After a lot of research, we decided that we were going to skip heading inland and spend all of our time right on the coast. While we would have loved to have spent some time in the Arenal region, we only had a week and really just wanted to head somewhere and relax. For the beach, we were torn between heading north to Mal Pais, or south towards the Osa Peninsula. We were told that there would be less chance of rain the further south we were, so that pretty much made our decision. Osa peninsula it was! Plus, the area surrounding it is really unique, providing the eco-diversity of a tropical rainforest, yet conveniently located right on the coast. We would be able to get the jungle, rainforest, and beach all in one.
Most people said that we didn’t need to go that far south, and that we should stay around the Manuel Antonio area. The Manuel Antonio Park is a huge national park along the southern coast, rumored to have some of the most beautiful beaches in all of Costa Rica. However, it’s also one of the most touristy parts of the country. After a bit more research, we decided to stay in the small surfer towns of Uvita and Dominical, not quite as far as the Osa peninsula but still a good 45 minutes south of Manuel Antonio. For a country as small as Costa Rica, 45 minutes makes a world of a difference in terms of tourism.
A few weeks after booking our tickets, one of my best friends from high school, Carolyn, called me up and asked if Kevin and I would be interested in going to Mexico with her and her husband in December. I thanked her for the invite but told her that we were going to Costa Rica in November, so there was unfortunately no way that we could swing both. I told her that she and Casey were more than welcome to join us in Costa Rica if they wanted to, never possibly thinking she would take me up on the offer. She laughed and said something a long the lines of “you know us, we don’t travel like you guys, we are not that adventurous,” and that was that.
You can imagine my surprise when a couple weeks later she asked me if the offer was still good. She and Casey had discussed it and decided that instead of doing what they usually do, they wanted to try something new. If we were still open to it, they would love to come to Costa Rica with us.
And so our first couples vacation was born.
The four of us at our wedding last October.
Actual pictures and stories from the vacation itself to come tomorrow!
I can’t say I’m happy to be back, but I can’t say I’m sad either. I got some major end of vacation blues yesterday, but when we drove into SF last night and the city was lit up with holiday lights, I remembered just how much I love this wonderful part of the world and how lucky I am to call it home.
We got back very late last night and woke up to a very foggy San Francisco morning. The view I saw as I looked out my window this morning was a stark contrast to what I’ve been waking up to for the past week.
Today. Clearly, I am not in Costa Rica anymore.
Kevin and I had a phenomenal time and even with a pulled back (Kevin) and a small case of Montezuma’s revenge (me – apologies in advance if that was TMI), we still loved every second of our vacation. Having our friends Carolyn and Casey along for the ride just made it even better. For two people that don’t have much experience in international travel, they did a great job and went with the flow as best they could, following along as Kevin and I dragged them to some very remote and hard to get to places.
As I’ve said before, large resorts are not our style, so most of the places we went were a little bit off the beaten path, and while all of these places were incredible, they were also slightly difficult to find. I mean, the part of the country that we stayed in (Uvita/Dominical) had no maps or addresses. Literally. Everything was along the lines of “take this dirt road until you see a small supermercado and then follow it until you a stream, and then turn on that unmarked dirt road.”
I’m not kidding.
All part of the experience if you ask me!
In the next few days I am going to bombard you with Costa Rica pictures and stories, so you have been forewarned.
In the meantime, for those of you that don’t follow me on instagram, please enjoy a quick snapshot of my Costa Rica trip via my iPhone.
Top Left: The descent to San Salvador. Every time I looked out of the window I saw views like this. It was unreal.
Bottom Left: The view from the coffee plantation we stayed at in Santa Barbara.
Right: The first of many stunning Costa Rica sunsets.
Top Left:The view from our jungle hotel in Uvita. It was overcast the first few days so you can’t really see it, but we are overlooking the ocean as well.
Top Right: The rooms were completely made of glass, looking like this on each side.
Bottom: The pool on a misty rainy day. Exactly what I would expect for a hotel in the middle of the rainforest.
Top Left: Casey hanging out in our private infinity pool in Dominical.
Top Right: The view from our rental house (both were taken on the one day it was overcast – the rest of our time was sun sun sun).
Bottom: One of the many breathtakingly beautiful sunsets we enjoyed nightly.
Just think… if these are from my little iPhone camera, just wait until you see what my real camera captured!