Sunday, March 28, 2010

Life Is Better When You Surf

I wasn't ready to go to Costa Rica two weeks ago. My son came home from college and brought me a miserable cold. I needed to work around the clock to get my desk cleared. The weather here was damp, and cool, and I couldn't even imagine being warm, much less enjoying a tropical climate. In short, I didn't want to leave home. I was not in an adventuresome mood.

But like the surfboard says above, "Life is better when you surf." It's good not to be too precious. It's silly to write about life, and not live it. A new stamp on my passport beckoned, and certainly, I needed a break. So, I threw a few warm clothes into a suitcase, grabbed my reading sunglasses and away I went.

Marcel Proust wrote, "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes." I'll admit. I was a bit of a grumpy Gus at first. I hacked and coughed and generally felt miserable. I had Book #4 that needed editing. I had a short story I wanted to finish. But, I came back with new eyes. For five days, I couldn't do much online except check my emails. For five days, no one from the U.S. could call us. In those five days, all sorts of new ideas percolated in my brain. I came back feeling so very, very eager to write.

My mind is full of new images, color, and people. "Our happiest moments as tourists always seem to come when we stumble upon one thing while in pursuit of something else," said novelist Lawrence Block. I was walking down the street in front of our hotel when a parade passed by. This character stopped so I could snap his photo.

As I understand it, in the Hispanic cultures, there are days when Death walks among us. We're not to be frightened. Instead, we are to understand that death and life are inextricably linked. We can never truly be separated from those we love. That's a great message, and who would understand that better than a mystery writer? I plan to blow up my photo of this curious fellow and keep him near my desk.

Here are a few other factoids I've gleaned about Costa Rica:

* Costa Ricans call themselves "Ticos."
* They have no national army.
* Their national greeting/motto is "Pura Vida" which roughly means "pure living" but more likely just translates into "cool!"
* Their favorite national dish is "spotted rooster," which is a yummy concoction of rice, beans and cilantro.
* Costa Ricans have a literacy rate of 96% and put a high value on education.
* Directions in Costa Rica are given with a purse of the lips, not a pointing of fingers.
* It's "coast-a reeka" not "costa reeka."
* The water is safe to drink, you don't need a electrical currency converter, and the national currency (money) is Colon or Colones.

And yeah, it's absolutely, breath-takingly beautiful.

To read an interesting blog about an American ex-pat in Costa Rica, go to BLOG.

I'm curious. Are you different after you travel? Do the sights and sounds stay with you? Do they invigorate you, too?


Monica Ferris said...

I love to travel, especially to somewhere far off. I love to astonish my eyes and my nose and my ears. The sights and sounds and smells stay with me for a long, long time (some for life!) and I come home with a desire to communicate what I have experienced in my writing.

Linda O. Johnston said...

We travel a lot, and I always enjoy going to places I've never been. I always try to use wherever as research, so in that respect it changes me! Today, I'm wearing a t-shirt with koalas on it that I bought in Australia. Loved that trip!

Betty Hechtman said...

I love to go places - near or far. Last week we went to Morro Bay, which is considered the central coast of California. Only a short overnight trip, no foreign language or even another state, but I came back with a refreshed mind. And I signed books at 5 bookstores including an independent.

Joanna, your trip sounded great. I've heard Costa Rica is really nice.

Camille Minichino said...

You'll never catch me surging, BUT I do take notes wherever I do go!

At a wedding this weekend, I networked with a literary attorney (desperately needed) and a screenwriter.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Monica, we all appreciate your travel because you share it with us so nicely. Linda, I meant to get a tee shirt, but didn't see one that I loved. Instead, I brought home seashells. Betty, I totally get the need for that refreshed mind! Camille, I hope that literary attorney can help you with whatever. Fingers crossed.

Terri Thayer said...

Sounds like a wonderful cure for the common cold.