Milestone birthday

Really, every birthday is a milestone. But today, I’m 65. When you are a child, that seems VERY OLD. When you are a young adult, in your 20’s, it seems like forever away. When you reach your 40’s, and feel very wise, 65 starts becoming more real, but still, a long way off. In your 50’s, you start looking forward to when you can retire and get Medicare.

This year, my 65th year, has been a gift to myself. I quit my full time job and did a lot of traveling, including two 2 month travel nurse stints , the first in Chattanooga, and the second in Carson City. I loved Chattanooga, and basically hated Carson City. I learned that I missed being home with my husband, and I missed seeing my grandchildren. I learned that staying in an airbnb room in someone else’s house is not something I ever want to do again!

So, I came home, started working part time, took a road trip to see all my kids and went on a retreat in Costa Rica (and wrote about these trips on this blog, if you’re interested). I’m enjoying the holiday season, being with family, pondering all that I’ve experienced.

And, although I did sign up for Medicare, I’m not retiring and getting social security just yet. I’ve also learned that, although I do enjoy staycation for a while, I also like the structure that work offers, plus I can find meaning in my work. And yeah, the paycheck is a bit bigger than what SS offers.

So, in January, it’s back to being a full time acute care RN Case Manager in the hospital 10 minutes from home. For how long, I don’t know. I do know that I’m strong and healthy, and still have much to offer the world.

Last day in Costa Rica

I have a little downtime before my plane leaves this afternoon.

I’ve actually had a lot of downtime, but didn’t feel much like writing. This time in Costa Rica has been really great, a completely different experience than when I was here two years ago with Bamboo for two weeks working for turtle conservation. I have to admit, spending time in the cold and rainy cloudforest was a bit challenging. But here is a picture of me from yesterday morning when it cleared a little:

After this picture was taken, we started out on a guided walk, but it quickly became uncomfortable, and our young guide, pleasant as he was, stopped too many times along the way. It concluded with the Hummingbird Garden, and I left the group at that time, glad that I had found my way there the previous day, when I captured this picture of a hummingbird just sitting for a minute!

It took about twice as long as usual to get back to our homey casa in San Jose. Traffic was at a standstill due to construction and just – people! I was glad to be able to just chill in the back of our small bus, and leave the driving to the driver! I actually dozed off for a bit!

We ate so late in the afternoon that we decided to just stay home and eat snacks.

Accompanied by wine, we enjoyed a long last sobramesa!

Rainy season is not over

Martes manana 6 am

temp around 68, overcast and rainy

Today I sit in the little nook next to the kitchen with my cafe con leche y azucar

Yesterday was not so fun – it was sunny in the morning but we drove up into the clouds to Parque National Volcan Irazu and it was cold! then it started to rain. Couldn’t see any volcanic craters.

Then we went to Hacienda Oriso where there are hot springs, but the rain kept coming, ceasing periodically but offering no sunshine. The warmth of the springs was nice, but overall, I don’t think I would want to do it again. I don’t really like getting into pools or springs or even the ocean, except to cool off when its hot, then only for a short time. It was very beautiful, though, and there is a large covered open air restaurant where we partook of food and a little wine. On the way back, in the dark and rain, I put a book in my ears and kept my eyes closed. Much more relaxing than worrying about the driving.

Words and phrases I have learned:

casadas – typical meal of rice, beans, picadillo, salad, plantains, protein

sobramesa – table time

que diche – so very good!

colocho pelo – curly hair

picadillo – tiny chopped up vegetables

cafe choreado – pourover coffee

I love Costa Rica

I am in San Jose, Costa Rica, a last minute opportunity to be here with a small group of women, on retreat so to speak. I visited CR in 2019 for 2 weeks, fell in love then, and continue to feel the draw to this beautiful country, full of beautiful people.

And I love my room here at Casa Alma. It lets the sunrise in so I wake with it. It is 6 am. I actually woke over an hour ago, but drifted in and out for a while. Now enjoying my coffee in the large front room that is probably the living room but has only a couch, a couple of tables, and some yoga mats. Great place for yoga, too. 

Yesterday we started the morning at the enormous farmers market, shopping for our cooking class scheduled for the evening. Local farmers come from miles around, every week, and the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables is amazing. We were looking for chayote for our dinner tonight, a new vegetable to me.

After that, we went to the coffee plantation La Chimba Hacienda. Let me mention here that our driver, Roberto, is amazing. I just have to not pay attention to the driving, it is very different here!

First we took a hike on the Mantra Trail to the Buddha. The coffee plants grow everywhere! Then lunch at the restaurant there – casadas, the typical lunch of rice/beans/salad/vegetables/plantains. And meat, but I had fried eggs, not so great. Next time I will get scrambled, or ask for extra beans.

Then we did the coffee experience tour, and I learned a few more things about coffee, and got to taste the difference in the five different ways of preparation. As a result, I bought two bags of the premium beans – so good that I could drink it black!

We stopped at the supermercado on the way home and bought some wine to go with dinner. Then Elsa came to do a cooking class. She is around my age, and speaks no English. I loved the whole experience. Not just the cooking, but the communicating with gestures and some interpretation, with my attempts at Spanish. And the food was delicioso! I can’t remember the name of the vegetable dish, but it is all cut up in tiny cubes, very savory. We made tortillas, and a passion fruit dessert. Que dicho! We drank wine during the cooking, and dinner, which I think we ate around 7:30, and sat at the table and talked until almost 10. They call it sobramesa – enjoying the table.

It was all so very lovely.

Today, we go to a volcano and hot springs, and won’t be home until super late.

Road Trip Day 15 – 800 miles across 4 states to home

I didn’t plan to drive nearly 800 miles in a day, but that is what I did. I write this from home, where I slept last night. I have been writing this blog in the evenings, but last night I was pretty exhausted. This morning, I am sitting in my happy place, drinking coffee.

I didn’t leave the Secret Lodge Bed and Breakfast until 9:30 am, because I wanted to have breakfast! and it was satisfying, as was my stay there. The view is unbelievable.

The previous couple of days I had been looking around for a place to stop on my last night – I was thinking Baton Rouge area. But I had nothing, so decided to just drive until I got tired, and get a hotel. I set the google map to home, and headed south.

The weather was clear, the road was primarily straight, and with minimal stops for gas and bathroom, (I ate my leftover Mellow Mushroom pizza in the car as I drove) I found myself crossing the Mississippi in Baton Rouge at 5:30. I had two more hours of daylight, I felt good, and I kept going. By then, I was sure I would drive all the way. There were no sights I wanted to see except home and husband.

I drove straight towards a beautiful sunset, made even more so with the reflections off the water in the Atchafalaya Basin. No pictures except the images in my mind. I broke my rule about driving after dark, knowing that the rest of the way home was familiar territory on Interstate 10 to Houston. I entered Texas around 8 pm, and it was only 2 1/2 hours til home. I was sustained by apples from Massachusetts and cookies from Chattanooga.

I broke all records, mine anyway, on this drive. I hardly stopped except for necessities. The only other time I had driven a long way without stopping for a real sleep was when I drove my oldest daughter to Chicago to go to college, circa 2005. That distance is 1100 miles, and on the way back, I drove all night, stopping at rest areas for short naps. My youngest daughter was with me in the back seat, but way too young to drive. That was really just stupid. This time, I knew I would be home by 10:30, or I would have stopped.

The worse part of the drive was through the city. Had it been daytime, I would have taken more northern roads to avoid it, but it felt safer to be on the interstate after dark.

It was wonderful to be greeted by my loving husband, and sleep in my own bed. I have no pictures from the road yesterday, so here are some flowers blooming in my yard.