I don’t mean to boasta, but I went to Costa

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My sister decided to get married in Costa Rica of all places, so Sara and I decided to go without the kids.

Costa Rica was basically everything you think it would be: sunny and hot, but with a fresh breeze off the ocean, exotic animals, amazing fresh fruit, and the. best. coffee. full stop.

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It was my first time staying in an all-inclusive resort. Usually, when Sara and I travel, we’re more do-it-yourself kind of people. There were pluses and minuses to it.

The downside was that we were somewhat locked into the touristy resort area, reliant on tour companies to get around, and paying ridiculous prices for souvenirs with “Made in China” stamped on the bottom. We mostly saw the whitewashed, tourist version of Costa Rica, and I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that we could have done everything on our own for much cheaper.

The upside was that we didn’t have to worry about anything. I mean, seriously, ANYTHING. No worrying about where to eat, no worrying about getting bottled water, or cleaning up after ourselves, or asking for directions, or not speaking Spanish. The staff were friendly and eager to please in a way that just doesn’t exist in Chicago (eye rolling and exasperated sighs need not apply!). You don’t realize what a burden it is to not have to worry about all of these little details until you suddenly don’t have to anymore. Obviously all of these things were magnified by the fact that we didn’t have the kids to worry about either.

The biggest decision I had to worry about was which dessert to pick after dinner.

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Fresh off the plane from sunny Costa Rica, and it’s snowing here in Chicago. Rough transition, folks!

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We did do a couple of excursions (more on that tomorrow), but we still had plenty of time to sit and relax. Relax on our balcony, relax in the pool, relax on the beach…did I mention relaxing?

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Every morning, Sara and I would go down and snag a cup of coffee from the lobby and then find a place to read for an hour or so before breakfast. Reading an actual paper book is one of the great pleasures in this life (double so, since I was reading the most excellent The Martian, which was a page turner!).

Did I mention relaxing?

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After that, we would go get breakfast, and at LEAST two more cups of coffee. Not only was the coffee amazing (hard to get fresher coffee than in Costa Rica), but it was brewed thick and dark and always came with a carafe of warm milk. Heaven.

The food was actually much better than I thought it would be. I was worried it would be all hot dogs, nacho cheese, and pizza (and those things were, in fact, there to be found), but it was actually much more authentic than I feared. Most importantly, there was lots and lots of delicious fresh mango, papaya, pineapple, melon, and some other, equally delicious if much stranger, fruits. There were fried plantains, and beans and rice, and fresh avocados, and a salsa bar…let’s have a moment of silence for those poor, misguided tourists eating the pizza, shall we?

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I think at least 3 people in our party got stung by jellyfish. Luckily, I was not one of them, but it didn’t exactly endear me to the ocean (and apparently, peeing on it really does help. MYTH NOT-BUSTED!). The beach right at the resort was rocky and a little painful to walk on barefoot, so combined with that, the threat of jellyfish stings, and little shade to come by, we mostly came down to the beach in the evening.

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Costa Rica is close enough to the equator that sunrise and sunset are clockwork reliable. They get pretty much exactly 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night, all year round. It was so very pleasant to sit down at the beach and watch a beautiful sunset every night before dinner.

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It took at least 24 hours to get used to not having to pay for things. You keep feeling like you’re getting away with something. “Oh, I can just take this? That’s just included? Oh, I just help myself?”

None more so than with the bar. Every drink, on the house, day or night. At first you start out small…lemonade and vodka? Rum and coke? This is still okay, yes? Next thing you know it’s mango smoothies with tequila, and “Oooh, can I get the secret Johnny Walker Red from under the bar?” and “Excuse me miss, I’m not sure you ground the limes properly in my caipirinha…”

It’s easy to let it go to your head, both literally and figuratively.

In fact, they had some funny looking faucets in our hotel room…

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But it wasn’t all relaxing and free booze. No sir, there was also a Michael Jackson impersonator.

Michael. Jackson. Impersonator.

Told you this place was full service. She was good, too. I can verify that the Thriller dance was cannon, and during Billie Jean she went full on Moonwalk, baby. Awesome.

There were other shows put on by the resort at night, but after seeing Michael Jackson the first night I’m afraid the bar was a little too high, if you know what I mean.

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So Sara and I decided to take a walk down the beach one day. After we were far, far from everybody else, all alone, we noticed a solitary man walking toward us. Hey, what is that strange Costa Rican carrying on this lonely beach? A walking stick? A piece of driftwood?

Nope. A machete.

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Luckily, before we could have our heads cracked open like a coconut, some strangers rode up on horses. “Hey, let’s walk quickly after these mysterious horses!” we said, walking quickly after the mysterious horses. I kept nervously looking back over my shoulder to see if he was following us, but I guess the mystery horses were too much for him, because our coconuts remained un-cracked.

We did pass another couple going down the beach, and I did consider warning them about the sword-wielding machete-murderer, but oh well; let them find their own mystery horses, I always say.

Alas, too soon it was time to say goodbye to Costa Rica and head back to the land of kids and snow and watered down coffee. Costa Rica, we hardly knew ye.

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Stay tuned for tomorrow’s exciting episode, in which we almost witness a crocodile’s dinner, monkeys do what comes naturally, and I get to swim under a waterfall.

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