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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Costa Rica Fun, Food and Friendship

Our community of fun and fun things to do just keeps growing here in Santa Eulalia. Nowhere else in our two years in Costa Rica have we lived in a neighborhood in which we found so many kindred spirits, new friends, both Tico and Gringo and entertaining things to see and do around every corner. Even our almost-daily walks offer new vistas in recent days as cornfields and sugarcane fields have been  harvested and left bare, opening up distant views. One day this week we hiked down a side road toward the waterfall, passing empty cane fields that revealed trees standing tall above sheer canyon walls. In the distance we could see Barrio Los Angeles, where we used to live, and even spied our former landlords Odie and Eduardo's red roof.

But today was special for me. I just returned from a truly magical experience: riding a beautiful Paso Fino mare in an arena about a 15-minute walk down the road from us. A shiny bay with a luxurious long black mane and large, dark intelligent eyes, she was spirited, but responsive and obedient and attentive to every shift of my weight in the saddle or slight adjustment on the reins. Controlled only with a rope halter, she easily stopped, backed up, turned and picked up her incredible quick-step Paso gait with only subtle signals from me. That gait is so different from what I'm used to; no posting to the trot, you just sit quietly as the horse moves smoothly beneath your seat. It was an absolute joy to be on horseback again. I was so excited to be riding such an exquisite animal, I forgot all about taking pictures. But Talia looked much like the bay Paso pictured here.
Photo courtesy of

Equally wonderful was the new Tico friend I made in horse owner Francisco, thanks again to our estimado amigo Marcial, who had arranged this ride for me. After watching me ride awhile, Francisco complimented me on my riding skills then announced I could come ride anytime I wanted. Smiling, he said, "this is your house now," basically offering me the opportunity to ride his horse like it was my own. As we talked more, he also invited me join him and some of his friends on a trail ride soon. It is a dream come true for this horselover, as I miss being around horses and especially my own sweet Mojave, rest his horsy soul.

This introductory ride was arranged by Marcial after he had mentioned to me the possibility of my riding in an upcoming "tope" here in Atenas. As I understand it, a tope is a horse parade, usually part of a bigger festival, in which riders come from all over the country to show off their beautiful steeds and prance down the streets of town in colorful traditional finery. A Tico friend of Marcial's was looking for ways to involve some of the Gringo community in Atenas in the planned tope and since Marcial knew I had owned a horse in the United States, he asked if I'd be interested in participating. Would I?!! You bet! Just get me a horse, I said, and I'm there. But I also asked if he thought I could do some riding before the parade to get my "seat" back, and from this conversation came the ride today at Francisco's barn. We feel very lucky to be friends with such good-hearted and generous people.

Last night was another good time, this one a pool party and dinner at Bonnie & Stephen's house just down the hill from the horse barn where I rode today. I threw together a big salad made from organic lettuces, arugula, tomatoes, beets, cucumber, green onion and chili dulce before Layne and I hiked down the road in time for a leisurely swim in their incredible "pool with a view." As Bonnie said while we gazed out over the edge of the pool at the verdant jungle scenery, "I sometimes wonder if I'm at the Beverly Hilton or maybe I just died and this is heaven." It was pretty heavenly and lucky us, Bonnie & Stephen have thrown the door open to us as well, inviting us to use their pool anytime we want. 

Felipe, aspiring photographer
The handsome young Felipe, Marcial and Saedi's 23-year-old son was there, continuing his lessons in photography from the former instructor and accomplished videographer Stephen, as was Bonnie & Stephen's charming Filipino landlord Dave. When Marcial and Saedi joined us at the swimming pool a little later, we all stared in awe as the magnificent full moon rose over the treetops and highlighted the blue water in the pool. We left the periquitos del amor, as we laughingly called the "lovebirds" Marcial and Saedi, to their evening swim as the rest of us headed down to the house for a glass of wine. When they joined us in a while, we enjoyed a dinner of salads, mine and a yummy fruit, black beans, rice and more of that addictive Italian sausage. A most pleasant way to spend an evening!


  1. Very wonderful Kat. Maybe our sense of entitlements have changed to a sense of appreciating the simple pleasures of life, stripped of pretense....

    This is our time and our life.... We are entitled to new friendships, peace, tranquilly, harmony, laughter, kindness and joy.... Stephen

  2. Sounds lovely! Thank you for sharing.

  3. Sounds lovely. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thanks for reading and for your comment, Kim. Love your website! Added it to my Faves... and hope to come for a visit one of these days. Congrats on the HuffPost piece!

  4. Hi Kat,

    Lovely... so glad you are getting to ride again. Sounds like you and Layne are having such a god time. Keeping the gin cold for you. Broke my wrist square dancing. Nothing else new - pretty content here. Love, Philisse

  5. Always a pleasure to read your posts Kat and to see that you have found one of CR's paradise spots. A mixture of good scenery, weather, and pleasant, honest neighbors is required, but I think just as important is our personal set of qualities such as openness, acceptance, and optimism, which you have in abundance. Many people come here without those and it doesn't matter where they settle, they are unhappy.

    1. Thanks so much for your nice comment, Casey. We do seem to have found a special place here and certainly very special friends.