Category Archives: costa rica

Early Christmas card from the Balynker-Glooms

Perfect form!
Originally uploaded by shorterstory.

Hi Everyone! Happy It’s-Virtually-Christmas!

Day by day, sunlight recedes, flowers droop, tans fade, and hurricanes gear up to wallop our fair cities. Last year at this time the RNC introduced Sarah Palin and the NYT introduced Unigo! (Now that we all have some perspective, the question to ask is, Which flopped harder?)

I always get down in the dumps in September, but the fact that this summer was disappointingly unsweaty makes me even more morose.

To mark and improve these waning days, some of us decamped to Splish Splash, the water park of kings. The journey was not for the faint of heart: we had to travel into the depths of Long Island via a subway, two trains, and a shuttle bus. Ultimately, though, we arrived at a haven as splish-splashy as promised, and as removed from our daily lives as we could hope.

Even that, as it turned out, was a mere teaser for Mr. Ben’s and my more extended vacation in glorious Costa Rica.

We took a puddle-jumper from San Jose to the remote Oso Pennisula, where we stayed in a hacienda owned by a family friend. He visits his mountain-top paradise four or five times a year, usually with as many guests as he can entice to join him.

Together, we explored jungles, beaches, and tropical fruits that required Inglorious Basterds-type methods to get to the insides. He took us out to eat, to hike, to meet his ex-pat friends, to fly through the air with the greatest of ease, and to fish.



Once, while relaxing on his shaded porch, with fans whirring overhead and fresh-fruit smoothies in hand, birds quarreling faintly in the trees and the sun dipping into the Pacific on the horizon, I said, “I feel like a colonialist.” Turns out that’s a Think, Don’t Say in the developing world.

Awkward realizations aside, it really was a fantastic experience from beginning to end. Except for the back of my leg.


More pictures TK. Hope you’re all well!

Ben & Ester

On the Edge of Things

Paradise, I’ve discovered, dwells in the borderlands. It makes sense: being in the center can be pleasant and safe, but it is rarely glorious. The house where Mr. Ben and I are now staying in Costa Rica sits at the top of a mountain, next to the rain forest, and at the edge of a cliff, and it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. A string of bushes beaded with coral-orange flowers separates us from everything below. In the distance and far beneath us, the Pacific Ocean foams at the mouth. Howler monkeys scream at the sun for coming up in the morning and frogs make mellow sounds at twilight.

Otherwise, insects make virtually the only noise. I knew, when I arrived, that I would have to be less jumpy about critters than I usually am. I try and I fail and I continue to try. Our first morning, in a bed-and-breakfast in Alajuela, Mr. Ben and I opened the door to the shower and something large and black flew at us from the darkness. Of course it was only a moth, but *you* try not to scream when something with wings comes at you first thing in the morning.

Our flight over Friday night had been exhausting. Half of Holland had been emptied out onto our plane for some reason. The looming, affable Dutch stood for the most of the ride, leaning over each others’ seats, laughing, talking, and even breaking out into song. They ignored us completely and we in turn felt like we were flying 2,000 miles in a bar in the Hague. Of course, the flight was late, and of course there were no movies, and of course by the time the stewardess made it to the very back row with the food cart, where we sat trapped between the Nords and the bathroom, she had given away everything except little hamburgers that get microwaved in plastic bags. The vegetarian meals we had ordered had long since been handed over to someone else.

But who cares? The hunger and the inconvenience were a small price to pay to get here. Our little adventures — finding the door of the B&B shower broken and ourselves locked in; arriving for our 9:00 AM local flight to Palmar Del Sur on time but at the wrong airport — seemed funny as soon as they were over.

We have shopped and swum and cooked and marveled at the landscaping here at the top of Mel’s mountain. Mel is the family friend whose hospitality we’re enjoying. He bought his house five years ago and has transformed it into a private tropical getaway. Last night we played poker until almost midnight on the porch with a crowd of his ex-pat friends. Today we’re going to go fishing for our lunch. I am supremely blissful, even while I am on the watch for scorpions. And tomorrow we head into the rain forest! With any luck, we will make it out again.