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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Casa Tranquilo

Time sure flies when you're having fun. Needless to say, this post is long overdue. Since our last check in, we've traveled the length of the country several times, collected some ridiculous and bizarre stories, and met dozens of interesting people.

Perspective from the back yard
After completion of my TEFL course and a drunken skinny dipping trip in which several people lost various items of clothing to the sea (don't tell our mothers!) a large group from my class rented a house on the Caribbean coast for a week. The house, called Casa Tranquilo, was located outside a small beach town called Cauhita. The house itself was gorgeous, hand built by the owner's father, it was all detailed wood and cozy leather couches and utter luxury. Other than the internet not working for half the week and the water reservoir drying out twice, this place was a dream come true. 
Inside Casa Tranquila, AKA, #TEFLHouse

It was such a pleasure to be joined by so many great friends. In total 13 of the 18 people in our class joined us at the house, with a core 9 of us staying all week. It was the perfect way to spend that last week. Who knew that a random, rag-tag group of highly-functional misfits could have come together to create a team as incredible as #TEFLHouse? I give props to our TEFL teacher, Phil Raymond, for bringing such a motley crew together to the point that we needed that extra week before saying goodbye. Cheers, Phil! We miss you and are thinking about you often.

Our backdrop in Puerto
The Caribbean coast strolls leisurely to the pace of a reggae beat, as opposed to the reggaeton we heard spilling from every bar in Quepos. In Puerto Viejo there are more bikes than cars, and more pedestrians than bikes. Hostels, organic cafes and smoothie joints line the beaches between palms while restaurants and vendors - where you can get your green, black and red "Bob" trucker hat - lie across the street. We spent a fantastic afternoon in Puerto hanging out on the stoop of an abandoned shipping crate home that was directly in front of the perfect, sand-bottomed swimming hole protected from the surf by a rock reef. Fishing and sailing boats bobbed nearby, the ocean shimmering underneath them like a disco ball.

We didn't have to ride 40 minutes into Puerto to  have a good time though. The bus stop/bar combo at the end of the street Casa Tranquilo was on provided plenty of good times and laughs. The owner gave Spanish lessons to a few in our group, would open the adjacent mini mart just to get various juices for mixers in our cocktails, and played the most epic mix of 80s and early 90s hits you could possibly ask for. My girls Sonja, Kate, Zakera and I had a brilliant time belting (whilst drinking said cocktails, naturally) out such tunes as End of the Road by Boys II Men and Take My Breath Away by Berlin. The bartenders face below says it all:
Sonja, Zakera, Me, Kate, Mister Bartender
Speaking of, the bar was about 800m from the Casa, so we had quite a ways to walk each time we took the bus in and out of town. On one memorable walk home, a giant box truck came barrelling down the narrow dirt road. We were scattered across in the road, completely unsuspecting of such dangers. It was dark, there were 11 or so of us, and the truck was likely going about 30mph faster than was necessary. Needless to say, we all jumped out of the road as quickly as we could manage. Much to my chagrin, I was the only one that jumped off to the left, and I soon realized why. Not only did the truck come much closer to me than the others (I think within 2 feet or so) but my flip flop was sacrificed to the flip flop gods, who stole it from me using a murky, muddy, jungly puddle. I was shocked, legs covered in mud, had only one flip flip, and about a half mile of gravel road to traverse before we were home. Justin and I hung back as I limped along, until our gallant friend Clint offered his right flip flop for the rest of the trek. I'd never been so happy to wear a grimy man shoe in my life. When it happened, it was pretty scary, but looking back, the lost flip flop story is actually pretty hilarious.

With the great came the not so great, as is often the case. While our week at Casa Tranquilo was highlighted by great moments spent with friends, funny stories, and relaxation, it couldn't put off the inevitable goodbyes. First we were forced to bid adiu to our beloved David Fuentes, then Brad, then Simen, Jake and Jude, followed of course by the rest of us splitting the following day in San Jose. Its crazy: we'd only met one another a mere five weeks prior, but spending 6-12 hours a day together for the majority of that time built strong bonds that won't ever break down. Since leaving the Casa, I know that Sonja is following Trevor (aka "David Fuentes") back to the states, Justin and I have already visited Brad, Jake, Tyler, Jude, Phil (as well as several others), and Simen went all the way up to Guatemala to chill with Kate as she settles into her new job. I think all of us can agree that we've made friends for life, no matter where our travels take us. See you all at our reunion in 10 years #Europe2024!

Creepy Jonathan and the guys bidding farewell to Fuentes
Bye bye Brad

Kate expresses her distress in Simen leaving :p

The ladies love Fuentes
Beautiful beach in Puerto

Justin and Tyler play with Mr. Ball

Sasquatch sighting

Sunset by the bus stop

Kate and Simen