Saturday, January 25, 2014

Christmas Day As A Costa Rican Expat

Shannon Enete
My Christmas morning was not spent unwrapping gifts. Nor was there a traditional Christmas tree. I didn’t fight any holiday traffic, or wrap a single gift! There was no holiday stress, or rush. There was, however, abundant joy!

It can be a bit difficult to get into the mood of the season without a chill in the air and never-ending Christmas music played in every retail store. In an attempt to rectify this, my wife and I decorated a small palm tree, just outside of our house, with lights and ornaments. We also played our favorite Christmas music while relaxing at home. Since we moved abroad, Cammy and I have decided to exchange experiences rather than gifts. This new tradition works better for us in two ways. First, it helps us keep our life “travel-sized.” Secondly, we seek out experiences more than objects, understanding that we can cherish them for a lifetime.

Christmas day began with coffee on our terrace overlooking the largest lake in Costa Rica, Lake Arenal. The 26 mile-long lake boasts sapphire blue water that contrasts magically with the surrounding vibrant green hills. After soaking in the sights and sipping our coffee, we set out for our first caving adventure. Calvernas el Venado is located approximately 45 minutes from La Fortuna and one hour down a dirt road from Nuevo Arenal. On the way we met a friendly local, Helen, and offered her a ride. She was on her way from her house to her dad’s farm for the holiday celebrations. Walking would have taken her an hour and a half, so I guess there were presents after all!

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