Anyone can be a reverend!
Yes, you read that title right. I’m now an ordained reverend, thanks to the power of the interwebs. It took only a few minutes. God bless ‘Murka. I ordained my best friend’s wedding on a private beach in Costa Rica. TRUE paradise. However, a lot happened leading up to that.
Before Costa Rica…
I went home for Christmas, and during the journey, Zach (my best friend) asked me to marry him and his fiancé, Emily, in Costa Rica in February. So, rather than going back to Madrid after Christmas, I prolonged my stay so I wouldn’t hop back to Madrid then back to Costa Rica. Thanks to the flexibility in my schedule, I thought – I’m going to make the most of being on the road.
Instead of flying directly to my destinations, it was cost-effective (and overall, more interesting) to make a few pits stops. The trip began in December, where Barcelona was the first destination. I learned about their quite literally sh*tty Christmas traditions, where a little wooden log called Caga Tio (Uncle Sh*t) poops out kid’s presents after they beat him with a stick. (Huh?)
Then, I spent a few days in Iceland, where they had even quirkier Christmas traditions, including a troll (okay, technically, he’s a yule lad) who suckles the milk from your sheep’s teets, but has a really hard time doing so because his legs are made of wood. (WTF.)
From there, I ended up in New York for a few days (no strange traditions that I know of…) and finally, home to Idaho.
Over New Year’s, the wedding crew united to do a “test run” and see how everyone gets along. Needless to say we knew that our Costa Rican adventure would not disappoint.
On the way down south
After spending two months in Idaho, I was ready to get back on the road, making my way to Costa Rica. The least expensive way to get to Costa Rica happened to be stopping through Mexico City for a few days. (I wonder why…) You can read about my experiences as a solo, blonde traveler in Mexico City, my experience with the earthquake (yikes), and finally, the real dangers of Mexico City, like OD’ing on tacos.
After six absolutely unreal days in Mexico City, where I fell in love with the food, people, and city, while also experiencing my first earthquake… Costa Rica had big shoes to fill.
It was certainly hard for Costa Rica’s capital to even slightly compare to Mexico City. In fact, it’s just not a fair comparison. It positively felt less safe here. The Uber driver confirmed my doubts after he told me to only stay on the main drag, warning me that venturing even one block away from the main street could mean getting robbed. No thanks, I’ll pass. After spending only spent one night there (thankfully), I hopped on a bus for six hours and went over to Tamarindo, on the west coast.
Upon leaving the city, I instantly understood the appeal. From the lush country side, to the non-stop sounds escaping from the jungle… There is something enchanting about the unknown depths of the never-ending, tangled webs of greenery.
The first few days, I was flying solo, but the troupe began to assemble. First, the two love birds arrived.
Then, their best friends – Jon and Lori rolled in. In total, there were only five of us.
We spent the first few days in Tamarindo, which turns out to be a common tourist destination, naturally accompanied by pros and cons.
Pros – everything is available, you feel pretty safe, you can use US dollars to pay, and everyone speaks English. Probably the BEST part of Tamarindo were the soda’s – traditional Costa Rican restaurants that serve typical dishes like pollo con salsa, which turned out to be what Zach ordered… Every. Single. Time. In addition, we discovered our new found obsession with batidos – fruit, blended with water and ice (or milk, if you prefer.) Imagine… a deliciously refreshing watermelon shake on a hot, humid Costa Rican day. YUM.
As for the cons – Tamarindo itself is a bit too touristy, the prices are inflated, your change is returned in Costa Rican Colónes, and the overall vibe feels more like the US rather than authentic Costa Rica. In addition to that, the air is filled with the sounds of birds chirping. Not real birds. Bird whistles. There are vendors littering the beaches and streets, selling and negotiating prices for little souvenirs like bracelets, hammocks, and these obnoxious whistles. Take a listen.
Fun tip: that’s not the only thing that’s sold on the streets. Whether you’re sitting on the beach, or you’re walking down the street, you have people whispering “mota, mota” and “coca, coca?” If you’re into buying weed or cocaine; it’s readily available for ya! 😉
When the group was all assembled…
We rented a car and headed down south of the peninsula. We had been drinking the night before and were struggling a bit in the morning. So, Lori and I decided that a little hair of the dog would do the trick. Well, we ended up nearly polishing off a bottle of vodka, which undoubtedly annoyed the rest of the group about as much as it entertained them 😉
The journey continued. About three or four hours of drinking ensued. Finally, Lori and I were pretty shmamzoed… And while her and I had zero cares in the world… The rest of the group was concerned about meeting the guy who we were supposed to meet at 2:00pm, who was to load us up on his boat and take us to our private paradise. However, we were about ten minutes late, and he wasn’t there… so, naturally we thought we may have missed him. As it turns out, we were on Costa Rican time, so there was no problem. After asking around, we found our man. We load up on his small, fairly reliable boat, and the adventure continues.
Montezuma & our private beach
While we were on the boat, I noticed that we were distancing ourselves further and further from civilization, only to discover that our bungalows were located in the middle of the jungle; one hour walk away from anyone or anything else.
We had four unforgettable days in this paradise. With no internet, no plans, nothing but peace, quiet, and friends, we simply relaxed. What I love about Zach and Emily (well, only one of the things) is that the wedding date wasn’t set. They called it a vacation with a wedding slipped in. They settled on a day, and we all took our time writing our parts – them; their vows, and me; the ceremony.
Our days were filled with lounging, body boarding, burning, cooking, reading, and chatting. It was the ideal way to spend the days leading up to the big day.
Fernando the Frog
Nearly every night, like clockwork, a gigantic frog would appear on our porch and just stare. We discovered that he could actually spit toxins up to three feet. Comforting. We also discovered that Costa Rica is home to more than 500,000 species. It’s one of the 20 countries with the highest biodiversity in the world. Of these 500,000 species, a little more than 300,000 are insects. Even more comforting! With all of the creepy crawlies everywhere, we shouldn’t have been surprised that a bat had made his home in the ceiling of one of the rooms, or that the bed had a little trail of bat-turds on it the following day… Not to mention, the sounds of the night in the jungle can be so eery that they keep you up at night… like the howler monkeys, or the infinite hermit crab legs quietly scraping against the pebbles and rocks…
The big day finally came. The boys and girls went their separate ways. Zach and Jon built the altar on the beach, while Emily, Lori and I properly showered for the first time in three days, scrubbing the salt and sand out of our hair.
The day couldn’t be anymore perfect. Five best friends, on a private beach in Costa Rica, everyone relaxed, and appreciative to be sharing this very special moment together.
I still feel so lucky to have been asked to ordain my best friend’s wedding. None of us would change anything; words can’t describe how magical this shared experience was.
After a bittersweet return to Tamarindo, we spent the next few days enjoying each other’s company, playing in the sun, lounging on the beach, sharing gigantic mojitos, and watching the sunset.
I finally caved…
The last day, I bought one of the annoying bird whistles mentioned above. It turned out to be a great defense mechanism against the sellers of the bird whistles, since now I could retaliate with an annoying whistle of my own. (Notice the sign in the back…) I think the best part of the video is watching my brain writhe in pain as I attempt to do number stuff.
Thank you, Zach & Emily
This post is dedicated to Zach & Emily. Thank you for bringing all of us together and letting us share your most important day with us. I can’t wait to go back!
<3 <3 <3