When we started planning our Costa Rica trip, I filled out one of those online quizzes from the tourist bureau about what I wanted to do and see. Rain forest? Sounds hot and humid. Cloud forest? I live in Portland; don’t need no cloud forest. Ziplining? No. Fishing? Um, no. Volcanoes? Not really. Jungle trip to see crocodiles, poisonous frogs, howling monkeys, boa constrictors and crocodiles? Absolutely NOT. I cannot stand anything even vaguely reptilian.

I was able to check Beach and Lunch, but there was no little square for Shopping. I abandoned the quiz and just Googled “Best Beaches in Costa Rica” and found one that had a cute town attached. That was Tamarindo.

tamarindo beach 2

Tamarindo beach at sunset

Still I remained wary of things that slither out of the mud and fall from the trees. Costa Rica has this reputation for being so darned natural. As in lots of nature. Unbridled, unpoisoned, unlimited nature. Flora gone wild, and I don’t even want to think about fauna.

downtown tamarindo

Downtown Tamarindo

What a relief to see that Tamarindo is indeed a town, with sports bars, surfers, food shacks, and teeshirt shops. Our little haven of a hotel is clean, and home to aging dogs and dozing cats—fluffy fauna.


view from bungalow

The view from our bungalow

And we hadn’t encountered anything yuckier than mosquitoes and ants. (There’s one on my screen right now. Cutie.) So I was able to focus on Handling the Heat. I didn’t really want to spend the middle six hours of everyday indoors as I did on Day One. On Day Two, I sat in the shade by the pool. On Day Three, I decided to Embrace the Heat. We walked the beach for two hours, climbing over rocks and fording little rivers. You could have wrung me out after ten minutes, but I forged ahead anyway. Once you’re wet, you’re wet. Right?

Back in our bungalow, we washed off all the salt. Glowing with that good feeling that follows doing something natural that makes you sweaty out in nature, we ate lunch in the shade on our little patio.

LL bathe

Going native

Mentally I planned this post, how I would brag about going native, wearing sarongs and sandals but never earrings or mascara. Proud that the more teeshirt shops I saw, the less interested I became in shopping. Gloating that the refrigerator contains only fruit, cucumbers, and champagne. Ah, the glories of nature! Pura vida! The pure life! People actually say that to each other down here.


Iggy considers a dip in the pool

All ready to write, I spotted, 20 feet away, a hideous iguana staring at our swimming pool, clearly aiming to jump in. Incredibly, iguanas do that, even with people all around. I clenched and pointed at the beast. Tom couldn’t see it right away because they hide well. (And if that’s not scary….wow! There could be one in our bathtub right now! If we had a bathtub….)

Then a small boy spotted the beast and squealed with delight, thinking it was a baby dinosaur. The proprietor came over and grinned at it proudly, as though it were his winning beagle at the Westminster Dog Show. The iguana patiently posed for pictures snapped by our fellow guests. Tom reminded me for the 40th time that iguanas are vegetarians.

tamarindo beach

Walking the Tamarindo beach

One deep breath, and I expelled the immediate horror. Nice little critter. Covered with warts and wattles but natural. I kept an eye on Iggy and kept breathing rhythmically in between bites of tuna sandwich. “I’ll take the plates in,” I said. Then I went back to the air conditioning and stayed there.