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The first time our feet touched Costa Rican turf was January 2011 when we deplaned our flight from Michigan. There, we met up with fellow vacationers Don and Patsy Shaw from Colorado and set off for San Isidro de El General.

We commenced our drive to San Isidro in the late afternoon hours of January 1, 2011, on the “Mountain of Death” heading to our rental vacation home. Yes, we drove over the “Mountain of Death!” That was an “exciting” introduction to Costa Rican landscape, not to mention driving habits. We suspect it was lucky for us it was a holiday. Subsequently, we've decided the better route for the Americano driving the rental car, is along the coast. It does take longer, but from our perspective a bit less harrowing.

At that times in 2011 when asked why go to Costa Rica, the answer was obvious.  My husband Bob and I reside in Michigan, and January & February in Michigan are typically gray, cold, and quite snowy months. In previous years, we made attempts to escape Michigan winters by venturing to the US Alabama Gulf Coast. However, we were somewhat disappointed as southern Alabama did not prove as sunny and warm as we hoped. Bob's internet research efforts and a bit of serendipity brought us to Costa Rica and a vacation rental home south of San Isidro in a barrio of San Pedro.



I should interject with a sidebar for you readers that a lengthy trip to another country took real courage on my part. I love Michigan and am basically a very rooted person. When Bob and I married 42 years ago, we began our life together in Missouri after honeymooning in Mexico.

(That, in itself, is quite a story!) At that time, Bob was employed by Wolverine World Wide (think Hush Puppy Shoes) and his territory included Missouri. We lived in Missouri for 8 years, had our first child Carissa Anne, and made great friends, but I never overcame my homesickness for Michigan. When Carissa turned four, my dear husband decided our life might be better spent in Michigan. When he announced we would return to Michigan to make our home, I cried so hard I got a nosebleed. I was on my knees thanking God. In August 1978, we returned to Michigan, and a year later our second child Ann-Marie entered the family picture.


We lived, worked, and raised our daughters in Ada, Michigan, just outside of Grand Rapids in lower Western Michigan (about an hour's drive from Lake Michigan). Upon our retirement from the Amway Corporation World Headquarters, where we were both employed, we built a home in Rockford, Michigan, my husband's hometown. That is where and when we met Don Shaw, who later moved to Colorado and married the lovely Coloradoan Patsy Shaw. Obviously, we are very good friends.

In Rockford, we have several acres of expansive gardens, ornamental and edible, and spend much of our spring, summer, and fall tending to the property.  Our girls, their spouses, and our six grandchildren are all close by and it is wonderful, blessed life.

We are very well-traveled within the United States, including several visits to Alaska, but the idea of two months residence involving the use of a passport was a daunting undertaking for me. However, my consent and subsequent trip to Costa Rica has blessed us immeasurably. I thank the good Lord for bolstering me to step out of my comfort zone.

Ahh, but I digress. Let's return to Costa Rica.

January and February 2011 were wonderful, exciting months for us in Costa Rica. In the company of the Shaws, along with another couple from the states who joined us, we became enchanted with the country and, particularly, the Valle de El General. Here, at last, we encountered consistently very sunny and warm days. More importantly, we acquainted ourselves with a culture and a people who have won our hearts. It was so much more than we anticipated and the two months flew by at a dizzy pace.


It is now January 2012 and we find ourselves once again in the Valle de El General, specifically, Santiago Springs. Ask us now why we travel to Costa Rica and the answer is because of the people. The people of Costa Rica swept us off our feet in 2011. The outstanding weather and scenery are added bonuses.

This year finds us in a new location, though as the crow flies not all that far from our rental of last year. In 2012, we have discovered the ultimate Costa Rican haven in Santiago Springs. The location is superb visually, the people as welcoming as ever, and the casa beyond our expectations.


When we learned in the spring of 2011 the rental home in San Pedro would no longer be available, we immersed ourselves into researching other rentals in Costa Rica. We confined our research to the Valle de El General because it is a Costa Rican region that commands we become reasonably skilled in Spanish. For us, that was important as we wanted a better sense of the country and the people. Indeed, this year we have added to our Spanish vocabulary and speaking abilities, thanks to a short community education course this past fall in our hometown of Rockford, Michigan. We are struggling with our Español, but we are determined.

As we viewed various rental opportunities, we consistently returned to one located in Santiago Springs. We read and reread the Santiago Springs website providing detailed information, photos, and other links which peaked our interest. At that point, we contacted the Shaws to see if they would like another visit to Costa Rica and suggested they review the Santiago Springs site. They agreed it looked like an excellent choice. Thus began our correspondence with Nat Yoder. Those emails with Nat sealed the deal. We arrived New Year's Day 2012 along with the Shaws and were welcomed by the Yoder family,


Nat, Carmen, children Paula, Loli, Josh, and Lydia along with Nat's sister Gloria.

We are now two weeks into our stay and Bob and I sincerely feel blessed and fortunate to be in Costa Rica in this specific location. We thank God for allowing us the ability to enjoy such an opportunity. We are learning about and meeting wonderful people, many of whom are Mennonites.  Along with the Shaws, we have worshiped with the Mennonites, dined with them, and consumed a treasure trove of their baked goods as well as other edibles they produce. It is a good thing we enjoy hiking and are active, because if not, we could easily be a weight problem for the airlines on our return to the USA.  The hospitality and kindness the Mennonites offer us is so genuine and pure. Likewise, the people in the surrounding neighborhood are lovely and friendly. It is fascinating to observe their daily activities, comings and goings, children at play and the general hardworking attitude of the adults as they tend to their lives.

As day breaks, we watch the fog and low cloud cover in the valley below as it disperses. It is as if we are viewing a large expanse of a frothy body of water dotted with little islands. In the evening, we marvel as the sunsets produce every color of red and orange on the spectrum with shades of musky lavenders and purples. At night, as we sit outside on the tiled veranda, we look out on a valley of twinkling lights and then we look above and view the sparkles of the night time sky. It is as though we are sandwiched between two heavens.


Within these first two weeks of 2012 in Costa Rica, we have connected with friends from Britain we met last year who purchased and reside on a finca beyond San Geronimo (Esparanzas).  We've hiked and dined in the Cloud Forest at our favorite trout farm. The Truchas las Lago's congenial, patient host and hostess remembered us from last year. (Hopefully, a pleasant recollection) We've enjoyed shopping the markets in San Isidro and at the various Santiago Springs' abastecedores. We've eaten at the Hawaii Restaurant where the smiling chef also remembered us. We also discovered the Soda Las Palmas at the recommendation of Carmen Yoder. The meal was excellent. We also accepted an invitation to visit the Monte Verde cabana of our general overseer/caretaker. There we marveled at the view and enjoyed a scrumptious lunch prepared by his lovely esposa, Xinia. We ended the afternoon by wishing our host Feliz Cumpleaños as it was his special day!


As we begin our third week, we are looking forward with Don and Patsy Shaw to day trips in and around the area as well as a visit to the Osa Peninsula for a few nights. Last year we treated ourselves to an interesting and fun-filled visit to Arenal, but this year, for the most part, we will stay south of San Isidro.  Also, in this short time, we have booked the casa for 2013 and God willing we'll enjoy commencing a new year yet again in Costa Rica. When we depart for Michigan on March 2, 2012, we will say, “Hasta que nos volvamos el año que viene.”




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