Pura Vida — Santa Teresa Edition

Hello from Costa Rica!

For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been bumming around a small beach town in the Puntarenas region on the Pacific coast. It is a diverse town, attracting surfers and yogis from all over the world.


Since we have more time and have our own kitchen, we’ve been experimenting with our cooking AKA the grocery store is more limited than we’re used to and hella expensive. We’re eating lots of beans, rice, and eggs. We’ve learned how to cook a local dish, Gallo Pinto, essentially rice and beans with this awesome sauce called “ Lizano Salsa”. It’s a game changer. We miss Estela’s cooking so much, but we’ve used her cooking as an inspiration in numerous meals.

Gallo Pinto
Yuca Patties – tried to recreate Estela’s yummy food

Because Santa Teresa is a tourist hotspot, all cuisines are available. Some of our favorite meals are from sodas, restaurants that serves typical Costa Rican food. They’re cheaper, serve huge portions, and frankly, better. There’s an unnamed soda within walking distance from our Airbnb–not at regular status yet, but the owner makes a mean breakfast.

Ceviche is a new food that we are learning to appreciate and make. Our surf instructor, Pablo, took us to the local fish market and taught us how to make his mom’s ceviche recipe. Repeatedly, Pablo stated that we needed to let the fish and lime “cook” for 30 minutes, yet every time I went into the kitchen to check on the food, the flame on the stove was not on. I thought maybe something had gotten lost in translation. Turns out, ceviche is cooked through a chemical reaction with the fresh lime and fresh fish. WHO KNEW??! Hooray for science! Still a little skeptical, I googled to make sure it was legit. Thanks modern technology. The end product was delicious and worth the work. The fish we ate was caught that morning and was in our stomach by night fall.



We have a really great surf instructor, Pablo. He is patient, yet technical with us. He truly wants us to learn how to surf, not just stand up. He’s teaching us skills we’ll use as we further our surf careers (Kidding, but only slightly. Ever since watching the movie Blue Crush in middle school, Claire has dreamed of being a surfer. We for sure watched Blue Crush the night before our first surf lesson). One of the things I appreciate about our instructor is how genuinely excited he gets when he sees his students excel. We’ve graduated from the foam boards and are using hard tops. Still pretty long boards, but I’ll take it.

A goal of this adventure is to push our limits and try new things–so we’ve been practicing yoga. Something I want love, but in reality, haven’t been sold on yet (Claire sure isn’t either). So alas, we’ve been to some yoga classes. Thankfully, it also helps with our surf skills.

Unfortunately, our Spanish skills have regressed. Most people speak English to us and don’t particularly want to watch me fumble through my Spanish when they know we can communicate easier in English. We’ve continued Spanish lessons with our Guatemalan teacher, Eligio, via Skype. We miss being in a physical classroom with him, spending a large part of our day learning. This being said, we’re looking into Spanish school in Mexico and Honduras starting in February, so it you have suggestions, we’d love to hear from you! 


I’ve been teaching since settling in Santa Teresa. We ended up moving Airbnbs due to mold issues. So in the past few weeks I’ve taught in numerous settings, even a bathroom, to make sure I have the fastest internet possible.

The dirt roads in Santa Teresa are filled with lots of potholes. To truly experience the magic of this coastal region, one needs a mode of transportation. We rented an ATV for 2 weeks. Ruthie, (wanted to named it after a strong female, looking at you RBG) has allowed us to see waterfalls, nature reserves, secluded beaches, and multiple gorgeous sunsets.


Lessons I’ve learned:

I love the beach–the sun, the sand, reading, the fresh fish. I’ve always said that I would move to the beach once I burn out with social work (don’t have to burn out to live at the beach). I have realized that as much as I love the beach, I don’t love consistently slow days. Still processing if it’s a Jocelyn thing or an American thing, could be both. Needless to say, I’ve learned that I like structure more than I thought and like to keep my days full. My entire life has been packed to the brim with activity – high school, then college, then grad school, then first job. I’m used to having lots of hours in my day fully accounted for. This is the first time in my life I’m not rushing to the next thing. I will admit, I don’t love it. I like busyness. Thankfully, I have a travel partner who is flexible and understands the same feeling. Together, we’ve decided to pick the pace up and explore more places. Originally we planned to spend 3-4 months in a specific town or city. We’ve re-evaluated and decided to spend less time each place, we like being on the move.

monkey on road
Howler monkey just hanging out. They’re notorious for throwing their poop at people, thankfully have yet to experience that firsthand.

It’s a balance between being a tourist and being a learner. Can you do both at the same time? Yes, absolutely. Yet while in Santa Teresa, I don’t feel like I’ve learned much about Costa Rican culture. While in Guatemala, we lived with a local family and had the privilege to observe and participate in the local culture. In Santa Teresa, we’ve come to the town to learn how to surf and enjoy the beautiful coast line. I feel like all I’ve done is take from the town. It’s a different feeling than Guatemala. I feel like a stranger here, while in Guatemala I felt connected. It makes me realize how much I like learning from locals, not just about locals. This will help us focus on travels for the future.

joc plus dog
I love how much the dogs in Costa Rica love the beach. They play and swim in the surf like humans.

We’ve enjoyed our time here and are looking forward to exploring the Caribbean coast and the rainforest next!



Joce and Claire

6 thoughts on “Pura Vida — Santa Teresa Edition

  1. I love keeping up with your travels. It’s great that you are learning so much about yourselves and what works for you. It’s much harder to be immersed in the culture without the homestay. You may be able to set up homestays separate from language schools. You may need a project that will connect you to the locals. When I did a homestay/language school in Mexico, some of the American students would move into their own apartments after a few months with a family. It still worked because they had made friends and were still studying and doing community service with locals. I do think you should add some surfing videos before you leave the beach.


    1. That’s definitely something we need to look more into. We did when we were first planning, but wanted to make sure we’d have space for teaching online which starts at 5am.. and not disturbing anyone. But I really think we could make it work if we find the right fit. Looooove a good project. I think you’re right about that. Bopping around after CR for a couple weeks but then looking to settle a little bit.

      I know! I wish we could do a video. Today’s our last lesson here so maybe we can get our instructor to film something. Unfortunately our one thing that’s waterproof is broken.

      Miss you! Hope you’ve been able to have some lunch dates at Tlaloc 🙂



  2. I did not know that about the fish and lime in ceviche. I expect surfing videos next time! Beautiful pics — are these cell phone pics or do you guys have a real camera? Also thank you for no mold pics. 🙂


    1. Me either! I’m still wary. But whatever, tasted great! These are all cell phone pics. We need to get a surfing video but our gopro doesnt work and cant take our phones out 😦


  3. Lauren Cunningham November 15, 2018 — 10:23 am

    I love reading about all the adventures you two are having !

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love the updates and photos!


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