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Pura Vida

August 29th, 2017

We were having dinner when the flashes of lightning started.

Though early August, it was still technically the rainy season in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. Verdant, lush foliage surrounded our rented mansion of a house. The 18 of us were there to celebrate Kameron’s 30th birthday — or so we thought —  and it was our first night together as a complete group. Three sides of the giant kitchen/dining/living area in the house had expansive panoramic folding glass walls that we left open during the rain. There was enough overhang that we did not get wet.

Infinity pool at Casa Alang Alang

Looking out over one of the two infinity pools towards the beach at Casa Alang Alang, our rented house in Tamarindo, Costa Rica.

The lightning’s pace became quicker and its menace deeper. Water poured off of the Tahitian-style roof of the house, some into one of the house’s several “infinity” pools, and some careening down the hill towards the beach a few hundred meters away. Soon, the sky was almost continuously lit by white flashes, and the closest ones were only a fraction of a Mississippi ahead of their stout BANGs.

I was sitting with Kameron, Casey, and Kyle, and we were enjoying the fruits of the house’s chef’s labors. Naturally, the discussion centered on Nature’s show and its ramifications. “At least the power hasn’t gone out,” Kameron observed.

Five seconds later, the power went out.

In theory, the house was supposed to have a standby generator for exactly such occasions. In practice, it did have a generator — but it refused to start. Candles were lit; ice cream was served. The lightning was all the more impressive when it had no meaningful competition from artificial lights.

Several hours later, the storm died down and the electricity came back.

Over the next week, we went surfing several times at the break in front of Tamarindo, lounged around the pools, and explored the area.  Costa Rica seemed relaxed whether we were in tourist traps or far away from any signs in English.

One exception was a delivery truck we encountered while driving back from Playa Negra to Tamarindo. The dirt road was narrow, rutted, and deeply potholed. We seldom exceeded 40 km/h in our rented Land Cruiser, but this guy seemed to be doing double that. He was all over the road; sometimes in his lane, sometimes in the oncoming lane, sometimes hugging the very edge of the shoulder. At first it seemed random, perhaps even suicidal, but gradually it became apparent that he was driving with intent. His route cleverly avoided the road’s faults, and his journey was much smoother than our own.

The biggest surprise of the trip came the morning of our second full day.

I got out of bed around sunrise and stumbled upstairs to the kitchen, half asleep and making a beeline for the coffee pot. Before I could get there, Casey and Kameron handed me a card in an envelope. “Should I open this now?” I asked, and they gave a warm response in the affirmative. The card told the story: the theme of the day was not to be a birthday celebration, as we had been expecting, but rather, a wedding! Instantly, I was awake; happiness is a powerful stimulant. I gave my congratulations to the two of them with a smile.

After spending the morning sailing on an 80ft schooner, including a stop for playing in the water in a secluded cove, we returned home for the lovely, simple, gracious, poolside wedding ceremony. In hindsight, I suppose a wedding made sense, since both sets of parents for the grooms were part of the group of 18, as was a grandmother, an aunt and uncle, a brother, and a close family friend — plus all of us who were the grooms’ more direct peers.

A delicious multi-course dinner followed, and joy abounded. A celebration of good living, past, present, and future.

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