Eating at a Soda

Shane and I had a goal in Costa Rica, and that was to have some really authentic food while we were there. This is one of those little reasons I love that I am with Shane. When we want to find the best burger, we know that the hole in the wall place normally has just that, and it neither scares or grosses out either one of us. So we knew that to have some real, local food in Costa Rica, we had to find a Soda.

We didn’t rent a car, and although our hotel had bicycles, we had the hotel drive us into town after figuring out it would cost about the same for a taxi to take us. As we went driving up and down steep hills, we were glad we took the hotel’s van instead of a bike! The curving roads slithered up and down the not yet green hills, I think the “short ride” might have turned into an all day event.

The Playa Del Coco was a twenty minute ride through the countryside. Our driver pointed out a grocery store across from a Hard Rock Cafe and proceeded to say something about a rodeo. Honestly, we were distracted and I got hung up on how he was saying rodeo, unsure if he really meant what I traditionally think of a rodeo as being, and began looking for some sort of stadium that could host a rodeo. Before he dropped us off we, despite him pointing out the Hard Rock Cafe, we asked where the best local soda was and he seemed excited to share where to eat.

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We wandered the sidewalk that lined the beach for a bit, taking in the kids laughter, music playing, and seeing plenty of food carts, and were never approached by someone trying to sell their goods. People were just out enjoying their weekend. There was even a skate park that had tents set up, music blasting and people watching maybe a small competition. Everything was small and condensed, so soon enough, we had walked what seemed to be the main part of the beach and we headed to the recommended soda.

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Shane got a fried red snapper, and I got my favorite Latin American dish of ceviche. Locals were basically the only other customers around us in the bright pink space. Air and sounds flowed through the walls from outside since there were no windows, only stacks of rectangles out of cement. With Catholic images, silk flowers, stacks of glass coke bottles and a beautiful hand painted mural on the wall surrounding us, we had one of our yummiest meals.

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It is so fun exploring with your best friend, laughing that our bright pink room that we have yet to renovate was the same color as the soda, and trying each others lunch choices. I love that a year has trickled by, and there is no less charm to our relationship. We both enjoy similar things and still surprise each other and introduce each other to new things. I love spicy things, and Shane has pointed out, since being with me, he hasn’t ever not liked spicy things, but finds himself searching it out and enjoying it more. So one thing we discovered during lunch was this tabasco sauce, Lizano Tabasco.

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It was so much better than any tabasco sauce we had ever had, it was thicker, more flavorful, and we knew we had to bring some home. After our lunch, we walked to the grocery store as live musicians played on the streets with horses trotting up and down the road. We passed vendors and shops, again, never approached about buying things we weren’t looking at, which left a big positive impression on us. We left the tiny, but vibrant town with some fresh avocados, delicious Lizano Tabasco and some soda-pop and juices since we weren’t at an all-inclusive kind of hotel and drove back in our hotel van pointing out monkeys dotting the tops of trees excited about our new discoveries.

 

Costa Rica

It was a busy fall week for Shane, a stressful week, and one night he came home and said, “Plan a trip!” The trip wasn’t going to be for that week or weekend, we looked ahead to our anniversary and decided now was the time to book something for January. So I spent a whole day comparing prices, points, and flights and decided on Costa Rica. If we were going to use some points, might as well go big.

We flew into Liberia, a small airport about twenty minutes away from our destination, the El Mangroove hotel in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. We arrived in the afternoon and walked out of the airport, following our hotel driver in winds that could knock a toddler over.

“Ah, yes,” our driver said with a smile when we commented on it. “It is our windy season.”

Our drive to our hotel took us past sugar cane fields, fields with horses and cows and strange trees. The road was winding and wove up and down hills. Motorcycles zipped past us in the other lane. We soon found out that having a fast motorcycle there was the thing to have, and when it wasn’t tourist season, you could have fun flying on these winding roads, but it was less safe to do that during tourist season.

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We were greeted at our hotel with a cool cloth and a passion fruit juice and as we waited for our room we had our first meal of ceviche and fried chicken skins. The fried chicken skins were so amazing, fatty, and flavorful. When we ordered them, our waitress lifted an eyebrow, and we reassured her that they sounded delicious.

“Not many people order those,” she said.

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We ordered them multiple times on our trip. We had them for lunch, dinner and breakfast. Considering our fat-fueled diet, they seemed like a good fit and were delicious.

After discovering our beautiful welcome to your anniversary get-away treat from the hotel of chocolate covered strawberries and champagne, we took a walk on the beach, just enjoying the water and the black sand. Shane’s mind ever on fishing saw a fisherman and had half a notion to ask him how he was doing but passed. The fisherman had his car right in the trees on the beach, a hammock set up, and a kid digging a hole in the dark sand. It was a public beach, and almost immediately Shane and I agreed this was a kind of vibe we were good with.

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Laid back.

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Relaxing.

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It was a good start to our anniversary trip.

The Gym

I brought up the numbers sixteen and forty-four in my blog post, “Being the Salt, Continued” for a reason. They are actions that can reach outside of our comfort circle, outside of the “handling fresh fruit” zone and can dip into delaying the decay. While I think it is important to encourage other christians, support them on their walks, have a mentor or be a mentor, or support our spouses by giving thanks to them to encourage and uplift them as I mentioned in my last post, when we are compared to salt in the book of Matthew, that’s an image that should cause us to reach beyond ourselves.

I have long been thinking about this salt idea since it was so repeatedly brought to my attention through a few different outlets, and since my routine is pretty set in stone, tucking in “gifts” as Ann Voskamp might refer to them has been on my mind. One place I regular is the gym. I could shrug off my time in the gym as everyone wears headphones and for the most part is in their own little world, but I didn’t want to shrug it off. Again, I’m shy, I might not be the one to go directly up to a stranger and invite them to church, but I do regularly wear hoodies to the gym.

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Over the years I have collected a good number of hoodies that have verses on them and bright images. I made them year after year for our VBS at our church and the little dance crew that would perform in the closing. As a gift, the dancers would get to keep their hoodies, and if I wasn’t dancing, I still kept one, usually just to make the minimum order it took to get them printed and because I designed them, so naturally I liked them. I try not to disguise their message, it’s a bold pop of encouragement.

One year the hoodies were a rich azure blue with bright white mountains and a cross. The verse was from Psalms 18. My cousin was one of the dancers at the time, and after VBS he still wore the hoodie. He was so excited to share with me his experience with it after VBS, and why he no longer had it, which I will now share with you.

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He was in another town with his friends, a day trip, just having fun, not out on a missions trip; they were stopped someplace when a woman came up to him and asked where he got his hoodie, to which he replied he hadn’t gotten it in a store and why he had it. For whatever reason though, the verse on the hoodie just really hit home with the stranger, and she told him it was exactly what she needed to hear, or see since it was on his hoodie. My cousin was so moved by this chance meeting that he gave his hoodie to the woman. She was so grateful. My cousin, in recounting the tale, apologized for not having his hoodie any more, perhaps thinking I would be offended he gave away a gift I gave him.

I was the complete opposite! My heart felt full and I wasn’t even the one who got to hug the stranger and give her the hoodie. I told him that was exactly what the hoodies were for, not that I or any of the other dancers have had experiences quite like this, but the message is big and bright so it can be noticed and shared.

Maybe someone will approach me about my hoodies when I wear them to the gym, maybe they won’t, but they’ll get to read them. Sometimes it is a silent connection, other times it can become a connection where you can literally give something away. Either way, again, I pray you can find a way to be the gift in our world today.

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Psalms 18:2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Just a Pinch of Salt

How many recipes do we look at that say “Add a pinch of salt” or “Season to taste with salt”? Other recipes are far more direct, a half a teaspoon here a fourth there. Salt is definitely a staple in the kitchen.

Lately I have heard it more than once out of that context. I’ve heard the verse and I have heard many people say how as christians we are to be the salt in the world, but I was reading a page or two from a book titled “The Mercy Prayer” by Robert Gelinas that really gave an urgency to the need to be salt in this world. He actually brought it up after speaking about the ten men who lived on the outskirts of town because of their leprosy.

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The author takes note on how Luke recorded the path that Jesus was taking to Jerusalem, the border between Samaria and Galilee. It is here that the ten cry out for pity, or eleison and as the author points out, it is translated mercy. The challenge is then given to the reader, are we aware of those in need of mercy? With so much bad in the world, there are many outlets where we can reach out, but do we? This is where Robert Gelinas makes the poignant point that salt slows down decay only when in contact with the meat. Salt is useless unless it is in contact with the meat.

I had just read those words when my sister in law suggested a podcast to me, Family Talk. Eager to switch up my routine while driving of just music, I enjoy a good podcast, so I downloaded a few random episodes of Family Talk. One of them titled “Fight for Freedom in a Godless Society” had the great speaker Dr Robert Jeffress on it, and wouldn’t you know it, he brought up that same idea of being the salt in this world. Honestly, some of the facts he gave about our country were just so disheartening, and I know we are familiar with them, but the idea that we as the salt can help slow down the decay of our decrepit world was encouraging.

Honestly, sometimes messages like the one on that particular episode by Dr Robert Jeffress can make things seem hopeless. It makes it easier to ignore the big issues if we settle for that hopelessness too. He said something to the affect of the only reason we are pushing back against the evil is to give our world a little bit longer to hear the truth and be saved, which makes me take it back to the image of the salt, we slow the decay. He ended with this great quote though, “If you think it is too dark out there to do it, remember this, the light shines brightest in the darkness… Ladies and gentleman, if your goal in life, like so many christians, is peace, prosperity-the absence of any kind of pain, then these are truly terrifying, depressing days in which we’re living. But if your goal, like the apostle Paul, is to share Jesus Christ with as many people as possible, there has never been a better time to be alive than right now! Because the darker and darker this world becomes, the brighter the hope of the gospel shines.”

I think that when we hear something repeated, in various contexts, that it is God whispering to us. This time of the year, it is easier to be the salt as we naturally enter a season of giving. I pray that this was an encouragement to you to be aware of moments where you can live on the border like Jesus Christ, be the salt, and have a goal like Paul.