You’d think I would have learned by now. How many times have I come face to face with it…expecting one thing and then finding another? Hundreds? Thousands? Perhaps millions.

Outside Cottage


We’re traveling in Costa Rica, and the Tacacori Eco-Lodge where we spent our first night was pretty much as I thought it would be, lush and beautiful, serene even…



…but once we got on the road out of San Jose and began our four hour drive across the country toward Tamarindo on the west coast, I was staggered at what I saw versus what I expected.

The landscape changed within just a few kilometers to what seemed the dried out belly of the United States, more like the parched prairies of west Texas or Arkansas. Though I had imagined rain forests, everywhere was dust and desolation.



There were fires burning in the distant and not too distant hills. Fires burning out of control with no firemen or fire trucks or fire planes in attendance, with no one paying them any mind at all, except Annette and I who watched in a kind of suspended reality.

Is this normal I thought? Is this what Costa Rica has always been like? Or is it some kind of drought? And if a drought, then a desperate drought indeed. Or Global Warming? What gives? I had expected a dense, lush tropical landscape from the tip of the country to the bottom.

Road Sign


A roadside sign selling land made me laugh in the way it attempted to promote expectations about the property for sale, especially given the reality of the “wonderful view” of nature staring you right in the face.

We drove on. It go hotter and hotter, nearly hitting 100 degrees by the time we came upon a Burger King in the middle of this virtual desert. A surprise. We pulled over and parked, not for a Whopper (though we were a bit tempted I’ll admit given how hungry we were), but to use the bathroom.

Inside, everything was as you’d expect from an American fast food joint. It was as if this piece of American dining reality could be exported anywhere without any changes unless you looked very, very close. The kids in line looked and dressed like American kids, and the fact that they spoke Spanish was not unusual given that half of Los Angeles where I live speaks Spanish. The menu items were exactly the same only the descriptions were translated, papas fritas, for instance, instead of French Fries.

We got back on the road.

“The rainy season is about to begin,” Nettie said, tossing me a bone.

“All of this will become rain forest in a couple of weeks?” I snarked.

She shrugged and went back to reading her Kindle. I turned the air conditioner up.

Resurrección de Jesús


This is Easter Sunday, of course…the most important holiday for Christians across the world. It comes at Springtime, which is the season of the greatest expectations of all because Spring promises resurrection of life. The”death” that Winter brings will be overturned by the “life” that Spring ushers in. Christ died but was resurrected on the third day.

And like Christ, if you are a devout Christian when you die, you will be resurrected and live again. In fact, you’ll live forever in the presence of the Lord. Talk about expectations! That’s a doozy.

We finally reached Tamarindo by late afternoon. Some people call it Tama-gringo and I can see why. I shouldn’t comment on it yet since we just got here, but picture a busy day at any slightly run-down American beach town, fronted by a narrow and traffic-clogged street with restaurants and surfboard rentals and excursion tour kiosks every foot or so, and nearly naked teenage girls walking with their muscular and tattooed teen hunks in the middle of a very hot August day. Pretty much as we expected.

When we walked up the stairs to our beach house at the edge of town, the property manager told us to keep an eye out for Howler Monkeys in the tree above our patio.

“There’s one,” she pointed and we turned to see him perched in the branches glaring at us.



He seemed a bit disappointed as he looked over at us, and I wondered what he’d been expecting in the new guests…







2 Responses to Expectations And Resurrections

  1. Frank Z says:

    Hey Michael,

    Thanks for the great comment. We’re staying very near the Capitan Suizo Hotel. I’m sure you can picture it, just south of town. And we’re heading to Arenal in a couple of days and looking forward to the forest experience of Costa Rica. We’ll check out Lola’s as you suggest before we leave. Cheers, fz

  2. We were in Costa Rica, based in Tamarindo, in March. Yes, by the end of the dry season that part of the country, Guanacaste, is a desert. The deciduous trees on the hillside lose their leaves, in fact. The cattle are emaciated and dust is everywhere…but you get sun (and spectacular sunsets) every day. I actually rather enjoyed Tamarindo (we rented a great house in Langosta, about a mile south of town). Still, I am very glad that we took a couple of days to visit the Monteverde Cloud Forest and Arenal Volcano (staying at the Arenal Observatory Lodge), where everything was green and lush, fitting my fantasy of what Costa Rica would be like. Tip: Travel 30 minutes south from Tamarindo and spend an afternoon at Lola’s on the beach. Fun place!

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