Costa Rican Redemption

The email that helped send me to Costa Rica within 48 hours.

Dear pulchritudinous parents, sweet siblings, cool cousins, esteemed aunts and uncles.

Do you ever find yourself wishing for a Christmas season sans the whole shopping thing? Have you ever sat in traffic, circled around the Gimble’s parking lot, scavenged store in a state of overwhelm, waited in a long line to purchase a sweater, only to GO BACK TO GIMBLES because the recipient considered the sweater ill fitting and out of style? Well, if you raised your hand on either or both questions, I can’t blame you. Personally, if I could redesign American holiday traditions, I would skip the crowded mall altogether and instead spend the entire advent season  caroling door to door, making snow angels in fresh powder,  and warming my chilly, weary bones by drinking double espresso gingerbread lattes.

Besides, I respect your educational occupations. Amidst the December final exams and grading of papers, no one (and I mean no one ;)), comes into our house, with a single gig of additional cranial RAM floating around in their brain to anguish over what to gift other people. I mean, whether to buy Chrissa a jar of quality almond butter, a leather bound journal, or a moisture-wicking running shirt?  It’s just. too. much.  I feel sympathetic towards those who struggle with decision-making fatigue, and would like to offer you the chance to cross me off your birthday, Christmas, graduation, party favor etc list in one fell swoop.

Que? Let me explain.

Hope Revival? In 2011 a passport issue thwarted my hopes of traveling to Costa Rica, post college graduation with my dear sister Laura. Proverbs 12:13 is true, “hope deferred maketh the heart sick.”  But now, all of a sudden, years later, I have the unexpected opportunity to revive that hope.

Here’s the deal: A number of my friends work for a company that brings the employees to work in Costa Rica for the month of July. This year, in part because of the record low  flight prices,  non-company members and church friends alike are jumping on airplanes to join the fun and start their own adventures.  

Why Now? Last night I sat still for many hours while wearing noise-canceling headphones (they don’t actually cancel the noise in one’s mind by the way) and filling in hundreds of tricky bubbles for the much anticipated PTA national board exam. With several more weeks before the “real licensed work” begins, I find myself in a unique place. The flight pricing and the timing of this trip are impeccable. But after 2 years of student status earnings, my funding supply is not. Naturally, I wrote a pro and con list.

Cons : The total cost.


  1.  Appropriate Acquisition of Language: Spanish language proficiency ranks high on my list of 2016 goals. But unfortunately,  brushing up on the language with pop radio has caused me to make several embarrassing mistakes with my Spanish speaking patients. Simply put, Enrique Iglesias and Nicky Jam don’t sing like medical terminology dictionaries.  According to career experts, a bilingual brain built through true immersion gives any Californian health care provider a large boost in their employment options.  
  2. Empathy for the 2016 Olympians: Don’t get me wrong, the altitude training in McCall, Idaho was essential for my summer fitness regimen. But if the Olympic marathoners are going to run through the humid, monkey infested jungles of Brazil, then I need to suck it up, put myself in their shoes and develop an understanding for these heroic athletes representing our country. Since running with a flaming torch is most likely prohibited, I’ll opt for my usual non-violent-Katniss persona and run through the forest, or swim through the ocean, as a (hypothetical) girl on fire.
  3. The Question of Costa Rican Cupidity:  Steve Trudelle and Rachel Erlandson sparked the flame of their lifelong romantic fire unexpectedly, on a flight to a Guadalajara; Mom and Dad first shook hands in LAX. Are serendipitous divine encounters of travel a could be a part of the Trudelle DNA? You just never know. This might be an investment in your future grandkids and cousins.
  4. International Babysitting: Any married parent would probably agree that spousal alone time during vacation trips can be game changing in terms of well-being  and sanity.  If kids can find fascination in suburban Sacramento parks, I can only imagine the level of delight they experience in a foreign country that boasts plentiful warm ocean waves and fresh fruit. This being said, I look forward to spending a bit of time working on the Socratic babysitting method abroad.
  5.  The most important reason of all–quality time with friends and fun:. If friends are dairy molecules, and enemies are water, then this trip is like sweetened condensed milk .  


  1. Is this really just a big party trip? Um, how am I supposed to run through the jungle, or stand a chance to stand on a surfboard if I get hammered every night? Imbibing a fresh mango lime margarita is certainly possible, but I need to be on my intellectual A game, in order to speak Spanish and keep up in conversation with my intelligent friends.
  2. Will you be safe there?  Absolutely. A) All the men of this trip are of the gentlemen variety and take pride in of escorting the ladies through even the most dangerous of tourist town slums.  B)  Thanks to Johnny Trudelle’s compelling self-defense speech, I carry pepper spray at all times.
  3. I am wringing my hands in guilt and obligation. Should I still contribute? Definitely not. Cheerful givers only, please.
  4. If we give you a birthday present now, what will we do when November rolls around? A slice of chocolate cake, a hug, and your company is more than sufficient.

Alas, If you believe the pros outweigh the cons,  then give yourself the liberty to boycott Gimbels, start your Christmas shopping early, and contribute to the “Costa Rican Redemption fund.”  Consider me Katniss, and yourself Haymitch. All parachute gifts can be sent through pay-pal or wells. Or, if you are still scratching your head in confusion and skepticism, no worries, more appropriately– Pura Vida.

Besos y Abrazos, Love Chrissa


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