In the end, is it stuff or experiences that create a sense of fun, satisfaction, or contentment? When I read this article about Why You Should Spend Your Money On Experiences, Not Things, it caused me to ponder for a minute some of the choices we’ve made as a family and why. While I will admit, a new car or pair of jeans is fun for a while, the lasting moments in my life come from time spent with friends and family, learning something new, or exploring a new place.
We live in a small house and while there are times when I’m riffling through a magazine, that I covet large living areas, personal crafting studios, and spacious kitchens, in the end I’d rather live in a small space and have fewer things so that I can ride horses or travel. I’d rather learn something new than have something new. I’d rather buy time rather than buy things.
And that’s good news, if we liked buying things our little house would be busting at the seams. As it is, we still find ourselves needing to be intentional about anything new that comes in to our house. As if when one thing comes in, another thing must go out.
Even more so when we are sailing on the Riggin for the summer. If we think our house is small, our cabin is a fraction of that size. And as it turns out, we find that all four of us can live for 4 days or a week out of one or two tote bags without any feeling of deprivation or lack.
All this to say that I’m not sure our stuff defines us, but I am sure our experiences do. There is some serious satisfaction that comes from knowing that we provide an experience for our guests that they can carry with them forever. You make it what it needs to be for you, but we provide the opportunity.
So create experiences for yourself and your family. We’ve got the perfect idea for you – on the Riggin. And, just saying, tomorrow is the last day to take advantage of our Early Booking Special.
As we entered the second floor of the place that we would call home for the next five days, the expansive view of expressive sky, craggy mountains, and lush greenery settled around us, just as the heat and the moist air, like a light shawl or a deep sigh.
I’d forgotten how ‘outside’ living in a tropical climate can be. For us in Maine, most days “outdoor living” means layers of clothing. Even in the summertime when we are sailing, our wool sweaters, down vests, and hand-knit cowls are not far from reach. But here, in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica, not only were we without a single wool item or second layer, we looked out at three sides of a view though… nothing. No windows, no walls. While sheltered by the shade of the roof, the rest of the home was open on three sides to all kinds of weather. What happens if there’s a Nor’eater Jon thought? All day rain? Oh, right, not in Maine any longer. Right.
I’d forgotten the feeling of warm air on my skin, even as the sun goes down. Even as the sun is all the way down… no need for layers of clothing because the air is so warm. And no bugs like the Maine state bird (mosquitoes) ready to suck the life blood out of you. Just a couple of beetles and some moths drawn to the light of the night. (Although to be fair to the state of my heart, Maine does not have all sorts of snakes and bugs that can actually kill you.)
Jon and I spent three years in the Caribbean working on a yacht and moving up and down the Windward and Leeward Islands before we bought the Riggin. It’s been years since we’ve been back to a Caribbean climate and it didn’t take long for the sarongs, beach dried hair, and flip flops to feel like normal garb.
The impetus for this trip was to see where Chloe had spent the last 3 months of her studies. Based in the Cloud Forest of Monteverde, she explored the country through the lens of environmental science, studying the climate and natural world of Costa Rica with all of its abundance and diversity.
Our first foray into the mountains of Costa Rica was a hike into the… woods? The sensation of hiking into tree-shrouded trails, feeling the earth beneath our feet, and the birds chirping above felt just like hiking at home, except…. The leaves on the forest floor were not oak and maple, but rather, unknown The trees had abutments, vines, and epiphytes that covered their trunks. The birds did not sound like the birds at home. It was the oddest sensation of the familiar and the not, as if in a dream where you know where you are, but then it shifts into the unknown.
A trip to this country is not complete without the experience of zip lining! I could have gone again and again. Initially created by scientists to study the forest canopy in the 80’s, zip lining has become a staple of the ecotourism trade. Sailing over the tree tops, the unspoiled views are priceless. Our first meal, at Taco Taco a favorite of locals and visitors alike, introduced us to the flavors of the region. And thus I began dancing with avocados, cilantro, and lime. Also there, we had a flight of local beers which were unexpectedly good.
After exploring Chloe’s homebase, we made our way to Santa Teresa, a quintessential beach town with rolling surf, international visitors, and yoga galore. At the southern tip of the Nicoya Pennisula, there is just enough panache in Santa Teresa to make it feel like a groovy destination rather than a distant outpost. That overdevelopment has remained largely in check is due in no small part to the state of the roads one must travel to get there. Not to belabor the point, but these dirt ditches, rivulets, ponds, rock walls, and steep grades are distant cousins to the paved roads of our towns at home and yet, by the end of the week we found ourselves feeling somewhat confident in our driving abilities and blessing the roads that keep Santa Teresa so idyllic and low-key.
Once ensconced in the open air vrbo, we hardly wanted to leave to adventure. And some days we didn’t. Other days we explored the town, the beach, a nature preserve, and of course did some yoga. Casa Zen, recommended by our host for yoga, is a dorm-like hotel attracting all sorts of hipsters and 20-somethings hanging out in hammocks and a community lounge. Pranamar is on the other end of the spectrum with individual cabins set in lush grounds and an open-air yoga studio right next to the meandering pool.
Santa Teresa is known for its Pacific surf, which attracts surfers of all ages. I wanted to get into the water to play in the waves, but had to screw up my courage to make my way into the 10 to 12 foot surf. After riding the waves for a while, with my trusty captain keeping an eagle eye on me, I made my tuckered way to his side on the sand. That said, even after going out into the fray, I’m not sure I was ready to do it again. It might have almost taken even more courage to venture out a second time the strength of the waves was so impressive.
Where we ate: Fishbar – delicious mojitos and every dish was delightful and well-balanced. Habaneros – right on the beach, watched the sun set. Skip the margaritas and go straight for the ceviche, homemade chips, and the specials of the day. The Bakery – After 3 months of tortillas, rice, and beans, Chloe was craving a pastry. She found satisfaction at this little gem which albeit caters to its visiting international clientele.
Sodas – The Tico (local Costa Rican) version of a Maine diner. Perfect for a bite of local eats or a fresh juice.
As we said ‘so long’ to Santa Teresa and made our way off the peninsula, we stopped at Montezuma for a quick hike up to a waterfall. A little bite at Soda Tipica Las Palmeras and we were off to meet the ferry. I swore I would not step foot on a boat while were on vacation, but saving 4 plus hours of driving seemed a small price to pay. The North Haven ferry pales in comparison to this behemoth.
Our last meal in San Jose, a hidden gem called Café Rojo, found only after following the gps in what seemed like one-way devilry, was a delight. A Vietnamese restaurant, set next to a local bookstore and art installation, it felt as if we could have been sitting down to a meal in any city in world. It was the perfect segue back into our busier stateside life.
Thank you Costa Rice for the adventure and relaxation in equal measure. Pura Vida!
We are so blessed that we get to sail with you all each summer. What is equally wonderful is how well-traveled (in addition to sailing on the Riggin) many of you are. We love to hear about and see photos of the varied parts of the globe you’ve adventured – especially while you are wearing your Riggin gear!
Many more happy travels to you and (and also returns to us on the Riggin)!
Fresh sourdough baguette straight from a wood fired oven? Sure! Off the coast of Maine on an historic sail boat? Even better.
Gourmet cooking cruises, culinary travel, or Maine Food Cruises, no matter what you call them, they all have the same thing in common – local Maine food, grown sustainably, and served with care and attention on the deck of the Schooner J. & E. Riggin. We serve what I call swanky comfort food all summer long, but our special Cooking with Annie trips have an additional element – a bit of education.
We aren’t “in class” all day long, so if you have a spouse or friends that are just interested in eating well while you learn a few more tips and techniques to add to your culinary arsenal, this is perfectly planned.
That said, anyone who wants to spend all day in the galley with me, watching and learning, absolutely can. From 6am to 7pm, I’m in the galley making breakfast, lunch and dinner, so there are plenty of chances to get your hands doughy or dirty, so to speak.
The first in the series of topics that we talk about during the trip is bread.
Breads – to knead or not to knead, sourdough or quick breads, baguette or stirata, the world of bread is big and the options are many.
Bread Tip: Did you know that there are two ways to encourage the formation of gluten (what gives a loaf it’s loft and structure) in bread? Kneading is one and more moisture is another. So to achieve a similar result, you can either spend 5 to 10 minutes kneading your bread or you can add more liquid to your dough and let time do the work.
Gourmet cooking cruises? Who doesn’t want to eat well on vacation? July 6 to 9th is our next Maine Gourmet Food Cruise.
To travel somewhere and experience differences and then to relish in coming home is a delicious feeling. Last week, I traveled for five days with friends to Portland, Oregon, where the weather was so temperate, I didn’t even need the coat I’d left in my car in Portland, Maine. I’m told by locals that it’s not typical, but at the same time, many of our dinners were spent in open, airy spaces where whole walls were thrown open to allow the dry, warm air to seep in through the interior spaces.
And even with all that fresh West Coast air, I stepped out of the car after a LOOOONG day of return travel to Maine and breathed deeper than I had in days. It’s so FUN to travel. AND it’s so good to love home.
The trip was full of firsts. It’s the first time I’ve left my family for such a long time and the first time to Portland. I love to travel, but it’s been a long time since I’ve actually gone somewhere that didn’t involve visiting family.
As you might imagine, any trip outside of my own kitchen is food focused. Outside of Maine and it’s ethnic food focused, as Maine has got to be the whitest state in the country and hence is somewhat bereft in the ethnic-food-of-any-sort department.
My friends are shoppers of the Olympic variety so our first day was spent wandering through shops in the Mississippi neighborhood exploring hand crafted clothing and design stores coexisting with a fabric store, home and garden design stores, all things paper and one antique car restoration shop who’s owner was kind enough to allow us to wander in to see his work.
A Plymouth wagon – all fixed up and waiting to be owned.
There is a certain rightness about all of these stores living side by side as they all have one thing in common – a respect and affinity for the art of the hand crafted. It comes as no surprise that I fell in love with this area. We made our way past the Rebuilding Center – a place which I’ve serendipitously recently researched only to find that it is a solo store (I was hoping for one in Maine) – to Porque No. Our Mexican lunch, wrapped in hand made tortillas, was accompanied by my first, but hopefully not last, carrot, cucumber margarita. It’s actually MUCH better tasting than it sounds. Carrot, cucumber and honey juice combined with the already perfectly delicious Margarita drink they serve.
A window collage at the Rebuilding Center – Maine needs a store like this. Oh, wait, we have them everywhere: the local dump where hopefully more is dropped off than picked up.
Juice hanging out on the counter waiting to be slurped.
I bagged out of the second half of the planned shopping and Margarita drinking in favor of a massage, but not before purchasing a yard of fabric at Bolt to make napkins for the new kitchen, a sewing book by Amy Butler, In Stitches and a block of Himalayan salt from The Meadow.
Dolls at Bolt – reminding me so much of the Waldorf dolls I’ve made for the girls.