You Could Live Here

“You could live here,” the pilates instructor at our hotel in Santa teresa, Costa Rica, tells me. “You’d just need a dog.” And it’s true, at least the second part of her statement, because there are dogs everywhere here, frolicking in packs on the beach, sidling up next to you to nap by your side or just to hang out under your table wherever you happen to be eating. The other day it was even the same dog who napped at my husband’s side in the afternoon on the beach, and then reappeared to do the same, while we were having dinner at an Israeli restaurant in the middle of town. That dog, unlike many of the dogs here, had a collar, but he is so adorable that I might even take him if I could.

The pilates class I have wound up in, which is way beyond my skill level (this, because I don’t even have a “pilates skill level,” having never before used the machines) is locals only and so in addition to all the excruciating butt burning exercises, I get to hear everyone’s stories.

Bobbi, who is 67 and has done over one hundred triathlons, is a retired insurance agent from Pennsylvania who spent much of her life moving all over the world with her Navy husband, only to retire between here and her newly purchased condo at a retirement community in Delray Beach, Florida. “I bought it so I can go shopping,” she tells me, as there is very little to buy here beyond rash guards and t-shirts. She lives just across the road from our hotel and also has a half built rancho in a nearby mountain town — half built because her husband made the mistake of paying the contractor all the money up front.

Marin is from Brooklyn, probably late 30s, and laughs when she says, “Yeah, I guess I’m retired too. I moved here after my divorce.” Marin lives in town, and bought some commercial real estate which she rents out to a medical practice. She also owns a horse which, in and of itself, means she is living my dream. “I can get you a horse,” she tells me. “Horses here are cheap.” And as it turns out, she is selling hers because after riding daily for years she no longer does. “When you live here,” she says, “you have your morning routine with your dog, coming down to the beach. And then you have your sunset routine.” Which, I gather, also involves one’s dog and coming down to the beach.

Last night, as I was trying to fall asleep in our little bungalow I heard four big booms that sounded just like a gun. Immediately I called hotel security. And then called a few more times because no one ever picked up. Then I checked online. But there was nothing there either.

This morning, in class, I asked about last night’s noises. “I didn’t hear anything,” says our instructor. “My body just gave out and I went to bed at 8.” “It was fireworks,” says Marin. “It’s just because you’re from New York that you thought about guns.”