My journey to Costa Rica took me from San Jose to a small backpacker town deep in the Caribbean rainforest. I lived in Puerto Viejo for over a year when I was in my early 20’s, bar tending at Tasty Waves Cantina (aka the best surf bar in the world) and making authentic Costa Rican chocolate at Echo Books. It was an adventure beyond description and being back felt like less than a day had passed by. I arrived at my favorite hostel, Rocking J’s, a mosaic palace that fits over 600 travelers from every niche of the globe. It was New Years, and the little town was so packed that people were literally renting benches to sleep on. That night we danced like savages around a barbarian beach bonfire, shot off fireworks with JJ over the crystal blue ocean, and let Chinese lanterns carry our New Year resolutions into the great sky of possibilities.

The next day Ma and Pa Dope arrived- my hippie grandparents from Wisconsin. I have never met two people as interesting and entertaining as these wild souls. If I told you stories, you would think they were in their 20’s as well, full of life yet tremendously wise. They lived through some of the greatest wars and revolutions in American history. Pa Dope knows virtually everything there is to know about rock in’ roll history and will spend hours describing to you sequences of musical events that coincide with the Vietnam war and Martian Luther Kind Jr’s dream. You might find Ma painting rocks tie-dyeing, or looking for sloths- and if you ask her, she will tell you anything you want to know about gardening and the wisdom of mother earth. I was privileged enough to interview both of these youthful souls on their unique perspectives. Stay tuned.

Rocking J knighted me before I left, an honor bestowed upon proven friends of the hammock empire. I promised to uphold a code of ethics that includes anything from respecting my mother (#1) to being a giver- not a sucker (#7). For a complete list of Rocking J’s code of ethics, keep an eye out for my knighting video- soon to come.

We celebrated Kevin’s birthday by rafting the mighty Pacuare river- something you should put on your Costa Rica bucket list immediately. We tried to catch a glimpse of the mighty Arenal volcano, but the cloud forest covered her like a jealous lover. The highlight of the trip, however, was spending time with my little goddaughter Giulia and my best friend Priscilla. In San Jose we watched the international tennis games and drank more than one bottle of wine around the kitchen table.

And so I said goodbye to my friends and left the wild west of Central America. As always, it was unforgettable.

Photo Credit: Kevin Kelpin

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