Feliz Cumpleaños, Beanie
Plus: Do you want to see a toad resting on a shampoo bottle?
Beanie turned nine last week, and she had a casual little birthday party with five of her TIDE classmates. This is the first birthday celebration she’s ever had with friends—she is not one for attention and previous gatherings were family only, by her request.
While we watched them play, Taz remarked that it was nice that the girls all got along so well. There was some play fighting, but it looked like everyone paired off in different combinations throughout the afternoon, and no one was excluded.
Playdates and parties here often involve some refreshing water time, and Beanie’s birthday was no exception. The kids had snacks and pizza, played with stuffies and balloons, then headed to the big pool downstairs to swim.
Beanie has some colorful gems that are meant for throwing into the pool and diving after. These gems became highly coveted during the party, and there was much tackling and wrestling among the girls to get their little hands on the treasures. I watched as one girl gleefully stuffed two gems deep into the sleeves of her rash guard and then, noticing me watching her, warned me fiercely not to tell anyone. At the end of the party, we almost couldn’t find one gem because someone had cleverly hidden it under a nearby coconut tree.
After swimming and cake, it was time to open gifts. It was getting late and I wasn’t sure we were going to do this bit of the party, but the guests were excited to show Beanie what they’d gotten her. They had all brought thoughtful gifts (such as an owl pendant and owl purse for this owl lover); Beanie, who is rarely demonstrative, gave them genuine smiles and thank you’s. She has been playing with her presents every day since.
We will leave this country with mixed feelings: we look forward to seeing loved ones over the holidays and to a new adventure in a very different environment (Vancouver!). But we also feel wistful and a bit sad to say goodbye to the wonderful people we’ve met in Costa Rica.
Beanie has friends from all different parts of her life, and they live in many places. It’s great she has close connections that go beyond one school or town, and I hope she grows to view the world not as immense and otherly, but as accessible and full of potential.
Though Beanie likely would have enjoyed another semester at TIDE, the current semester concludes a satisfying arc. She has made friends, learned new skills, and packed a lot of memorable moments into four months. It feels like a complete experience that she took to very quickly.
Within a few days of starting school in August, she was in a comfortable groove with her classes and her classmates. There wasn’t much of an adjustment period, except for one thing: the first week, she’d protested vociferously against taking the school bus—it would be an unfamiliar experience for her, and she’s not often fond of the unfamiliar. She seemed far more apprehensive about the bus than about starting at TIDE, which she faced with equanimity. Joining new schools is something Beanie has done many times and knows how to do.
She never grew to love taking the bus, but she doesn’t mind it anymore because some of her friends ride it too. And now she’s an expert school bus rider, hopefully the next school bus will not give her so much angst.
In the “thank you” letters Beanie wrote after her birthday party, she included her email address in the hopes her friends would write to her. When I was her age and had moved to Singapore, I was so thrilled to get letters from my friends in California; perhaps she will get that same thrill from her friends’ letters.
Beanie takes private after-school Spanish lessons from her TIDE Spanish teacher, along with her good friend Izzy. We’re arranging for the two of them to continue lessons together next semester over Zoom, and that’ll be another thread of continuity that runs from her life here to her life in the future.
Beanie has grown during her time at TIDE Academy. I’m glad she got to know these sweet children and she can look back to this model of healthy group dynamics. It makes leaving all the more difficult, but I hope the end of one arc leads to the beginning of another, and to more positive growth experiences and friendships in a different part of our world. Pura Vida!
Bonus toad time
When I went into the bathroom this morning, a toad was hanging on to the wall above our towels. This was the second toad we’d found in our condo in two weeks. I don’t know how they are getting in…through the front door crack? up the toilet??
I went to get my camera, and by the time I came back Toad had hopped its way into the shower. I took a few photos as it moved around from shower floor to glass wall, then clung on to various toiletry items. Our shampoo bottle was nice and grippy, and Toad chilled there for a while.
Taz and Beanie came in with a cup and paper, and coaxed Toad into the cup. They released it outside, and reported back that it was quite discombobulated to find itself suddenly free. It stayed stock-still for a while before finally hopping away to the rest of its life.
Adiós, Toad! You are now one of our Costa Rica memories.
Pretty Good Things
Costa Rica is so full of vibrant color, it’s no surprise that much of the art created here is also bright and bold. San José-based artist Monica Lizano’s colorful paintings and illustrations have that lively spirit; they caught my eye as I was browsing around online for local art. You can follow her on Instagram to see her recent creations.
Do you want to see an illustration of a fox in a cape playing a panflute? What about a cute bunny in knight’s armor with a spiky staff? Well, then surely you want to see a river otter rowing on a log with a turtle and a teapot? Artist Lily Seika Jones creates adorable and sometimes eerie images of animals doing human things, as well as animals doing animal things. Jones is based in Vancouver—our next home—and she sells some of her art on Etsy too.