Sunset on Playa Samara
* Click on images to enlarge for better viewing
Lo que hay, or loosely translated: “It is what it is.” As well as being a favorite eatery for me (here in Samara, Costa Rica), it’s also one of my favorite phrases. It used to drive my ex-wife absolutely nuts (or more nuts than usual) when I would evoke this mantra to diffuse a tense situation.
“It is what it is” is a very powerful Buddhist concept—to want things to be different from what they are simply invites frustration and dissatisfaction. Acceptance and non-attachment are the basis of Buddhist thought. Accepting what is, as opposed to confronting it on every level, leads to a more peaceful life.
Now this is an oversimplification, of course, and there are always shades gray, but in general this is a good way to live your life. Acceptance rather than continual confrontation. Nowhere is this more true than in Latin America. Going with the flow, or going along to get along, are just different permutations on the theme.
A typical day in paradise, for me, is waking up early, usually by 6 a.m. and downing a couple of cups of strong coffee. Brian always has the coffee ready by 5 a.m. and makes it the old fashioned way with a french press. The coffee is free of charge, and we are encouraged to drink as much of it as we want (and we do).
Next I grab my Mac to check on emails, the news and Facebook (somedays I shouldn’t do this). Lo que hay. My emails, for the most part, aren’t too bad, the news is usually negative and Facebook is always a crapshoot (see my post about deleting over 40 Facebook friends in one day—one of my better decisions).
Then I walk the 60-meters to the beach, Playa Samara, and enjoy a leisurely morning stroll for an hour or so (usually at low tide). Within a kilometer I am at the small beach town of Samara, and often stop at the Lo Que Hay Restaurant & Bar for breakfast. Finishing that I am back on the beach enjoying the warm sun, surf and sand.
Returning to Hostel Casa Brian I either read, or process my photographic images from the day before (often times doing both). I do most of my photography work in the early morning hours during my walkabout, or during my late afternoon/early evening stroll. In the afternoons, typically the hottest part of the day, I enjoy a lot of hammock time and maybe a cold cerveza or two.
Sometimes I prepare a small dinner at the hostel (a real money saver), or I venture back to Samara for a change of pace cuisine. I am usually in bed by 8 p.m. and sound asleep by 9 p.m. A ceiling fan and an oscillating fan keep me relatively comfortable in my room, and I leave the door open for further ventilation. The nights are balmy here in this tropical paradise.
Whether it’s early morning, or early evening, the ever-present howler monkeys serenade me (and I love their life affirming celebratory roars). The sounds of the Pacific Ocean also provide a nice counterpoint to nature’s other sounds: the cicadas, the birds and (as mentioned before) the monkeys. There is a coral reef about three quarters of a mile off Samara, and the crashing waves can be heard 24/7. How nice it is to be lulled to sleep by “natural sounds” rather than the manmade clang and bang of the big city.
This has been my routine (varied here and there only slightly) for the past month or so. And this will be my routine going forward for the next few weeks at least (maybe even for another full month). Panama beckons, but it will be very difficult to give up this tropical paradise of Matapalo Samara. Lo que hay.
Stephen F. Dennstedt
Reporting from Matapalo Samara, Costa Rica . . .