What a difference a year makes

My former hometown of Coco had the nerve to grow while I was gone! I lived in the small town in Costa Rica for a year, and then it took me 15 long months to find my way back. In my mind, Coco will always be a quaint little fishing village with a rough little beach and a barrio outside of town where chickens and roosters roam free.  (Ok, the barrio‘s still there, but none of my friends still live near the chickens.)

Upon my return visit, I couldn’t believe the changes. My favorite Peruvian restaurant? Now a bar called the Sloppy Pelican! And there’s an enormous something being built halfway down the “boulevard,” smack in the middle of all of the charming hammock and dress shops. But I don’t want to dwell on the negatives. The Municipality finally paid Coco a visit and made some much-needed improvements. So exciting!


Is this greenery I spy on Coco Beach? Yes, the Municipality put in some gorgeous park areas with trees, plants and pebbles, so strolling the beach is something that more people do. I was wide-eyed with excitement when Lisa took me down there. It looked so beautiful!

This deck was built on the south side of the bay in a spot that used to be overrun with twigs and, I admit, often garbage. Now it’s a stunning venue for yoga classes and more.


The north side of the bay is now anchored by this pier.


Visiting stirred up many emotions, some expected, some not. My life is so different now that being back made me long for the free time that I used to have; getting a good night’s sleep, working out, taking the dogs for a run… all easy, fun activities when you don’t have to race to the office. What I didn’t expect was to get emotional over errands such as grabbing a bag of limes at the Auto Mercado. Everything we did reminded me to slow down and refocus on the small stuff. This trip was definitely a life-changer, re-correcting a personal path I had veered off from during the past few months.

Superfluous sunset shot

I don’t want to wait 15 months again before again taking a vacation somewhere slow, where I could actually unwind and re-connect to what’s important to me. And I definitely don’t want to go more than a year again without seeing my friends.

Which begs the question: Why hasn’t anyone visited me in Vegas?!

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I'm a life-long travel junkie journalist who works hard to find adventure in everyday life after two years of travel and expat living.

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  1. Nice! I always have mixed emotions when I go back to a place where I used to live and see cool new stuff that wasn’t there before. I always think “Why didn’t they do that when I was living here!” 🙂 But it’s nice that it happens at all, I suppose. Totally agree with you on the slowing down thing. It’s so necessary sometimes.

  2. This really hit home for me since I will be leaving Buenos Aires is less than a month and heading back to the US and my home town of St. Louis, Missouri for awhile. I am hoping it is a good experience.

    I also might be in Vegas at the end of february to do The Color Run (thecolorrun.com) with Emily! Want to be on our team? It depends if I can afford the flight but if I can, I am there!

  3. Glad I’m not the only one to get sensitive about these things! I still think about it. 🙁

  4. Wow that is a ton of change!

    Glad you got the opportunity t0 “reset”.

  5. You wouldn’t even recognize the beach! Miss you!!

  6. It’s incredible how things change … when I return to home it always gets me how things change, even little things.

  7. This post made me feel so emotional, and I’m not really sure why. Can we all get together, throw caution to the wind, and live in Costa Rica?

  8. Haha wouldn’t that be nice?! How do we recreate some of the good life in Vegas?!

  9. If you keep posting pictures like that last one, you’re going to be visiting me in Costa Rica some time soon too. Such a beautiful looking place!

  10. Can I come visit you in Vegas? I have been wanting to for a long time! I live in San Francisco now so it is closer.

  11. Hi Abby,
    Another great post you have written about our little town. You know if I could I would be in Vegas once a month drinking martinis with you poolside – or maybe some sangria. Lets skype this week with Brynn and Denise! Happy New Year chica!

  12. I can’t wait to Skype!!!

  13. I guess the big question is, who changed more? You or Coco?

  14. Wise question, my friend. 😉

  15. OK, confession time: I never really had any desire at all to visit Costa Rica until we were there earlier this month and holy shit was it gorgeous. We didn’t even go to Coco, which looks even prettier than where we were, but at least we got to see some of the area between Carara and Manuel Antonio.

  16. It’s weird, isn’t it – how on some level we think time should stand still in certain places… it makes sense when visiting your childhood home that things have changed – I mean you were just a kid, so of course, everything looks smaller – 15 mos. was an eternity back then.. but 15 mos now? Things really do seem to change so fast… and as adults we don’t wanna! A few years back here in MB entire hotels were springing up every week it seemed.

  17. Stop making us want to go back to CR. We have vowed not to, but your posts are challenging us. We’ll share the details over a drink in Vegas… sound good?

  18. I would love to take a month off to dally in Costa Rica and completely rewind…

  19. Going back can make a place lose its previous star power. Great to hear it had the effect of reminding you of what’s important and not to get too caught up in the game.

  20. I guess there’s always the negative to go along with the positives, but glad there is so much on the plus side here. Coco Beach looks awesome — hard to picture that it didn’t always look like that. Have a great 2012 and remember — slow down!

  21. I would totally visit you if I were on same continent!

  22. In answer to your last question: I’m going to soon! So excited to see you.

  23. What a lovely contrast in the two lives you live. I envy both of them! Happy new year!

  24. Haha guilt works!!

    Aww thank you, Alex!

  25. I’m SO glad you were able to go back “home” and find beauty in the unsettling changes. Wishing you heaps of jolly company in your Vegas home. 🙂

  26. It’s remarkable how quickly places and people change in such a short space of time.

  27. It’s true — a lot had changed among my friends as well!

  28. Fantastic shots Abby, it must have been great for you to go back as well. Best wishes for 2012!

  29. Thank you, Federico!! You, to!!

  30. i really like your idea of traveling somewhere slow where you reconnect with yourself and truly relax. Great advice! We are coming to VEGAS!!! Hope you are in town!!

  31. Looks like some good things going on, despite the bad. I have to say that yoga pad looks pretty sweet. Have a great 2012 and we can’t wait to meet you sometime, maybe this year?? Confession – I have never been to Vegas…

  32. It’s cool when you go back to a former hometown and see that it has changed for the better. I always get slightly jealous, like, why wasn’t it this awesome when I was here?!

  33. You definitely shouldn’t wait 15 months to go back to Coco. And, you always have a place to stay if you want to come to DC. I need to get cleared to fly again so I can travel :). xoxo

  34. How dare it grow up on you!

    And, I wanna live there… so pretty.

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