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The Tropical Hangover

The Tropical Hangover…

I’m feeling it. I’m feeling it baaaaad!

It’s been a week since I spent my last full day in Costa Rica. I started that morning like every other morning: on the beach with a kickass workout. After my workout tho, I had a bit of an emotional moment while cooling off with a swim. I stood there, water waist high, and looked out at the ocean. I closed my eyes, breathed in the tropical air, listened to the waves and tried to imprint that moment into my mind.

I didn’t want to leave.

Costa Rica Sunset in Tamarindo

My time in Costa Rica had an impact on me that I did not expect. I’ve done a good amount of traveling over the years, and of all the places I’ve been, I’ve never felt at home like I did in Costa Rica. It seems I’m not the only one with this feeling. In Tamarindo, where I spent about half of my time, there are a ton of expats. People who have realized that a simpler life is where their happiness lives. Most have sold their homes and possessions and transplanted their lives to this beautiful paradise.

You don’t need much to be happy. This became abundantly clear during my time there. I left Canada with one suitcase and a backpack for my camera gear. I probably only used about half of the stuff I packed. I could have packed carry-on luggage and had everything I needed. This really showed me that I don’t need much to be completely satisfied in life. Some of my must haves: sun, beach, heat, fresh foods, and daily workouts. All of these things are provided by the location and cannot be packed in a suitcase! Everything else can be bought when I get there.

I returned to Vancouver last week to -10 degrees celsius. My body is still in shock a week later. The cold dry air is sucking the tan right out of my skin and has me moisturizing at least twice a day. All I can think about is getting back to that life where I spent my days in shorts and tank top, or some days I wore nothing but my bikini all day! Now, I have to layer up just to take out the garbage. “No me gusta!”

So now my only thought is:

“Get back there as soon as possible!”

Time to get my ducks in a row and make that happen! But first: The Olympics! 

The Less I Own, The More I Crave Simplicity

Moving DayBefore my trip to Costa Rica, I moved out of my Vancouver apartment and sold or donated most of my possessions. What I had left, I moved into storage at my parents’ place and I got on the plane and forgot all about it all for five weeks.

When I returned from Central America, I began unpacking some of my boxes, and as I unpacked, I wondered WHY I had kept so much stuff. I really don’t need 8 dinner plates, 8 side plates, and 8 bowls; I only two of each (maybe four). I don’t need all these kitchen gadgets that I use once a year; all I need is a wooden spoon, an egg flipper, a can opener and… yes, a corkscrew (hehe). I’ve owned my Cuisinart Food Processor for about 5 years now and have probably used it as many times. WHY was I holding on to it? I love my Cuisinart Blender, but again, why do I need something so big, when a Magic Bullet with just one cup is all I really need for my smoothie pleasure? (And, it’s a lot more portable!)

Then there’s my closet. Wow. So I’ve spent the last year working hard getting fit and am now in the best shape of my life, and have lost weight. As a result, nothing I wore before fits me anymore. So WHY am I holding on to my “fat” clothes? (No, I was never really “fat” but I was definitely bigger and those clothes simply don’t fit anymore.) So again, WHY have I been keeping my old clothes? Just in case I’ll fit into them again? No. Not gonna happen.

So as I’ve unpacked, I’ve purged even more stuff. I have boxes of kitchen stuff, bags of clothes, and more boxes of other random items that I have found some reason/excuse to keep “just in case” I will need them someday.

So now, as I spend some time in the home where I grew up, I see why I’ve held on to so much stuff. I’ve been conditioned to keep stuff. I’m seeing things around the house that have been there since I was a kid. Stuff that has been replaced, in some cases, twice over, but the original (and its two replacements) is still around and was never thrown out. I’ve been conditioned to keep things “just in case.”

Live Simple

Costa Rica was an eye opener for me. It helped me realize and understand that I don’t need much to be happy. The less I own, the simpler life becomes. I went to Costa Rica with a suitcase and a backpack, and still I packed far too much stuff, half of which I didn’t even use.

So the more I realize that I don’t need all this stuff, the more freeing it’s becoming to purge it. The less stuff I own, the more I crave a simple life.

Respect Nature!

Steve the Crocodile

This is Steve. Steve lives in Tamarindo. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing him several times, and it blows my mind how stupid some people can be when it comes to viewing and photographing wild animals. There were tourists getting dangerously close, and it makes me wonder:

“Are they aware that Steve is a killing machine???”

I mean seriously! He is a crocodile! In the wild! His brain is the size of a pea! All he knows how to do is kill, eat, sleep and sunbathe! This is not a zoo!!!

Warning CrocodileSo some facts about crocodiles:

  • They are DINOSAURS!
  • They have GIANT TEETH!
  • They are PURE MUSCLE!
  • They eat EVERYTHING!!! (Even you!)
  • The jaw of an 18 foot crocodile is more than 5,000 lbf (pound force). To put this in perspective, a great white shark is 670 lbf (source: Wikipedia)
  • they can run up to 17km/hr in short spurts (that’s faster than you!)
  • They WILL kill you!
  • Then the will EAT you!

I kept my distance and let my zoom lens do the rest. Even this made me nervous, especially after seeing how prehistoric he actually looks!

Nature does not discriminate. If you piss off a crocodile, it will not end well for you. You WILL lose! I could just see some crazy Crocodile Dundee situation happening with some of these other people. Wow. (Scroll to 1:52 in the video below video)

Keep your distance. Don’t be stupid. Respect nature!



Staying Fit While Traveling

Staying fit while traveling can be a challenge. It can be tough to get into a routine when your location changes often. While in Costa Rica I’m happy to say that I’ve been getting a workout in almost everyday. My favorite has been the beach workouts. I started doing them every morning while in Tamarindo, either with a local personal trainer or self-led HIIT workouts at the water’s edge.

For the personal training sessions, we used Nick Holt Fitness. We did several amazing TRX suspension training workouts with Nick. He tied the TRX to a tree, and with the jungle on one side and the ocean on the other the view was gorgeous, no matter which way we turned.

We worked out barefoot in the sand with the TRX and used a log for ground work and kettle bells for an added challenge. Nick pushed us HARD and our post-workout dip in the ocean was well deserved. I would recommend him to anyone who wants to maintain regular training while in Tamarindo and surrounding area.

Tamarindo Workout

While traveling around Costa Rica, I continued my beach workouts wherever possible. I would do a 35 minute HIIT workout with a different combination of exercises each time. With the heat and humidity I would do half my workout in the water. It was perfect!

What I love about the HIIT workouts is that you don’t need any equipment, and if you’re doing them on the beach, you don’t even need shoes! All you need is a timer of some kind and music to keep you moving. (I use my iPhone for both.)

All exercises are are completed using your body weight. Some examples of some would be:

  • Squats
  • Lunges (walking or stationary alternating or reverse)
  • Pushups
  • Lizard Crawls (these are fun when you do them on the beach when you see your lizard tracks in the sand)
  • Planks (do them in the water and let the waves pull the sand out from under you for added challenge)
  • Single Arm Alternating Planks
  • Site-ups / Crunches
  • V-sits
  • Burpees (the one everyone loves to hate)

I always include squats and planks in my workouts (cuz who doesn’t want a nice beach bum and killer abs?), and then I mix in a bunch of other exercises, depending on which are I want to focus on. I could add many more to the above list, but these are great if you’re just getting started with HIIT.

I drink a protein shake about an hour before I workout and I always ensure that I’m well hydrated. You should always make sure you drink plenty of water but if you’re traveling in the tropics this is especially important. In warmer climates your body loses a lot more water through sweating, so make sure you are drinking LOTS of water throughout the day. This will ensure that you are well hydrated for your workout as well as for general your health.

While in Costa Rica, I have had several days where I’ve missed my beach workouts, but those days are usually spent exploring which involves a lot of walking and/or hiking, so I get my exercise in other ways. When I returned from Central America I was so hooked on the TRX that I bought one to use at home and I love it!

Travel is no excuse to get lazy!

How do you stay fit while traveling? Please share in the comments below.

To give you a little taste of my workouts, this is my gym in Montezuma:


What’s Roxie Doing While I’m in Costa Rica?

Many of you have asked me what’s Roxie is doing while I’m in Costa Rica?”

Well…. THIS! : )

Best dog EVER! 🙂

Releasing Baby Turtles in Montezuma

Yesterday I was walking along the beach here, in Montezuma, Costa Rica, and I came upon a turtle hatchery just as they were hatching baby turtles! This was not a tour, or a tourist attraction, just a hatchery doing their conservation work.

There was a handful of people hanging around as they pulled the baby turtles from their sandy birth hole, and we were given the opportunity to hold them.

All I can say is that this was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen and done.

Baby turtles in Montezuma

Baby turtles in Montezuma






(more images to follow)

10 Days in Tamarindo

I’m in Costa Rica!

I spent my first 10 days in Tamarindo with a friend. I used the time to unwind and release any remaining stresses of city and office life and create a routine to take and appreciate each new day as it comes.

My days have looked like this:

Wake up between 6-6:30am. Get up, drink a cup of coffee and a fruit shake before heading to the gym for a workout.
My gym looks like this:


After an amazing HIIT workout (either on our own, or with Nick Holt Fitness) in the sun and sand, take a dip in the ocean to cool off and head home for a shower and tasty breakfast of eggs and bacon, with fresh local fruit and veggies. Then spend the day doing some work, maybe a photowalk, an afternoon snack of tacos and a cerveza (or two?) at Kahiki (total cost $6), or a stop at El Pescador for one (or four?) of their ridiculously delicious piña coladas, or one of the other beach bars for a refreshing glass of sangria.

20131116-162223.jpg     20131116-162210.jpg

Sometimes our friend “Steve” makes an appearance in the estuary next door, we’ve seen him quite a few times. Apparently he has a couple of friends that live there with him as well. Steve looks like this:


If we haven’t (accidentally?) been sucked in to the awesomeness of sangria happy hour, we may head home for a dip in the pool and a nap before going to a 5pm Spanish class. After class, its home to cook a deliciously healthy dinner with all fresh ingredients and, of course, a cocktail or two (cuz really, whynot?)

By the time 10pm rolls around there’s not much fuel left in the tank and it’s time for bed.

Sleep. Repeat.

Yup, they were rough days in Tamarindo… I’m dreading my return there toward the end of my trip… ; )

My Journey to Costa Rica

A stormy day on BC Ferries

Vancouver Island > Vancouver

I had a long day ahead of me for my journey to Costa Rica. Although my flight out of YVR wasn’t until 5:45pm, I still had to get over to the mainland from the Island. So after hugging Roxie goodbye, I got in the car and headed to the Nanaimo ferry terminal to catch the 10:30am ferry to Vancouver.

When I arrived at the terminal, I bought my ticket and went through, and grabbed a coffee just in time to hear the announcement that due to high winds the ferry would be delayed and possibly cancelled. If the boat didn’t go within the hour, the next sailing wouldn’t be until 3pm! Whaaaaaat??!!!

I was happy that I had given myself lots of extra time, but if 3pm was the next available sailing, I would not make it to the airport in time. So I started stressing. I got my ferry ticket refunded, sat on a bench outside the terminal, and proceeded to call the seaplane company around the corner (weather was preventing them from flying too) and then Air Canada from the Nanaimo airport (the one flight that would get me to YVR on time was already full and the next would be too late). Arg!!

Next, I called the Delta Airlines to see about rerouting my flight. As long as I got to Atlanta to catch the flight to Liberia, I would be fine. The woman presented me with a couple of options for rebooking the flight, but it was going to cost me at least an additional $500! Whaaaaat??!!!

So just as I needed to make a decision about changing the flights, the ferry announcement said they were ready to board! Yay!! (Relief!) So finally an hour and a half late, the ferry was on its way! Crisis averted! I had planned to meet my girls for lunch in Vancouver before heading to the airport, but considering the start to my day, I decided to head straight for the airport.


A friend picked me up in Horseshoe Bay and as we left the terminal, listening to the traffic report they announced that there was an accident blocking access to the Lions’ Gate Bridge, plus delays on the Granville Street Bridge, and construction on the Burrard Bridge. Awesome. So we went around to the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge, which was (thank goodness) clear of issues.

As we walked from the airport parking lot to the departures terminal, I got a phone call and an email saying that my flight would leave an hour earlier. Whaaaaat??! So I went straight to the check-in desk and asked about it and the attendant said the flight would leave at the original scheduled time and that the call and email were some sort of glitch. O…k… Stress diffused.

Relieved, we went for a quick bite, I said goodbye, checked in and went thought customs. My flight was routed from YVR > LAX > ATL > LIR, a 17 hour journey. Considering the way the trip began, I was relieved that I didn’t have any issues with US customs. (Not being Canadian, it can sometimes be a pain in the arse.)

So I ended up at the Canucks Bar & Grill with a Caesar just in time to catch the retiring of Pavel Bure’s jersey and the Canucks vs. Leafs game. Back to happy!

Sunrise at Atlanta AirportYVR > LAX

The next leg of my trip took me to Los Angeles. Not much to report there, but did see fun facts about my two home cities, Vancouver and Amsterdam. (Seems I am the average Dutch girl with a height of 5’8.) The layover here was 2 hours, and my hike from one gate to the next took me only 8 minutes. Perfect. So I had some food and boarded my red eye flight to Atlanta.


The flight was quiet and uneventful, and upon arrival in Atlanta (about 4:30am local time), I checked the boards for my next departure gate. It said E35, so I grabbed a tea and a muffin, and headed to the gate. I had 5 hours to kill, so found a corner by the window, watched the sunrise, and then tried to get some sleep.

My flight to Liberia was to leave at 9:45am. When I looked out the window at 9am, there was no plane. Whaaaaat?? So I checked with the woman at the desk and she informed me that they had changed the gate for the flight to E5. Seriously??? So now I’m running across the airport to get to E5, because it was already boarding. So I get there and pretty much walk right onto the plane.

Exploded Pen


As I sit down, I’m thinking to myself, “Thank God this is the last leg of the trip! There can’t be much more that can go wrong…” And sure enough, as I go to fill out the customs and immigration paperwork  during the flight, my pen exploded. Ink everywhere. OMG! Seriously, who does that happen to??? Hahaha!

Upon landing in Liberia, customs was quick and easy, and my shuttle driver was there waiting for me. Perfect! I was so happy to be leaving the airport! Only another hour by car, and I was in Tamarindo!

And 29 hours later…

THIS is what made it all worth it!

Playa Tamarindo

4 More Sleeps Until Costa Rica!!!

Costa Rica, here I come!

I can hardly wait! In just 4 more sleeps I set out on the 17 hour journey to Costa Rica, and on Sunday afternoon I will be soaking in the sights, sounds and smells of a new tropical destination! Every time I get off a plane and smell that tropical air, it feels like I’ve arrived home. I can hardly WAIT!!

Almost every morning since I booked my ticket a few weeks ago, I’ve been waking up with this song in my head, so I thought I would share, not just to get it out of my head, but also because it’s a great song by a local British Columbian musician. Enjoy!

Costa Rica ~ Vince Vaccaro

Well I’ve grown tired of singing songs That I don’t believe in anymore
And I’ve grown tired of feelin’ old
Like I’m lookin’ for summer but I find the cold

Well my seasons roll by high and low
I don’t hold the reigns I don’t have control
And I wish my dice had a different roll
And I wish my path weren’t a ragged road

Lets leave to me and you babe
Lets go to Costa RicaLets leave to me and you babe
Lets go to Costa Rica

I wanna leave this place yeah to never be found
I wanna leave my old life far behind
Can I lose my name, be someone new
And I’ll throw my trouble deep in the wild blue

Lets leave to me and you babe
Lets go to Costa RicaLets leave to me and you babe
Lets go to Costa Rica


I’m Officially Homeless!

20131027-162140.jpgToday was a crazy day. I woke up in Whistler with my family, had a cup of coffee, and hit the road back to Vancouver for Moving Day. We drove straight to U-haul and were at my house, ready to load up by 12:30. By 2pm everything was loaded, the place was clean, I had dropped off the keys and we were on the road to the ferry terminal to head to Vancouver Island.

I’m officially homeless. I have no house. I left my car in Whistler, and everything I own is in a small U-haul trailer, and I’m sitting on a ferry as I write this. Holy crap!!

It’s a strange feeling to leave a city that I’ve lived in for nearly 13 years. As the ferry pulled away from the terminal, I looked back and thought, “I don’t live there anymore. Weird.” It feels strange that I don’t have a place to go back to, but at the same time it’s a freeing experience to know that I’m starting fresh and with a clean slate. By the end of this week I’ll have packed a suitcase and will be on a plane to new adventures, including beaches, sunsets, Spanish, new foods, new people, new EVERYTHING! So excited!!

But will admit that I’m more than a little freaked out. I’ve asked myself more than once today, “What the hell did you just do?!” But at the same time, my intuition is telling me I’m doing the right thing. So I have to trust that.

So, here goes nothin’! My new life has begun!