While planning a three-week holiday in Costa Rica, in addition to long walks on the beach and an equal amount of time by the pool, I also planned to book time to write. There were a number of blog obligations for my website, as well as commitments for several books.

costarica-webThis trip would be an experiment for a working holiday. I could picture myself sitting on our peaceful patio, with exotic birds chirping in the background, producing reams of blogs and book chapters. After returning home, I could brag about walking the same path as Hemingway; producing my best work while soaking in the hibiscus-scented air of the southern hemisphere.

Wrong! Here it is, 10 days into the trip and this is the first time I have turned the computer on. Sure, Christmas and family obligations were perfectly reasonable excuses. However, I also managed to hide the laptop in a cupboard and turned to my tablet for very important tasks like accessing Google for the daily weather forecast, getting directions to SIBU, the monkey sanctuary, or searching for a road map to identify non-existent Costa Rican roads. Of course, Facebook has been pulled up in order to share the requisite beach, garden and Christmas pictures with the folks back home. As an aside, it’s been fun to see the terrible Canadian weather we’ve missed and to gloat a bit about walking on beaches instead…

So what roadblocks have prevented me from getting down to writing? I thought I’d start a list of the potential saboteurs that might get in the way if you decide to try and work from paradise:

  1. The gardener – every morning at 6:00 a.m. the gardener arrives and begins to water and hack away at the fast growing hedges. You might think it would be a Costa Rican Tico (a male Costa Rican) that would do this job. Wrong! It’s a fellow from Cultus Lake, a 30-minute drive from our home in Canada. He loves to talk and run through the list of people he knows that we may know. It turns out we have a few in common so then we share stories of these mutual acquaintances. *deep sigh* My creative streak is lost to mundane gossip.
  2. The sunshine and the beach – you can’t go to a warm climate without getting in the routine of beach walking every day. This walk is important as you can return home and, with a self-righteous tone, tell your friends that you exercised daily. How does a simple walk sabotage your efforts to work? By the time you wander the beaches, collect shells, return and wash your feet off and then, oh wait, you are hot and sweaty, the pool beckons! So, you go for a swim, dry off in the sunshine and suddenly the morning has gone and so have your work intentions.
  3. Monkeys – yes, I said Monkeys! There are several families of Howler monkeys that frequent our neighbourhood. If you’ve never heard a Howler howl, you’re really missing something. They sound like a band of rabid dogs and, when threatened, create a ruckus that can be heard from 5 kilometers away. As soon as we hear the howls and know they are nearby, we drop everything and go running. Where are they? Can you see them? Oh look, there’s a mom with a baby on her back. Wait! There are three more little ones. Where’s Dad?

It’s quite the experience to closely observe these intelligent and gentle creatures.I make sure to take advantage of every opportunity to watch them — as humanity encroaches on their food sources, monkeys are struggling to survive in Costa Rica. Who knows how much longer their show will continue?

I’m sure there are more items to add to the list but they can wait for another day. The beach and the pool beckon. I’ll leave you with the Costa Rican tag line, “Pura Vida” or in English, “Pure Life.”  It’s a great way to live.