Hola! Greetings from Cafe Milagro in beautiful Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. Cafe Milagro is a Coffee shop founded by a few college students in the 1990s. Located along the main road that connects the towns of Quepos and Manuel Antonio is where you can find this sweet spot full of tropical plants, a good meal and all the locally grown coffee you can drink (if you are anything like me then that’s a lot).
I am studying abroad in the city San Jose, but my heart was stolen by what I call the most beautiful beach town in Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio. Yes, this town is very pleasing to the eye, but the people who make up this town are truly magnificent. Every chance I get I find myself running back to this town, making new lifelong friends and experiencing the true Pura Vida, pure life, good life, green, happy lifestyle.
While abroad, it feels like every minute of the day I am being exposed to so many new things. All of my most memorable experiences thus far include tasting delicious food, sweet sights, Spanish slang and everyday customs. All of these happened while hanging out with the locals.
Of all the amazing and inspiring people I have met here in Manuel Antonio, there is one person who has truly shown me what living in Costa Rica is all about.
San Diego State, I introduce you to Tony Cruz.
Tony has lived in Quepos/Manuel Antonio his entire life and, if you lived like him, you probably would too. Every day he goes to the beach right outside the national park of Manuel Antonio where he teaches people of all ages, from all over the world, how to surf. When I spend the day hanging around Tony’s Surf School, I get to converse with many locals of the town and visitors like myself.
Bathing in the extremely hot sun all day, exfoliating in the sand and swimming, its no surprise that I develop an appetite. There are many delicious restaurants very close to the beach but it’s with Tony that I have had the most amazing meals. Not only have I never had someone cook me a meal on the beach, but I have never had someone make the fire, get fresh fish straight out of the ocean, prepare it, cook it and serve it to me and everyone else on the beach.
If Tony is eating, the entire beach is eating.
What was on the menu? Sopa de pescado (fish soup) loaded with fresh fish, vegetables and rice, in a creamy soup base.
This random act of kindness made my heart overflow with joy and inspired me to exercise similar actions.
So far one of my most favorite things about living in Costa Rica is the sense of community and welcoming to people from all over the world. The phrase “Mi casa es tu casa” is very alive and well here.
I will never forget the day I went to the beach, sat and had homemade soup with local Ticos, and made some of my most valued friendships.
Katie Johnson is a student of fine arts at SDSU. She is studying abroad in San Jose, Costa Rica during spring semester 2018.