While I was getting ready for my upcoming trip to Costa Rica, I ran across this journal page of the first two days of a trip down in 2011. After reading it to Diana, she decided to type it for me as a blog post. Hope you enjoy……..

I had planned a trip to my dream place, Costa Rica, in February, but the recession and total lack of funds mandated I put my trip off until April 19th. With my funds still running low, much thought was given just to cancel my mostly medical trip, but Diana was hurting mentally and emotionally as much as my back was hurting, so she demanded some “off time” from the constant mental stress of the restaurant business. I, on the other hand, was beginning my stress of leaving the Broken Spoke in our children’s hands.

Christen Barker

Christen Barker

Ashley Barker Davis, Traci McFall

Ashley Barker Davis, Traci McFall

Nick Barker and the Boys - Git R Done

Nick Barker and the Boys – Git R Done


All my children involved in our restaurant are very capable of doing “EXCELLENT WORK”, but often settle for less and it’s not because they don’t feel “interested” enough in the “success of being superior”; the work of making our food superior, our service superior, and our product superior – your dining experience.
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So I began to “worry” the minute the plane tickets were purchased and she began anticipating a time she could VACATE the presence of her stress. We are opposite like that.

The week before we departed, I threatened several times not to leave, mainly because even with us there (at the restaurant) my standards were not often met in the kitchen, on the floor, and just in general. I never think we have a perfect performance day, but I am totally satisfied if I feel everyone has tried to do their very best – all day. And many days I am totally satisfied, but this week before Diana and I were to leave, things seemed askew and off beat. There is a rhythm to what we do and if that teamwork system is not present all chores and duties seem harder.

Not happy Jay

Not happy Jay


So I was worried. Could my children face the daily obstacles that arise in the restaurant business and still provide excellent service and food, for a superior dining experience? And I wondered, “do they understand the importance of not failing or using excuses”? Only time will tell and this week is the time.
Paperwork Must be Readied

Paperwork Must be Readied


All the paperwork and instructions were given to the 3 managers and off we drove to Atlanta for a flight that was $1000 cheaper than leaving from Nashville. The drive to Atlanta was filled with phone calls and texts to and from our managers and five hours into the 5 1/2 hour drive to the airport, we got the call that we did not want. A key employee had quit while we were traveling and I immediately said “we might as well turn around and go home.” Diana just as immediately said no. Explaining, “they will never learn to deal with adversity and realize the responsibility we carry with us daily…. and all nites if we go back.” Mad on the inside, I agreed.

I agreed to stay on course and continue with our trip. Plus, if I would of turned around, I would have been very upset with the “quitter” and I might have acted poorly and done and said things I would surely regret.

Soon our phone would not work and all communications, except the occasional email from an internet cafe, would be the extent of our help and gathering of what new crisis had arisen – or how well things were going.

With Easter a week later than usual, it seems I didn’t realize our dates for this trip were on Easter weekend. I told Diana, “this is the first or second Easter in my life I will not spend in a church and with my family…. and we actually looked at rescheduling the flight but the fee to do so was way to high, so on the plane we got.

A trip that started at 9am Central time would finally end at 4am Costa Rica time, with us finding Easter in Costa Rica means all hotels are full. After searching for an hour, we find a room and got to sleep. The long trip had exacted a toll on my already hurting back and pocketbook. I was not happy and felt the sting of “holiday pricing and demand”.

Morning came and I woke up at 9am and straight to get some coffee I went – ahhhhhh, the Costa Rican smooth yet rich coffee – and then to the pharmacia for a back shot and then to the massage therapist for a deep tissue, therapeutic massage. I did not know I hurt in so many places on my back, but the deep tissue treatment revealed each area with problems. A pain filled hour later, I walked into the streets of Jaco, looking for my wife and located her when she “hootie hooed” me. That’s our concert and public place call we use to locate each other and friends and it works.
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Local food was our next craving and Jaco Rustica has the best Costa Rican tipical food and all the locals eat there, as did we. Rice and beans, ensalada (salad), pollo (chicken), carnes (beef), fresh fruit and fruit tea. I have learned to really enjoy this type of light foods and healthy fruits and drinks.

Diana just walked out of the room to the outdoor patio with me a fresh cup of “1820” Costa Rican coffee with azucar (sugar, real unfiltered cane sugar) and leche (milk). It is divine…. and sweet of her. Our dreams of this land always start with this cup of superior coffee and me and her on our veranda with the glow of early morning on our smiling faces. And then we look at each other in the eyes and love flows through the air like the air in a whirlwind. Like right now.
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“Thank you baby”, I said with that smile and that look. And the second day began. My back feels much better and Diana is glowing with relaxation. The signs of stress are gone from her skin and grin. Her eyes sparkle with hope filled joy. And we don’t have to say a word as we say “I love you” with our eyes. And I think to myself, “this is the way she should feel everyday. She deserves it.” And I plot in my head how I can provide the times here for this pura vida, the pure simple life.

And I determine, more stress from ambition is required to reach the stress free pura vida of Costa Rica. Every good thing has a cost and yet, on the other hand, every good thing is a reward for the cost one pays. A small cost of time and effort reaps small rewards, while a large cost of time and effort yields great rewards…. for me this has been the case and I see more time and effort required to gain the pura vida of Costa Rica.

Today, massage and up the mountain, to visit and ride the 4 wheeler. We enjoyed the real Costa Rica today. Not the tourist Costa Rica, but the rural small town life.

Checking on our Mountain Lot

Checking on our Mountain Lot

Four Wheeling in the Jungle

Four Wheeling in the Jungle


Relaxing at the Waterfalls

Relaxing at the Waterfalls


During the weekend of Easter, no beer or alcohol is sold on Thursday or Friday. Friday being the most special day of “saints week” for it is the day of “passion”. The passion of Christ.

This is a deeply religious people, Catholics. They are very happy with it as part of their lives and for the life of me, I can not understand why churches from America send “missions” to Costa Rica. Is it to try to change their religion? Aren’t Catholic Christians? These mission trips to Costa Rica should be renamed as vacations to Costa Rica. I guess I will call my trip a mission trip…. on a mission to relax and enjoy and get inexpensive health care and innovative medicine not allowed in the United States because it works too good and it’s non-narcotic, not habit forming. So in America, they can’t use this medicine. One shot eliminates the sale of painkilling repeat sale of medicine. There is no money in a drug that works, or tires that don’t wear out…. or we would have it.

So I am off to that massage that hurts so good for half the price as in America…. it is 9am and Diana sleeps peacefully , still. I have been up since 5:30am, with the sun.

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