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Dense sticky air and hot gray rain pounding into palm tree silhouettes. That was my very first impression of Costa Rica, as I stood outside the airport with my 150 pounds of stuff waiting for my chauffer (yeah, I’m a celeb. Just kidding, it was a Honda Civic.) As I sat in the backseat of the car for the 2 hour drive to my new home, the same hot rain made a soothing drumming noise and promptly lulled me to sleep.

The first few weeks at EARTH, I was as giddy as a schoolgirl watching the rain pour onto campus for hours and hours on end from my office window. I think my Tico co-workers were equal parts amused and baffled by my excitement (we live in the TROPICAL RAINFOREST! What did you expect?)

I tried to explain: that growing up in rural Minnesota, rain was never just a type of precipitation. Rain is life and growth and money and happy smiles at coffee counters all over town. Rain is ever more precious than it’s slutty sister Snow, and even more rare is a good “soaker”. The kind of steady, penetrating rain that disappears into the ground and makes crops grow tall.

For weeks, I battled the rain and won. With my arsenal of an impermeable raincoat, automatic umbrella and well-timed exits from the office in between showers, I managed to go a month without a soggy incident. And then one day, I lost- in the best possible way. Rain dance I dashed home on my bike and arrived home just as the first rain drops fell. I flopped on my bed and listened to the rain on the tin roof above my head (a completely delicious sound that I’ve wondered about since I was 7 years old when I read it in a Laura Ingalls Wilder book.)

I laid there and thought of the first time I was homesick living abroad in England in 2007. My mom had sent me an email (she didn’t have Facebook then, in those days it was just for cool college kids like me) and in it she wrote “It’s been raining alot these last few days, and me and Emily went out in our pj’s and got soaked. Wish you had been here!” That moment was the first time I really thought I was missing out on something in the life I left, that I had lost the chance to run barefoot in my nightgown on cold slippery grass with the only two people who shared my love of playing in the rain.

Maybe it’s a testament to the 6 years of life experience that have passed since I was that 19 year old girl living in England (or maybe it’s the pharamaceuticals) but this time, my memories didn’t make me sad. Instead, I took off my jewelry and my leather sandals and jumped slowly off the back porch of my little house in the jungle, pale feet landing in a squishy pile of lawn and mud and threw my arms out Shawshank-style and got completely, totally, evenincludingmyunderwear WET. As you can see by my photo, it was a blissfully happy event.

As if my neighbors didn’t already think I was a crazy-ass gringa.