When your family lives thousands of miles away in the landlocked Midwest, you oblige them when they visit Costa Rica with a trip to the beach. My mother visited a few months ago and we headed to a beachhouse in Tivives, Puntarenas, owned by a friend of a friend. Ticos are generous. They barely knew us and yet handed over the keys to their beachfront property. Score. The weather forecast was dreary that weekend. In fact, the day we’d planned to drive to the beach, the homeowner phoned to let us know that the dirt road had been wiped out from flooding. After a day’s wait it was semi-repaired and our compact car trudged through the muddy dirt road that mostly only SUVs generally brave. The rainstorms kept us at the house most of the time, where my mother was introduced to raw country life, crocodile-infested waters, long hikes to the area’s lone mini market for bottled drinking water, and a long stretch of unswimmable beach where we viewed an amazing lightning storm at dark. One morning we managed to hit the nearby tourist beach, Jacó, where we sat in the sun for an hour or so and then caught a bite to eat. The vacation wasn’t your typical sunny beach weekend, but my mom quickly got acquainted with a very different side of Costa Rica than the urban jungle where we live.