Archive for September, 2013

September 26, 2013


I swear, I did take real, non-cellphone photos while on our trip. I’m kind of greedy, and don’t share well, so it just takes me awhile 😉 but until then, proof.

a “real” photo to hold you over…

Costa Rica | Butterfly | Kulik Photography | SW Florida Photography

Don’t say I never gave you anything 😉

September 25, 2013

day 2…the twisty turny road to bliss

Ahhhh, Day Two. The travel is over. We had a lovely evening lounging by the (chilly) pool, just soaking in the fact that Oh. My. God. We are actually in Costa Rica. We took this crazy last minute idea and actually did it and HERE WE ARE.

We enjoyed a yummy breakfast that consisted of mostly unknown foods and AH-mazing fruit. (Have I mentioned that by the end of my trip, I actually had sores covering the inside of my mouth because I ate an excessive amount of pineapple?  The pain was SOOOO worth it!)

And so we enjoyed our breakfast. We listened to the sounds of birds as they sang their foreign songs. We were filled with anticipation for the coming days. We were also filled with nerves…you are a liar if you say that you wouldn’t be nervous in a new country. We do not speak the language. We are unsure of all the customs. It is exciting and nerve-wracking all in one!

Random fact that we learned the night before: In Costa Rica, your waiter will not bring you the check unless you ask for it. I mean, you could throw your napkin on your plate, cross your knife and fork over each other in the middle of the plate, “AHEM” loudly numerous times. No. No check. Here, it would appear rude to ask for a check, but there, well, you will sit for a looooong time if you stay mum. LOL. Lesson one of numerous.

So we kicked back, hung by the pool, and relaxed. I did something I hadn’t done in a year…I. Read. A. Book. And we waited for our friends to come pick us up.

And this is when you are reminded that you are in another country. We received a message that they were on their way. And then we received a message that there was a terrible accident, and so they would be a bit late. Because that accident? It was blocking the only road that would get them from there to here. And so they would have to take a dirt road in the opposite direction in order to bypass the accident. Here? People would be absolutely beside themselves. There? What are you going to do?

So we are picked up. We begin our journey to their home…with one stop. The grocery store in San Jose that has many American treats.


Yeah, ummmm, Mtn Dew is a SPECIAL treat! 🙂 The one and only place that is seems to reside is in this store. And so, clearly, Mtn Dew needed to be bought. Priorities people, priorities. And then after a jaunt through the city streets (YIKES! Seriously, I should have taken video! Juggling with machetes? Sure, why not?! Driving with your fingers crossed because that seems like the best safety measure there is? Absolutely!) we were off.

And let the motion sickness set IN! To get to our friends home we would take the Pan American Highway(with random goats tied to the side of the road. For. Real.) and then a twisty turny road through the mountains that was absolutely gorgeous. And turny. And so pretty. But twisty. Ummmm, did I mention twisty? Our ride was probably about three hours and we were able to see lots of Costa Rica as it REALLY is, not just the postcard images. And that, I love! It is such a poor country, but so beautiful. People have very little, but it seems so long as they have their family, they have all they need.

Because I had been once before, I already had an image in my head, so it was not all totally new to me. But it still takes a period of time to adjust to this different world with different rules and standards. As a dog lover, Costa Rica is a very difficult country to be in, but I will touch on that in a later post. It is normal to see random dogs at the side of the road. And I mean, AT THE SIDE OF THE ROAD. Why aren’t they scared???? Men adore peeing on the side of the road, and it becomes a kind of game to see what we can peep 😉 A home without bars on it’s windows is, well, not a home you see in Costa Rica. Giant pot holes are the norm, dirt roads are not a nuisance so much as just another road, and the theme is “We’re in Costa Rica…we do what we want!” And so we were overstimulated and over twisty-turned and I was just trying to jam it all in my brain and lock the key so I didn’t lose any of it.

because it is pretty

And so…second day in and I am still busy taking photos with my phone! Oops! I promise day three has real, live PHOTOS *gasp* But no adventure can begin without a start to the journey. So this was our start.


September 17, 2013

shall we begin?

I mean, it has been over a month now, right? It only seems right that I should probably begin making some vacation posts, yeah? Because let’s be honest here, I know you having been laying awake at night, staring at the ceiling fretting over the fact that you haven’t gotten to read about my gloriously fabulous trip. It’s ok, don’t be embarrassed, we’re all friends here.

I took soooo many photos. I still have soooo many photos to edit. But if we wait for me to finish before we begin these posts, you may have a few more grey hairs. You might even have grandchildren at that point. So we will begin. But begin where??? Did I mention soooo many photos? How to share them all? I have decided the easiest way will be to post a day-by-day chronicle, with little diversions here and there where we dig a little deeper. Oooooh, sounds exciting doesn’t it?

And so, let’s start with DAY 1.

Costa Rica | Kulik Photography

Ok…so Day 1 isn’t very exciting. And, ok, we’re all friends here, so I’m going to be honest right here. There are Day 2 photos in there too. GAH! I know, I know.

Really, Day 1 was full of travel and settling in. I am a pretty daring girl, so I really wanted to live on the edge and start our trip out right by eating a Floribbean Tuna sandwich. I know how to live!!! So we travelled. We arrived. We amazingly found our driver immediately. SCORE! Communicating with our driver? eeeeeeehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. He deserted us at one point curbside at the airport. WHEREDIDYOUGO????? This might be a good spot to pause and fill you in on one tidbit of information: We don’t speak Spanish. At all. I mean, I can tell you good morning, and thank you. Annnnnd, that is about it. The people of Costa Rica are insanely patient and accommodating and will make every effort to communicate with you and make things easy. And our country could learn a LOT from that. And that is all I am going to say about that 😉

We make it to our hotel, and we settle in. We discover you can watch the city traffic on tv. Say what?! It’s kind of like the food channel. You know you are bored. You know you want to change the channel. But you don’t. I can tell you all about the traffic patterns of San Jose.

We ventured. We grocery shopped. I stumbled upon a pet store a mere one minute walk from our hotel, because clearly I have doggy radar even in other countries. We bought tasty snacks that we bought solely on looks. We froze (damn Floridians!!! Ha! We were even called out by some Midwesterners at the hotel who noticed we were in long-sleeved shirts….”you must be from Florida?!”) We lounged by the pool and for the first time in a year I just sat. I just stared into space and thought of very little. And gasssssp I got to read a book!!!!

And so that was our first day. Is your mind blown? I knew it would be!!!

September 16, 2013

it feeds my soul

Without music life would be a mistake.  ~Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

GOTR | Mumford & Sons Gentlemen of theRoad | St. Augustine Stopover

Most people think I go to concerts because, well, I like to go to concerts. Wanna know a secret? I hate concerts. Like, I efffffffffffing haaaaaate them. I hate crowds. With a passion. They push my anxiety button and don’t let up.

But music? It feeds my soul. Some people go to church. I listen to music. I have pages and pages of song lyrics written down that grab my soul and shake it up. I have to really (REALLY) like a band to want to endure hours of anxiety…and so there are a very few that I stalk, waiting for them to come near, so I can pounce. And so, when back in February tickets went on sale for Mumford & Sons, this girl pounced. Their first time ever in Florida? This girl POUNCED!

So, the girl that despises concerts bought tickets for a music festival for this past weekend.. HA! That went over well. I spent approximately 5.3 minutes on the field on Friday before I declared boredom and headed home. And then, almost kicking and screaming, I re-entered a crowded field of people the following day to see the band that I have been smitten with for years. I declared boredom once again. And then aggravation knowing that the only other band I wanted to see had cancelled. And then John Fogerty came on stage as a replacement (sigh…come ON you silly young peeps! Nothing? Nada? Creedence Clearwater Revival? No? Fine…go Wikipedia it…I’ll wait….). Then I was a happy girl. This was WAY better than the band I was hoping to see! However, I was still hot, tired, and daydreaming about how nice the hot tub back at the hotel would feel on my weary feet and achy knees.

And then. AND THEN. Mumford & Sons took to the stage. And this moment right here, this is the reason that I spend the money, that I endure the anxiety. Because then the music starts. And the crowd comes together as one incredible energy source. And I have a moment. Every time. I have a moment where I am overwhelmed. I can feel it from deep within. If I allowed it out, I would probably be the girl in the middle of the crowd sobbing. This moment here. This is my religious moment. Some people go to church. I listen to music.

*and for the record? They sound AH-mazzzzzing! I mean, mind-blowing, holy shit, ah-mazzzzzing. I mean, the BEST sounding live band I have ever EVER heard. {gasp} don’t tell Dave I just said that, k?

September 9, 2013

nature + vacation, a word

It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts,
as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees,
that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.

– Robert Louis Stevenson

Costa Rica | Rainforest | Kulik Photography | SW Florida Photographer

I have an intense adoration for nature. My husband tells me I am a hippy minus the tie-dye and head scarves. I don’t technically hug trees, but I could possibly be mistaken as a tree hugger. I thrive in fresh air and open spaces. But here is the funny thing- with all of that being said, very rarely will you find me out there, enjoying all that mother nature has to offer. I have been mistaken as a princess. I do insist on at least throwing some mascara and face color on before going to the beach. I have an incredible aversion to peeing in anything other than a toilet. I complain about the heat. A LOT.

Yet I always feel slightly off. For most of my life I have felt a disconnect from who I am, and who I AM. As if there is something there, just not quite found yet. It is not something I am fully aware of at all times, but it is always there. I don’t lay in bed wallowing and lamenting that I missing something. That my life is not complete. But, well, my life is not quite complete. Because in all honesty, I live my life denying myself the stuff that I most need. It is not that I send my wants into the corner, punishing them for some unseen misbehavior. I just don’t really take the time to really give them any attention. My wants have middle-child syndrome and just get overlooked.

And then, I will unexpectedly have an encounter with nature that punches me in the gut and reminds me of everything that I have tucked nice and neatly deep down in my soul.

This past year has been a hard one for me. I have been busy busy busy. For a year, I had only one day a week off, and that day didn’t really count because it consisted of running around like a maniac trying to get a week’s worth of errands done in a matter of hours. This past year I have whined (excessively) over how badly I Just. Want. To. Be. Outside. So when we were planning the graduation vacation, it was bound to revolve around the outdoors. And when we upgraded from a basic vacation in the mountains of Georgia to a vacation in Costa Rica, well, I KNEW I was going to be outside. A lot. I knew I was finally going to get that fresh air I so desperately needed. I just didn’t know it would saturate every inch of my being the way that it did.

Costa Rica | Rainforest | Kulik Photography | SW Florida Photography

We spent almost every moment of our vacation outside. Sometimes doing. Sometimes just being. We would wake up (sometimes ridiculously) early, and immediately go outside. We would just sit. Or we would meet a tour guide and head out on an adventure. On some days we stayed at a friend’s house, where it would be so very easy to whine about the lack of air conditioning, but because there was none, we slept with all the windows open. Which means every night/morning I was woken by the sounds of howler monkeys in the distance. I listened to roosters aggressively trying to wake the entire country up. I smiled into the pillow as I listened to some of the most foreign bird songs I have ever heard.

This was not a vacation that consisted of lounging poolside and having drinks brought to you. Nope. And while sometimes my princess crown can blind you when the sun hits it just right, surprisingly the kind of vacation that I want is not the vacation that you would expect from me. The vacation that I desperately want is exactly the vacation that I had.

It consisted of muddy shoes. Dirt under my nails. A constant stream of sweat dripping from my neck. A heavy backpack on my back. Lots *ahem* of falls. The scent of choice was a mix of sweat and Deep Woods bug spray. It consisted of granola bars in the rainforest and pb&j’s in a truck in the middle of a tree farm. Of being shoved out of my comfort zone and coming out on the other side ok.

I would walk through these magical forests, trying not to be overwhelmed by all of the sights and sounds, and would just breathe. And I would realize that my mind was calm. It was quiet. It was content. Because I was where I needed to be. Where I should be. It was not distraught with a constant sense of worry. Drowning in anxiety. Because it was being fed and nourished.

And for the record, my mascara looked great through it all 😉

September 4, 2013

and so it begins…

There is probably no more obnoxious class of citizen, taken end for end, than the returning vacationist.  ~Robert Benchley


Ahhhhh, it is here! The beginning of the dreaded Vacation Posts. I don’t know if anyone ever really enjoys listening to other people’s vacation stories. I mean, you try really hard to pay attention while you look at photo #376 of the beautiful blue water. You half-heartedly laugh at the story about how Bob almost didn’t make his flight. But you weren’t there. You were busy working while someone else was out having the time of their life. And you might hate them just a teeny tiny bit for it 😉

But I don’t really care. Ha! I went on the vacation of my life, and I have to share it somewhere, right? And so here it begins, the start of what will be an embarrassingly excessive amount of vacation posts. I need to document this greatness somewhere, and since I vowed to blow the dust away from this blog, here is where my vacation can breathe new life.

The basic facts of a short notice out-of-country vacation:

– I was supposed to celebrate my graduation from a year of hell by spending a week in the mountains of northern Georgia.
– That trip suddenly turned into a very last minute plan to go to Costa Rica. WHAT?
– Obviously, when things are last minute, things go wrong. The day we “officially” decided to make this happen is the day I realized my passport expired in four days. FOUR DAYS.
– Insert frantic scrambling to Get Shit Taken Care Of.
– Excessive amount of OCD-tinged messages to Costa Rican friend. I am surprised we did not get un-invited after all those messages 😉
– Passport arrives day after we buy plane tickets. Pheeeeeeewwwwwwwww.
– Annnnnd, commence 11 glorious days in Costa Rica. PURA VIDA!

The numbers:

– 13 travel days.
– 11 days in Costa Rica.
– 6 days hiking in numerous rainforests.
– 5 hotel check-ins.
– 1 severely delayed flight home.
– 1,939 photos taken.


Flower | Kulik Photography


It has been documented many times here my strange relationship with photography. I love it. I hate it. I ignore it for long periods of time and then go crawling back to it, professing my love. We have a very tumultuous relationship 😉 This year has been particularly hard. I just haven’t had time. At all. I have barely touched my camera, and when I do, it’s all very meeeeh. Obviously, that was unacceptable for a trip to Costa Rica. We had visited about 9 years ago, and I have always, quite literally, been brought to tears over how much I hate the photos that we came home with. They are horrible. I am not even sure if we had a “real” camera…we might have just used a disposable camera. Either way, my love for photography had not fully seeded itself in me yet, and so pictures just didn’t seem quite so important. *gasp*

For nine years I have said that I want to go back to Costa Rica and photograph the hell out of it. And so that is what I chose to do. With my cell phone. With my point and shoot. And yes, with the “real” camera. I took touristy photos. I took landscape photos. I took pictures of bugs. I took pictures of everything. And as I begin the editing process, I am slightly giddy.

Costa Rica Butterfly | Kulik Photography | SW Florida Photographer

The kind of photography I wanted to do was a struggle. Macro. Of (fast!) insects. Inside of dark rainforests. The lighting…AHHHHHH THE LIGHTING! It was horrible. I knew it would be a challenge but I rally didn’t anticipate just how much I was going to struggle. I am a natural light photographer. Even if I wanted to use flash, I wouldn’t know where to begin. My flash became a flashlight (really) when in desperate need of light. I shot at iso’s that I am not normally comfortable shooting at. I missed a lot of shots. There were moments, as painful as it was, that I simply left my camera in my backpack, knowing the effort wasn’t even worth it. I deleted a lot of shots that I desperately, desperately, wanted to come out. But in the end, something amazing happened.

Are you ready for it?

Are you sure?

well, ok……

I fell back in love with photography. I KNOW! I am just as shocked as you are! I recently posted a photo to Instagram with the words “I will binge on nature until I have a belly ache.” And really, that is the truth. Will my excitement fade? I am sure. Like everything else, life will get in the way. But for now, I will enjoy my newfound love.

This trip reminded me of who I am. And I really, really, needed that.

Costa Rica | Leaf | Kulik Photography | SW FLorida Photographer

So back to editing I go…get your swimming gear on because we will be drowning in photos over here before you know it!