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Costa Rica Laurel’s Journey

Costa Rica and Canvas Rugs,

Why canvas rugs? And why canvas rugs instead of canvas floor cloth? They are one and the same. But canvas floorcloths couldn’t translate in Spanish and I live in Costa Rica.

First, let me tell you about Laurel at 18. As soon as I turned 18, I got my first passport. I didn’t know where I was going but I was going to be ready! In fact, first I lived in Hawaii, then Mexico, then El Salvador (chasing waves). I took a two-year break to be a total hippie in Oregon, living in a teepee, drinking peyote tea, waitressing, dancing, and packing apples saving up to go to Peru.

My plan:  walk the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

In 1977 I boarded a bus in Tijuana Mexico on my way to Peru. The plan:  go as far as I could on land then fly the rest of the way. After a quick stop in El Salvador to visit old friends, I boarded a new bus and met Patty, another solo traveler from Texas. She was on her way to Cahuita, a small town on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. Did I want to go with her? Sure, why not?

Solo traveling has no schedule, no itinerary, it’s a go with the flow existence.

Cahuita was incredibly lovely. September is a beautiful time of year to visit. I enjoyed the beaches and helping Patty set up her house. But after two weeks I was ready to move on. Patty suggested I ask Todd, a young man who had the only car in the town, to give me a ride to San Jose. And so, I met Todd and I didn’t leave for 24 years

Todd and Laurel checking the surf

We surfed, we built a business exporting ornamental plants, we built houses and grew vegetables and fruits, and had two children.

We built a beautiful two-story home with hard wood floors, and open windows looking into a 200 year old mango tree full of parrots and toucans as well as mangos!


Taking care of the floors was a challenge.

At the time in Costa Rica the only thing we could put on the floor was a woven mat called a petate. They could be decorative but the sand went right through and they wore out quickly. Of course, fiber rugs were completely out.

It wasn’t until 30 years later I was visiting a friend in Cahuita and found an article about Lisa Curry Mair, maker of canvas floor cloths, and knew I’d found the answer.

What do you use on floors for the beach in the tropics?

A heavy-duty canvas that is painted and sealed with varnish. Sand doesn’t go through, it can be swept and mopped along with the rest of the floor. Dogs and kids can’t damage it and they last for years and years ( and years)

I was crazy excited to learn about canvas rugs and make them for homes in Costa Rica.

It’s been quite a journey and a whole other story. I just wanted to share this one.

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