Traveling Nancy

Traveling around the world as far as I can go.


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Last Day in Costa Rica – February 24th

Last night Mario and Aurea took me to a place I had seen as Mario was driving me to their home on our first night.  I wanted to take a photo because I was so confused about what this place was.  Mario knew that there was a man who taught what he thought was Old Testament lessons but was not sure.

It is actually one big sign.  .

This sign says that there are free bible classes on Wednesday at 6:30


I sent a copy of the Hebrew words to a cousin of mine and she translated them to say, “Hear O Israel, Hashem is our G-d Hashem is the One and Only.”  What is confusing to me is that I don’t think there are any Jewish people living in this area.  I think Mario would know if there were.  So if there is anybody out there reading my blog who knows about this place, please let me know.

I took my last Costa Rican sunset photo from the back porch.

We had tortilla de queso for breakfast, mandarin juice, guacamole, beans and coffee for my last breakfast with Mario and Aurea.  I drank coffee in the morning for the last 4 days because it was Mario’s organic coffee. He is sending me home with 2 small bags of coffee beans.  I am determined not to develop a coffee habit so these are for one of my daughters and my son.

I had a fantastic last morning with Mario and Aurea.  First Mario took me for a walk all around his property which is about .5 hectare (over 1 acre).  He is the only one in his family who has planted such an extensive garden from his portion of the 4+hectare tobacco farm his family owned when he was younger. There are concrete paths all through the garden.

The mandarins grow in abundance and Mario grows 5 varieties of mandarins.

Mario was so enthusiastic about showing everything to me and making small cuttings of leaves for me to smell.

This is a Pitanga.  It is the dark one that is ripe.  After I took my photo, Mario picked it for me to taste.

The yucca flower is growing high up in this Yucca.  I have no idea how Mario is able to get up that high to pick it.

I took a close up photo of this beautiful flower and I did learn that the Yucca flower is edible.

This little pineapple needs more time to grow.

I know we saw a Guanabana tree  but I can’t remember which photo it is.  I wish Mario was with me to identify the photos.

This may be a Nance tree which produces little yellow fruit.  It is strongly aromatic and the leaves are spychedelic.  It belongs to the family of Solanaceae which is actually the same night shade family as tomatoes, tobacco, and chili.

I now think I  know the name of this flower – a Heliconia.

This rolled up leave will unfurl.

Mario picked a leaf and told me that they use this leave to roll around a tamale.  It is called a Bijagua.  They served small tamales like that at the party last night.

Mario’s and Aurea’s cat and dog went with us on the whole walk.  ‘the love to play with each other.

Mario picked up this fruit from the ground.  He said it is called a Zapote and he loves them but Aurea does not like them at all.

He will have to wait for these to mature.

There are drain ditches all over the garden to prevent the water in the wet season from flooding the plants.

When we passed this water running off from the washing machine, Mario had to divert its path so it waters the correct plant.

This was such a fabulous way to start my day today.  I know that Mario loves to work in his plantation and I am so happy that he shared it with me.  I took a couple more phots on the way back up to the house…

The corn Aurea uses to make fresh corn tortillas, Mandarins for our juice and squash.

Plants are growing all over the land and Aurea also has potted plants everywhere.

I love the chairs on the front porch.  These are my favorites.

After our walk Mario and Aurea took me to the elementary school.  Since we didn’t get in the other day they wanted to make sure I was able to go today.

I was able to visit with the principal and with Mario’s help ask many questions.  We were here in time to see the 4 year olds through 3 grade. They go from 7:00 am until 11:30.  4th through 6th grade comes in the afternoon and stays until 7:00 pm.  Teachers teach both sessions.  What a job.

Yet it is quite obvious that the facilities in the schools are not equal.  This school is so equipped with supplies, etc than the one where Sergio teaches all of the grades 45 minutes from Liberia.

4  and 5 year olds have their own playground space.

Children are taught to brush their teeth at school.

If I understood correctly, special education children are almost all integrated into the regular classrooms.

  • They have PE twice a week.
  • Lunch is served at school for all children either after classes for the pre-school to 3rd grade or before class for the 4 -6 grades.  There was a lunch schedule and this woman makes all the lunches.

There is a teacher who comes twice per week and teaches all the students what Mario calls, “religion.” but is not a specific religion.  Todays lesson seemed to be about accepting all people – pointing out that we accept everybody no matter what their interests are, what color they are, what religion they follow, whether they are handicapped in any way.

I did not see it, but this school has a computer lab.

Several of the children knew Mario and Aurea.

I jumped over the rope with these children.

Visiting the school was quite the treat for me.  Making the time on my last day is another example of how Mario and Aurea cared about me.

Before Mario and I left to pick-up Barbara, Aurea showed me the tiny flowers growing from the arbor.

And she wrapped up tortillas de quesa for me to take to the bus so Barbara, Sue, Janice and I would have lunch.

When Mario brought my suitcase downstairs for me, he asked me if I had purchased many stones.  Mario and I picked up Barbara and drove to Grecia.  We said good-bye to the Ticos at the church.  There were only 4 of us.  Lee went on to visit Tico friends she had made in the past and Ann left last night for the hotel and a flight out this morning. William drove us to Hotel Brilla la Sol which was about a 45 minute ride.  Ir is owned by Luis and Flor.

The first thing I noticed was …

… and I really wanted a massage.

Barbara and Sue went swimming.

There were two lounge areas to relax.  The man in this photo is Luis.

Barbara and I each had wonderful hour long massages this afternoon.

We had a very delicious dinner together.  I had a fish (Covino) that I had never eaten before with two different salads and wonderfully smooth chocolate ice cream for dessert.

I am siting in one of the lounge areas and completing my last blog post by 11:15 this evening. This was truely a lovely place to spend the end of the wonderful experience in Costa Rica.   I am looking forward to when the Ticos visit us in Oregon at the end of September.  I hope I get to see some of the people I met on this trip again. We have a lot of planning to do to make their visit to us as wonderful as ours has been.


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Final Celebration Party Feb 23rd

This  morning Aurea and Mario took me to church with them.

I am a Unitarian Universalist who has not been to a Mass since 2014 when I walked the Camino de Santiago.  I really enjoyed being at the Mass with them.  I especially enjoyed the music.  It was much more modern than I expected.  There was a guitar player and other lead singers.  The congregation’s voices filled the church.  My time there reminded me of my feelings when I attended the Ethiopia Gena (Christmas) because during both the music and the other parts of the Mass, I could feel the energy and faith of the people in the church.  I, of course, just watched as all three aisles of the church were filled with people taking communion.  I would have gone up with them to be blessed but I was not sure if the priest would understand the symbol of my crossing my hands over my chest to signify that I was not a Catholic.

The priest announced what would call the “Joys and Concerns” and after the service a man stood outside with a special donation box for the 2 families whose homes burned earlier this week.

After church we went to the final party.  Some of us took a walk to the lake and took photos of each other.  I love this photo of Aurea.

Lee and her host.

Anne and me.

Our wonderful Oregonian cultural ambassadors.

As part of the party, there was a demonstration of how sugar cane is processed. 

Later in the party they prepared bags for people to purchase.

I did not like the taste of it at all.

Several people gave short appreciative speeches.  The man un the middle of this photo translated Aurea’s words to English.  Aurea is the president of the Grecia chapter.

Lee also gave a short speech.  She has been a wonderful leader of our Oregon group.  I really appreciate her attention to detail and her concern that each of us is doing okay.  This morning was an example of that.  Since I was so tired last night, I didn’t get yesterdays post completed until this morning.  When I was in the shower, I heard my phone ringing.  I discovered that it was Lee calling on WhatsApp. I called her back because I thought there was some information I needed to know about what to bring today.  But actually she was just checking to see if I was okay because I hadn’t posted my blog by the time she awoke.

Thus is Oacar.  He is one of the leaders from an area that Oregonians are going to visit next year.


I think Oscar is the president of all the Tico’s group.  Aurea is the president of the Grecia group.

Elizabeth also expressed her appreciations again.

Next we were treated to another group of young people who showed us some traditional Costa Rican dances.

Before more activity began, I asked Randy to take a photo of my hosts from Liberia, Tilarán, and Grecia (San Rafael) with Barbara and me.  I sure wish Emilia had been able to come.

What a treat to have them drive all the way to Grecia for the party.  I knew that Emilia was not going to be able to be here, and I missed being able to see her.

We again had a delicious dinner served on a banana leaf..

Today was another example of a time when I really wished I could speak and understand Spanish.  Although I  had conversations with people one on one using Google translate, that is too hard to do at a party Nevertheless, I took a few photos in between dancing, laughing and hugging.

Rosarita, Armando and Susan

Randy and Lucia (Lucy)

Nancy and Anne

This woman and child were not a part of our party but I thought they were so cute.  They were in line to buy the sugar cane candy.

Olman and me.

Dunia and Nancy

Randy and Lucia

Aurea and Olman

We celebrated the people who had birthdays in during this week.  Barbara’s was yesterday.

Lee contacted Richard, Barbara’s husband, to find out a couple of Barbara’s favorite songs.  As the band sand them to her, Barbara recorded them on her phone.

Mario and Aurea

Nancy and Sylvia

Nancy and Alma Vilma


Oscar, Nancy, and Estiban

Saying, “Adios,” to Oscar.

Barbara also took photos and she shared them with me.   I am posting them because they will bring back great memories.

Vilma and Ana Vilma


Sylvia

Betty

Emilia and Luis- The only people who were able to come from Peréz Zeledón and I think they were the only ones who came.


Freddy, Janice and Rosanna

Elba and Melba

Vilma and Sergio

Lucia and Randy

Sylvia

Ana Vilma explaining something.

Aracely, Leticia and Anne

Maria and Naibe

? and Isabel

Ruben

Rosie ?

Nidia and ?

Aurea and Nidia

Freddy, Oscar and Rosanna

Vilma sent this photo to me late last night.  It was our last photo together at the party.

The Partners of Americas Cultural Exchange program has been more than successful. The Ticos know how to have a fabulous time and their enthusiasm was contagious.  In additions to their sharing their favorite places with us, they provided an abundance of warmth and care throughout this visit. I have met so many wonderful people and hope that my hosts and I continue the friendship we have developed.

 


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National Theater and Museum of Jade – Feb 22nd

Mario and I drove to Majela’s home where Barbara is staying. Then Majela drove us to the the church for our bus ride to San José.  Majela asked Barbara and I to give our jewelry to her to keep for us while we were in San José.

The first place we visited was the National Theater.  We had to wait a while for the English speaking tour guide. So we walked around outside.  Barbara and I noticed this unusual looking bird. We asked the man at the door what it was and he said it was a pigeon that was all puffed up to dry itself off.

Before we began our tour, we took our usual group photo.

The guide began by telling us about how the building of the theater began.  In the late 1800s the wealthy coffee merchants who had traveled to Europe wanted to build a theater in Costa Rica.  The construction of the theater was funded by a tax on the coffee exports.  The construction was taking a long time and one coffee  planter begged the government to remove the export tax on his product and and instead tax all exports (mostly including rice and beans). This is an important point because since it means that all Costa Ricans helped to pay for the new National Theater. The construction took from 1890 to 1897.  The theater is considered a theater for everybody.

We walked through the doors and were greeted by a man in costume who said he would take over for our guide. He said he was Senior José Antonia, the man who designed the theater.

The guide turned us over to him to continue our tour.  Then when we entered the theater, our guide rejoined us in costume and José Antonio introduced her as the First Lady of Costa Rica, Señora Rodriguez.

The two of them continued our tour.

We continued our tour with the two of them.

The chairs of in the theater were brought from New York City.

They showed us a video of how the chairs are removed by a mechanical wheel designed in 1895 that is pushed by 12 people.

We sat in the box seats of the theater which are not the best seats for viewing the performances. The people in the box seats come to visit with each other.  The best seats for acoustics are on the top floor which are the least expensive seats.

At one point the woman acting as Señora Rodriguez excused herself and when we walked from one room to another we found her laying on the floor.  She said she feel from the mural on the ceiling.  When she stood up, she was holding two bananas.  What a kick.

They proceeded to tell us about the Allegory of Coffee and Bananas by Milanese Artist, Aleardo Villa..  They joked about a couple of the the mistakes in the mural and explained that since Aleardo had never been to Costa Rica, he didn’t know that coffee was not grown near the coast.  She was holding the bananas because the depiction of the bananas in the mural are painted upside down. Nevertheless this mural is very famous and is featured on the 5 colón bill

I copied this photo of the mural from the web.

When we got home Mario and Auria pointed out another mistake in the mural. There is a woman holding a basket as she is picking coffee beans. That basket should have been tied around her waist to leave her hands free.

I didn’t take many photos but here are a few.

There are two waiting rooms (one for men and one for women).  This is the men’s.

This is for champaign.

As we were leaving, they showed us this sculpture which depicts motherhood and poverty.

I am leaving out many of the details of this absolutely delightful tour.  The two actors were wonderful.

We stopped for a snack at the Theater restaurant.  I had delicious soup and a smoothy.

We walked through the streets in San José and went to the indoor market where Barbara purchased a coffee dripper device.  We did not spend a lot of time at the market.  Somebody pointed out this drain cover.

The translation of these words are, “The sea starts here, don’t liter.”

We went out for  lunch and then to the Museo de Jade.  It has one of the most important Pre-Columbian jade collections in America. The pieces that are displayed come from all the archaeological regions of the country.  There were many halls No photos were allowed.

After we arrived home I had the privilege of taking Mario and Aurea out to dinner.  We had a delicious dinner at La Terraza de Luna in San Pedro.

Mario pointed out that the walls of the restaurant have photos and the names of the people of this area painted onto them.

Then the owner brought me a small can of paint and asked me to put my name on the wall.

Apparently the names on the wall are from  more than the regional people. What a kick.   It was a great ending to this day.


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Poás Volcanic National Park and Peace Waterfalls – Feb 21st

This morning Aurea made fresh tortilla de queso for breakfast..

She served them with avocado and they were  absolutely delicious.  I also had a cup of Mario’s organic coffee.  I really liked it.  I told Mario and Aurea that at my age, I don’t want to start drinking coffee regularly because I could easily become addicted and that is not a good idea for me. But the occasional cup of coffee that is this good would be wonderful.

I took a couple of photos from the house this morning.  The valley below the house is beautiful.

I also took another photo of Mario’s tree.

Mario told me that it could be chilly today so I took my Tyvek jacket and my rain jacket.  We drove to the house where Barbara is staying and took the bus from there.  I am sure glad I had both of the jackets.  It was raining when we reached the parking lot.  Well a group photo was needed to mark this event.

The Ticos debated about switching our schedule and going to the waterfalls first because they hoped that the clouds covering the volcano might lift by afternoon but that was not possible because the park closes at 2:30.

We needed our passports to get tickets to enter.  Then we were given hard hats and told to stay in a group..  We walked to the top of the view point and I was really happy that I brought the rain jacket because the drizzle was pretty constant.

Poás volcano is a powerful symbol of the geothermal forces that formed Costa Rica. If/when  the pressure in these pockets exceeds the weight of the water above, the steam breaks through in geysers that rocket up to 820 feet (250 meters) high. We didn’t have to worry about getting a shower though, the crater is 1,050 feet (320 meters) deep. At almost a mile (1.6 km) across it’s also the largest active crater in the world.  New safety features have been added to protect visitors in case of particularly heavy activity.

The most recent period of violent eruptive activity ended in 1954. The last major activity was in 1910 when nearly a million tons of ash was ejected along with an immense column of smoke and steam.

In April of 2017 an eruption of gas, ash and rocks damaged some of the buildings and trails inducing the government to close the park.  The only views were from the volcanology institute live camera.

Of course, we could not see anything at the top.  I wanted another group photo so I said, “Photo” to a man standing nearby.  We had a laugh when he joined the group to be in the photo. I explained that I needed him to take the photo.

We were there getting wet and conversing with people from Canada and North Carolina  for about 20 minutes but the clouds didn’t lift.  I decided to post a couple of photos of what it might have looked like.

Mario told me that this second view of the volcano was before the last eruption.

Sure wish we had been able to actually see it.

When the people who Barbara and I were talking with said it was time to go down, we looked for our group and couldn’t find them.   So we walked down with the other people.  Then we learned that the ambulance that was parked at the top took the rest of our group to the bottom.

We saw a Costa Rican squirrel for the first time.

We all got into the bus for the ride to the Peace Waterfall Park.  It is the most visited privately owned attraction in Costa Rica.  While waiting to get our passes, I took a photo of a humming bird and a red bird eating fruit.

The sinks in el baño were very interesting.  It took me a minute or so to figure out how to turn on the water with the little rock like thing next to the sink.  .

We had about 2.5 hours to explore the park.  Barbara and I walked together.  We spent a lot of time trying to get photographs of larger birds and were both frustrated with our cameras.  Nevertheless we did get some photos.

 

Photographing flowers still attracts me.

And even ducks that remain pretty camouflaged.

I liked these three in a row.

Well, I had another change to photograph a sloth, but this one was not in the wild.

Next came the butterflies.  We spent a lot of time trying to capture a photo of a blue one with its  wings open.  They are also quite beautiful with wings closed.

A couple of them coorperated.

As we were leaving the butterfly area we saw an open door where a young man was putting butterflies onto people.  Of course we had to go in there.  The blue ones are Morpho butterflies.

He also had a very large butterfly that he held in front of our faces as a mask.

That was sure fun.

Next were the monkeys.

…and more flowers.

The humming birds were really fun to watch.  Barbara and I were both trying to capture a photo of a beautiful purple one but we were not successful.  It was easier to photograph them on the feeders but i preferred the ones in the tress.

 

 

We missed the cats and strolled by the waterfalls which are quite beautiful in spit of my lack of getting beautiful beautiful photos of them.

Several Coati (called Pizote in Costa Rica) came walking down the path and crossed a bridge.  I was lucky enough to capture a photo of 3 of them. 

I remembered from Iguazu Falls.to stay clear of them because they can be very aggressive.

Janice suggested that we stop at a place on the way back to treat our Tico friends to an afternoon treat.  We stopped at a local bar.  I had a group photo taken…

… and one of me in front of the bar.

Several of us had Chivichi.  It was absolutely delicious. There was al lot of joking and laughing around the table both in Spanish and English and everybody had a great time.  Janice, Lee, Barbara and I split the bill.

On the way back to the house where Barbara was staying I realized that I was running out of data on the sim card on my phone and the one in the iPad was not working.  So Mario and Aurea took me to a store (and ATM to get colones and I added 5000.  That was most probably overkill because we only have 3 more days.  But at least I am sure I won’t run out.

Another great day.


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Botanical Orchid Garden and Rescate Animal Zoo (Zooave) Feb 20

This morning began with m mandarin juice which was so delicious.  Mario and Auria grow the mandarins.  Aurea also made fresh tortillas from corn that they grow in their garden. During breakfast we continued our interesting conversations.  Because Mario speaks English I am learning a great deal more.  Much of our conversation today was around religion.

This was a free day with our families. I asked Mario and Aurea if it would be possible for me to see a school when it is in session so after breakfast tried to go to the school in town.  Ir is one of the schools where Aurea taught before becoming a principal and district supervisor.  The entrance to the school is behind a locked gate. But the students were not there because it was a day for teacher meetings.  If we get back from tomorrows adventure before school is out, we will try again.

As Mario was driving, I asked many questions about the school systems.  Between Mario and his translating what  had to say, I learned about the elementary, schools, high schools and university.  Some of this information I had already heard from Sergio in Liberia and from Emilia in Pérez Zeledón.  If I heard correctly, these are a few things I learned.:

  • Public elementary schools are planned to be all equal but the fact is that some principals and administrators get more for their school than others.  The one we were going to visit has a complete computer lab.
  • Private elementary and hight schools are considered to be of better quality.
  • University education is free to all students in Costa Rica
  • Public universities are considered to be better than private universities.  You must pass a test to attend the public universities.

Auria had a task to do in San Pedro which is the capital of the Canton.  San Rafael where Mario and Auria live is considered a neighborhood  – not a city.

Mario and I walked around a park where men were playing Dominoes.  We stopped to watch them for a bit. Retired men playing cards, Dominoes, Bocci Ball, and/or sitting on benches is common in many countries where I have traveled.  The women are home doing all of the work

We also went into the church.  Mario told me that his father had a business to make things and he designed and made a gate and the windows in the church.

Now they are changing all of the windows and his brother, who is an artist, is creating new windows and they will be replacing all of them.

I enjoy hearing about Marco’s family.

Our next stop was the Botanical Orchid Garden.  We strolled around the garden and through the bamboo forest looking at the orchards and trees and I took photos.  Other Ticos families were also there.  The Ticos were disappointed because many of the orchids were not in bloom this week but I enjoyed the gardens and took many, many photos.  I probably should put these into a collage, but I am way, way too tired tonight.

This is called a walking palm.  I appears to be moving be walking.  This is because of its unusual root system; while most trees have one trunk, the palm splits into many smaller roots a few feet off the ground, giving it the appearance of many little legs.

 

I forgot the name of this duck.

I thought this was a Bird of Paradise but Marco told me it was another plant.

The patterns of green in this trunk were very interesting.

I even captured a spider when i tried to get a close up photo of the pattern.

This is called a Tiger Claw.

These yellow colored bamboo are common in Costa Rica.

If I am remembering correctly, a part of this tree is used for medicinal purposes.

Barbara took a photo of Marco and me.

As we were finishing our walk through the gardens, of the Oregonians asked about a rescue zoo so when we were finished looking at orchids, we drove to Zooave and first ate lunch in the restaurant.  It was another ice-cream for dessert day for me.

Rescate Animal Zoo Ave, or simply Zooave, is an urban park of approximately 14 hectares, located in La Garita, in the canton of Alajuela, Costa Rica. In 1980, Rescate Animal Zooave was born under a new administration with a new vision, prioritizing conservation and animal welfare.  The previously owned Zooave opened its doors in the 1960s and was a small private zoo with facilities and a framework that at the time focused on the export and exhibition of wildlife.  The principal motivation of the facility was to earn profits from the animals.

The new administration’s goal was to eliminate the previous inadequate location and move the animals to a larger property of 36 acres that borders the Itiquis River and forms an important biological corridor in the area.

This then evolved into a new inspiration for creating a non-profit organization with modern facilities.  It presently focuses on conservation, animal welfare, and environment education.  There are over 125 species of animals (birds, mammals and reptiles) that have been rescued and due to health or behavioral reasons, cannot be fully rehabilitated for reintroduction into their natural habitat.  The large enclosures are naturally designed to offer these animals quality of life and enrichment.

There were Peacocks strolling around the grounds.

The first bird we saw was a Toucan whose beak had been broken off.  I am not sure what caused the injury but I think it was done by humans.  It was heartbreaking to see.

There were photographs showing the prosthetic beak which has been created to help the Toucan function.

I loved walking through this park and taking photos.  I do not know the stories of how most of these animals were found.  I believe that Zooave is also breeding animals here.  These photos are only a fraction of the animals we saw.

The sounds that the giant bamboo made as it moved in the wind was so musical.  This is a photo of Mario to try to show the size of the bamboo.  You can’t even see the top of the bamboo.

 

There was a jaguar that I did not get to photograph.  It was rescued after its mother died during Hurricane Otto. The enclosure for the jaguar (and the other animals in this place) was not like in a regular zoo.  They were very large and expansive.

These animals are so unusual.

The Tufted Ear Marmoset are so cute.

 

The head of the Peacock is so beautiful.

There were several tortoises slowly wandering around a large space.

Sometimes it was impossible to get a photograph of the animals and other times the cages showed in the photographs but I am still posting them.

.We met up with some of the other Oregonians and their Tico hosts.  Barbara took a video of the coyotes because we had never heard coyotes calling so loudly.  She is going to send it to me via WhatsApp so I can post it on Facebook.

I read s a poster about this bird.  It was nicknamed, “Narco Paloma” because it was captured at La Reforma Prison bringing drugs to the prison.  It is a pigeon of the Columbia Livia species which is not native to Costa Rica and is considered exotic. The most surprising characteristic of this animal is its ability to return to its nest from the most remote places.  That is why humans have used this species to send messages.  The authorities of the Penitentiary Police notices that there was a bulge in the chest of this pigeon.  They used food and coaxing to catch the pigeon and discovered that the pigeon had a small bag of 14 grams of cocaine and 14 grams of marijuana in his chest.  The task was to deliver it to some of the prisoners in that sector.  It appears that the pigeon was trained with food to perform favors.  They did not determine who the intended recipient was.

One area had many parrots.

This is Costa Rica’s largest parrot which prefers to inhabit wooded areas and mostly stays in the canopy.

It was fun watching this monkey swing through the trees although it was difficult to get a photograph because it was moving so fast.

There were many signs around the area depicting how wrong it was to cage birds at home or chain them.  This is one of the signs.

Although I was totally exhausted by the time we finished walking through ZooAve and the mosquitoes and biting ants were a bit annoying, I absolutely loved this place.  It is my recommendation that every group of Oregonians are given the opportunity to spend time here.

When we arrived at home, Mario showed me how he roasts coffee beans.  These beans are drying in the sun.

Then he opened the sliding door to an area with a lot of equipment.  It is where he roasts the coffee beans.  Marco made this roasting machine by hand.

Hr showed me how it works.

When he is roasting the beans watches them very carefully and checks the progress.

At the exact moment that they are roasted perfectly, he must dump them onto this screened tray.  Then he shakes the tray.

If he is not exact, they will burn.  It can be a matter of 10 or 15 seconds time before they are burned.  I loved Marco’s  enthusiasm as he was explaining all of the process to me.

We went into the kitchen where he showed me two different containers of roasted beans.  He explained that one of the containers had better beans than the other one.  These are the best coffee beans.

Every morning and when ever they want coffee, Marco and Aurea grind the fresh beans. They have various ways tjey brew the coffee.  Sometimes they use an electric coffee pot. One way is to put the beans into this strainer and pour hot water through the top.

 

I don’t really drink coffee but I love the smell of it. Tomorrow morning I am going to try some of Marco’s coffee.

I was so exhausted tonight (and uncomfortable from the sciatica), that I went to sleep for a couple of hours.  When I woke up at about 2:00, I finished writing this post.  I hope I was making sense. Now i will go back to sleep for a a few hours so I am ready for our next adventure.


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Off to Grecia and San Rafael – Feb 19th

I enjoyed having breakfast this morning with Emilia, Elise, and Pablo.  Pablo is such a joker and I will miss him.

We gathered on the corner to say good-bye to those who were not coming in the bus with us.

I am going to miss Emilia so much.

We stopped along the road to see the view of the Cerro de la Muerte  which is also called Cerro Buenavista. It is a mass of 3 491 meters of altitude that is part of the Cordillera de Talamanca,  We took a couple of photos.

I think this is the 1st time we did a “Act Crazy” shot.

In the past the Ticos took the Oregonians on a hike to the top but some people complained.  I saw people up on the trail and wished we could have done that hike this year although I am pretty out of shape from not getting much exercise over the past couple of weeks.

They stopped at a place for us to use el bano and get a snack.  Quiro said we could have anything we wanted to get to eat.  I chose ice-cream.

Lee let me have a bit of her guacamole which was also delicious.

Barbara, Anne, and Quiro bought some food for an Indigenous family that was sitting outside.  I took a couple of photos.

When we arrived in Grecia, Quiro and Marco greeted each other.

I found out that Marco Murillo and his wife, Auria Montero were going to be my hosts.

We took a group photo at the church.

Omar took a photo of me near the church.

Grecia’s church, Iglesia de la Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, is a very interesting structure in Grecia. The church is the center of most towns in Costa Rica; the towns social core, the origin of all directions. However, Grecia’s church is unique – both because it is RED and because it is made entirely of prefabricated metal sheets.

After hugging Quiro, Daysy, Omar, and Elizia, I left with Marco.  He speaks English so we were able to converse all the way to his house which is actually in San Rafael (an area 30 minutes outside of Grecia).  Marco told me that the whole area used to be coffee farms and there were very few homes.  He pointed out the school he attended as a child.  His home is located on what was his grandfather’s coffee plantation I was awestruck when we arrived.  This place is absolutely stunningly beautiful.

Marco took my suitcase up to my bedroom (or should I say bedroom suite).  I am again in a beautiful home.

Then Auria served lunch for me.  Wow.  What a beautiful meal and it was absolutely delicious.

We had wonderful conversations while I was eating lunch.  I learned so much. Marco told me a lot about Costa Rica.  He learned English when he went to the Florida State University in Tallahassee.   He was a math instructor.  This is just a bit about what I was told:

  • How he and Auria met and married over 45 years ago.
  • Auria previous work as a teacher then becoming the  administrator for the entire district.
  • The refugee populations in Costa Rica – mostly form Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Elsalvador
  • 2 families from their Parish in San Rafael.  Auria talked to people on the phone about organizing how to get their homes rebuilt.

Then Marco took me for a walk around the grounds.  He explained that the coffee plantation was divided between himself and his sisters by his mother.  He had this house built on his portion of the property.  Marco told me a story about the tree in this photo.  When he picked coffee on his grandfathers plantation, he and the other workers would hang their lunches on this tree and then eat them under the shade of the tree.  It is about 75 years old and when he had his house built, he made sure the tree stayed.  We took photos of each other.

Then we took a stroll around some of the property with Marco pointing out the vegetation and fruit trees and me taking photos that, of course, do not capture the beauty of the area..

 

Then I had time to take some photos of the house.  This is the entrance.

Their cat and dog play with each other.

The kitchen…

The staircase to my room.

Part of the living room areas.

I had a bit of time to get organized in my room and then we left for the “Welcome Party” in Grecia. On the way Marco pointed out one of the places where the coffee pickers / farm workers live.

The party was in the outside area where Anne is living at Aurea’s home.We had a wonderful dinner and great conversations.

I took some photos of the Oregonians and their hosts.

Barbara with Mayela

Sue with Armando and Rosarita

Anne and Aurea

Lee and Felicia

Janice and Fredy and Rosannia

Mario, Aurea, and me

I love the sound of the sound when the gusts of wind blow through the trees outside my window as I am getting read for bed. I hope it keeps up all night.

I am looking forward to four more days in San Rafael and Grecia and time to get to know our hosts.


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BambuTico and Farewell Party + Feb 18

At breakfast I tried a new fruit called Pejibaye which is a national fruit of Costa Rica.  I heard about it the other day from Sue and Anne.  Emilia and Elise put mayonnaise on it.  It had a strange, kind of stringy texture.  I only ate a small piece of it.

After breakfast we drove to a Bamboo Factory named BambuTico.

Lee interpreted what the great granddaughter was telling us.

  • It is a family business that was started by the great grandfather of woman who was giving us the tour. He was growing bamboo for pleasure.
  • Her father realized that they could turn this pleasure into a business.  In about 1980 the Retana Quirós family started making furniture and now have expanded and now grow 72 species of Bamboo.
  • In addition to handcrafted items, they sell raw material, do construction, and created Bamboo furniture.
  • 7 of the 10 children work

The family learned a lot from China and other Asian countries about the processes they needed to use and then adapted them for their own needs.  On our tour we learned about the process of growing, cutting, immunizing, and cleaning the bamboo for use.

When we were looking at the handcrafted projects, Susan was enjoying some time with their dog.

I took a few photos as we toured the factory.

They fire this wood to make it bend.

He is cutting a notch in the bamboo.

Then the pieces can be bent to make a form.

The forms are put together into a square shape.

And use to make a piece of furniture.

Quiro is holding a black bamboo.  The seeds for black bamboo come from Indonesia.

An interesting fact is that bamboo actually has veins. They inject chemicals into one end of the bamboo to treat for insects.  Then the chemicals travels through veins in bamboo.  The insecticide is colored so when it comes through the veins they can tell it has reached the other side.

As we were touring the factory, I took a photo of Quiro’s wife, Daysy, and there son who joined us at the factory.


After the factory we went to the home of José Rojas and Flor Herrara for afternoon treats.  They bought this place in order to have a spot to entertain their friends.  The pumpkin soup and other treats were delicious.

Chemo Jose Maria and Antoniela served the treats to us at the party.

Eliza took Sue and I to see an orchid growing along the road.

I took a photo of Eliza and the orchid.

Emilia, Elise and I went home to get ready for the farewell party in the afternoon.  Emilia gave me this beautiful bamboo cup that she purchased at the factory for me.

The Ticos in Peréz Zeledón threw an amazing farewell party for us at the home of Dunuvio Bedoya and Blanca Rosa Barrautes.  They created these beautiful bouquets of real fruit on each table.

For some reason the photos that Emilia and I both took lack quality but I am posting them for memories.

Speeches were given praising us and the lasting friendship being formed among all of us. Maria Elena made a poem out of the word, “Amego” describing all the wonderful characteristics of friendhip.

This is Marena Elena, Quiro, Blanquita, and Daysy.

Omar, Eliza, Emilia and Elisa were having a great time.

I held the Costa Rican flag.

Our Oregonian group had our photo taken with Elise…

… and again without Elise.

Susan with her host, Elvie.

Lee, Ann, Omar and I

Sangria was served along with several treats.  The time I have had with Emilia and Elise is imbedded in my heart.  I can hardly believe that this is our last night together.


This man sang for us and we danced and laughed and danced and laughed  and danced.and laughed for hours.

The fun loving nature of the Ticos in Peréz Zeledón is infectious.  Eliza and Omar were dancing.  I love to see them together.

Chema José Maria  and  Antonieta

The men and women are fabulous dancers.  We all had so much fun together.  I wish I had taken photos of every person at the party.

We were served a delicious dinner and then we sang and danced some more.  It was hard to leave this wonderful time of laughter and joy.

Emilia, Elise, and I were on our way home when I realized that I couldn’t find my cell phone.  I must have laid it down when my Oregonian friends sang a silly song for the Ticos. I couldn’t believe I had done that.  Emilia and Elise were very tired.  Emilia pulled the car into a parking lot by a bar and texted her cousins.  She had to make several phone calls to try to figure out who had my cell phone.  Catalina (one of Emilie’s cousins) and her boyfriend, Mario came out to the car.  After many calls, she discovered that Lee had my phone. and we called her at the home where she was staying. Lee could have brought the phone to me in the morning, but she didn’t have the correct cables to charge it.   I was so surprised when Emilia took me into the bar and introduced me to another cousin, Lizbet (Catalina’s Mom) and her father, Sigifredo. The music in the bar was really loud.  Lizbet took me onto the dance floor and we danced.

There were strobe lights and a small band.  The sounds were very, very loud – louder than at our farewell party.

Emilia and Elise went in the car to get my phone from Lee.  Lizbet and I kept dancing.

This is Sigrfredo and Lizbet.

This is Mario and Catalina.

Catalina and Mario also danced.

A man who had been on the dance floor came up to the table and asked me to dance.  I looked at Emilia’s cousins and they nodded their heads.

One of her cousins took a video of my dancing and sent it to Emilia but I can’t upload it to this post.

After a short time they all came up to dance with us so it was a group dancing.  I think it took Emilia and Elise at least 45 minutes before they returned to the bar with my phone. Although it was another adventure and story to tell,  I am so embarrassed about causing this problem tonight.

When we got home, Emilia and Elize had tea and cake and served tea to me as I started to work on this post. It is 1:15 am and I too tired to think clearly anymore so I am finally going to bed with memories and thoughts about the fabulous, fun filled, caring, loving people of Peréz Zeledón on my mind and in my heart.  I know I will stay in contact with many of the people.


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La Playa Ventanas – Feb 17

I have some catching up to do on information from previous days before I start today’s blog.  I learned yesterday about Emilia’s job as a Federal Judge.  She actually had to travel to the country side to hear criminal cases and her travels were often by horseback.  That was quite the job.

Emilia’s house has hot water in the shower.  Yesterday was my first time in Costa Rica to get an actual hot – not tepid – shower.  That was a real treat.

Yesterday when we left Emilia’s house she was telling us that her father was a farmer they raised pigs andI I think chickens.  We passed some farms that were like hers.  Then we were driving by many houses.  She would point to a house and say, “Family of my Mother.”  I lost count of how many people were relatives of her mother.

Last night Emilia taught me how to upload WhatsApp to my desktop.  I never knew it was available on the computer.

I set my alarm for 5:45 last night so I could be ready for 6:00 breakfast.  After my shower Elize and I went downstairs but we didn’t see Emilia.  So Elize set the table for breakfast.  I knocked on Emilia’s door, but then I heard her shower so we knew she was awake.  Elize took rice and beans out of the fridge and Emilia  came downstairs; eggs got fried; and breakfast was quickly prepared.

We didn’t want to be late so we quickly ate and then I quickly washed the dishes and we were off.

Emilia drove to Elvie’s house (like we have done before) to go with Elvie and Sue to the bus.  We all got into Elvie’s car but we didn’t start driving.  There was a bit of panic in the front seat because Elvie could not find the gate opener so we couldn’t leave.  They looked and looked and finally found them.  Elvie had been sitting on them.  We were off to the bus and Emilia realized that she forgot her sombrero.  Elise and I had both seen both of her sombreros in the house before we rushed out the door, but none of us remembered to take one of them.   This was quite the start of a day for us.

The bus ride to the playa was pretty long. but not as long as on Saturday.   I was wishing that I brought my knitting because I was also thinking about how long we were going to be at the playa.  The countryside is very beautiful.  I looked at the beautiful countryside, listened to the conversations in Spanish, and realized that one of the things I enjoyed the most about this group is the delightful laughter of Emilia and Eliza.

Our destination for the day was  Playa Ventanas.  Ann explained to me that ventanas means windows. When we arrived we put our gear under a large tarp that the support Ticos team from Peréz Zeledón had set up for us.  We took a walk to the rock formations where there was a window to the ocean.

The water comes rushing through the window in this rock formation.  We learned that people who are not thinking clearly have walked through this formation at low tide and drowned because couldn’t get out when the tide came in.  We took photos of each other.

Omar and Elise

Anne and I

 

A gathering on the log.

Emilia and Quiro set up a couple of hammocks.

Sue and Elvie.

I tried out the hammock.

I walked back over to the tented area.  The Peréz Zeledon support Ticos were preparing a snack for us.

This is quite the knife for cutting-up cantaloupe.

They put out quite the decorative spread of fruit.

It was time to test out the water.  What a pleasant surprise to step into very warm water.  Sue, Ann, Lee, Elise, and I had a blast playing in the waves.  We would turn our back to each wave and let it push us up into the air and back down to the water.  I haven’t done that in over 30 years.  What a blast.

Sue and I took a short walk down the beach to some rocks and took photos.

This is a photo of our covered area where we can stay out of the sun.

Before long it was time for lunch.  The Ticos prepared everything at the beach.

I was really expecting to get a bit bored being at the beach for so long, but we were having a lot of fun just talking with each other and walking on the beach.  The treats kept coming.  They prepared an icy drink that was quite sweet.

I took a few more photos.

I shared my blog with Omar on his phone and he was really enjoying reading it.  It is in Spanish on the phone but maybe he just enjoyed the photos.

Then Eliza came to tell me that it was time for me to come hear the singing. Quiro was playing the guitar and it was a regular sing-a-long – in Spanish..

I took a video and posted it on my Facebook page.

 

One thing I noticed was that it was all hombres sitting around the table singing together.  I asked about that and learned that in Costa Rica, it is mostly the men who sing together.

Francisco showed me a card trick.

A couple from Canada asked Quiro to sing a song to the woman.  Omar helped him sing a song about a pretty woman.

Then the Canadian woman sang a song for us.

Quiro wanted to hear “A Bicycle Built for Two” sung to him and his wife so we sang it for them.

The day went much quicker than I expected.  Since the sun was going to go down over a hill, they decided to drive us to another spot on a beach to watch it.

I took a photo of Omar and Eliza …

I emailed a photo from Omar’s camera that he took of Eliza and the sun…

… and took a shot of the sunset myself.

This was a much better day than I had expected.

We had a laugh when the bus arrived in Pérez Zeledon.  The bus stopped for the 1sts group to get off near their homes.  Elvie got off the bus so obviously Sue followed her.  Then I tapped Emilie on the shoulder and pointed to Sue because we were riding in their car and I didn’t understand why we weren’t getting off at this place with them.  Emilie called out Sue’s name and told her to get back on the bus.  It turned out that Elvie was just going to get her car because she had parked it at somebody else’s house.  We all laughed about the the confusion.  The Ticos had this all arrangement all down pat, but Sue and I did not understand.

When we arrived home, I had another great hot shower.  Emilia put all of the clothes I had worn over the past couple of weeks into the washing machine and wow – there is even a dryer so they will be all dry and ready by the end of the evening.

Emilia made pasta for dinner.  Then a couple friends (Liner and Les)came over. I was uploading photos for this post.  There was a lot of Spanish and some French conversation.  I was included in some of the jokes.  Emilia brought out the cacao; Pablo brought out candy; Emilia brought out cake; I brought out Carmel M&Ms that I have had in my pack (unopened) since we left LA.  We  laughed a lot.

It is the end of another great day.


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Toplandia, River, Family, More Feb 16

I met Emilia’s son, Marco, this morning before we left the house.  Emilia made Pupusas for our breakfast

We drove to a place called Toplandia.  I started to take photos as soon as we arrived.

Toplandia was created by Manuel Barrantes who is committed to the ecological well-being of planet earth. It  is an example of how a man, using imagination & ingenuity, can construct a dwelling within the land’s natural features. He began 14 years ago to create this amazing series of mined tunnels which connect many rooms.  They were all excavated using hand tools, buckets, and wheelbarrows.

Manuels daughter, Beatrice, gave us a tour.   She told us that her father created the rooms.  When they discovered hard rocks, rather than removing them, they incorporated them into imaginative wall carvings. Her mother, Lidiette Guillen, helped to created the sculptures on the walls.  .

I took many photos as we wandered through the tunnels and staircases.

This is a kitchen.

A bed in the wall.

One of the staircases.

Sculptures and designs…

Another tunnel

Several of us wanted to sit on this bed.

This was one of the wells in the middle of the house.

The Flintstones on the wall made me laugh.  They seemed a bit out of place but, then again, they did live in a cave.

Emilia and Eliza

Eliza and Omar

We did a group shot in one of the rooms.

Under the pink cover on the table is a well with fresh spring water.

I loved the sign that said, “Positive Energy”

The walls have many designs on them including stars.

Beatrice turned off all of the lights and the stars were illuminated in the dark.  We sat there for several minutes just feeling the wonder of this place.

Lee read to us from the book that was on the table.

She looks like she is preaching.

Each of our Tica host made a statement.  Emilia said that she, Elise and I are forming lifelong friendships.  That is exactly what it feels like to me.

There was a hallway where the sculptures were all of symbols of Costa Rica,  Some of them were the bull, a  manatee, the flag, a sphere, and the national bird.  I learned that the national bird is a Yigüírro.  There are so many very colorful birds in Costa Rica.  This brown bird is chosen as the National bird because it lives everywhere in Costa Rica.

The words to the Costa Rica National Anthem were on the wall.  The Ticos sang it to us.

There is a functioning sink in one of the rooms.

Touring Topolandia was a wonderful experience.  It is hard to believe that they created this wonder in such a short time.  If you think about the tunnels and five levels that are in this wonder, the entire route is estimated to be about 400 meters and the maximum depth under the earth is about 16 meters.

We at a fantastic lunch at an Hawaiian restaurant.  I wish I had taken a photo of my plate of fish, beans, rice, salad, hearts of palm and more on it.  I can hardly believe hoe much I am eating in Costa Rica.

After lunch we went to relax at the river.  I think it was called Rio Caliente but I am not sure.  We took several photos as we relaxed along the rocky shores of the river.

Susan was having a great time sitting on the rocks and getting soaked by the flowing water.

 

Our day of fun was not over.  We went to the home of Emilia’s Uncle Oscar and his wife Elizia…

.

There were many other people visiting.  We walked around their beautiful garden.  The photos I took do not do justice to the beautiful garden.

The chicharra (cicada) were so loud today.  This is a photo that Elise sent a photo of one that was in our house so I am posting it here.

We are fed constantly.  First they served some sweets.  Then Elvie brought out the cake she had bought to serve to Sue the first night she arrived but they didn’t have time so she kept in in the fridge. Elvie asked Sue to serve it.

All of the food here is so delicious.  As we were eating somebody noticed this bird outside of the window.  What a treat.

I took another photo of Oscar and Elizia before we left.

The hospitality and caring of the Ticos is so wonderful.  They do everything they can possibly do to make us feel welcome and know that they care about us.

On the way home Emilia made a phone call and we drove up the hill to a restaurant where her God daughter, Marijoríe works to buy dinner for us.  I couldn’t believe that we were going to be eating again. It was fun to watch them cooking in the kitchen.

This is Fabiana.

This is Marjorie.

We could see the city lights from high above in the restaurant.  We could even see fires in the distance where they are burning the sugar cane fields.

When we got home,I started working on the blog,  At 8:00, Emilia served the dinner she purchased.  I  sure hope that am not being rude by not eating very much but we had so much food today.  The food they serve is delicious but I just can’t keep eating so much food.

Tomorrow starts very early (6;00 AM breakfast) so i am off to bed. It is already 11:30.


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Parque de las Esferas Indigenas de Piedra and Boating on Rio Sierpe – Feb 15

Before I begin writing about this amazing day, I am going to clarify about Emilia’s car not being towed.  This morning I asked Pablo, Emilia’s brother what Licda meant in front of her name on my schedule.  He said that she was a federal judge.  That is perhaps why the police did not tow her car last night.  It could be that when they looked up the license plate, they recognized her name.  Emilia was a criminal justice judge.

We had a long (maybe 3 hour) bus ride today.  We passed fields of pineapples and the Ticos explained about how they burn the fields in between plantings.

At our first stop we noticed this moth on a bench.

The photo of my hand with the moth better identifies its size.

They were selling ice-cream at this stop and I could not resist.

We had a very interesting experience today on the bus.  A police officer entered the bus and wanted to see everybody’s passport.  It could be because we were not far from the Panama border. I carry my passport every single day, but not today.  I chose not to take it today because I had not needed it yet and we were going on the boat. I have not idea why I didn’t take the laminated copy of my passport that I have in my suitcase.  I was not the only one without a passport or a copy of one but I was very thankful that I had taken my driver’s license with me.  He spent time checking each of us.

The officer was very nice – so nice that he actually allowed us to take photos with him. It was Elise’s idea but Barbara and I followed suit.

The museum connect to the Parque de las Esferas Indigenas de Piedra was very interesting and we spent some time inside learning about birds and animals of this area and reading about the stones in the park.

We walked through the area.  The temperature was very high and all of us were very, very warm.

Several of us liked watching the cutter ants building their nests which we called, “Condo Nests.”

I took a photo of the seeds from a Balsa Wood tree.  Elise collected some of these.

There were banana plantations in this area and this structure remains.  It is what was used to move the banana bunches.

Finally we came upon the spheres.  It was easier for me to look up the information on the web than to type everything that I read on the signs

There are actually more than five-hundred pre-Columbian petreospheres (the name for any spherical man-made object of any size that is composed of stone) in Costa Rica.

The spheres are considered unique in the world because of their number, size, perfection, formation of organized schemes and abstraction outside of natural models. Its great value is that they were made under technological and social conditions considered very difficult today. However, the indigenous societies that sculpted them did so almost perfectly, with very fine finishes in many cases, and with sizes ranging from a few centimeters to about 2.6 meters in diameter. The spheres were produced and used during a period from 400 to 500 AD, until the Spanish conquest in a period close to 1000 years.

The stone spheres were discovered in1939, when the American banana company United Fruit Company began to deforest those territories to grow bananas. Since then they were considered a mystery and the Americans dynamited some of them, because of the belief that there could be gold inside.

Since 1970 the authorities of the Government of Costa Rica have protected pre-Columbian stone spheres and their locations.

The dimensions of the spheres range from 10 centimeters to 2.57 meters in diameter, and their weight exceeds 16 tons. Archaeologists estimate that the stones were located by the natives of the area between the years 300 BC and 300 AD, but the sculptural work has not yet been scientifically dated. 

At present, the stone spheres are considered as the artistic manifestation par excellence of the pre-Columbian Costa Rican sculpture. They were declared a UNESCO site and on July 16, 2014 the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica declared them as a national symbol.

Here are the photos I took.

Taking a photo of Elise and asking her to take one of me helped to show the size of the ones on this property.

.Some were not spherical.

An interesting point is that the stone spheres are closely linked to the collective memory of Costa Ricans, who make reproductions in stone, bronze, steel, glass and reinforced concrete, to locate at the entrance of houses and institutions and indicate that their purpose is more than decorative, it is sense of identity, for its geometric and spiritual symbolism.

We were pretty hot and tired after this excursion.  When we arrived back at the bus, the Ticos had water and mangos ready for us.  Emilia produced bowls of mangos, cantaloupe, and pineapple with forks for Elise and me.

The next part of this day was a trip on the Siepre River.  I really enjoyed this.  Here are some of our photographs.

Emilia and I.

We only had a few people on our boat but here is the other one.

A pelican

Shoreline

Small blue Heron along the shore.

Sometimes we were just cruising and others we sped up quite a bit.

These are the people on my boat.  Ann and I were the only Oregonians.

I worked really hard to get a photo of a sloth.

It was about a 35 km trip to get to the ocean where we docked and had more fruit treats.

I took a photo af Emilia’s, Else’s, and my feet in the tradition of taking photos at PDX.

Then Emilia wanted one of our hands as the symbol of our friendship.

I walked along the shore to get closer to the ocean.  Ann was also walking so I took a photo of her for her grandson, Lulu.

Sue, Barbara and I relaxed in the hammock.

I told them about the foot photo so we took one of our feet.

I enjoyed standing  and just enjoying the views for most of the trip back.

My dinner of whole fish, fries, beans and rice, and salad was absolutely delicious. Wish I had taken a photo.  After dinner many of us danced to the live music that was playing.

The bus ride back was not very enjoyable because I was exhausted and couldn’t find enough room to be comfortable to sleep.  I didn’t realized how cramped the space was on the way to the ocean.

Emilia stopped to get a cake for her brother, Pablo, who I met this morning at breakfast.  But the first task for Elise, Emilia, and I was a shower – and it was hot water.  This was my first hot water shower since I have been in Costa Rica.  What an absolute treat to wash my hair in hot water.

It was fun to celebrate Pablo’s birthday with a delicious cake. We sang happy birthday songs to him in three languages (English, Spanish, and French).

Staying up until almost 2:00 am to finish today’s post is a bit crazy, but all my friends already know that about me.  At least I don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning.