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Costa Rica Journey – Day 4

Last evening:

There is a learning center here at Selva Verda Lodge dedicated to promoting protecting the earth. They educate children in the area and invite people from around the world to sponsor children to complete their education. They also do work for the lodge such as teaching dancing and having cooking workshops. A woman named Hazel told us her story and the story of her village. She demonstrated cheese making which she makes from the milk of her cows and sells. We purchased items made by the local women’s group from their little store for our grandchildren.

In the evening a very lively couple taught us typical Costa Rican dances including Salsa and Maringa. Our group laughed, danced and acted quite goofy.  A nice community builder.

This morning we went white water rafting on the Sarapique River. Our guides were adorable Costa Rican young men with great humor. We began with serious lecture on safety, then once we launched, we were encouraging us to “attack” our fellows in other rafts. There was much laughing and foolishness which kept my mind off the terror I felt at times. We kept from falling out of the raft by shoving one foot under the seat in front of us and the other crammed under our own. This held me in place but I wasn’t sure how my feet would hold up. We stopped for a snack on a rocky shore where our leaders treated us to pineapple and watermelon. Later we purchased a DVD of our excursion including the looks of terror on the elderfaces.

A long drive to a new, very swank hotel and spa with hot springs, a pool, golf, etc. I don’t know if I will try the spa, but the hot springs for sure. My feet will love it. The ride over was educational. Our guide Mario is very knowledgable. And we are getting to know our fellow travelers for better or for worse.

The name of the hotel is the Arenal Springs Resort and Spa. Located at the foot of the Arenal volcano. I am sitting on our small private patio looking right at the valcanoe. A dark cloud sits on the top like a Russian fur cap. Sunset time.

Following are the words on a card left in this hotel for the guests:

TO OUR GUESTS

In ancient times there was a prayer for “The stranger within our gates.” Because this hotel is an establishement dedicated to serve our guests, and not merely a money making enterprise, we hope that God will grant you peace and rest while you remain under our roof. May this room and this hotel be your second home. May those you love be near you in your thoughts and dreams. Even though we may not get to know you well, we hope that you will be as comfortable and as happy as if you were in your own home. May the business that brought you our way prosper. May every call you make and every message you receive increases your happiness. When you depart, may you have a safe and pleasant trip. We are all travlelers. From “Birth  til death” we travel between eternities. May these days you spend with us be pleasant for you, profitable for society. Helpful for those you meet, and a joy for those who know and love you well…these are our wishes for you.

How’s that for hospitality?

Costa Rica Pilgrimage – Day 3

Day three in Costa Rica

It is 5:37 am. We began the day with a walk in the rain forest. While taking a boat ride on the Sarapiqui River, I took notes of the wildlife and the teachings of our leader, Mario.  I note:

Swallows flying over the water grabbing insect snacks…A black vulture and a turkey vulture, more common in Costa Rica……Iguanas with redish comb along its back and striped black and gold tail. The male hangs out in the tree tops attracting females that come in droves of 20 to 39, his harem. Then they go lay their eggs in the sand. The male turns completely orange when in heat and is very visible. The female turns dark brown like the sand where she lays her eggs…..The Anhinga is a snake bird without much oil on his feathers. Makes it better for diving than other water birds like our loon. They stab the fish with their sharp beek, come up out of the water, toss the fish in the air and catch it in their open mouth and swallow it whole…..Longhorn bats press against the dark bark of a tree and are almost impossible to see…..The flycatcher has a breast of bright yellow like a lemon…..Jesus Christ Lizard – bright green with little turquoise spots, can “walk on water”…..Black turtle sitting on a branch with its head held high…..A green ibis….. Capach is a cotton wood tree whose insides were once used to stuff pillows and life-jackets…..Three howler monkeys, way up in a tree’s branches. Only the males howl for territory or fear or for breeding. They are tranquil, live on leaves and fruit. They live in troups of 10-25 led by the alpha male…..Bees- most bees in Costa Rica are stingers, some African killer bees have come to Costa Rica and are moving north, now in Texas.

Mimicry is camouflage an animal uses to attract its food or to prevent being food for another.

Later poem:

Not an emerald lizard nor a honey bee

Not a golden hot iguana nor the howler monkey

Not the iguana, the snake nor the green ibis

Not the long nosed bat nor the spotted sand piper

Not, not, none of these escape the eyes of the Great Beholder.

Not the woman with hair of Medusa nor the Italian planner

Not the meteorologist nor the nurse practitioner

Not the social worker nor the teacher

Not the chemical engineer nor the artist from the north

Not, not, none of these escape the eye of the Great Beholder.

Costa Rica Pilgrimage – Day 2

Second Day in Costa Rica:

Our travel day is behind us. Bernie slept for most of the flight time. I did not. I busied myself with reading, working puzzles, watching a movie.

We met one of our sojourners on the plane, a woman a little younger or near my age, a black activist with dreadlocks, outgoing personality. Clearly full of passion for justice. I told her about my connection with the Quakers and she told me she has worked with AFSC (American Friends Service Committee).

This morning we met our tour guide, Mario Carbello, and had a lecture by a chemistry professor from the University…Therman Thomas. He told the story of Costa Rica via sports and coffee…he was humorous and very informative. I wish I had taken notes. Then we visited the Gold Museum in downtown San Jose. Very interesting tour and history of the early indigineous people. We boarded our van and traveled to Sarapique and checked into the Selva Verde Lodge.

I know I am in the rainforest because of the humidity. I wonder how sleep will go tonight with no air conditioning and open screened windows. On our veranda there are two comfortable wood chairs and a hamock. I could sleep on the hamock but suspect mosquitoes will visit tonight. We’ve been warned about snakes across the path after dark. “Don’t jump over the snakes,” our guide warned. It appears that the snakes have the right-of-way.

This is a lovely place. We will want to take pictures of flowers. So exquisite to this northern Minnesota person. I love the fact that Costa Ricans care so about their land. All act like true natives, true lovers of the land.

To get here we drove through mountains that form a ring around San Jose, through a “cloud forest”, where there was thick, thick foliage hugging the cliffs on either side of the road. Occasional we’d see a spring trickling through the rocks. We saw one plant that had leaves like our rhubarb but even larger.  You could almost lay on them. “They are very poisonous” one sojourner told me.

Now sitting here, I could almost fall asleep. An insect approaches. Hark! Could it be a mosquito? So tiny! Let me tell you about your Minnesota cousin. He could eat your children.

 

Costa Rican Pilgrimage – Day 1

Since retirement, Bernie and I have been on several tours with Road Scholar, formerly Elderhostel. We recently returned from our first tour out of the country. I was the one who wanted to go to Costa Rica because it is a peace country, having abolished its army in 1949 and because the  established a Peace University there which has a commemorative statue of Peace Pilgrim. I thought I’d begin my blog career by sharing some of the journaling I did while on our trip. Following is my first entry written on January 7 while we sat in the Lindberg Terminal, Minneapolis Airport, as I pondered:

“Our adventure is begun. Our destination is still 8.5 hours out, but sitting here I am preparing my heart. I just read the introduction to the book Peace Pilgrim: Her Life and Work in Her Own Words. This trip is for me a pilgimage of peace so I thought it might be a good idea to reread her book which is about her pilgrimage.

“She carried with her on her travels this simple message: “When enough of us find inner peace, our institutions will become more peaceful and there will be no occasion for war.”She was a true pacifist. This reminds me of the hymn we used to sing in church “Let there be peace on earth and let it  begin with me.” I think Peace was trying to say that peace in the world can only be achievd if those who hunger for peace first find peace within.”

I feel Peace’s presence as I begin this journey. I hope to connect ina new way to her beautiful teachings and her life.

Beginnings

This is the beginning of something new in my life. It feels a little like having a column in a newspaper, something I have always thought would be cool but feared big time. But now is the time.

I walked out to greet the sun this morning, a daily ritual of mine. It was slow going because I have this extra bone in my foot that likes to cause me trouble every so often and it is doing so right now. This may seem like a rather mundane thing to be sharing, but really, it has significance to me. Let me explain.

I have a hero. Her name is Peace Pilgrim. She is a real person who walked across the country for peace in the early ’50s. I have read her book, published after her death by her friends. She epitimizes to me what it means to be a peace maker. Well, I guess I have gotten taken in by her journey…the walking journey…thinking how cool it would be to walk the byways of America speaking to folks about what means so much to me. Then God gave me these feet. There are other ways to share a message, I heard. Let your fingers do the walking…remember that message?

Okay! Okay! I got it! So here I am at the starting gate. My son is here from Colorado. He got the blog started. Here you see my first entry. Hello World!