By Lee Mehler, 3-time traveler and 2-time Vacation Ambassador from Leland, NC
It’s the surprises that make travel worth the effort. Despite the close airline connections that we barely made. The small discomforts beyond our usual habitats.
These are a few moments from our fortnight together.
The hummingbirds and other exotic birds of varied plumage flitting between the fruit secured to sun-bleached wood beams at the brief stop behind the restaurant/store. The trees and flowers in sizes we could not imagine and colors we did not know existed. The density of unfiltered beauty everywhere we looked.
Dining in the open air under rusting metal roofs with an old-world grandfather, his moonshine producing son and daughter-in-law who made cheese empanadas. Lunch with a young sister and two brothers at the Home-Hosted visit under the bamboo supported roof behind their parent’s family home.
Appetizers prepared as a group under our trip leader Wendy Aguilar’s direction, sampled before dinner at the edge of the rainforest. The ornate historic National Theater in San Jose. Especially amazing in the context of this country with few other buildings of architectural significance.
The sweet lilting chords of the children’s voices singing “Hola” as we walked past the refurbished nets and tiny boats at the fishing cooperative. The children’s hesitant responses as we urged them to express their dreams of what they hoped to be when they grew up at the primary school in Chachagua.
The furry and scaly creatures that reinforced our growing knowledge of the variety of what lives with us on this abundant earth.
The infinite colors of the birds that were new to our limited view of the world: The macaws as they flew over our heads at Puntarenas and on Lemoncito Beach. The hundreds of birds on the shore and hidden amongst the branches on the gentle cruise down the Rio Frio in La Fortuna. The winged creatures always present overhead in our peripheral hearing at Arenal Volcano and Manuel Antonio National Parks.
Spending time with our simian relatives with white faces who gazed into our eyes one minute and looked away in disinterest the next, as we ate breakfast a few feet away. The loud protests of the howler monkeys who at 6 A.M. threw branches as a wakeup call on the roof of our room. The squirrel monkeys that scampered away like thieves with pieces of apple from our open-air lunch overlook.
The new experiences for many of us that flourished from initial hesitancy. When we met horses with Spanish names who were going where they wanted to go, ignoring our tug of the reins. Some of us traversed the treetops on zip lines or on shaky hanging bridges at heights above our former limits for adventure. We rafted on stage three rapids past rocks slick with algae over white water swells. We showed teamwork in the outrigger canoes to spend a couple of hours on one last beach in paradise.
The happiness we saw in the eyes of the people we met. The face of Julie at Lifting Hands as she gave us a tour of the after-school facility and her daughter’s extended family residence wedged between other modest homes. The fishermen and fisherwomen at the fishing cooperative demonstrating how they fought off the large companies trying to control the seas. The owners and guides at the coffee and pineapple fincas and Don Juan’s organic farm who kept their faith in nature and its purity. The pride we saw when Wendy beamed as she told us the details of life in her beloved Costa Rica.
The other special moments we observed with Wendy as she got down on the concrete floor to look into the eyes of the school children. When she met, for the first time, the indigenous artist at his roadside art gallery. When she spotted a rare bird or mammal for what seemed to be the first time expressed by the spontaneous joy in her voice and on her face.
We are thankful for Marcus’ ability to drive where no bus was meant to go, especially on the beach. His ability to fix anything that makes odd noises under the bus, and his ability to park a Mercedes Benz 28 seat bus in a compact car space.
We are thankful for those moments when we sweated together, broke bread together, made appetizers together, slathered mud together, and rinsed off together.
We are thankful we have grown from a group of fifteen strangers into a cohesive traveling extended family to experience firsthand the beautiful people, the fresh local food, and the natural wonders of Costa Rica.
Experience the natural wonders of Costa Rica for yourself when you travel on our Real Affordable Costa Rica adventure.