Monday, June 4, 2012
Greetings from Costa Rica!
Sharing in our adventures, from the back seats, are David's friend Mauricio and his mother Doña Cristina, with whom he lived for over a year about 8 years ago. So far the four of us have visited the country's tallest active volcano as well as the country's only old, abandoned leper colony. Yup, weird. It's a giant, old building from the early 1900s, tucked into a valley surrounded by lush, green mountains, where few rooms still have a roof, all the floors are covered in intricate, beautiful ceramic tiles and the walls with creepy graffiti reading things like Bienvenidos. Sientan el frio de la muerte. (Welcome. Feel the coldness of death.) I didn't see any leper ghosts, but I was kind of expecting to at every corner.
We stayed several nights in San Ramon where Mau attends college and where his mother has been staying for a month, waiting for her husband to have heart surgery. (The health care system here is free for everyone which is amazing, however there are a few disadvantages to this system. For example, those needing an operation have to essentially "wait in line" for their turn and since there are so many patients right now, Mau's dad has been living in the hospital for over a month now waiting). In San Ramon we went to the local food market for more squeaky cheese, had lunch with a Costa Rican ex-nun who spent 12 years in Mozambique birthing babies, waited out torrential downpours and power outages with Mau's neighbors, and traveled about an hour in the rain and the dark only to arrive late to Mau's first college choral recital. (Folks here don't give directions in a very direct way. There are usually lots of hand gestures and very rarely are the words "left" and "right" used. Due to this and a few other factors, David and Mau's mom ended up in the town's giant cathedral listening to the sermon, waiting for Mau to come out and start singing. The concert was actually in a small building around the corner.)
Yesterday, we left San Ramon and made our way to Cabeceras, the small, rural town in the mountains where Mau's parents normally live. Unfortunately, our 4 hour drive turned into 8 hours due to a fallen bridge, so we arrived later than planned. But man were they 8 beautiful hours. And today we went to visit some lady who grows, harvests and roasts her own coffee. After feeding us homemade chicken soup with tortillas and passion fruit juice, she took us for a tour of her land and pointed out each of the dozens of different kinds of plants - everything from macadamia nut trees to potato vines. Then she made us coffee with fresh cows milk and a sweet treat made from "cuadrados" (plantains with 4 sides).
This place is absolutely amazing. I'm thinking about moving here and learning to milk cows. Oh, looks like I have to stop writing. Mau's brother killed a pig for us for dinner and I have to get ready!