We decided that before leaving the country, we wanted to see what people call the crown jewel of Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio National Park. We took a three-hour bus ride from La Legua, over many dirt roads. Thankfully, the other volunteers from the ranch had told me about their trips here so I had a good idea of what to expect. We had a great trip here.
After we left La Legua and descended from the mountains to the valley, it became humid pretty fast.
We went to Vista Serena, a hostel at the top of a hill with an amazing view of the Pacific Ocean. We didn't have reservations but there was room. I decided that three days would be enough time to see what we wanted to see, and to take time to do what we needed (kind of complicated to explain). It's only $10 a night per person to stay here, and the owners are very kind and friendly. They used to live in California but relocated here to take care of their grandparents.
We have met people from Canada, France, Haiti, Germany, Chile, Bulgaria, and from various states back home. One 17-year-old guy, an unschooler, is here for two months to surf and learn Spanish. He also spent time in Uganda, and plans to go to Jamaica with a friend. Pretty impressive. Plus, he is traveling all alone. That's what's even more impressive.
Alex played guitar last night and made friends with some of the sweetest Canadians I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. They were, as Teodora would say, bien centrados, very centered. They were smart about Canadian as well as American politics, and were so down-to-earth and easy to talk to. We exchanged e-mails and I'm looking forward to keeping in touch with them.
Antonio has enjoyed the free internet in the lobby, spending a lot of time keeping in touch with friends and doing a lot of reading. He has enjoyed the slower pace and the ability to get up later in the morning. It's been a really nice break for all of us.
We spent our second day reading, mostly. I had proposed that we go to the national park but the kids were happy with a day of meeting travelers and reading. This place attracts the most fascinating people. Their stories, which they readily share, leave me awe-truck at times. This is one of the reasons I love traveling, and I hope the kids learn to love it, too, so they will always have a goal, something to which they can look forward and not get stuck in a rut.
The sunset tonight was gorgeous, right over the Pacific Ocean. I'll post pictures when I am near a working USB port, possibly when we return to La Legua on Friday.
I met a girl from Olympia, Washington, who was working on a chocolate farm, not too far from where we are. She stayed there for only 5 days, since she had gotten a hundred or so bug bites and was unhappy. Working outside in the elements is not for the faint of heart. Farmers are some of the hardest working people I've ever met. Ticos in general have a good work ethic, and a happy outlook on life. They don't sweat the small stuff for the most part, since they are used to
obstacles and curveballs. The people I meet on the bus and on the street are open-hearted and sincere, and ready to help you if you have a question. There are some aspects, like petty theft, that I could do without, but since it hasn't happened to us I really can't complain too much. We are way more aware of our belongings than in the US, and the kids have impressed me on so many levels with their maturity. It has been good for all of us to come here, though I will say that 2 plus months is a long visit. Antonio was right, a month would be preferrable, but I give him mad props for being cheerful during some trying circumstances.
As I mentioned, we'll go to the national park tomorrow and I can hardly wait. Stories and pictures will be posted soon.