sábado, 11 de julio de 2009

Gypsy Family

What now?  We have travelled to another part of Costa Rica with our friend Antonio--who has been so good to us---showing us the way and doing it all local style---taking local buses, yes, which means more than one bus---nevertheless, we have saved a lot of money by not traveling with tourists or with tourists companies.  It is important to me to get as close to the culture as I can.  

We followed Antonio and his friends to sell jewelry and pottery to a beach close to Playa Hermosa.  It is a small private beach that only people from a nearby resort can visit.  We had to hike through a muggy jungle with many mosquitos (Elyza and I sprayed, did I say spray?  Let me reword, coated ourselves with mosquito repellent) to prevent getting bitten.  Elyza has become an incredible walker---she no longer complains or whines.  She seems to be a natural now and doesn't even seem to notice that we are, indeed, walking!  We get to the area---Antonio explains to me that we are not allowed to use the chairs, snorkeling gears or bathroom for they are reserved only for people staying at the resort. But, we could use their beach and coean.  I must admit that it did seem strange to be on the other side---to be on the "poor" side staring at the wealthy.  We lounged on tree branches, used nature as the bathroom, stared at the people as they ate their lunch.  We did, however, bring our own lunch, but it was strange to not be able to mingle with them.  A very powerful learning experience indeed.  They did make more money off of that tiny, private beach though.

Elyza has learned to mother nature as a toy.  In this bay, there was a floating log.  We used it to imagine us rowing our boat to Africa (we saw another island across the bay). Elyza found a small starfish on this beach.

We stayed at a strange hostel that night---you had to go through a restaurant, through the kitchen and enter a different world entirely, go up narrow spiral staircase and into the room.  The room was of wood panel with old paintings of the desert.  There were rickety chairs, many of them---enough for all three of Antonio's friends to sit.  I really can't describe the place appropriately--and am sorry that I didn't take videos of the room.  I did, however, take a video of Elyza enjoying the attention from all of us---and all of us watching her.  Try, if you can, to take a good look of the room.  Never saw anything like that before!

The next day, the three of us traveled to Playa Del Coco---it is really a beautiful, beautiful town, mixed with fancy homes and normal "Tico" homes.  There are three different beaches near that town, we visited Playa Ocotal, where the sand is incredibly soft and black.  The beach was really quiet and serene.  Check out the two below and notice the black sand.

We decided to take a vacation from a vacation.  Off we go to Nicaragua, to Antonio's country.  Again, he shows us the way.  He needed to update his passport, so we follow him.  It was a six hour ordeal---we wake up at 3AM to catch the bus, and transfer over to three different buses.  Elyza never complained!  She has been an amazing traveller and has been able to keep up with her mother's gypsy ways.  

We get to the border---oh, my!  Where do I even begin?  First of all, it pouring thick, heavy rain.  There are three long, very long lines!  Antonio was kind enough to stand out in the rain while we stood under the awning to stay dry.  This is just the beginning of many chaotic, sorry, I can't even think of the right words to use, ways.  The first line was for us to use to leave Costa Rica.  Then we have to run in the rain, remember, there are no paved roads, so the earth turned to slippery brown mud with many puddles for us to jump over.  Again, Elyza was a champ throughout this ordeal.  I had thought we were running to get to the next bus.  Nope, nope and nope.  Now we had to stand in another line just to enter Nicaragua.  Just as we approach to the window, the migration officer takes on look at us and says that we have to go around the corner of the building first!  We go around and see several people, what looked like to me lounging, at a table.  I find out that this table is where the write down our names and country---and somehow this had something to do with the Swine Flu.  As of now, I still don't get how this has anything to do with keeping the country safe from the flu.  Anyway, then we scramble to push our way back to the window---and then we are allowed in the country.  The video below is the line to leave Costa Rica.

We then head over the place to renew Antonio's passport.  I had imagined that it would take place in a cool, air conditioned building much like our DMV.  Whoo hoo, another lesson learned, those buildings are only in industrialized countries and by golly, they are a luxury!  As soon as we get out of the cab, a paparazzi of people come running to our door---open it and start talking frantically to us.  This is one way people make money---we pick a person and tell them what we need, and that person supposedly will "guide" us---after we use their support, we pay them a fee.  Here is Antonio getting his passport.  Nothing at all similar to us.  And, I'm uncomfortably hot!  This same area also has a typist who types up information---and is a restaurant.  To make a very long, complicated story short, it took him three days to finally get a receipt to pick up his passport.

We then head over to his friend's house.  There are two boys and two pet chickens.  Elyza fell in love with the chickens (sigh).  She also played soccer with the boys on the street in front of their house.  She got to experience another kind of life---one where you have to work hard for everything, take a shower by drawing water from a bucket and repeatedly dump water on your head, find entertainment with no toys (play soccer on the street), be in a place where it is hot and no air conditioner, only eat sparingly-no starvation, I promise (snacks are a luxury), watch out for fast cars (there doesn't seem to be any rules for cars), flushing toilet by pulling a string,  and etc.  

Check out Elyza playing soccer with a friend.  All of Antonio's friends and family have been so warm and welcoming.  Many were curious to know what I think of them.  I was suprised by their curiosity and in turned asked what they thought of me.  They all said that they could tell that I was a good person with a good heart.  I asked them how they were able to say that without knowing me, they in turn replied, "I may not know you personally, but it's what I am feeling..."  I like that.  I like that a lot.  Because, in the US, we tend to doubt people long before we give them a chance to know them better.  I think I'll work on that---it seems like a warmer and more gentler way to feel and live.

Nicaragua is a very beautiful country---but very, very intense.  Elyza immediately said to me, "Mommy, everything looks so poor here."  She was an amazing sport throughout the whole trip--it really wasn't easy but very interesting.  There so much more to share, but that's probably a whole different blog.

At bus station, heading on back to Costa Rica.

Ok, we come home in three more days.  My heart is already yearning for the ocean, long slumbering days---but very ready to come back to the comfort of our own home!

Hasta Luego!

sábado, 4 de julio de 2009

Costa Rica's Weird Ways (Elyza made this title up)

We really tried, we really did!  Dena, her lovely mum, Elyza and I all got in a rental car with a plan to visit Rincon De Viaja.  It's a national park that has volcanoes and natural mud baths.  Somehow, our friends thought that they had the proper maps---perhaps, they did but the maps didn't get us to where we wanted to go.  As we drove on and on---observing the beautiful stunning green view---finally we decided to ask a lone motorcyclist how to get to Rincon De Viaja.  He pointed in the direction of the park.   And on and on we went.  Hmmm...we still didn't see any National Park signs.  We got further and further away from mankind.  We saw a person on a horse, and we asked him where the park was.  He pointed in the same direction as the lone motorcyclist.  Well, heck, if there are two people who look so confident and point in the same direction---surely, we must be going in the right direction, right?  We even asked two more different people, who also pointed in the same direction.  Finally, we see a fairly large restaurant.  By this time, we are quite hungry and perplexed.  We asked the guy who works at the restaurant where the park was.  He explained to us that we were on the other side of the park and about one and half hour away from the entrance.  That was quite an experience!  And, a fun one too! 

After our try to see the park, we then head over to Playa Avenella---where surfers love to go.  There are strong, huge waves----beautiful but too scary for this mama.  We stopped at a famous spot called: Lola's.  All of sudden, we see a woman talking sweetly and happily to something---and that something was a.....big, fat pig.  It was an odd sight to see.  The woman explained to us that the restaurant was names after a pig named Lola.  Lola passed away and now they have a new pig named Rosa.  The woman was a pig trainer---training Rosa to be a pet and learn the proper living boundaries.  Hmmmm....quite a sight to see!

My darling Elyza announced one day that she wanted to try surfing!  The nice thing about staying in a small town is that it is easy to build network and a community of friends.  I asked one Tico if he could teach Elyza.  Because he is familiar with me, he was willing to give her private lessons for about half the price it is normally charged for others.  In addition, he also did it outside his work---so he was able to receive the money directly from me.  Elyza is a fast learner---and has taken two lessons thus far.  The instructor was really impressed with how quickly Elyza learned.  And, now Elyza is hooked.  Every day she says, "I really wish I could surf right now!"  See, we should move to closer to a beach (sorry to announce this mama!).

Another crisis happened with that darn sink!  Hot, muy caliente water was suddenly shooting straight out from under the sink (it looked like a very small fire hydrant)!  Did I say hot?  Luckily my darling Elyza was quick enough to move out of the way (it was literally two inches from her side).  My sister, another visitor and Elyza were not able to come out of the bedroom for a little bit because the hot water was blocking them.  I had to get one of the neighbors to show me how to turn off all the water (again).  After that mishap, steam was spurting from the water tank for a long time!  Again, we had no water for two days because the plumbers would be available for two more days.  We had two cottages---one to sleep in and one to use water in.  Check out our little flood!