Several weeks (a month) ago… but they visited!
It was a lot of fun! They spent 4 days on base then we took off for a vacation. We spent 3 nights at Arenal and 3 nights in Monteverde. After that I returned home (work always gets in the way) while they continued on for 4 nights in Uvita on the Pacific. On their final night I met them in Alajuela (by the airport) for a last dinner before they headed back to the States.
I’m hoping my parents will write a blog post about their version of the trip, because I’m sure they have a different take on it. (Especially life on base!) First the important stuff: The Easter Bunny came! See’s candy is always great, but when you live in a country that doesn’t believe in sweets, it might become the best gift ever! It’s being hoarded and slowly savored for as long as possible. They also brought with them a whole goodie-bag of requested items. We’re needy here in CR so when someone comes to visit, we ask for things. My parents were kind enough to oblige.
Their nights on base worked out very well and they got to stay in their own little apartment. The first two days they were basically on their own while I worked. Before they arrived I warned them that there was not much to do here. I’m not sure that they really understood what that meant. That’s ok though because they got the “real CR experience” here.
On Saturday we headed into San Jose to see the city. We were on a search for the Feria Verde and Central Market. I had not been to either of these places so Michelle came along as our guide. After criss-crossing the entire city, we finally found the Feria. It’s basically one big hippie market and something straight out of the Bay Area. There were lots of organic and specialty food items and beautiful handmade crafts and jewelery. We also made our way to the Central Market which is like any large city market with many different vendors and enough pathways to get lost in.
It was then time to go home. (And this is where it really gets good.) My mom cooked for us! She made two chickens and vegetables for our house! We don’t starve here, but we definitely don’t eat like that. It was delicious and we were so happy to get such a great home cooked meal. (You may not understand why we were so excited about chicken and veggies, but that’s ok.)
Sunday we headed to Cartago, a nearby city I had not been to. We visited the Santiago Apóstol Parish Ruins, a local landmark. Several churches have been built on this site but were continually destroyed by earthquakes (due to being in close proximity to the Irazú Volcano), and they finally stopped rebuilding it in 1910. There is a whole folklore about it as well.
We walked several blocks to the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles. This Basilica is considered to be one of the holiest places in Costa Rica. It is home to La Negrita, a small black statue of the Virgin Mary that has healing powers. Every August there is a pilgrimage to the Basilica, and people walk (and sometimes crawl) from all over to visit the statue and drink water from her fountain. It is a gorgeous and ornate church. There was a service going on when we arrived, but we were able to walk along the back half and enjoy its beauty.
Our final stop was at the Lankester Gardens. The garden has over 3,000 species of plants and was granted to the University of Costa Rica for research. They’re most known for their orchids, but not many were in bloom while they were there. Still, it was a great way to spend a couple hours. The gardens are huge and they break it up into different areas. Interestingly, we recognized many of the native/tropical plants form home in Southern California. I guess a hot dessert + artificial water = tropical growling climate!
Then we came home and mom made us chicken soup. Have I mentioned how great a real home-cooked meal is?