Saturday, April 3, 2010
(Click on photos to enlarge)
Our hopes for serving as a magnet for visitors to Costa Rica is off to a great start with our long-time friends Penny Cash and Joel Glenn’s arrival last week. On Wednesday, Layne and I hopped on the trusty autobus for the 45-minute ride into San Jose where we met them at our favorite bed and breakfast, Apartotel La Sabana, along with Penny’s older sister Karen and her fun-loving husband Joe. After Penny and I did our “happy dance” greeting, the six of us were off to Karen and Joe’s son Greg’s house in Escazu, an upscale suburb of San Jose. As noted in my last post, Greg and his wife Amanda are the proud new parents of a little baby boy named Lincoln so Karen and Joe are here doing the grandparent thing with great enthusiasm.
Greg and Amanda are Peace Corps veterans, Greg now retired from that role and starting a new job soon at the US Embassy while Amanda has moved into a management position with the Corps. Both of them are still passionate about the program and committed to continuing its good work in other capacities. Working as a Peace Corps volunteer is an unfulfilled dream of mine so I appreciate their dedication to work that serves the poor around the world.
The Embassy provides these young people with some pretty snazzy housing in a beautiful gated community. Their large two-story home happens to be right next to the pool. How handy is that!? Naturally, after the well-deserved oohs and ahhs over little Lincoln with his over-sized feet (that boy may be tall!), all of us, except for the new Mom, headed for the pool house with a round of beers. One round led to another and soon we had a table full of “dead soldiers,” plus a very festive group of grown-ups laughing our heads off at one funny story after another. Greg was delayed in joining the party by a car alarm that refused to shut up. But his trip to the auto repair shop was successful and inexpensive: only $10 to fix it. Following a pizza dinner with way too much wine generously supplied by Joe, we finally said goodnight and headed back to the hotel by taxi.
After enjoying La Sabana’s delicious breakfast the next morning, P & J rented a car and the four of us headed for Atenas, finding remarkably little traffic on the roads because of Semana Santa (Easter Week), a major holiday here when the entire country basically shuts down and heads for the beach. We even found our local neighborhood festooned with bougainvillea-garlanded crosses on our walk today, apparently placed there yesterday in honor of Good Friday.
Penny and Joel were suitably impressed with our little chalet and we had a lovely evening with cocktails on the patio watching the sunset, then Chifrijo for dinner. What is Chifrijo, you might ask? It’s a basic Costa Rican dish that I’ve adapted somewhat: rice in a bowl, topped by seasoned red beans, sprinkled with a fried meat (in our case spicy sausages), all covered with a lime-dressed cabbage slaw. It’s pretty yummy!After P & J drove off yesterday headed for tourist adventures in the rain forest and on to the beach, a couple of bedraggled puppies appeared in our compound, both thin enough to slip through the metal bars of our gate. Desperately under-nourished, we can only assume that they were dropped off and abandoned. What a problem! We clearly cannot adopt the pups since we’ll be leaving in May and we are confident our landlady would not appreciate our leaving two stray dogs on her property. It is an all-too-common situation, unfortunately. Costa Ricans simply do not see companion animals with the same loving eye that most Americans do. Many are tied up and just fed now and then. Others roam the streets, un-neutered, thus producing still more strays.
After a consultation with our neighbor who has two small dogs herself, we decided to call our local animal rescue friends, Frances and Bruce, who live down the road. Regular readers will recall our meeting them at the school fund-raiser a few weeks ago. Since then, Layne and I have paid them a visit on our morning walk and met the house-full of 18 dogs and 5 cats that they care for. Frances has built a splendid clinic space in their home where local vets come and provide shots, spay and neuter services and emergency care at reduced costs, most of which Frances and Bruce pay for out of their own pockets. Their operation is called Lighthouse Animal Rescue and they truly do amazing good work here in Alto de Monte, providing valuable services to the local animals. Lighthouse is in the running for a $1000 prize through the Animal Rescue Site and I would very much appreciate all my blog readers taking a moment to visit that site and cast a vote for them every day, if possible. (You first click on the “Click here to give - It’s Free” purple button; on the next page, click at the top on the “Vote Today” banner. Then in the search space, type in Lighthouse and choose Costa Rica. When Lighthouse comes up, just cast your vote, then confirm it on the following page.) It’s easy! And we really want them to win that money!
So Frances said if we could care for the dogs until Sunday when she has a spay and neuter clinic scheduled, we could bring them and the vet will treat them for worms and hopefully neuter them, if they are old enough and if their poor health will allow. After that, we don’t know what will happen. Stay tuned!