Subscribe to Our Costa Rica Experience

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Kids, More Kids and Orchids

Layne and I have been in a pretty celebratory mood since last Thursday. That’s when we got word that his brain scan had come back normal. Yippee! No mini-stroke! Now that’s something to celebrate. So when we got a last-minute invitation to a little boy’s one-year-old birthday party on Saturday, we were delighted to accept. Plus, some old friends from the United States would be there, grandparents of the birthday boy. We go back many years with Karen and Joe, including playing dress-up at a series of hilarious Halloween parties with Karen’s sisters, Penny and Ruth, both of whom are also dear friends of ours. With the prospect of seeing Karen and Joe, renewing acquaintance with their son Greg and his wife Amanda and joining little Lincoln for his first birthday, we happily packed our swimsuits and got ready to hop on the bus from Atenas into San Jose.

But once we arrived at the downtown San Jose bus station, ironically known as Coca Cola because of its former function, we wondered how we would know which bus to take to Escazu, where Greg and Amanda live. The directions to their condominium complex were typical for Costa Rica: two hundred meters past World Gym on the old road from Escazu to Santa Ana. Not very helpful for getting around by bus and we had no idea what a taxi might cost. But as luck would have it, as soon as we exited our bus from Atenas, a bus pulled in under the Santa Ana sign and in the window was a small placard reading “Calle Vieja.” Old Road! I stepped up to the driver with map in hand and began trying to ask if he stopped near our destination but he sharply ordered me to “Pase! Pase!” -- move out of the way of other riders getting onboard. This was not your typical friendly Tico. He seemed to be having a bad day. Fortunately, as has so often happened for us, a young Tica came to my aide and we learned from her that indeed the bus would stop a block away from our destination. With her help, we arrived with no difficulty and had a wonderful time at the birthday shindig, indulging in Amada’s great bean dip and guacamole, Greg’s delicious grilled shish-ka-bob and laughing as the kids smacked the piñata.
A great breakfast!
Apartotel LaSabana pool area
Before leaving Atenas, Layne and I had checked the return bus schedule and to avoid a late bus ride home, we had decided to stay overnight in the city at our favorite small hotel, Apartotel LaSabana Conveniently located near downtown and with an English-speaking staff, we always enjoy our stays there, especially the fabulous Tico breakfast buffet included with the room charge.

We had heard there was a big orchid show that weekend and being the orchid-lover that I am, I had hoped to attend. Our impromptu trip into San Jose gave me that opportunity. So on Sunday morning we stowed our bags with the hotel staff and headed off for the day’s adventures, catching a bus along Paseo Colon and noting our progress on our GPS, fondly known as “Ilsa” for her Germanic directives.

After the final bus stop, we set off on foot, counting on Ilsa in pedestrian mode to help us find the way. As we wandered along we soon noticed musicians setting up onstage in the Parque Morazon amid signs announcing a Festival de Verano, or Festival of Spring, and the further into the central park we went, the more activities we discovered. Eventually we made our way to Parque Espana where even more festivities were in evidence: huge play structures for the kids, plus dozens of vendors with clothing, jewelry, decorations made of recycled plastic, hand puppets, leather goods, artwork and even furniture made from old computer parts. Then there were the dancers -- the women dressed in traditional colorful full skirts, the men flashing their red and blue bandanas. It was all in perfect harmony with our happy feelings of gratitude for our joy in being together and our good health. Pura Vida!

Eventually we pulled ourselves away from the outdoor festival and entered the grand hall of Antigua Aduana or Old Customs, now known as the Centro del Arte y la Cultura, the Center for Art and Culture where the Asociacion Costarricense de Orquideologia was hosting their show. What a splash of color greeted us! Hundreds of gorgeous orchid blooms were displayed in charming little environments, each designed to show off the majestic blossoms to best effect. As we wandered along the roped off area with dozens of other attendees, the flowers simply amazed us. From the grandest purple cattleyas of high school prom fame to a stalk of the tiniest pink flowers imaginable, the variety and beauty of orchids is simply breathtaking. And of course, here in Costa Rica, the national flower is an orchid by the name of Guaria Morada. As we finished the exhibits and entered the sales area, it was difficult for me to resist buying a plant or two. But with a bus trip ahead of us, it seemed too risky. Besides, orchid plants are for sale each Friday at our feria and it is probably safer to buy one locally. 

Tired but satisfied, we taxied back to the hotel to collect our bags then on to Coca Cola for the trip back to Atenas on the 1:30 p.m. bus. Only the 1:30 bus didn’t show up until after 2 p.m. Even then, the trip back home was unusually lengthy. It seems the powers-that-be had decided to close part of the main road where a bridge is under repair and detour traffic through side streets. It took over a half hour just to get out of San Jose. But that’s why we like riding the bus. As I read my book and Layne took a nap, we stayed tranquilo all the way home. No problema! 
(Remember you can click on any photo to enlarge it.)


  1. Wonderful story!

    Your URL for Apartotel Sabana is messed up somehow. Keeps taking me to my Google login page. :)

  2. Thanks, Casey. I think I've fixed the URL but now the words Apartotel LaSabana appear at the end of the blog. Yikes!