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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Costa Rica Calls with San Carlos Memories

My bus arrives

I'm B-a-a-ck! After a somewhat stressful month of caring for my son Damian following knee surgery, I'm happy to say I'm back in Costa Rica. And how wonderful it is to be here! The sun is shining, the sweet mandarins and luscious mangos are ripening on our trees, the air feels fresh and clean and I'm about to catch a bus into Atenas for breakfast at Tres Hermanas and to pick up a few groceries.

Happily, the surgery to remove torn cartilage was successful and Damian is doing all the right things to make a complete recovery. My time there was a mix of concern for his healing and joy at having such a luxurious length of time with him and my precious grandson Kai, now a full-fledged teenager of fourteen years. One of the high points for me was attending a musical performance featuring Kai on trumpet with his four-piece ensemble at Sonoma State University. Boy, was I proud of him for making the effort to go despite feeling poorly from a lingering cold.

Sadly, my darling Layne is now in Portland, Oregon, for a month visiting his sister and planning to attend the 100th birthday of the family matriarch Hazel this weekend. That, of course, will be a joyous occasion but other aspects of his trip are more challenging, with health and mobility issues plaguing his sister Annie and her husband Jim. I know they are glad to have him there but I miss him terribly. With me gone a month and now Layne to be gone a month, this will be the longest we have ever been apart in our 33 years of love and partnership.

The gang by the river
But now that I'm back in our comfortable home, it's time to bring my loyal readers up to date on the local adventures, beginning with the last Sunday hike before I left for California. It was a long-planned excursion to San Carlos, the region where our friend Marcial was born and, like most Ticos speaking of their hometown, he claims it to be the most beautiful part of Costa Rica. After our visit there, I am inclined to agree!

Several years ago in a quirk of Fate - a case of mistaken identity - Marcial chanced to meet a man who had a piece of property for sale very near where he had been raised, so of course he was interested in seeing it. But as these things often go, the planned trip to see the land did not happen and it was some two years later when Marcial again contacted the man that he was able to visit the property in person. Needless to say, he fell in love with it and in partnership with his son Gabriel was able to purchase it for a very good price. He and Seidy hope one day to build a house on it and retire in the peace and tranquility of San Carlos.

We arrive at the neighbor's home
Nestled deep down a secluded hillside at the confluence of two small rivers, the land is a riot of foliage and flowers with the music of waters rushing over rocks and down small waterfalls as a constant background orchestra. Following a two-hour ride in a rented van holding nine of us and trailed by another car with four more, we passed through Ciudad Quesado, the largest town in the San Carlos canton, where Marcial pointed out his high school and other landmarks of his youth. Leaving town we ventured out into remote wilderness over the predictably rough and pot-holed roads and up steep inclines with magnificent views to finally arrive at the property.

Following Marcial down... 
Well, actually at the neighbor's property at the top of the hill, from whence we struck off on foot down an overgrown single-track path through precipitous but beautiful terrain. As we hiked down the sheer trail, Layne and I looked askance at one another, thinking "What goes down must come back up!" But that would be much later, so laughing it off we followed our friends a kilometer or more to the clearing at the bottom beside the rivers.

Bonnie taking in the scenery
Bonnie's son Adam and Stephen relax
Sue and Chris look happy
The neighbor has built a large colorful rancho, which she allows most anyone to use, and it was there that we spread out our potluck picnic lunch and the inevitable supply of tequila and beer. 
Marcial breaks out the tequila
Seidy visits with Daniel and Jai
Most of this lovely day was spent lounging in the rancho or on rocks beside the river but the high point for me was when Marcial led the way through the jungle to a stretch of his property where the river pools above a small waterfall. 

Following Chris to the river
Stephen captures Seidy by the river
Yours Truly, lovin' it!
So refreshing!
Marcial, at home in "his" river
The water is calm enough for a swim, although at midstream you still feel a strong current and swimming upstream against it is an invigorating athletic challenge. The cool moving water offered the perfect freshness for the warm day and the setting was ever so idyllic. I felt such ecstasy, such incredible privilege, such breathtaking happiness to be swimming alongside my friends in an unspoiled river deep in the jungles of Costa Rica. Certainly not an experience the ordinary tourist would have!

Santa Eulalia sunset
Much later as we trudged back up the hill, some of us taking advantage of a Jeep ride halfway up, we all expressed our wonder at our great good fortune in knowing such friends as Marcial and Seidy who share their lives with us with such generosity.

The next night following our Sunday outing was my last night before leaving for California and it seemed the Santa Eulalia sunset was determined to remind me of the beauty I was leaving behind. You can well imagine just how good it is to be back here. Pura Vida indeed!


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