Costa Rica was not on my list of places to visit. Yet, here we are and I have no idea why it wasn't! This place is beyond amazing. It is lush like Kauai (my favorite place on earth) with a rainbow of bright flowers and birds of every color and size. We are staying in a beautiful hotel with a very close view of the volcano Arenal and geothermal hot springs feeding into little pools all down the hill by our room. Every few hours when it is just starting to feel a little warm, it dumps rain for about five minutes and then the blue sky shines through again. This is truly paradise.
I am finding this country, a republic, to be very well run and efficient. I see the poverty of the tin roofed-cardboard sided clusters of shelters but I also see a refined and welcoming people, busy in their various industries and kind to Americans (not always the case as we are collectively known as obnoxious and entitled travelers in many places I have been).
We are here, along with roughly 90 others, as guests of one of the founders of Vivisimo, the company for which Jay has worked for five years. Vivisimo was recently sold to IBM and a lot of money was made in the deal. Our benefactor set aside a percent of his earnings and offered this complete 6-day vacation to all of the employees that made the company the gem that attracted IBM. See, chivalry is not dead everywhere!
Today we went on a river tour where we saw howler monkeys, white-faced monkeys, turtles, both the two and the three-toed sloth, and lots of caiman (a variety of gator/crocodile that I had never heard of before today). We had a delicious "typical lunch" of black beans, rice and chicken with fresh pineapple ripened to the peak of sweetness in a nearby field. I learned that Costa Rica exports sugar, teakwood, oranges and pineapples, from this side of the country. Who knows what else we will find when we move to the other side in a few days.
Tomorrow we plan to go to mass in a little church on the town square in La Fortuna and then go zip lining, hurrying back, naturally, to watch the 49ers win the Super Bowl. I am so happy I am here with my wonderful husband, and I am confident that my kids are being well-cared for by people who love them at home. There are a few pretty cute kids on this trip and I am flipping between relief that mine are not here and sadness that they aren't. I'm pretty sure the relief is going to win out, though. At least for awhile, anyway!
Our river boat ride took us very close to the border of Nicaragua and we saw boats of people who commute down the river to work in Costa Rica and return to their homes in Nicaragua. Our guide told us the unemployment rate in Nicaragua is 50%, far higher than that in Costa Rica.
Here are some pictures Jay took today--ain't technology great?
My initial amazement at our accommodations:
The "Jesus Christ Lizard" named so for its ability to walk on water:
Howler Monkeys swinging through the trees alongside the river:
Bird drying its wings in the sun after a fishing trip:
Rather large iguana:
Caiman regulating his body temperature...unsure why mouth is required to be open during the process:
The view from the sitting area in our room:
We are most certainly lucky ducks.