Friday, January 16, 2009

Transition to the Cloud/Rain Forest

16 enero
We are on our way to San Lorenzo for Lands in Love. The drive will take approximately 2.5 hours, but that could expand to 4 hours depending on traffic. So far the trip has been very satisfactory and the people are very compatible and we have already begun to look after each other (remembering bags, waiting at lunch, etc). Two members of the group, John and Mar, returned to the United States today because John started feeling ill yesterday and didn’t want to continue and expose the rest of us. Apparently the travel agency, Holbrook, made the arrangements and things went smoothly. My guess is also that they had purchased travel insurance. We all hate to see them leave because they were extremely interesting and nice people.
Last night we went to a local restaurant to experience a typical Costa Rican meal. The restaurant was quite large and nicely decorated. We sat on the top level which was open air with a commanding view of the valley lights. A spectacular site! The delicious meal consisted of tamale with pork and carrots, wrapped in a banana leaf, rice, diced potatoes that were sweet, refried beans, pico de gallo, and the main feature—fried pork (cincherrone). Luckily they served one of my favorite dishes, arroz con leche (rice pudding). I think I have gained 5 pounds already because not only are we eating well and large servings, but basically get no exercise aside from walking back and forth to school. Oh, did I forget to mention the cerveza? I opted for an Imperial (the local beer), but they also always serve tasty drinks of different fruits such as blackberry, mango, pear. These drinks are quite sweet and apparently have a lot of calories. That’s why I stick with cerveza.
We also toured the Museo de Oro (Gold Museum) in town yesterday afternoon. The exhibits contain pre-Columbian artifacts of gold. There are small shields, spheres, and collars worn by warriors along with numerous different small animal figures. Our guide showed us the manner in which the figures were created which was referred to as ‘old cast’. It is very similar to the molding method used today. The different animals and historic birds, or Cibos, were very intricate and realistic. Some of the ones represented were bats (Owen would love them), frogs, serpents, rabbits, and birds.
I really am reluctant to mention the weather here in light of the mess back in the United States. I do realize that it is extremely cold and nasty there now and am not sorry to miss that type of problem. However, we are mostly all very cold here! For January, it is unusually cool and windy. Our travel literature recommended a ‘light sweater’ for the mountains and cool evenings plus such things as sunscreen, bathing suit, and sun hats. So, most of us brought a couple of long sleeve shirts and light sweaters, but few had sufficiently warm clothing. At the last minute before leaving Chattanooga, I threw in another light sweatshirt with hood and thought I had over packed. At cena (dinner) last night I layered a long sleeve t-shirt, a light sweater, my light sweatshirt, and a light jacket and wore a scarf around my neck. I was comfortable under all those ‘light’ layers.
Today it is even cooler and windier. After lunch I hurried across to the mall and purchased a quilted jacket with a hood so I am now finally a happy camper. Our teacher, Melissa, recommended a store named Pronto and I even used Spanish for the transaction. The young salesclerks were quite nice, even offering an opinion about color choice.
We just stopped at a town called San Ramon to get off the bus and take a short break. The drive is curvy and at a little bit slow, but Mario our driver, is excellent. San Ramon is quite pleasant. The church in the center of town is beautiful! Across the street the park is full of people and two men are playing music. I hope I’ll be able to download and upload some photographs. I could go on and on, but must stop before the battery dies. Mas para manana.

Cacique: Alcohol producing company exported to other countries, especially Canada, plus different national liquors.
Sugar cane, Volcan Poas (Poas Volcano)

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