Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Costa Rica Day 5

Sunday February 10

Every day is packed full with activity. Breakfast at 7am. Halfway back to the room we get a laughing fit. James discovers that he doesn't have a matching pair of shoes on. After a few steps it gets worse because we see that he has TWO LEFT SHOES on. Really? One of the fellow travelers says that sometimes when you laugh so hard at our age, the tears will run down your legs.

Today is what OAT (Overseas Adventure Travel) calls "A day in the life..."
We wait in the lobby from where the bus will take us. I took this picture because of the lamp. It is a tree. A lot of the things like bathroom hooks in our room are from nature.

There is another 'tree lamp'.

While we wait Jennifer ( a watercolor painter) points out  things her artist' eye caught ... like this gigantic leaf.

While he is driving, Zorro stops several times. He sees wildlife while he is driving which is incredible. Here on top of the right one of the two tree ferns (or bromeliads) is a very large lizard. Of course all those many wild animals and birds we see have all names. James and I admiring them but we can't recall all the names. Unfortunately, my camera is not good enough to take good clear pictures of them like others in our group.

 This is the road we just traveled.
Zorro stops on the bridge because he sees tilapia fish in the river.  We laugh about it because besides rice and beans that is something else we are being offered every day.

Too cute everybody hanging over the edge.
I like this picture on the other side even better. To be honest though I first was not quick enough to take it and they wanted to go away. Not to be spoil-sports my new friends posed for me. Thanks!

 Nestor had a surprise for us ... not on the itinerary. We stopped at Sonja's house and her family. Husband and two teenage girls. Her oldest, a son, was on a business trip.

Sonja's story is incredible. She doesn't speak English but Nestor translates. It comes over so sincere and we all instantly liked her.
And yes, she did the crocheting.

She also did all these many signs all over her house. They are motivating sayings.  Nestor translated.

This seems to be the kitchen. Nestor said this was a hands-on surprise for us. No kidding.

Here is a video:
Sonja shows us how to make empenadas
 A wood stove.
The sample.
And then we all made our own. And we marked what we made so we could identify it when fried.

Sonja's husband helped. But he also showed us his garden and 'finca' (farm) until it was time to eat.

Sonja is making coffee the traditional Costa Rica way. It was delicious.

I gave her the heart I had tatted in the plane coming. She seemed to really like it and be pleased. Somehow it seemed appropriate to do.

And then it was time to move on.

We were scheduled to visit the school which is supported somewhat by Grand Circle (of which OAT is part).  The children were a lot of fun.

Here is a video of the children singing the
Costa Rica National Anthem

And here are three more videos:

School dance

Broom dance

The hokey pokey

The children took us by our hands and showed us around. Then we have an opportunity to buy handcrafted items made by teachers or parents. Now it is time to say good-bye. Here an opportunity to take a group photo of the children.

The school has a fantastic view of the volcano Arenal.

Time to leave the school for our home-hosted lunch. We are divided into three groups.

Our family is Victor and Miriam with son Fabian.

First we are served papaya juice. Then we have rice, a broth, an assortment of vegetables all out of their own garden, fried banana and stewed beef. Once it was in our plates it was pretty much like stew. It was very delicious. 

We were surprised how much the man of the house helped with the kitchen duties.

The dessert was guanabana (homegrown soursop).
Victor showed us since we didn't know it.
Still eating dessert but afterwards they showed us pictures of certain events in their lives.
This is a picture of the volcano when it erupted 2 years ago.  We took a picture of the picture and showed Nestor 'what we had seen'. For a second he was stunned.
Sallie is a quilter and made this beautiful table-runner as a gift.
Victor also showed us around to see his garden and finca (farm).

Driving on! Zorro sees a sloth. We all get out and I see it too. Costa Rica has a very rich wild life and (thanks to Zorro and Nestor) we see a lot. Question (to myself): should I get a better camera or just commit those things to memory?
When we get back to the room ... towel art: flower and snails.
At 17:30 ... meet at the restaurant/bar for making bocas. We had shopped for that the day before.
 Nestor is already busy.
Filtering coffee the Costa Rica way.
Zorro is the other chef.
And we are all supposed to be the sous-chefs. 

The recipes were very interesting. Since I am writing this in the lobby and I forgot to bring my notebook I have to add some of the names later.
Boca is appetizer. I have to remember this one!
The 'loaded' table.
And then Nestor gives us dance lesson. We have lots to laugh!

Video dance lesson 1

Video dance lesson 2

Video dance lesson 3

* * * * *
The official OAT itinerary of today:

Day 5
We can opt to wake up early to take in the sights and sounds of Costa Rica at sunrise, as we go in search of the area’s indigenous birds with our Trip Leader. Then, after breakfast at our lodge, we enjoy a unique opportunity to spend A Day in the Life of a Costa Rican village, including a visit to a local elementary school (when in session), supported in part by Grand Circle Foundation. The children warmly welcome us with infectious enthusiasm, and with their colorful traditional costumes and cheerful demeanor they make a lasting impression on all who meet them—past travelers have found this to be a highlight of the trip.

During our visit, spend some time with the students one-on-one, talk with their teachers and parents, and learn about Costa Rica’s universal educational system. Long a national priority—and a focus of government spending following the abolition of its army—Costa Rica’s policy of universal education has resulted in a literacy rate of 95%. While successful in educating their students, many school systems in Costa Rica suffer from a lack of funding, and the school we visit today has benefited from a Grand Circle Foundation grant, used to improve and expand the school building and grounds by constructing a new ceiling, classrooms, sidewalks, and even (at the San Francisco School) a self-sustaining microfarm project, which provides the students and their community with much-needed nutrition and revenue.

Your day also includes a visit to a local village for a Home-Hosted Lunch. Costa Rican cuisine is simple and wholesome, and a typical meal features chicken, beef, or fish (sometimes grilled), served with tortillas, gallo pinto (a zesty rice-and-bean side dish), and palmito (hearts of palm) salad. But whatever's on the menu, you can count on the warm hospitality of your hosts, who may share some of their experiences of rural life in Costa Rica with us.  

Then, we return to our hotel, where the afternoon is at leisure. You will be able to try your hand at preparing Costa Rican bocas (appetizers) during a hands-on cooking lesson before dinner at our hotel.


  1. Thank you so much for sharing your blog with us! It is great to see what you are all doing and that you are having fun!
    Allie, Andy, Xan, Mike

  2. Thanks sharing your blog with us too. It's fun to see my parents (Sam and Sandi Resch) in your pictures and hearing what they are up to. I enjoy the commentary as well.

    Tell them hello from all of us in Dubuque, Iowa!
    Steph, John, Charley, Adelaide & Ahsoka