A Dip into the Archives – Part 1

Hi everyone,

Welcome back and thanks for coming back week after week, I appreciate your persistence and comments. It helps me to stay motivated especially during this weird time we are living through. This past week several Friendship Force members got together via Zoom for cocktail hour to connect and share shelter in place experiences. These folks are world travelers but many are postponing international travel until there is a viable vaccine. Most are opting for more domestic travel mentioning visiting national parks, my guess is they’ll be crowded! They are on our list too hopefully sooner rather than later.

For the next several weeks, depending on the virus situation, I’m featuring photos from my extensive archives. My goal is to post 5-6 photos each week along with a story, some will be a series while others will be singles. I’m starting off this week with a series of photos from one of our four trips to Costa Rica. It’s likely a few were used in a previous post nevertheless are getting trotted out again for another look.

The photo below was taken near the mountain village of Orisi in Central Costa Rica where we spent five nights at a very comfortable and economical bed and breakfast. By day we spent the morning in Spanish language classes and our afternoons were free to explore the area and practice our new found skills (such as they were!). One of those afternoons took us on a road trip around the Lago de Cachi, a manmade lake that provides water and electricity to the area. We stopped at the lakeside La Casona Restaurant for a late lunch. After eating, we walked around the beautiful grounds and came upon these guys raising a recently completed wood sculpture of Jesus. The sculptor is the man on the right front as you are looking at the photo. After Jesus was raised (an interesting metaphor, don’t you think!), we had a discussion with him, he in rapid fire Spanish, we in halting one or two word mispronounced statements. He honored our request when we asked, “repeato despacio por favor” or repeat slowly please. He explained that he “found” Jesus in this piece of wood and that it was God’s will that it appeared, almost like a miracle. We found that most Costa Ricans have a “dark or fatalistic” view of God and religion, in other words, all things are the result of destiny or are predetermined. This means they have little belief that humans can influence their own actions, that only God knows and determines the future thus no person is free to act on their own, only prayer and divine intervention will affect the future. That said, we had a delightful conversation, such as it was, and no we didn’t buy this sculpture!

Raising Jesus

Staying with the religious theme, I believe on three of our four visits to Costa Rica, we’ve made a stop at the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de los Angeles (Our Lady of the Angels) in Cartago. Located east of the capital city of San Jose, Cartago and the Basilica are the destination for pilgrims from all over Central America around the 2nd of August each year. Once we happened to be in the country around this time and were amazed with the number of people walking along the roads leading to Cartago. Known as the Romeria, hundreds of thousand pilgrims make their way to offer prayers for sick family members, friends, and in some cases themselves. Vendors surrounding the Basilica sell little silver medals representing body parts to pilgrims that they in turn leave in front of the La Negrita, a representation of the Virgin Mary carrying Jesus. The day of our visit, we parked just a short distance from the Basilica because most visitor walk or take the bus. The plaza was crowded, there was music playing and vendors selling food and drink to the pilgrims. There was a steady line of people that made the last part of their journey on their knees to the alter in front of the church. It’s quite a spectacle and worth the time and effort to spend a day in Cartago. By the way, they have an excellent market not far from the Basilica.IMG_5401

This photo was taken high up in the mountains after a long drive at about 10 miles per hour over a rocky, pothole filled dirt road. Let me start at the beginning, The Eldest did a several month volunteer program in Costa Rica staying with a host family in Siquirres located in the eastern part of the country near Porto Limon. Her host mother’s mother lived up in the mountains among the coffee plantations. On one of our visits, the host mother said to The Eldest, in Spanish of course, that the next time your parents visit, we would visit Grandmother. So on our next visit we were obligated to stuff five us in a small 4-wheel drive SUV for the one hour trip to Grandma’s house. We turned off the paved road near the small town of Tres Equis onto this road. Near the Grandmother’s house, we met this couple walking down the road. After we passed I couldn’t resist the temptation to stop and make this photograph. I should mention that just before meeting this couple, we drove by the pay telephone by the side of the road, at that time it was their main communication to the outside world.IMG_5731 copy

As we traveled around the country, I would often stop to take photos of the lush, green landscapes. We were somewhere on a quiet two lane road and I saw a beautiful hillside with houses, trees, and fences dividing the fields and pastures. I took that photo and it’s ok. Then I noticed this lone volunteer impatien growing tall enough for the flower to peek over the barbed wire fence. For some reason, I’ve always liked the simplicity of this photo.IMG_5921 copy

This next photo is not the photo I wanted. As we were driving the road that would take us to Volcan Irazu, I saw what looked to be a very bright white church in a village just off the road. I quickly took the road into town and as I drove up to the church I realized it looked so white because everything around it was so drab and colorless. It was in this moment of disappointment that I saw a bent over campesino (a peasant farmworker) with a sack slung over his back walking up the hill to the barrio where he likely lived. To get the photograph, I had to go around the block that took us through a scary part of the barrio with shacks for homes and eyes watching the two gringos drive by. When I finally made my way around the block, he turned down an alley, the shot was gone. As we were leaving the village, I stopped to take a photo of the sign when this campesino came riding down the hill on his white horse with a shovel over his shoulder. As he drew nearer, I gestured with my camera and he consented and thus this redeeming photo.IMG_5932

The photo of these folks waiting for a bus was taken while waiting for the three lady occupants of our vehicle; my Traveling Partner, The Eldest, and her host sister. We were on our way to Volcan Turrialba on a misty, cool day when nature started making calls to the passengers. We stopped in this small village and for a few colones we could use the rest room in the soda (local restaurant). Since there were three ladies, it took them longer to cycle through the facilities, I had plenty of time to make some photos. I have others but I like this one for it color and patterns. Notice they are doing a pretty good job of physical distancing!IMG_6006 copy

That’s it for this week, join me next for another dip into the archives.

Until then, happy virtual travel!