This week I return to the archives for some inspiration and photos for a story to share with you. I settled on an array of people pictures from our trips to Costa Rica. A few of the photos were published in earlier posts but most are fresh and some of the stories untold. Let’s get started.
The small village of Cahuita, population about 2400, is located on the Caribbean side of the country. It’s known for it’s black sand beach (Playa Negra) and the Cahauita National Park that features a white sand beach (Playa Blanco) as well as an abundance of monkeys and sloths. When coming off the main highway, the first quarter mile of road is paved then turns into a wide dirt street with plenty of potholes so the driving is slow. It might be on purpose so as to cruise the main street with plenty of time to scope out the local businesses and restaurants. The photo below shows the Y intersection when approaching the town, turn right to the National Park, turn left to the downtown and the black sand beach.
We’ve been to Cahuita a couple of times, each time staying at a bed and breakfast. On one of our visits we went in search of our evening meal, stopping at one of the restaurants on the Main Street. We were the only customers and were greeted enthusiastically by the owner and his young son. When he brought the menus, he asked us about drinks and one of us ordered a tropical drink that included star fruit. The drink order took awhile but delicious when arrived. Later we found out the owner sent his son next door to the market with some change to buy the star fruit for the drink. Just in time delivery! We thought his quick thinking to satisfy his customers was so winning that we returned the next day for another meal. I don’t know if he’s still in business but if you ever find yourself the charming town of Cahuita look him up.
Our daughter, The Eldest, did a seven month volunteer gig at a kindergarten in Siquirres, Costa Rica near Puerto Limon on the Caribbean side of the country. She lived with a host family during her stay and managed to become quite proficient in Spanish. My Traveling Partner and I made our first trip to Costa Rica to visit her. Along the way we met some interesting relatives and friends of the host family.
This fella is the son-in-law of The Eldest’s host parents. One day, we were invited to their very modest three room house, they wanted us to see their prize chickens or to be more accurate fighting cocks. Yes, he was raising these roosters to fight and he was so proud of them. He gave us a demonstration how it worked and then posed proudly for this photo with his prize rooster. I’m not making any judgements about cock fighting, it helped bring some needed income to the family.
This is Dona Maruha, a friend of the host mother. When ever we visited, Dona Maruha would stop by for a visit, she was such a sweet, soft spoken lady. One day The Eldest, my Traveling Partner and I visited a nearby topical garden where we purchased a couple of bouquets of flowers, one for the host mother and the other for Dona Maruha. She was so thrilled with the beautiful flowers that she volunteered to make us dinner if we bought the supplies. She and her husband were pensioners and didn’t have much money. We consented and she sent us to the fish market to buy a certain kind of fish that she would prepare. Interesting because The Eldest doesn’t eat seafood! My Traveling Partner and I dined on the fish while she ate her standard fare of rice and beans.
This stern looking woman is the sister of the host mother. We visited her up in the mountains between Siquirres and Turrialba, a modest house surround by a coffee plantation. The main kitchen was in a lean to on the side of the house. Whenever the camera turned toward her, this is the look she presented. Otherwise, she was jovial and chattering a way. There was a picture of her parents hanging on the wall with the same look, I think she thought that’s the way one was supposed to appear in photos.
On a few of our visits, we stopped by the big market in the center of Cartago. The variety, quality and abundance of the fruits and vegetables were eye candy to us. As pale-faced, light-haired gringos we stood out from the dark-haired brown-skinned locals. Some of the vendors would call out to us speaking in rapid fire Spanish, trying to lure us into their booths. The photos below show some of the antics they performed to get our attention. By the way, we did buy some fruit, it was ripe and delicious.
During one of our travels around Costa Rica, we stopped at a farm near San Ramon to visit the family of one of The Eldest’s friends. They were a delightful family, we sat in their front room sipping a refreshing drink and chatting with the translation going back and forth in English and Spanish. The father took me on a tour of one of his recently planted fields. As a former agricultural extension agent I felt right at home checking the soil and the plants. We also inspected their tractor, an older model Massey-Ferguson. Apparently, a few years prior they had a little mishap with this tractor, it tipped over backwards on an incline, fortunately no one was hurt. Since they couldn’t afford to replace it with another tractor, they righted it and fixed it up so it was usable once again. We had a lovely visit with this warm and friendly family.
On our last trip to Costa Rica, my Traveling Partner returned to the Pacific side of the country for an exploration of the Osa Peninsula. We stayed at a small hotel in Puerto Jimenez, the major town on the Peninsula with a population of about 7000 people. It’s the gateway to the Corcovado National Park, one of the most ecologically diverse environments in the world. Prior to our trip, I arranged for a guide to take us on a day long photo tour to the entrance of the Park, about a two hour drive over rocky, pothole filled roads. I had to provide the transportation so we took the small SUV I rented in San Jose that came with instructions not drive it through standing water. It so happened that we had to ford twelve streams to reach our destination! At the time, I could imagine trying to explain water damage to the car rental agent but we were cautious and managed just fine. Along the way, we passed a roadside restaurant and farm owned by the guide’s uncle. We stopped for some cold drinks and snacks. During our stop William, our guide, helped one of the workers make fresh cheese by squeezing the liquid out by hand. There was a screen around the building but the flies were having a field day. Can’t guarantee a few didn’t end up in the cheese! Of course, they offered us a taste of the queso fresco that we politely accepted but wondered about the sanitation! I’m sure that fresh cheese was for sale later that afternoon. It was a great day filled with cultural experiences like this one.
A couple of evenings when the temperature started to cool down we walked around Puerto Jimenez for something to do before dinner, there was no TV only the books we brought with us. It also gave me a chance to shoot some photos. I saw this fellow in the open air business working on a piece of fiberglass. When he looked up I made the international gesture with my camera if I could take his photo. He consented, I took a few shots and walked off. It wasn’t until I returned home and downloaded the photos to my desktop that I realized I got more than I expected. It was then I noticed the posters on the wall behind him. For me, it made the photo, one I’ve exhibited from time to time. This is why I never delete any photos off my camera while traveling.
I hope you enjoyed the photos and stories about some of interesting people that we interacted with in Costa Rica. These are often the most memorable parts of our travels.
Until next week, happy virtual travels!