It is really hard to believe that our time in Costa Rica is almost at an end. Time is flying so quickly and before we know it we shall be at the halfway mark of our journey away.
Last week we waited as Hurricane Otto approached Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Otto was very slow moving so there was lots of time for contemplation. At times it was thought that Otto would cross Costa Rica in the middle, but it gradually looked more likely that he was going to make landfall somewhere near the border of Costa Rica & Nicaragua. During his approach he was downgraded to a tropical storm, then upgraded to Category one then upgraded gain to Category Two. In preparation for his approach all schools and government offices were shut, and if you were not in the evacuation zone you were warned to stay indoors and prepare for the worst. The big fear appeared to be not only the damage the storm might wreak on its landfall but the subsequent rain and possible mudslides.
Otto missed the majority of Costa Rica and instead made its destructive path across the north of the country killing at least 12. One can only imagine the impact on some of those communities. In our little neck of the woods, even though we had prepared to be inside all day for torrential rain, the effects were minimal. We went into town on Saturday and there was a large truck being filled with clothes, towels, furniture etc for the people up north as part of the Hurricane Relief. Amazing how quickly a country can pull together to help those in need. One of the things I will always remember about Costa Rica is that it was a constant reminder how much I have.
I think sometimes we take for granted in Australia our amazing medical system in which everyone who needs medical care will get it. It might not be a perfect system but as someone who has relied on it quite heavily at times it is pretty bloody amazing. Whenever I hear people bitch and moan about it in Australia I always feel like telling them to jump on a plane and go break a few limbs in America and share with everyone what the final bill was. It annoys me. In my morning walk I walk past quite amazing houses that are next door to tin shacks. I suspect maybe that the divide between rich and poor in Costa Rica is possibly horrific.
Jam Jars stick in my head. If at someone's house and accepting a cold drink, it is not unusual to be given a glass that is an old jam jar. I think it is an indication that in some households everything is used and re-used and what we would so easily consider to be rubbish is turned into something else.
There is an old lady we often pass on our way into town. Her hair is done complete with head scarf, but she is bare-foot and she stops and goes through the rubbish. I offered her some Colonnes one day but she dropped them on the ground and walked past me muttering. So I am not sure, if in ignorance, if I may have offender her. Poverty on any level makes me feel helpless with how little I can do.
I asked the kids what their favourite thing about Costa Rica has been and they were tossing up between the dogs and the Howler Monkey Hotel. They loved the Howler Monkey Hotel. Funnily enough it was our most simple accommodation. Basically we shared one room and had a basic kitchenette and bathroom that was inclined to encourage animals to visit. I think that was where I first grasped the idea that we can survive on so much less than we think we need. It as also the place where I started to contemplate the whole idea of Pura Vida and Il Dolce far niente - the sweetness of doing nothing.
Dogs. Costa Rica will always be for me the land of dogs. At every stage of our time in Costa Rica we made friends with dogs. We had dogs that we knew by name, dogs that greeted us every day, dogs that became our friends and dogs that made us cry. At the end of our journey we now have Polizei and Bucket. Polizei walks with us most mornings and Buckets picks and chooses her days depending on her levels of interest. Even though they live a good 5 minute walk away from our Casita, they are regular visitors, popping in to see if the kids are busy. I think if I lived in Costa Rica I would end up with a houseful of dogs. I don't think I could say no. For me, the lasting impression of Costa Rica will always be about dogs.
Of course there was the colours of green. I have never seen so many shades of green. The long days on the beach. Glorious sunrises. My sun-kissed kids. Misty mornings on the mountain. Rain. So much rain. I find myself contemplating our Costa Rican departure once again feeling like I have only scratched the surface of this country and that there is so much left to explore. This weekend I am planning to visit a Volcano with the kids. It is hit and miss as to whether you see anything due to the mist, so I have left it to the very last minute to increase our chances of seeing the craters. As for the remainder of our week, we have a few goodbyes to say and a few places to visit.
There is a little part of me too that feels quite proud of myself. I can almost say that I survived three months in Costa Rica. A country that was not my own with a language that was not my own. A culture so foreign to us. I have momentary flashes of the crazy bus rides we took, of the kids anxiety, of my deranged Pollyanna face and of mornings that were so beautiful they are imprinted on my brain.
One more week and then it is back to the States for Christmas. For cold weather, good friends and possibly snow. What an amazing adventure!