I’m sitting at the dusty and dirty bus stop in Canas, willing myself to stop crying, when a little old women sits down next to me and starts a conversation.
She is deeply wrinkled. I don’t mean crinkled with crow’s feet and frown lines, I mean she looks like someone took her skin, scrunched into a little tiny ball and then slipped it over her slight frame wrinkled. She begins to tell me about when she first arrived in the north of the country, thirty years ago, when there was no running water or electricity, no roads or bridges. Even though she’s actually talking about the 80’s it adds to her ancient aura.
Her accent is so thick I can understand only about 60% of what she says but I smile along to the rest, constantly wiping my nose and dabbing at my eyes.
How did I end up here, at this crummy bus stop being pitied by a true campesina?
My parents came to visit.
No, that’s not quite right. I had an amazing week and was gifted more things than can fit in my tiny room because my parents came to visit. I was whimpering in a bus stop because they eventually had to leave – and I reverted to a kindergartener on her first day of school.
As tough as it was saying goodbye to my mom and dad having them in country was nothing short of magical.
My dad, who is 100% man, rented an all-terrain SUV to brave the roads in Costa Rica. And thank god he did. They arrived the day that ended two weeks of rain in the country – and therefore the day that should have begun reparations for all the washed out roads. It didn’t.
We ventured to the coffee laden hills above San Jose to visit and my host family from training. Liz, my tica-mom, cooked us a lunch so elaborate that she had to bring her next door neighbor in for reinforcements. As if that wasn’t enough she had also hand-painted not just my parents but my two sisters souvenirs from Costa Rica. These people have reinvented the word hospitality.
They also got the opportunity to meet Abuelo Loco who kept shouting at them that I was his girlfriend, unaware that increased volume did not help them understand Spanish, luckily. Despite the fact that he is already in his late seventies he was dirty from riding his horse over to work in the coffee field that morning. I guess I could go worse as far as gene pools go.
Heading north to my town my parents got to live like volunteers for a few days in my modest home enjoying the cold showers and abundance of indoor insects. They patiently attended mass at our Catholic church. It incidentally was the longest of all time, which I am sure was even more enjoyable when you can’t understand a word of it.
Equally as patiently they participated in my English class, received a tour of my town and visited various houses. I say patiently not because my town isn’t beautiful and fascinating, it is (come visit!) but because they had to sit around while I did my best to translate everything.
My dad also waged war on the centipedes in my house. He lost.
I trekked them along a grueling but breathtaking hike to see Rio Celeste, a river that runs an aquamarinish blue color not far from where I live. It’s said to be the only of its kind in the world. Unfortunately I forgot that it is more like 4 hours (not two) and maybe got us lost once or twice. Though we did eventually find the hot springs and did not get bit by either of the snakes I saw, so all in all I’d say it was a success.
If you’ve already started skimming this blog, don’t worry, I’m not going to chronicle every minute of my parents visit just a few more highlights.
We headed to Monteverde which is a private ecological reserve and the country’s (world’s?) only cloud forest. We got to see sloths, monkeys, tarantulas, hummingbirds, frogs and so, so much more (come visit!).
For me our guides were perhaps the most amazing part of it all. They were incredibly knowledgeable and friendly, answering any question I had and even testing me on my Spanish – all the while imitating bird calls and pointing out jumping ants.
They were also the first people to explain the meaning of my town’s name, El Higueron. Up until this point I had only been told that it was a ‘tree without a heart’ and that all of them had been cut down in our area. Well, it turns out it is a Strangler Fig – maybe my pueblo is a little too aptly named? –a beautiful tree that grows around another tree, killing the host and leaving what appears to be a hollow tree in its place. A tree without a heart, if you will.
Anyways, that cleared up a lot for me.
From Monteverde we traveled on a breathtaking ferry and some heart stopping roads to the beach of Montezuma where we saw more monkeys, really close this time, some old hippies, too close as always and one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
We also met Carlos. If you don’t know my mother (you should, she’s amazing) you needunderstand that she makes friends we everyone. She’ll just walk up and introduce herself, whether or not you speak English. Carlos is a restaurant owner whodoes speak English, is almost as friendly as my mother and happened to be on the ferry the next day. By the end of the boat ride he had comforted us all on our pending separation and promised my parents to take care of me in Costa Rica, never mind that I could fly to America almost as quickly as I could get to the beach he lives on.
Not much later we come to the beginning of this post where my parents had to leave me and I reverted to a six year old version of myself blubbering in public. Not because I don’t truly love my life in Costa Rica, but because having them be a part of it for even a short time made the whole experience that much richer and better – it’s just plain hard to go back to the simpler version without them.
I left out the hours of driving we submitted ourselves to and the numerous ways my parents spoiled me throughout the week – let’s just say it was better than Christmas – but hopefully I conveyed a little bit of how amazing of a time it was (come visit!).
ps if you haven’t heard from me in a while it probably has something to do with my computer breaking (thank you mom and dad for the new one!) and then my internet going out. Sorry! I should become a real person again soon.