2018 Journey to West Alajuela, Costa Rica
Rose Ann Foreman, Journey Co-Coordinator
Nineteen of us experienced the warmth and welcome of our Tico hosts as we journeyed to West Alajuela, Costa Rica for a 7 night home stay January 9-16, 2018. The number of ambassadors fluctuated in the months prior, allowing us to accept one member from England and later, another from Connecticut. Alas, our co-leader Gene and his wife Marie were unable to travel with us.
Highlights of our homestays for some included attending a wedding, ice skating (yes, in Costa Rica!) and participating in cultural religious observances.
Knowing a bit of Spanish helped in communicating while many found creative ways to use sign language and translator apps. Technology has really enhanced our ability to communicate.
On our first morning, there was a ceremony in Parque de la Amistad (Peace Park) in Alajuela, at which a memorial plaque was unveiled honoring our visit. It was quite moving, with banners and flags waving, the national anthem playing and speeches given. We then continued on to City Hall, where we met with officials including the Mayor, and were welcomed into the City. The welcome party later in the day was quite a garden fiesta, with good visiting, food, music, dancing and more. The next day we traveled with our hosts by bus through mountains and coffee fields, to the Pacific coast beaches to enjoy an overnight at Playa Hermosa. Sunny warm weather greeted us as did a lovely beach to walk along.
Saturday morning we explored the capital of San Jose, touring the National Theater and National Museum where we studied the history of Costa Rica from the 16th to the 21st centuries. After free time with our families on Sunday we gathered for an early farewell party, again with good visiting, food and music. Our group offered a brief program of words, poetry, soloist and ensemble. There were moments of laughter (kazoo encore) as well as heartfelt tears and emotion.
Our final day with our hosts included a bus ride to Irazu volcano. Alas, the rainy season that usually ends in November had continued into January, so no viewing. A reason to return perhaps?! Our final stop was at the Basilica of Cartago where up to a million Costa Ricans make an annual pilgrimage in early August.
Thirteen of us continued on a post trip of 8 nights/9 days with Horizontes Tours. Our knowledgeable and patient guide made the 8 days of rain tolerable as we wondered if we would ever dry out! Only minutes before our tour commenced did we get word that the road to the Tortuguero rain forest area had been cleared of mudslides. Our entry to the area continued with an hour long boat arriving at our individual lodges that were built on stilts. We ventured out on open boats, kayaks and on foot to explore nature.
Wildlife sightings included crocodiles, lizards, frogs, iguanas, monkeys, insects and a multitude of birds and butterflies.
More post trip memories include making tortillas, relaxing in thermal pools and venturing out on a hike taking us over a series of hanging bridges.
We’re grateful for the kindness and warm welcome of our Tico hosts and guides. Pura Vida!
Side note: For those interested in politics, Costa Rica will hold their national elections on Easter Sunday. Don’t get too confused as both presidential candidates have the same surname of Alvarado.
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2018 Renewals due 1-1-18