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Journals from Costa Rica Fall 2008

2008-10-06 Up North

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In front of Volcan Arenal

Yet another update from the Rich Coast coming at you hot. This past weekend (9/26ish) we went on a gira (fieldtrip) to the Northern region of Costa Rica. The North is a little more my style; much flatter, less humid, but still very hot. This was a brief, yet magnificent little trip. On day one we left from little San Ramon (not literally--for me little is a term of endearment) at 7am. Although that sounds early (as it should) it ended up being really neat. Its super cool to be awake as the day is starting to unfold. And the sun looked absolutely beautiful on the rolling hills as we made our way up north. We arrived around 11am to the palenque (I dont know that word in English"maybe like settlement?) Margarita of the indigenous people Maleku. (There are 3 Palenques, Margarita, Sol, and Tonjibe) It was super neat. They are one of the few remaining indigenous people in Costa Rica and we got the opportunity to see where they live, hear their native language, learn about their traditions, and eat one of their meals. We also got to try and imitate one of their famous art forms-which was not easy. Even if one is gifted with my artisan skills, which must have been absent that day, Maleku art is quite the feat. They carve coconut sized shell-ish things with knives and somehow draw these beautiful pictures. Fortunately for us the picture was already drawn in and we just had to carve out the outline. But even that was not nearly as easy as it sounds--most of us ended up decapitating our cute animal drawings with one mere slip of the scalpel. Anyway, after we did the art portion and ate lunch, they took us out into the forest to show us their medicinal plants. Now this was cool; as we were walking along, the Maleku man would bust out his machete and slice off a chunk of plant and pass it around, giving us instructions on what to do with it (eat, sniff, etc.). One of them reeked like skunk, like the most intense smell youve ever smelt in your whole entire vida. Then there were quite a few spices and others that I dont remember. But the coolest one by far was this Novocain-like plant. If you cut it open and put the juice on your tongue, a numbing sensation sets in instantaneously. Some of the boys decided itd be a good idea to chew on it and numb their whole tongue. Then they started drooling. Quite amusing. After we left the Maleku camp we made our way to La Fortuna, where we spent the night a bomb resort. La Fortuna is the town that surrounds Volcan Arenal. It was a pretty rad experience. Our hotel was right next to the volcano, and it was a real resort with like 3 pools and about 10 hot springs. We got to spend the afternoon swimming and relaxing. That night after we got back from dinner and it was dark out, we were able to see lava coming out of Volcan Arenal. That was such a cool spectacle for me. Our little bungalows came equipped with super comfy rocking chairs so we got to spend the evening rocking out in the fresh Costa Rican air watching lava bubble out of Volcan Arenal. What a unique and dazzling experience. One of those times where one can sit back and think how cool is this. Thanks, Linny, for that opportunity. The next day we went to a Lecheria, roughly translated as a dairy farm. We got to go on a tour of it and milk the cows and help feed them. Then at the end we ate hamburgers at the Lecherias restaurant. Kind of an odd combo if you ask me--nurture the cute cows and then feast on them for lunch, but still a nice end to hunger. Yet another grool experience (grool = great + cool.. thats not Spanish, just one of my favorite words ) compliments of Linny College and the amazing country of Rich Coast. Hasta luego, SALLIE

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