So, there was much more to my trip than just the build for Habitat for Humanity. "Obvio." So what else? Sights, sounds, smells and such....
When I first arrived in San Jose, I grabbed my journal and camera and explored the grounds of Hotel Aeropuerto where we were staying before heading to LaFortuna. I found a nice patio table and settled in to write in my journal...here's a tidbit I wrote, "Haha, I've been hearing this voice - sounded like a lady on the phone. Because I could only hear her voice (saying the same few things over and over), it was getting a bit annoying. I just turned and realized the "voice" belongs to a parrot!"
Parrot at Hotel Aeropuerto in San Jose.
I saw a few lizards (probably geckos) crawling around on the walls outside our living quarters at the El Sueno Dorado. There was also one collared lizard that stood still long enough for all of us to see him just before lunch one day, to then run away on his hind legs with his short lizard arms waving in front of him as he ran.
There were interesting insects! One morning before breakfast there was a loud scream from one of my neighbors. Turns out a large spider had invaded their bathroom. They sought the help of a fellow crew member to properly dispose of it. The next morning, I had the exact same kind of spider in my bathroom. That one met an early death too.
Giant scary spider. It was bigger than a quarter, maybe silver dollar-sized.
I did not see any monkeys. That made me sad.
We did see some humming birds at this place we stopped at for a bathroom/stretching break somewhere on the road between San Jose and LaFortuna. So pretty and graceful. I could have watched them for hours!
I don't think this is actually a humming bird because it seemed too big, but I saw it along with the humming birds.
You know how when we were younger where you lived might have allowed people to burn leaves and the smell would waft all around? They burn things in Costa Rica and I loved the different smells wafting through the air from time to time. It never smelled bad or toxic. Just reminded me of a simpler time.
One day on our way home from the work site we saw a lady riding a horse down the road talking on a cell phone. It was a funny sight!
Most of the roofs in Costa Rica are metal. Did I mention that it rains on the regular in Costa Rica - at least where we were staying. The rain on a metal roof sounds really intense and pretty awesome. It makes the rain sound like the biggest rainstorm ever, even if it's not.
Do you see that green metal roof? I want a metal roof. Not sure how that would fly in Michigan though!
The food. Um, oh my gosh it was amazing and it warranted a post of its own.
Volcano! El Sueno Dorado was literally at the foot of the Arenal Volcano. Our first day in LaFortuna we couldn't take our eyes off it. I can remember being in the pool and just staring at it and saying, "it's strange how the mere possibility of an eruption makes you want to keep watching it, I doubt we'd be sitting here staring at a regular mountain." We continued to keep our eyes on it all week - even looking for it when it was covered in clouds. Most mornings with all the cloud cover, you wouldn't be able to see it at all.
Volcano view from the pool.
View from town on our first day in LaFortuna.
More clouds, but with a Lake Arenal vantage point.
I loved how green everything was and couldn't get over all the flowers and how a lot of the normal plants growing out of the ground were plants we keep in pots in our houses.
And I will leave you with this: Pura Vida. While I'm not sure if it's official, it's a phrase that is an integral part of Costa Rica's culture. If you translate the words they literally mean pure and life, but it is a phrase that we said in many circumstances - when we were relaxing after a hard day at the work site, "Pura Vida!" When we had a good meal, "Pura Vida!" When things were going well, "Pura Vida!" The meaning I like best is "This is living!" And so it was. I lived it for ten days and have so many fantastic memories of the amazing people I volunteered with, the people I met who were so warm and friendly, the beautiful sights, the scents and tastes. I cannot wait to go back!