From Colin ’16
Today is Sunday, and our trip to Costa Rica is winding down. We woke up this morning expecting an easy day of travelling to San Jose, but were instead greeted with news that portions of the lodge had flooded. There had been a tropical depression that moved in and stalled over the Caribbean lowlands dumping roughly ten inches of rain in the middle of the night. The area got the equivalent of three months of rain for us in Bucks County in the span of a few intense hours. Luckily, we were staying in the mountainside bungalows and thusly did not need to be evacuated at 5:00 a.m., like some other guests did. The group found out that the local Saripiquí River had overflowed its banks onto the footbridges connecting the lobby to the rest of the lodge, as well as the bridge connecting our rooms to the dining hall. Fortunately, the paths eventually cleared, and we had breakfast at the lodge.
After the breakfast that almost did not happen, we departed Chilamate, so we thought. The flooding was pretty bad up and down the Sarapiqui—some buildings were damaged, trees were knocked over and houses and fields were inundated. We discovered that, at a dam further upstream, they were going to open the floodgates to prevent the dam from cracking from all the extra water. People were gathered by the side of the road for safety and in anticipation of further flooding. Our original route out of the area was blocked so Carlos had to look for another. We also found that three of the five ways out of the region were blocked. We went up the central mountains using an extremely narrow and old paved road. It took most of the morning, but Carlos got us to the central plateau safely.
Consequently, we were forced to shift gears and had to skip our planned volcano visit. Instead, we stopped at Sarchí, the main artisan town, close to San Jose, famous for its ox wagons (we saw the biggest one in the world).
After some quick souvenir shopping, we took a tour of a butterfly preserve. Our guide picked up butterflies with ease, and explained some of their anatomy and camouflage. After a short visit, and many photos, we left the butterflies and went to have lunch.
After another delicious and typical Costa Rican meal in a restaurant full of Ticos out to lunch on Father’s Day, we left the restaurant and got back on the bus for San Jose. After a relatively short drive, we arrived at La Capital. Mario, our guide, told us that about two million people live in San Jose, almost half the total population of Costa Rica. We stopped by the National Theater, one of the most notable landmarks in the city. Interestingly, the theater is across from the very first McDonald’s in Costa Rica. Though we didn’t spend much time there, it was obvious that San Jose is a city full of life.
After this quick city snapshot, we got back on the bus and headed to our hotel. We learned that where we’re staying is right next to a local chocolatier, which as it turns out has some amazing dark chocolate that they prepare right there in the store. In a way, it’s almost poetic that we end the trip with a bit of bitter-sweetness. It seems to me that everyone is excited to get home and see their families, but that no one will leave here without a sense of sadness that we are finally saying goodbye to this wonderful country full of wonderful people. I know I’ll always have a bit of Tico to carry with me as I move through life.