June brought more traveling. After getting back from our month in Mexico, Karawynn and I were in Seattle for only three weeks before we lit out again for regions southward. It was great to see my brother and sister and their families under happy circumstances. The previous time we’d all seen each other was when Mom died — a very sad and difficult period.
The wedding took place at the picturesque Mission Espada in San Antonio. What a great location to celebrate a new union! Dad and Carolyn both had previous marriages with wonderful spouses who’d died. They are re-starting their lives. Carolyn is much different from my mom, but she is a good soul, and I am overjoyed that she and Dad found love together. I can barely imagine what losing a life-partner is like — a traumatic and painful experience that leads to a scary and lonely and desolate place. That Dad has another chance to love and be loved is a precious, rare, and wonderful gift.
I no longer consider myself Catholic — or religious in any way really — but I was happy to get the opportunity to read at the (traditional Catholic) wedding. Participating in the ceremonial launch of a new stage in my dad’s life meant a lot. These days it is so easy to be cynical about love and commitment, but seeing the happiness that Carolyn has brought into Dad’s life after the heartbreaking anguish of the previous few years strips away any cynicism I have and replaces it with wonder and joy.
Carolyn and Dad were generous (or insane) when they decided to invite their whole combined family to accompany them to Costa Rica after the wedding. Karawynn and I joined the twelve others traveling to the Guanacaste region of the Central American country.
Costa Rica abolished its military years ago and has used the extra money to improve education and healthcare — as well as to invest in creating a profitable tourist industry. Tourism is Costa Rica’s primary economic engine. I have a lot of respect for a country that builds an economy around trying to educate the world about ecology and nature. Can you even imagine your country doing that?
The first part of our stay was at the Flamingo Beach Resort on Playa Flamingo in the northwestern (Pacific) part of Costa Rica. This was a typical, if smallish, resort hotel with a nice pool in a picturesque location. Like resorts I’ve visited in Mexico and Hawaii, much of the hotel was open to the outside. But the heat and humidity made just standing around in the lobby feel like taking a sauna. Thankfully the rooms had air conditioning, and the pool was cool.
One of the drawbacks of staying at a resort hotel is that everything is outrageously expensive. We had not been able to afford the all-inclusive package so drinks and food were additional expenses. But the nearest town was a couple kilometers away and none of us had a car. So a few of us decided to risk the impending rain and walk to the nearest grocery store. This decision turned out to be both ill-advised and serendipitously wonderful.
The road traveled along the curve of a beautiful bay, between the beach and fields where (literally) hundreds of bright green parakeets flitted amongst the low trees and bushes. And huge vultures perched on fence posts and stretched out their wings to dry them in the intermittent sun. But just as we’re about half way there, it started to pour down rain. By sheer luck, we’d just passed a local cantina / bar with outdoor tables made from polished slabs of banyan tree. The tables were sheltered from the rain by thatched reed umbrellas. Since the rain had drenched us to the bone in seconds, we decided to stop and wait… and spent the next hour drinking local beer and staring out at the rain-stippled bay. What a great experience!
Not-so Accidental Tourists
The next day, all fourteen of our group took a canopy tour — a multi-part excursion to Buena Vista that included ziplining through treetops, horseback riding, a local-food lunch, a very fast water slide, and geothermal pools with sauna and mudbath.
While this is billed as eco-toursim, it really is not. It’s a lot of fun, and definitely worth the $125 per person, but it’s really all about fun and not about nature or experiencing the rainforest. For us, that would come later.
The following morning we said goodbye to Dad, Carolyn, and the rest of the family both old and new. We had made plans to spend the last half of our time in Costa Rica in a completely different environment… all the way across the country on the Caribbean coast, and in my next post I will tell you all about traveling there, and our time in the jungle.