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Penny's Peace of Paradise

A gringa and her family's adventures living in Costa Rica.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Romeria - Cancelled!

This annual walk by the faithful from all over Costa Rica to Cartago, has been cancelled for the first time in history, due to health concerns. Perhaps as many as 2 million persons make the trek, mostly from the Central Valley. However, others come from distant places in Costa Rica and even other Latin nations.
The pilgrimage is unique in that so many people walk long distances and frequently sleep outdoors. The gathering in the plaza of the basilica includes many who press forward to touch the gold case in which the representation of the Virgin is carried. The Romeria has been an annual event for the last 227 years, as faithful Catholics visit La Negrita to ask for a miracle or pay her back for her favours.
According to Catholic traidtion, Juana Periera found the small statue of the Virgen in 1635 on a stone at the edge of a river.

This is a huge shock and disappointment for the faithful. We were living about an hour and a half, by car, from Cartago, in the first town we settled in here, and are now more than two hours away. We know many people who happily make the pilgrimage by foot from their homes far away. Most are on the road, literally, for two to three days. The government and the Catholic Church are suggesting people worship in their home town churches, and watch the closed ceremony on August 2, from the safety of their homes.

We are half way through an additional week of vacation for the students of Costa Rica, due to H1N1 concerns. It seems possible, that they may add another week to the vacation period, because officials believe the worst of this outbreak will be experienced during the next two weeks.

We are not panicking, just being sensible about washing hands, and continuing to live a healthy lifestyle to help keep the bug-a-boos at bay!


Monday, July 13, 2009

Who Knew?

Click on the title for this latest article.

A quick Google of this topic, results in this:

and this...


Doctored photos? Maybe. But you have to admit, it's a little intriguing!

Guess it's time for a road trip to nuestro favorito volcan!

UFO landing

Sunday, July 12, 2009

POP...Goes the Stresses!

We went to Gringo Bingo today, it was a fund raiser for the local Conversation Cafe. This is a generous group of English speakers that meet in the local municipal building, every Saturday afternoon, to sit down with ticos wanting to learn English, or improve their skills. Refreshments are provided, which is why they held the fund-raiser. We had a ball, it was well organized and entertaining!

Just about every gringo I've met, gratefully gives back, in their own way, to the people of our adopted home. From installing libraries in public schools, chatting it up at the conversation cafe, coaching soccer, or doing all they can to lend a hand.

My friend visiting the states, is anxious to come home. We forget the level of stress we have left behind. We may indulge in the delicious foods we've missed, shop for the unattainable at Ikea and Target, but at the end of the day, we are reminded why we have chosen a different life for ourselves. A stress-free life, peaceful and secure, and not consumed with dangers and pitfalls around every corner. We don't have to reorganize our priorities constantly as circumstances fluctuate. We know what is important and understand how fortunate we are to have this opportunity.

I give you this gift of bubble wrap, so click on the post title, and you can experience some of our bliss!

Peace out

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Last week...

A taxi

...began with my being car-less, as Goldie blew her engine and was no longer worth investing in. We've been getting around by taxi, which many folks do, and it is very convenient, but, I confess to being a spoiled gringa who wants her freedom. So, we are looking for something fiable, muy economico, y borato (yah, I know...good luck with that!)

Forks of Lightning

...we lost our internet service, and just got it back yesterday, after the repair truck somehow ended up sideways on our steep driveway, and had to wait hours for two tow trucks to extricate, and drag him back up the hill. But I digress, in my almost 50 years, I have never experienced downpours, lightening, and thunder like I have in Costa Rica! The rain comes down with a vengeance, the lightening is always too close for comfort, and the thunder rattles your innards like a roller coaster. Our friends warned us to unplug everything when a storm starts, including the phone line, but I figured the odds of lightening hitting our house and utilities was so remote... Then I heard stories of lightening destroying almost all of one couple's appliances and electronics, because they weren't unplugged. Another friend had lightening hit her satellite dish, come down through the wires in the wall, SHOOT OUT of an outlet, across the living room and burn a circle in the opposite wall! She was sitting there watching it happen, in terror. We had lightening hit our meter box, last year, and melt the contents of the box. One family we know, hides in an interior, windowless room, because they are sure it can come through the windows, and sitting in their living room, watching huge bolts of lightening bombard the yard, I "felt" their fear!

Hillary Clinton Meets With Ousted Honoduran President Zelaya

...Costa Rica had an unexpected visitor, Manuel Zalaya, the Honduran president, was rousted from his bed, by soldiers, and put on a plane to our peaceful nation. Our president, Oscar Arias, met him at the airport for a press conference, and now a week later he will be moderating a "conversation" between Zalaya and the newly installed president of Honduras. When I travelled through Latin America in the late seventies, coups were practically a weekly occurrence, but to hear something like that had happened in 2009, was rather surprising.

Child wearing a raincoat in the rain

...the kids got out of school for their two week "summer vacation." Historically the weather improves this time of year and we don't have daily afternoon rain. The past two years were exceptions to this, and if the last week is any indicator, we may be racking up a third exceptional year, but hopes springs eternal among the ticos.

Woman closing an overstuffed suitcase

...my good friend flew to San Diego to visit family, since the kids are out of school, but truth be told, it's a "fetch." She left Costa Rica with six big, virtually empty suitcases, and will return with all of them completely filled. In our adopted home, we want for almost nothing. There are grocery stores that cater to the quirky needs of transplants from all over the globe, and even a Costco-like store with imported goods in bulk. Unfortunately, the quality of goods here is poor. High thread count sheets and bedding...nope. Affordable small electronics...no way. Durable towels and clothing...not a chance. A reasonable selection of books in English...'aint gonna happen, not to mention the numerous foods and snacks that ultimately just can't be found. So what are we to do? We treat our visiting friends like pack mules. I'm not kidding. From our favorite scented candles, to waffle irons, and over the counter bulk medicines, don't be surprised when a Costa Rican gringo emails you an endless list of things they want you to "tuck" into your bags. Not to worry, most international carriers still allow two 50 lb bags, and you don't need much to wear here, so, be prepared to heft a bunch of junk when you come for visit!
Slice Of Apple Pie

...we went to an upscale American sports bar/restaurant, in Lindora, for the Fourth of July, and enjoyed listening to terrific live music, eating barbecue, apple pie, potato salad, and fried twinkies! God Bless American food!

I hope your "last week" was equally as enjoyable!