We finally made it back to Orosí - it is almost unbelievable how long it took us to make the trip.
We first tried in the middle of December - we planned take the bus and stay several days with our Spanish School Family. When that didn't work out, we next tried in January - but that time, we didn't even get as far as details. So many things interfere - we were sick, I was trying to schedule surgery, life happened... We were stuck with this idea that we couldn't make such a long trip (and back) in only one day. Then you have to consider all the junk we have to take with us if we stay even one night - yikes! By March, we had gone on enough multi-hour bus trips that a full day didn't phase us as much, so we thought we would try renting a car for the day, and plan on a single-day trip. Well, the car-rental thing was a bust. This is the time that you really appreciate the culture here - Each time we called the family to plan a trip (and then when we called to re-schedule), they were unfazed. I could feel my whole body clench, but they were super-cool.
Here we were, running out of Costa Rica time, brains adjusted to the idea of a day trip, with a load of gifts (not something you want to take back to the states with you). So, we did it! We caught the 8:00 bus from Alajuela to San José, took a taxi to the Cartago bus stop, where we just caught the bus to Cartago. Ahhh. We recognized the right place to get off the bus - an easy half-block walk later, we are on the Orosí bus! Unbelievably, we were in Orosí just 2 hours after leaving Alajuela!
We had a great visit - my Spanish is getting better (but still very halting, and I don't really "hear" it well), and Rick's Spanish is *great*! There is a new baby, so we got to make a fuss :).
Since we got there so early, we had coffee while they had a late breakfast. They have been through some tough times - their oldest son was in the hospital with a bleeding ulcer. He had an attack while working in Guanacaste, then a stressful ride in the ambulance to Cartago - the ambulance driver from Nicoya didn't know Cartago, and so got a bit lost. The family had made trips to Nicoya to see him while he was in the hospital there (he had to stabilize before the ambulance ride), and they were talking about how long it took to drive there - they got home at 3:00 in the morning one time. But now he is in the Cartago hospital - it is the premier hospital in Costa Rica for stomach problems (and Costa Rica has a *very* high incidence of stomach cancer). They had put off visiting their son that day because we were coming to see them - yikes!
A bit later, José took us up to his family´s finca - it is a short (but steep and bumpy) drive up the mountain. No one really lives there, but there is a shack where people can stay overnight if needed. The views are amazing! While we were there, we saw a helicopter - José said that it was owned by a gringo who lives on the other side of the ridge - he can get to San José in 20 minutes. Talk about decadent!
The finca is in coffee country, but the coffee plants are in trouble - José showed us the damage caused by an insect infestation. The healthy beans are normally white inside...
We got back to the house and had a fabulous Tico lunch - Teresita cooked chicken soup (my mouth is watering just thinking about it). It is so rich!
Lunch just added to the feeling that could only be described as homesick. It seems strange to say it, especially since we really only spent 3 months there, but there is no more accurate word. From the time we entered the valley, past the coffee plants and the orange-blooming trees, recognizing friends´ houses, familiar restaurants, the rocky river, the soccer field - well, just about everything - I had a lump somewhere in the vicinity of my throat.
I thought again about living nearby - if we do end up close, I think I *will* talk to Teresita about getting cooking lessons from her...
Well, our return trip was not as smooth as coming to Orosí - it took us 3 hours instead of 2. We hit some traffic, but we also found out where a lot of buses leave from Cartago (about 4 blocks North of the Ruins / Central Park). All told, we spent 5 hours of travel for 5 hours of visiting - a pretty good rate I´d say!
OK, so this has been something of a ramble - I'm out of practice...