Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Our Life in Costa Rica--A Tropical Adventure

Yesterday was one of those days where you pace the floor, watch the clock and hold your breath. For hours. My mother was in surgery for six hours but seems to now be doing well. (My poor parents have had a hard time of it lately). Thanks so much to all who helped support me through the day with emails, Facebook, phone calls and text messages. It was greatly appreciated. I love you for it!

While walking back and forth over the tile all morning, my mind went back to my days in Costa Rica. I was nine when my father was called to preside over the Central American Mission. My mother was 33. A rather daunting calling, I believe, for someone so young.

I looked forward to what I was sure would be an adventure. That sentiment was not shared by my older siblings however. Terri was a senior in high school and Randy a junior. Both looked forward to spending their final years at Skyline High in Salt Lake City. Now they would be in a class of less than 20 in San Jose.

We attended an English speaking school called Country Day which was run by a Mennonite couple, the Bakers. The elementary school bore a close resemblance to the classic haunted house in the movies. It was an old hotel with rickety wooden steps and rotting verandas. You could bring your own lunch or order from the school. The food was cooked at the high school on a grill many roaches called home, and consisted of such nutritious choices as hamburgers, milk shakes and French fries. My classroom had walls that only extended three quarters of the way to the roof. The rest was open air, but in a tropical setting, that was never a problem –except during the daily rain storms.

Our house was an adventure. All the windows were made of slats and covered with bars. You had to pass through a gate to get to the front door, and once inside there was another locked gate (yes, inside the house) that separated the bedrooms from the living areas.
(March 2008 in front of our old home)
The backyard was a tropical paradise, filled with trees, flowers and a man made pond. We loved to play out there, until the gardener brought us a tarantula he had chopped up while using a machete to cut the grass.

We were blessed to make many friends, although there were no other members of the church our age. Many of the people we met worked for the American Embassy or the Peace Corp. Another family owned a coffee plantation and we enjoyed going out to their ranch, riding horses and enjoying the beautiful Costa Rican country side.

And another friend, the Gants, owned a private island. Once during winter break, my sister Ruth and I were able to travel to the island and spend a week there. We spent all day in swimming suits, and for our meals ate fresh fish caught that day in the ocean, rice, and vegetables grown in the garden. And we craved terribly soft drinks. So much so that one day we sent a boat to a neighboring island to see if they had some for sale--which they did.

While just 11 and in sixth grade I met the son of the vice president of the country, who lived down the street from us. He was a senior in high school and for some reason thought I was close to his age. He also developed a bit of a crush on me (during our one time meeting) and hired a professional band to serenade outside my bedroom window at 2 in the morning. Being very young, I was not prepared to handle such a proclamation of love and spent the next couple weeks hiding from him when he came to the house or I when I saw him drive down the street.

All in all we survived several minor earthquakes, a volcanic eruption and the perverted men who came to our door to expose themselves. (Don’t ask me why, but that seemed to be a common thing to do down there.) We loved the people, and the rainy weather. (Although I had a sister complain it was so humid she was sure we all had fungus on our lungs) We loved the volcanoes in the distance and the little bread stores on all the street corners. We loved the missionaries that came for dinner and the sister missionaries who lived with us.

It was three wonderful years of my life, for which I will always be grateful. Although there were some difficult challenges, mostly our time there filled my heart with tender memories.

Two years ago I had the opportunity to go back with my husband and two of my daughters. It was so much fun to see the sights of my childhood. It was amazing all the things I could remember, and that I even found my old house! What a treat, and what great . . . joy to my journey.


Suzanne said...

I am so sorry about your mom! I had no idea. I hope she is better now and has a speedy recovery. God be with you at this time!

What an amazing experience to have lived in Costa Rica for 3 years. I am so envious!! One day I want to serve a mission!! I think it would be the coolest thing EVER! Wonderful that you made it back and visited again!

Hope your day is full of joyous moments! -Suzanne

Nikia, May and da kids said...

What a great memory and opportunity to live in another country. Your memories of your Costa Rica adventures gave you a different perspective on other cultures.


Lisa said...

What an adventure living in Costa Rica. I hope your mom has a quick recuperation. It's not easy seeing our strong parents in a weakened state.

DianeSS said...

Thanks for sharing the memories of that wonderful adventure.

KC Mom said...

Wow. Wow. Those are the kind of experiences you could never trade. I hope reminiscing has helped to take your mind of your Mom and that she will feel better soon.

Rebecca Irvine said...

i hope your mother is doing well and continues to heal quickly. Your time in Costa Rica sounds incredible. I would love to have such an experience!

MissKris said...

HAHA I love that serenade story. I would have reacted the same way. I guess you learned your lesson about sneaking into high school dances :)

Be Thou Humble said...

Wow! I'm sure that was a lot for your mom to handle. I'm glad to hear she seems to be doing well.

Love the new picture at the top of the blog and I mean this as a compliment--I can't pick out who is who (including you and your husband!) It must be fun to be at a stage of life when you can blend in with your kids!!!

Dave and Camille said...

I love posts like these! It's fun to learn more about your growing up years :)

Xazmin said...

Wow what a neat experience. I loved reading about this...this is way better than my drunk neighbor story! And I'm very intrigued to hear the dead body story!

I hope your mom is doing better.

Just ME the MOM said...

Thank you for sharing all these great experiences. I love to travel and can live very happily vicariously through someone else's adventures! Times you will never forget . . . I hope my children have a few of these upstairs in their heads also.