As the van bounced along the dirt road leading up into the central mountains of Costa Rica, leaving a dusty cloud behind to settle on every roadside home, we started to get spectacular views across the brown hills of the dry season. We were headed toward the high hills of Monteverde, along the continental divide far above the tropical lowlands and the bustling city of San Jose. Our dear friends Kathy and David are living there for the year; Kathy is on sabbatical and is teaching at the Monteverde Friends School, where their son is in second grade. David, who runs a timber-framing business at their home in Vermont, was roped into building a new Meeting House for the school and its Quaker community. We were thrilled to have a chance to visit this beautiful country during the kids’ school break, and grateful to Kathy and David for allowing us to share their hillside home for a week.
We were met at the airport by Sergio and Jose, in their comfortable van. Sergio, very friendly and gregarious, chatted on and off about the various sights along the way. From San Jose we drove the PanAmerican Highway – which runs the full length of central and south America, I think – and briefly along the Pacific coast. As we climbed into the high country, we pulled over to examine (and taste!) fresh cashew fruits growing on a cashew tree. We stopped half-way at a wonderful open-air roadside cafe, for a filling and traditional meal of rice and seafood. It was hard to believe, sitting in the breezy warm air of Costa Rica, that we had braced ourselves against the gusts of winter in Newark the night before. (We drove to Newark on Saturday, staying overnight near the airport, to catch an early-morning flight that had us arrive in San Jose before noon. As a bonus we had a wonderful dosa meal on ‘India alley’ in Jersey City, with recent alum Bhavna.)
We arrived in late afternoon at Kathy and David’s rented home, where we were also greeted by another Dartmouth family (Jim and Laurie and their two daughters), who are also passing through during their sabbatical year. They all share the main ‘casa’; we are snuggled into the detached cottage (‘casita’). Both have a beautiful sunset view (below). A huge feast of casado (rice & beans) with sausage and vegies, with seating for 12, rounded out a long but enjoyable day. A full week of exploring yet to come!