As you are reading my salutation from Costa Rica, I sincerely hope that the unseasonably warm weather is continuing across the Canadian prairies. Since retirement, my husband Jack has insisted that we leave the frigid temperatures of Alberta for at least four weeks every winter, and sojourn in a country with a climate more noted for its clemency.
For our third consecutive year we have returned to Playa Junquillal, one of the magnificent surf-washed beaches of the Northern Nicoya Peninsula in the province of Guanacaste. Just now, noticing that it was only moments away from another exquisitely beautiful sunset, I felt compelled to dash to the balcony of our second-floor condo and stare transfixed as the huge red ball of fiery sun disappeared over the horizon, seemingly swallowed by the Pacific Ocean.
On Sunday, we decided to risk the washboard gravel road to spend several hours at Playa Avellana, with its spectacular sandy beaches, warm water, and tidal waves. Once we arrived it was quickly apparent that the road with its superfluous speed bumps and signs had not deterred any Tico family with access to a vehicle. The beach was teeming with adults, children, dogs, and cats; yet five hours later, I realized that I had seldom heard a baby cry, and never a raised voice.
Over the course of our eight previous blissful weeks in Costa Rica, we have thoroughly enjoyed the affability of its inhabitants; I have come to believe their warmth equally matches, if not exceeds, that of the average January temperature of 34 degrees Celsius. But what I find most remarkable is how after a year’s absence, no one, not even tertiary individuals in the stores and restaurants sporadically frequented, have forgotten me, and this year I was greeted with more enveloping hugs than I can ever remember.
Nonetheless, on the way back from Playa Avellana when first we met several men on horseback herding cows, and then a wooden cart drawn by a team of oxen, as we passed homes scarcely more than hovels, the reality that Costa Rica is a developing country with its share of poverty, inadequate roads, substandard housing, and numerous social problems, cannot be denied.
Still, the rustic simplicity of this beautiful country is reminiscent of the life and times of the Werner family in Arriving: 1909–1919, book 1 of my Understanding Ursula trilogy. Whenever I return, I feel myself slipping back into an era long past, with its subtle charm, appreciation of nature, and cooperative spirit of our pioneers.
I wonder: Have we become so encumbered with our modern gadgets that we are missing the beauty and joy of life readily conveyed by the happy, hospitable people of Costa Rica?
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