Sunday, November 30, 2008

Tico Tales

Our time in Costa Rica is steadily moving along and we will have to face our journey home in less than four days. Everybody, including Jacob, has been very generous with spending time with Joris, which has enabled me to often just watch him play with others and getting some much needed rest. Strangely though, the more I rest, the more sleep and rest I seem to need. I have no idea how I am going to face full days of child wrangling, let alone be able to get groceries or - horrors! - prepare dinner when we get home. I imagine myself collapsing into a puddle of exhaustion at the end of the day, which is what I also do here, after a day of absolutely accomplishing nothing at all...

We have made several short visits to the beach here in Playa Hermosa. As the name implies, it is a beautiful beach, with dark gray sand and little boats anchored out in the bay. Joris has been very cautious around the water. The first time we went to the beach, he was rushed into the surf a little bit by a well-intentioned oma at which point he wigged out a little. After subsequent visits we did manage to get him to enjoy getting his feet wet and splashing in the surf while holding on to both of our hands, but most of the time he wants to be held when we are anywhere near the water.

Similarly, he has enjoyed going into the big pool at the house a couple of times, but only while being held by daddy or grandma. He seems convinced that all the fancy floaty toys are pure evil and refuses to go near them. (Actually, I do have a picture of him in one of the floats in which he actually smiles. I was lucky to have the camera handy because it lasted all of 10 seconds before he demanded to be taken out.)

On Wednesday, we went on a tour with my parents and Don and Linda, friends of Jacob's folks who are also visiting, to Palo Verde, a national park not too far from here. Joris got to come along this time because we were going to do a very nice boat tour on a river to see animals. I'm happy we brought him along because he was so interested in looking at the birds, crocodiles and lizards we were lucky enough to see. Just the last 10 minutes of the two hour ride it became clear that he needed to go do something else. We saw a few huge iguanas - nothing like any of the lizards I have ever seen in captivity. They were easily 30 pounds or more and many of them were getting ready for mating season so they were all pretty and rusty orange colored. The variety of birds was wonderful, too. We saw many egrets, herons, and even a spoonbill as well as a ton of smaller birds.

We had lunch at a great Costa Rican restaurant that served the best food we've had here. After which we went for a short visit to Guatil, a small inland town that makes really nice pottery in the tradition of the Chorotega Indians that most people who live there are descendants of. Jacob and Joris played soccer on the field in the middle of the town with a couple of Guatil girls, which convinced me that soccer is indeed an international language. The rest of us watched a pottery making demonstration which was very interesting.

Prices in Costa Rica, or at least in this part of Costa Rica, have increased enormously since we were here five years ago. I think the prices of the pottery in Guatil were twice, possibly three times, as much as when we first visited. Tourist prices are high now for everything, which really only seems fair for the way that westerners have kind of adopted this country for both vacation and retirement.

My parents left on Thursday and Joris now says "Moma, Boepa - home", which makes me think that he has some sort of concept of places now and does not merely think that since the last time he saw them they got in a car they are driving around for the entire time until he sees them again.

Joris' vocabulary has greatly increased as well. I'm keeping a list that I'll publish at the end of our stay. I can't decide if this language explosion is due to a language development spurt or the fact that he is actually getting more interaction here than when he's stuck with just me at home. Possibly both.

On Friday we went to visit an animal rescue center close to Tamarindo. We got a tour from a slightly peculiar, but very nice man named Gary, who Jacob very accurately described as an escaped character from a Carl Hiaasen book. Hearing stories of animal abuse, negligence or people's stupidity regarding animals always makes me feel sad, although fortunately most of the animals there had a somewhat happy ending.

I have always felt bad for birds in cages, but especially after seeing so many birds fly around here, it is nearly impossible for me to not to wish that those birds could experience flying around in the beautiful forests here. We often see and hear small flocks of parrots and parakeets fly by from the house, which is just enforces that feeling.

Last night, Don and Claudia's friends, George and Jodi, who have built a house right next door, offered to babysit Joris so that the four of us could go out for dinner together without having to worry about entertaining him. It was the first time that we left him with people he has not known for a considerate amount of time. Thanks to especially Jodi's magic ways with him, he did great. No crying or tantrums at all! When we came back from a superb dinner (tapas at Ginger) we found Joris cuddling with Jodi in the rocking chair, watching cartoons (which he seemed to enjoy very much).

Today, we will be celebrating Don and Claudia's re-commitment ceremony (is that the right word? It kind of implies that they were not committed for a while, which, as far as I know, is not the case) here at the house. I'm going to try to rest for a few minutes before I'll be expected to stage manage and photograph the event. :o)

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