San José was so much more productive and adventurous than I expected it to be!
Yesterday, I had made plans to immediately head out to Turrialba, a smaller pueblo than San José where I previously lived and worked as a river guide on the fierce, yet breathtakingly beautiful Rio de Pacuare. However, I discovered a bilingual school relatively near to where I was currently staying and decided to change the plans.
I researched the location online and discovered the school was about 7 miles away if I were to walk the route Google Maps had suggested. Instead, I browsed Google Earth and realized the only thing separating me from a 3 mile trek was a river and a bit of jungle. “Well that’s simple enough”, I thought to myself, “I am a river guide after all.” So I put on compression shorts and a bathing suit top under my clothes. Then, I packed a towel, a brush and new shirt to make me presentable again. Finally, I wrapped all that “macha” blonde hair under a head scarf and headed for the road less traveled.
After getting off the bus in a town not as…furnished…where I had been staying, I proceeded to travel down various roads that would take me to the river. Any local I asked said I couldn’t cross, that is was dirty or I needed to take a bus. In my naive and optimistic ways, I dismissed each naysayer and proceeded down the next calle to find my entrance.
All the while, a boy rode his bicycle up and down many of the same streets I ventured. He asked me what I was looking for and I told him of my quest. He informed me he was looking for a house to rent in the nearby area. Geraldo also recommended I take the bus to the other side. Again, I persisted. As we traveled together making choppy conversation and jokes about my light skin, we discovered each dead end road was either highly fenced, housed or blocked off. Mi nuevo amigo, peddling slowly beside me, again suggested I take a bus. And after the 7th or 8th street, I slowly started to realize that todos los locales were probably right this entire time. Defeated but still determined to get to the school, I made my way to the bus thinking I could still find a route home though the river after my meeting.
I finally made it to the general area of the town I hoped to visit. It only took me a little while to completely retrace my steps, take a bus in the total opposite direction and grab a final bus to the town of Ezcazú. Amazingly, someone knew of the private school in the corner of the town I was talking about and gave me very quick directions before crossing the street and running away. I began to head to the area of which they pointed and hoped someone else would recognize the name of the school by the river that I consistently asked about. All the while, the afternoon storm slowly crept over the mountain.
What seemed like another 3 or 4 miles of walking in light to moderate rain, I finally reached my destination just as the skies began to fully boast about what the “rainy season” of Costa Rica really means. I was then immediately introduced to the principal of the elementary school. She showed me a view of the school from a window in another room. It was a fantastically open and amazing campus.
After a delightful conversation for about 45 minutes, she seems more than willing to have her school participate in CCConnect. Once we exchanged information, we said our goodbyes in hopes to meet again to show me around the school’s campus. On my gleeful walk back to el centre de Ezcazú, I was hailed by a taxi. Being a common occurrence, I motioned to the taxi that it wasn’t needed until I saw two American girls sitting in the back about my age. They explained to me they were elementary teachers at the school and offered me a ride to the middle of town. I graciously accepted, decreased my travel time significantly and met some delightful people!
During the decent, I peered out of the taxi and viewed my “impassable” river. Well, the locals were right. Just in the area where I made multiple attempts to cross was about a 60ft cliff. Maybe that’s why no one goes across…
When I finally made it home, I purchased and consumed an entire celebratory mango to commemorate my very first cross cultural connection. It was the sweetest fruit I ever tasted.