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Costa Rica - March 2, 2000
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Hola from Central America! My travel bug hasn't gone away yet, and now I wonder if it ever will. I'm hoping that if I keep at it a bit longer, it will pacify me for a couple of years so that I can go back to work for a while.

After such an amazing experience traveling in Asia, I enjoyed a wonderful windsurfing holiday during Christmas and New Years in Venezuela with Chris, my brother and good friends. Then I spent few relaxing weeks at home catching up with friends and family. Chris and I even fit in a skiing and snowboarding trip to Lake Tahoe.

I chose Central America for this next travel stint because it has always been a region of interest to me, and I'm hoping to relearn much of the Spanish that I've forgotten during the past 12 years. Central America is also close enough to the states that I can fly back between countries to see Chris. We plan to meet in Dallas a couple of times for visits with his family.

Costa Rica has been much more spectacular than I ever could have imagined. It is a nature lover's paradise. I didn't even mind the continuous bus travel from place to place because the country is so beautiful! The only downside was not being able to yell out "Stop the bus! I want to take a photo!" That would probably not have gone over very well.

My favorite spots have been on the coasts. I thought the most beautiful were Montezuma and Cabo Blanco Absolute Reserva on the Nicoya Peninsula (central Pacific Coast) and my favorite spot was Puerto Viejo (southern Caribbean Coast). Hiking in the national parks in the rain and cloud forests has also been amazing. I've seen tons of monkeys, crocodiles, exotic frogs, colorful birds, butterflies, unusual plants and flowers. I think the best way for me to try to depict this amazing country is by sharing these notes from my journal.

SNAPSHOTS OF COSTA RICA
A journey from the Pacific Coast, through countryside, rainforests, cloud forests and jungle, to the Caribbean Coast...

Deep turquoise waters glittering in the sun
Smash against sharp black volcanic rock
Shooting up white spray and foam
Soft golden sand stretches for miles
Expanse countryside with rolling hills
Countless shades of green
Splashed with the intense color of purple bougainvillea
And fluffy trees completely pink with blooms
Shiny grassy fields
Are sprinkled with tiny round flowers of every color
Hearty cows in large fields grazing, napping
Sit alongside white ducks as if they are family
Simple towns, small colorful homes
People moving slowly about their business
Students in uniform gather for the bus
A little boy hangs from a tree
A ring of children chase a soccer ball across the street
Thick palms grow yellow coconuts
Banana plantations extend as far as you can see
Steamy volcanoes topped with clouds
Sometimes explode with hot orange-red fireworks
Cotton-like clouds scattered in a rich blue sky
Over a hill, around a corner, brings dark skies, gray clouds
Melting into lush green forests soon drenched with rain
Long narrow paths wind through thick trees
Misty ghost-like air creeps between the leaves
Sharp lasers of brilliant light occasionally peak through
Jungles filled with exotic creatures
Huge butterflies flutter around flashing blue wings
Colorful birds perch on small branches
Frogs hide under leaves and rocks
Howling monkeys swing and dance between tree limbs
Tranquil rivers twist and turn
Becoming raging, passionate white waters
Hurrying along to meet the oceans
Traces of sunlight paint the evening sky, reflecting on the water
With strokes of purple, blue, orange
Darkness falls heavily
A huge moon hangs just over the mountains
Illuminating many rows of white breaking waves
Then it slips below the highest peak
And millions of tiny stars appear in the blackness
The calming rhythm of Reggae music fills the air
An old tree trunk lays diagonally on the beach
Smooth and weathered from use as a chair
In the morning it is where I sit, watching gentle waves
Writing about this very unique and special place

Tomorrow I'm headed to Guatemala. Pura Vida! (That is my new favorite saying. Costa Ricans say it all the time. It means "have a pure life".)
Karen

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