Sunday morning came really, really early in Costa Rica; thankfully, it was an hour later than back home in Texas, since the Costa Ricans don’t mess with Daylight Savings Time. Perhaps this is because they have a higher literacy rate than the US (seriously), but regardless, we managed to log six hours of sleep instead of the five we would have gotten otherwise. As the most geriatric member of the group, this left me about three hours in the hole, but I got up (slowly), ate my prunes, and struggled through.

gallo pintoBreakfast included our first serving of gallo pinto, the unoffical national dish of CostaRica (outside the resort district, obviously). This dish consists primarily of beans (“pinto”) and rice (“gallo,” which means “spotted rooster” in Spanish, so who knows?) and is quite tasty. Our first serving would not be our last…. We also enjoyed amazing fruit and, of course, incredible coffee, two of the real treats of being down here.

Church was a bit different than what we are used to back home, starting with the fact that it was in Spanish, and including the fact that all the doors were left wide open the whole time. We arrived a little early and were able walk around the grounds, where signs assured us we would not have to endure “Loving Scenes” during church, which was a relief. I think. Maybe? Perhaps the doors were left open so there would be enough light to discourage loving scenes…

lioving

We ate lunch at the most touristy-feeling restaurant of the week, which featured outdoor seating and a fairly unbelievable view.

view

After lunch we boarded the bus for the final leg of the journey to our home for the week, CATIE. CATIE, which is pronounced “Cot – E – A,” is one of two universities in Turrialba, and focuses on sustainability and agriculture. Like everything else around here, the campus is beautiful. The turtle in the picture at the top is a resident, though probably not an enrolled student.dat.png

Once we unloaded, we promptly left again, walking half a mile to a restaurant in town…which turned out to be closed long before the posted closing time.  Costa Ricans are sometimes referred to as “Ticos,” and things here tend to operate on “Tico time,” which means that folks are far less concerned about schedules than most Americans are; this probably helps explain their high levels of happiness and low levels of stress. Another short hike took us to a second restaurant, where we enjoyed a great meal, followed by great desserts for most of the under-40 set.

To wrap up the day, we all piled into three taxis, which delivered us to, and waited while we shopped at, Maxi-Pali, the local Wal-Mart subsidiary. Soon we were delivered back to CATIE and settling in for our first night in Turrialba. By this point we had spent two days just traveling and getting situated. Tomorrow we will get down to business.

Today’s Spanish termPura Vida literally means “pure life,” but in Costa Rica it means far more; it describes a perspective on life (seen, for example, in their relaxed attitude toward schedules). The closest analogy here might be, “No worries,” or as Don Pope likes to say, “Whatever.” So Pura Vida is a greeting, a blessing, a philosophy, and an attitude. If you visit Costa Rica, say it, and more importantly, live it! NOTE: don’t make the rookie mistake of greeting a Tico with “Pura Vaca,” which means “pure cow.”