I can tell you the last time I was not awake for the new year – it was in 2003-04, when we were in Peguche, near Otovalo, Ecuador. Everyone else was exhausted and went to bed. I did too, setting my alarm for 11:30pm to get up and see the burning of the effigies and whatever other festivities there were. I woke up at 7am to find the town asleep and music still playing loudly on a stereo somewhere.
I can not tell you, though, the last time I intentionally missed the turning of the year, as I did for 2014-15. Still, we were woken up by many more church bells than Bloomsburg usually gives us.
We got up at 3:30 on New Year’s Day, getting the kids in the car (they were easier to get moving than they are on some school mornings) and ourselves on the road a little after 4. We had coffee and milk and cereal in the car and got to Newark Airport a little after 7 for a 9:30 flight.
The first thing someone familiar with travel to South America will notice about Costa Rica is that it is close. Our direct flight (itself a luxury) to San Jose took about five hours. A bus to downtown, a cab to the Hostal Shakti, were Leon and Louisa had arrived the day before, all less than 12 hours after leaving Bloomsburg.
A few other things about Costa Rica make it a good place to go if it is your first time in Latin America. First, you can drink the water! (In most places.) It is funny to notice how big a deal this is – it makes washing vegetables, eating out, brushing your teeth, etc. much easier experiences. Second, it is pretty heavily gringoed (where we were, at least). Lots of English is spoken, not always for tourist reasons – like folks in Limon Province along the Caribbean who are descendents of people who came from Jamaica in the early 1900s, or folks in Monteverde who are descendents of (or are themselves) Quakers who came from the U.S. starting in the 1950s. But I am getting ahead of myself.
We went to Costa Rica largely to spend time with Leticia’s parents, who now live in Argentina. So we walked a bit around San Jose, had supper at Hostal Shakti, and got ready for the next day;s bus ride to Manzanillo.
There is only one main road from San Jose to the Caribbean coast, and once it leaves the city it goes into a 2-lane tunnel of green that heads downhill steeply. Soon it was raining, and lush greenery on each side occasionally opened to show big valleys on either side. Eventually we got to Limon, home of a bazillion shipping containers. Then a long slow ride down the coast, arriving in Manzanillo, quite literally the end of the road, around dark. We had rented a house for a week. Manzanillo is described as tranquil, but it was jumping on this Friday evening. Pictures also show gentle blue waters good for snorkeling, but during our time there, there were crashing waves, churning brown water, and not a single boat going out.
And there were rainbows.
And we made this guy.