Sunday, March 13, 2011

Is getting there really half the fun???

Bzzzzz . . . and so began the morning with the buzzing of my alarm. Yes, it really was 4:15 in the morning. I lost an hour due to the time change, so I had to function on about four hours of sleep. The family and I drove up to Indianapolis on Friday night, went out and had a beautiful evening together, and got a room to crash in. I probably would have gotten more sleep had my 18 month old daughter gone to sleep immediately. Had we been at home, we would have put her in the crib and let her go to sleep. Without the confinement of the crib, she saw fit to repeatedly get out of bed and explore the room once we turned the lights out.

It has been an interesting process, preparing the kids and ourselves for this trip. As this departure day has approached, I have come to realize that it won’t be as easy as it used to be before the wife and kids came along. Trying to explain this to my three year old son has been challenging. He sure didn’t make things any easier yesterday when, as I tried to pack, he twice climbed into my suitcase and asked me to zip him in so he could go with me. I just don’t think he realizes that I am going so far away that it is the equivalent of making 2,124 trips to the local gas station for a bottle of pop.

And then it came . . . the moment I had dreaded for months. A kiss for both of the (finally) sleeping kids, an embrace for my wife, and the door of the hotel room closed and I was on my way.

Down to the waiting shuttle and I was off to the airport. I checked my bags, sailed through security in record time, and met up with Ed and Charlie at the gate. The “Charlie” I refer to is Charlie Selby, the Director of the Daviess County Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber and the Daviess County Economic Development Foundation are sponsoring Charlie on this trip. While in Costa Rica, he will be shadowing us. He has been working with an importer from Costa Rica in an effort to bring Central American Products to Indiana. As he visits the various farms and businesses with us, he will be looking for opportunities to move Costa Rican farm products into Daviess County for possible value-added processing and distribution. Our hope is that we can bring a few export deals home to Indiana.

Last to arrive was J.W. Shortly thereafter, our little band boarded a commuter jet for our first hop down to Miami. Having said goodbye to the family, the hardest part of the trip was already over. Goodbye Honey. Give the kids a hug for me. I’ll see you in two weeks. And then the wheels left the runway and Indianapolis became a distant speck and my Indiana home became a multi-colored patchwork of farms, fields, and towns, more intricate and ornate than any patchwork quilt ever sewn by any Daviess County Amish Seamstresses. Game On! It’s time to go to work! The sun was just preparing to pop up over the horizon as we crossed the Ohio River and into Kentucky airspace. An hour and a half later and we were touching down in Miami.

We met up with Jim in Miami. After a short layover and a quick bite to eat, we were once again airborne. The plane was nice. The takeoff was good. All looked good. However, I did get a bit concerned when I looked at the in-flight monitors. They were showing our route and our current progress. From the images presented, it looked as though we were going to fly right across Cuba. Sure enough, that’s what we did! From 30,000 feet, one would never guess that the idyllic patchwork of fields and forests below is the same island that has been source of so much international strife over the years. It sure looked peaceful when I was in their airspace!

A quick trip across the Caribbean and we were in Costa Rica. We landed in San Jose. I was very impressed. The speed with which we moved through Immigration and Customs was amazing. Both were very efficient. Of course, if I were working the Immigration Desk and had a yocal like myself standing there speaking an incomprehensible language that sounded kind of like Pig Latin with a Spanish Accent, I’d want to get rid of him quickly also!

We found our driver and our van very quickly. After loading up, we were bound for CATIE. We were also about to experience two hours of what could only be described as the Central American equivalent of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. As Charlie pointed out, it is amazing how the Costa Ricans have taken the stop sign and evolved it into a “suggestion” sign. Through traffic, lights red and green, around hairpin turns, and up and down the mountains for two hours. Our only stop was for some Holsteins that were headed to the parlor for the evening milking.

Okay, so maybe they weren’t all Holsteins. There was at least one Guernsey in the herd.

After a couple of hours, we finally reached the CATIE campus. The keys to our apartments were waiting for us at the gate. After ditching our gear and taking a moment to catch our breath, we went into the town of Turrialba for supper. We ate at a little restaurant on the main drag going through town. I think I’m going to like the cuisine here. A lot of variety, moderately spicy, and large portions. I’ll probably return home about 10 lbs. heavier than when I left!

After eating, we all returned to the apartments at CATIE and took leave of each other for some much needed rest. With our travel day behind us, tomorrow is our first day of working on the project. Can’t wait to dig in and get going!