I realize that I wrote about some of our work with APOT, but didn’t mention much about the over-all experience.  It may be that I felt guilty that our trip as educators & visitors was so enjoyable at a time of such turmoil for our APOT colleagues. It also may be that I hadn’t had much chance to reflect over the whirlwind of two weeks. Having caught up on sleep, laundry, and emails, I wanted to write a little more about the fun stuff!

International travel is always full of adventure, and our Costa Rica trip was no different.

If you recall, I took along my family. While 2 toddlers, international flights, tropical bugs, unknown sanitary conditions, snakes, oceans, new cuisine… might seem like a recipe for disaster, it turned out to be a truly enjoyable adventure! (I think Craig and I were a little surprised and grateful in retrospect at how smoothly things went.) It meant so much to me to be able to share all of the places and people that had become important to me through this project with my husband and kids. And to share a big piece of my personal life with my colleagues, for better or worse–there we were!

It also seemed surprisingly fitting, as Costa Rica seems to be a country where children are valued deeply. Literacy rates are high, policy decisions often take the long view, playgrounds and soccer fields are in every town… My husband and I also had many conversations with men, especially, that showed how deeply they valued the “daddy” role and how central is was to their country’s future. This was surprising to us, and totally refreshing.

Some family highlights:
1. Swimming in the kiddie pool and big pool at CATIE–right behind our apartment building!
2. Taking a night walk with Jim and Miranda to shine caymans on the lake with a flashlight.
3. Up-close looks at armadillos, big toads, about 300 resident egrets & herons, golden orb spiders, a sloth, poison dart frogs, hermit crabs, fiddler crabs…
4. Nice dinners at all Jim & Tamara’s favorite haunts. Some with incredible views!
5. Running in and out of the warm ocean waves and getting covered in the “black sand” from Playa Negra in Cahuita.
6. Emmet making rooster noises, howler monkey calls, and riding Allan’s horse!
7. Henry seeing toucans and parakeets and all kinds of other birds, even learning how to use binoculars.
8. Funky hotels with lots of charm and charming staff.
9. Fresh fruit juices (papaya, passion fruit, pineapple, mango, tamarind, guava…) and milkshakes at EVERY meal.
10. Guided walk and boat ride back at Cahuita National Park. Saw white-faced capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys, bats, sloth, basilisk lizards, iguanas, crabs

Some not-so-highlights but not so bad:
1. Our apartment ceiling leaked–a lot–in big rains. Fortunately, it didn’t rain hard much while we were there. And the beds moved easily.
2. Hot at the ocean on our weekend trip (and mosquitoey on our jungle hike), though well worth it. So hot that the cold water tap was warm. So hot that the pool was too hot. Even the ocean was hot.
3. My last night at CATIE, I was walking with the flashlight to meet the guys after a long day. Shined on a snake hunting frogs about 6 feet away. “Cool, a snake!” I thought to myself. After describing it the next day, Tamara said, “Oh, yeah, it sounds like a Fer de Lance.” I Googled it later–yup.

Every good adventure has a few leaks and potentially dangerous encounters, but that’s what makes it an adventure!



P.S. From beginning to end, the Purdue/CATIE team was prepared, flexible, professional, and easy-going. It was such a JOY to work with Miranda, Jim, Tamara, Johan, Flory…–as well as our team members from other trips who helped with planning and materials. Thanks all for your patience and teamwork!