COSTA RICA

Saturday, June 20, 2015

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Upon getting my mail home last Thursday, I noticed a thick, handwritten envelope with a Costa Rican stamp. There was no return address on it, and I thought how curious: who would send me a letter from the land of the Ticos (native costa Ricans)? When I opened the envelope, a folded piece of heavy paper fell out, a fancy wedding invitation without the customary RSVP, plus a two-way air ticket. In the excitement of a kid who just got a surprise toy, I unfolded the paper and my eyes went right to the signature of course, who else but my friend Shashanna would send out an invitation to her wedding in Costa Rica, return tickets attached, and forget to put the return a return address?

I giggled in delight, and ran to the phone, letter in hand. As I dialled the number she attached, my eyes fell on the short note, and of course I started crying and laughing, at the same time. Finally after two years of being in love, one of my best girlfriends and her fiancé, decided to pull the trigger and get married. The letter asked me to come a week before the wedding and stay as long as I want after. She and Robb were going on their honeymoon right after the party, but the house and car were to be at my disposal, to have fun on this verdant island, filled with lush jungles, strange and amazing critters and the friendliest, highly educated locals, a.k.a. the Ticos.

She picked up after two rings and we were laughing and squealing in excitement. G-d willing, we'll be seeing each other in about a month, said she, and amongst other things, go on an unusual bachelorette party on the comfy boat in the Tortuguero Canals. This is an amazing ride, regardless of the party: by the canal's shoreline, one can see many crocodiles, their enormous jaws wide open, trying to catch a tasty morsel, the basilisk lizard, a indigenous creature that's 3 feet long, of which three quarters s taken up by their tails. Also, the surrounding Jungle is home to the howling monkey (amazing sound) the sloths, which are my favourites, toucans of brilliant colours and more.

When I was there last, I witnessed the scariest and most unbelievable thing: a man stood in the muddy water, half of his body submerged, and he was feeding a large number of crocs pieces of raw chicken. These crocodiles were not tame, they had all their huge fangs intact, but the man was hanging out with them, totally unafraid.

Costa Rica is an amazing place, and Puerto Limon, where my friend and betrothed live and work, has so many things to see and do.

This is where Christopher Columbus landed in 1502, giving the country its name: the Caribe Indians wore gold rings in their nose and ears, thus the crew named the country Costa Rica, or Rich Coast. Unfortunately the members of the twenty indigenous tribes got eradicated due to disease brought in by the Spaniards and through constant battles with the invaders.

As of a recent demographic survey 94% of the over 4 million residents are white or mixed (European/Spanish, mixed with the indigenous people) 3% black and other ethnicities make up the remaining 3%.

The country is education oriented and most of the population is literate, friendly and industrious.

I personally adore this country and many Europeans and Americans seem to feel the same: the population keeps absorbing newcomers, who come to retire, or just young visitors, who decided to return and make this unspoilt beauty of a country their home.

I love going there, and Shashanna's wedding invitation is exciting for more reasons than one: my beautiful friend is marrying the love of her life and I was asked to be Maid of Honour. I'll get to spend time with dear friends, and last but not least, I'll spend time in Costa Rica, go on a yoga retreat in the rain forest, meditate in the fresh air and absorb the wonderful peace and healthy atmosphere of the place.

Kosherica Cruises is stopping here in their Panama Canal tour in February 2016.  I'd advise looking up all the shore excursions offered (Puerto Limon is very close to the jungles, Canals and so much more), and booking the one that appeals most to you and your family.

I bet, once there, you'd be mesmerized and want to return.





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