Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Breakfast in the Rain Forest
I woke up in the Sonoran Desert and went to sleep in the Costa Rican Rain Forest. In less than 24- hours, the dry skin around my pedicured toes has disappeared and my arms, legs and face are as dewy the small patch of lawn in my backyard after the sprinklers have ended their cycle. It’s been a day of extremes.

We are on vacation. Six glorious days of nothing but time to do what we want. Our kids are in good hands, staying with a doctor and his wife, and our dog is staying on a ranch with the lady we call “Mother Goose.” We left our home, sat on a plane, and arrived in another world.

Costa Rica doesn’t come off as a Third World country. Second, maybe. So far, we’ve had most all the conveniences of home in the US at our fingertips and the accommodations we’ve chosen are among the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. But while driving out of the major city of San Jose to get to the touristy areas on the Pacific Coast, we breathed in enough truck exhaust to get down on our knees and praise the EPA back in the States. Further, while taking a required detour through the little coastal town of Jacó, the main road had more holes than a slice of Swiss cheese. Trying to avoid them and keep our tires from going flat was all that was on our minds. We received verbal and written warnings about not letting anyone help you try to change a flat tire. The other warning was to never leave luggage unattended inside the car. ¿Por qué? I asked. “Banditos?” “No,” responded the man helping me load my suitcase into the rental. “People just like to take what doesn’t belong to them,”

Clues You’re No Longer in a First World Country
At the airport you feel the need to turn your rings so that the gemstones protrude toward your palms.

The smell of teak wood, passion fruit, burning fires and car exhaust accompany every breath.

You speak to someone in Spanish and they respond to you in English, which you can’t understand.

You turn on the television and see Katie Curic’s voice has dropped two octaves and she’s making absolutely no sense to you.

There’s no wireless Internet in your room.

A white-faced monkey comes up to your breakfast table and steals your croissant.

Every child you see has dark hair and black eyes and is wearing a school uniform consisting of blue pants and a white shirt, and it makes you wonder how your flaxen-haired, blue-eyed children would fit in.

You ask the housekeeper to restock the mini bar and she looks at you as though you’ve just told a funny joke.

You ask your husband if he’s ever seen so many different shades of green and he takes a serious look around and says, “no.”

You don’t know the name of a single plant, flower, bird, reptile or insect, but you smile at the geckos crawling on the ceiling above your bed.

You don’t know what time it is and you don’t care.

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