The unexpected experiences--or the experiences exceeding all expectations--make the indelible memories of a new place.
I've been thinking about these top five surprises for a few days now.
1. WalkingWalking in Costa Rica is a way of life. People walk everywhere--even along the side of the road with the traffic. It can be dangerous at night as most roads are unlit and the countryside can be stark and black.
Many homes--from the wealthiest estate to the spare, rough hewn structure--have fences. Some are barbed wire, some steel gates, and others are scraps of fallen trees and building materials. The fences are in place to keep out the cattle...who also walk everywhere. Through neighborhoods. In the middle of busy roads and halting traffic.
Many countries offer buildings as points of interest to learn about it's history, art, and architecture. In Costa Rica, it's art and history and architecture is it's outdoors. Everything comprising the landscape--plants and insects (multi-colored dragon flies!); sunsets and rocky terrain; homes and beaches--are spun from color and story.
We've met friends of Lynore and Bill from all over the world, and they live here in Costa Rica: Equador, Canada, Spain, Italy, New York City, Minnesota, North Dakota, Columbia, and so on. They blend in with the native Costa Ricans and create a harmonious community that not only gets along, but carries the mantle of one of the friendliest nations on the planet.
So much here feels--for lack of a better term--raw. While you can find paved roads between major points of interest or need, you're more likely to drive on unpaved roads if you wander into neighborhoods. There are buses for people relying on them, but scant few bus stops. The buses will stop anyplace that people stand and wait. Anyplace in the countryside.
Modernized life is present--electricity, cable tv, ATMs--but it feels like a tolerated neighbor. Costa Rica has it's own energy--a unique charge that is long lost in America.