Feliz Navidad from Costa Rica


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Published: December 24th 2007
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SPring Flowers??SPring Flowers??SPring Flowers??

Not sure what kind of flower this is but it is on a huge tree beside our house.
December 2007 will be remembered as the month of firsts for many reasons. The month started with Benjamin’s class trip which was mentioned in our last blog. The following weeks have featured an excursion or two that gave at least one or all family members a lifetime first. Also this will be our first tropical Christmas and it has been a challenge getting into the spirit of the season.

Du, Du, Matanga!! Was the greeting we received once we arrived at Fossil Land near San Jose. Owen and I were invited to go along on the grade 2 class trip to the archaeological wonderland. The day started with a one hour wait at the school and a quick bus ride to San Jose. Traffic in San Jose is completely out of control and the season of repairing roadways has just begun which is making matters worse. The fact that the bus driver didn’t know the way wasn’t very helpful either. So after several impressive u-turns and some bad choices we arrived at the destination 2.5 hours later than expected. Instead of having lunch early we were off on the adventure.

We were greeted by a guy dressed in a
Pink Snow!!Pink Snow!!Pink Snow!!

Is it snow on the ground over there? No just the petals from the flowering trees in our yard. It looks like we will be picking fruit soon.
crazy outfit screaming crazy things in Spanish and jumping around showing off some wacky moves. The Captain Fossil gave us the orientation armed with a pump action water pistil. After spraying numerous children and adults in the face he sent us off on our experience. We hiked down a mountain trail to the bottom of a small waterfall and then hiked right up the river, up the water fall to the next adventure. Next stop was the lime mine and processing area where the students learned about the processing and various uses of lime. After being warned about wildlife and using some of the mud from the mine for camouflage we were off to the attractions namesake. After a very steep hike we found several huge boulders covered with fossils, a giant rock wall face covered in thousands of fossils, and finally at the top of the path an unbelievable vista of San Jose and the central valley. We had a short picnic and water fight at the top of the mountain and then headed back down towards the base. On the way down we stopped and looked down a chasm where other more mature groups are allowed to go
Climbing Up the RiverClimbing Up the RiverClimbing Up the River

Owen told me the day at Fossil Land toughened him up quite a bit. It made me have a sore knee.
spelunking. Fossil Land was an amazing attraction that had other features we never utilized because of the age group. The place was started by a husband and wife, with help from their parents. They have paintball, covered soccer stadium, rappelling, and other adventure type stuff. They offer camp outs and team building functions for all ages.

The day at Fossil Land was over at 3:30 and it seemed like the promise to get me back to Esparza to teach my night classes was possible. It was possible until we were about an hour away from Fossil Land and about two minutes out of San Jose when the teacher inquired if anyone wanted to stop at the mall. Yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…shouted the thirty grade 2 students. We arrived at the Mall of the Americas and agreed to spend one hour there. Since we had just eaten and the kids, well, they are kids, there wasn’t much to do at the mall. So all the kids went to the food court and bought ice cream and other snacks and we were off an hour and a half later. Nobody bought anything…we just hadn’t wasted our allotted amount of time for the day. (snicker)
Fossils Anyone?Fossils Anyone?Fossils Anyone?

This place is steeped in fossils...check out the boulder. There are literally hundreds of these scattered all over the place.
We made it back to the school by 8PM an hour late for my classes…no problem I can make it up another day…grrrrrr.

During the two weeks of December I had to spend everyday, other than excursions with staff and students, completing report cards and year end reports. People who know me will realize that I use a computer program to track my grades and I keep them up to date every day. I was ready to leave work by the Thursday of the first week. I found some ways to occupy my day; double header of Carl Hiasssen, Freecell, helping other teachers pass the time, and working on another project for a developer. Nataghia, Owen, and Benjamin spent the days keeping cool with a pool one of our neighbors lent us and doing a little home schooling to keep their brains sharp. Having summer holidays twice a year is great but we like to keep the routine of learning as part of our schedule.

The second week of December featured a trip to Vista Golfo near Miramar. The grade five class trip was a blast. We all went as the grade five class was my homeroom. Nataghia
The 60 Meter Rock FaceThe 60 Meter Rock FaceThe 60 Meter Rock Face

Every little white spot on this rock wall is a fossil. This wall is huge!
scaled the climbing wall! Owen tried scaling the wall and the boxes. We all went zip lining!!!! The three cable tour was the perfect introduction of flying through the air 100 meters above the ground hanging from a wire. For Nataghia, Owen, and Benjamin this was a first and they all loved it. Owen loved it so much he went twice. Also at Vista Golfo Owen tried the bungee trampoline, we used the pool, the boys did some horseback riding, and we went for a nice nature hike. The following Tuesday I went and did the same thing with the staff courtesy of the owners of the school.

The last days of school were interesting for me because of the amount of time allocated to the teachers to prepare for the next year. The teachers all write reports about each student they taught for next year’s teacher in addition to a very thorough report card for the parents. The graduation was really nice. I don’t know if it was because it was like the Christmas Concert and grad all rolled up into one night or if it was the formality of the evening mixed with a usually efficient and
SacrificesSacrificesSacrifices

I wore this little helmet around all day just so I could be with my son.
time conscious program. Whatever it was I liked it. During the last day of the year while we were decorating for the graduation I was summoned to the office of the owner for a meeting. He asked me a bunch of questions about the school and what I thought about it and then out of nowhere he offered me the principal’s job. It was quite a shock. I was also morally and ethically torn because the current principal is my friend and the person whom I was helping out by teaching at the school. Now it seems I’m “helping” him out of his job. Thankfully I know he actually is planning on quitting but doesn’t want to do it until he receives his aquinaldo or one month pay bonus. I haven’t accepted the position but have done some serious thinking and negotiating. I guess we’ll see what comes of this over the next few days.

Christmas in Costa Rica…what a concept! We have been pumping the Christmas carols out and drinking as much rum and eggnog as possible to get into the spirit of things and it is working. The fireworks every night don’t really help but buying presents
THE WALLTHE WALLTHE WALL

Only the young at heart, the brave, and the strong should attempt this challenge.
for our family and friends and doing some Christmas baking does. On Saturday we went to the Tope or Horse parade an annual tradition during the month of December. I want to say there were at least a thousand horses in the parade and many of them could dance. Check out the video of the dancing horses. We went to San Ramon with the car and almost made it all the way there but the water pump quit on us. We did get our shopping done and enjoyed our first trip to San Ramon which is definitely more Americanized than Esparza. More gringos and more shopping than Esparza and the weather is slightly cooler. We ended up having to take the bus home as the part was not readily available and the radiator needed some love too. The crazy thing was that the place where we pulled over was called Soda Cañada. We waited two hours for the tow truck and it cost us $30 for the tow plus $120 for the repair of the radiator and new water pump. Merry Christmas!! The part of this story that makes it feel like a Christmas story is the response I got
Cowboys in TrainingCowboys in TrainingCowboys in Training

The boys took a few laps to try out the horses at Vista Golfo.
when I called my friend Johnny to tell him I had car trouble and that I wouldn’t be able to make it to look at property with him. His response was, “How will you get to San Ramon? Who will fix your car? I’m coming to your house right now. We will go together.” With power developer Johnny Perez driving his Toyota Prada 4X4 I hit San Ramon and shopped and got our car fixed and spent the entire day speaking Spanish with my friend Johnny.

We have so many friends and relatives that make our lives special and we hope that this Christmas they can feel the love we have for them. The McLeod’s will get extra love this year as they are arriving tonight and we are anxiously waiting to greet them and have a great holiday with them. It has been a very exciting, challenging, and fulfilling year and we could not be as happy as we are without your support. Please have a great Christmas and holiday season and remember that somebody in Central America loves you! As you might be able to tell this journal was a tough one to write. Now I’ll stop
Bungee TrampolineBungee TrampolineBungee Trampoline

Owen earns out about force and leverage.
writing before I cry….see you in the New Year.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Additional photos below
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We are sending bananas. They should be on the shelf at your local market soon.


25th December 2007

Do you miss the snow yet? Nice lid!
Hey there Nataghia, Owen, Benjamin and Ron. Here's to you on a wild and exciting adventure for Christmas 2007 and a great new beginning in 2008. A tropical Christmas sounds cool but we know where your hearts are. I'll give everyone I can a hug for you when I get to Saskatoon on the 27th. We will all be thinking about you and wishing we were there. Merry Christmas R N O B !!!!!!
26th December 2007

Merry Christmas!!
Hey Tagh, Ron, and family, Merry Christmas from Graham and I (and the pets too)! We're in Vancouver visiting G's family until the 26th, then home to Edmonton! Are you missing the snow yet?? ;) M. and G.
8th January 2008

Feeling the Love!
Yes, it was definitely not a traditional Christmas, but we were feeling the love on our vacation with all of you. We had such great experiences with you and made memories to last a lifetime! I can't wait to read about it! We're anxiously awaiting to find out if we can visit you again in the next year. Oh yeah!

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