Down from the Mountains

Our last full day in Costa Rica began with a trip to the Monteverde Butterfly Garden. Our first tour guide, Breena, gave a very funny yet informative talk about insects, including tarantulas (no known cases of them biting and killing people) and cockroaches, as well as beetles. We are looking forward to her posting a Youtube video of her talk!

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These beetles are not alive anymore.

She turned us over to her husband, who escorted us through the several net-closures where the butterflies are reared.

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We went on to San Roman for lunch at a cafeteria which had a hillside garden in back.

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We then moved on to Sarchi, where we saw this old church and took pictures of oxcarts, manufactured and decorated here. The factory tour guide demonstrated the machinery, which is driven by a water-wheel! We also saw individuals decorating the products by hand. The ox-cart is a national symbol of Costa Rica. For many decades, it was the principal means of transporting goods from one part of the country to another. No two are meant to be alike; each is decorated in an unique way, to make sure of ownership.

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Huge oxcart across from church in Sarchi main square – William said it had to be towed by Babe the Blue Ox!

 

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This small model is in the factory store in Sarchi

 

From Sarchi we rode on to the Wyndham Hotel near the airport, where we had our farewell dinner. The next morning William escorted us to the Departure gate and we were on our way back to the cold of winter. We had a smoother re-entry into the country than many of our fellow citizens, because we had taken the trouble to sign ourselves up for Global Entry cards. We zipped past the long snake line and got our passports stamped with the aid of kiosks. Still, we did have to go through security on entry into the US because we had scheduled a flight from Newark to Albany. I would have preferred to leave the airport and drive home the next day, but our car was in Albany…

Our trip to Costa Rica turned out every bit as rewarding as we had expected, but still surprising, because it was so much more than a nature excursion. Certainly we got a chance to see many exotic birds and other animals and plants. But we had a great opportunity to meet Costa Ricans of all walks of life, and to experience a variety of settings from the sophisticated tourist-friendly atmosphere of San José to the pioneer (but equally friendly) communities of Sarapiqui and Monteverde.

I promised earlier to explain the story of the three Williams of Costa Rica. Unfortunately I cannot remember all of our guide’s story, so I was forced to seek out the Wikipedia article about Costa Rican history. This explained two of the Williams:

“Following full independence in 1838, Costa Rica had no regular trade routes established to export their coffee to European markets. Lack of infrastructure caused problems in transportation: the coffee-growing areas were mainly in the Central Valley and had access only to the port of Puntarenas on the Pacific coast. Before the Panama Canal opened, ships from Europe had to sail around Cape Horn in order to get to the Pacific Coast. In 1843, the country established a trade route to Europe with the help of William Le Lacheur, a Guernsey merchant and shipowner.

In 1856, William Walker, an American filibuster, began incursions into Central America. After landing in Nicaragua, he proclaimed himself as president of Nicaragua and re-instated slavery, which had been abolished.[10] He intended to expand into Costa Rica and after he entered that territory, the country declared war against his forces. Led by Commander in Chief of the Army of Costa Rica, President Juan Rafael Mora Porras, the filibusters were defeated and forced out of the country. Costa Rican forces followed the filibusters into Rivas, Nicaragua, where in a final battle, William Walker and his forces were finally pushed back. Juan Santamaría, a drummer boy from Alajuela who lost his life torching the filibusters’ stronghold, was killed in this final battle. He is today remembered as a national hero.[11]

The list of Presidents of Costa Rica lists no William, but the current president is Luis Guillermo Solis. His term comes to an end in May 2018. He has to wait out a couple of terms before running again. Seems like a good idea, constitution-wise.

But this is not an actual William! I hope my readers can supply the last details…

2 thoughts on “Down from the Mountains”

  1. Thank you for sharing this journey. As I read your words, i relive the sights, the moments, the conversations and the joy of meeting new friends and learning. Again, thank you!

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