This past weekend we had the pleasure of attending a Peace Corps meeting at the beach. Costa Rica is divided into volunteer regions, and we are a part of the Limon region which includes a number of wonderful people, places and beaches. We held our regional volunteer meeting in the quaint beach town of Cahuita and had a wonderful time with friends.
We left our house not so bright, but early, on Saturday morning and took the adventurous trip that had us ride four buses, get in an argument with bus terminal employees and eat some chocolate and caramel covered peanuts. The first three of our bus rides went quite smoothly and lined up perfectly, allowing just enough time to buy tickets and grab a seat. The fourth should have gone just as smoothly - we watched it happen with friends of ours on the same travel schedule.
The transition to our final bus, or lack of transition depending on your point of view, led to our argument with bus terminal employees. We got in line, the controller on duty asked us where we were going as he was getting ready to send the Cahuita bus on its way. He stood in line with us, Chris ordered our tickets and handed over money, the controller took the slips that the woman passed through the window and we followed him to the bus. He handed the slips to the bus driver through the window, we told the bus driver this when we got on, he looked at us like we were crazy, we got off the bus to look for the controller, Chris talked to the woman at the ticket counter who said she had never seen him or his money before and the bus took off. We eventually found the controller again who explained that the slips he had taken were to tell the bus driver how many tickets he should have received from paid fares. After we explained the situation he told us that the woman at the ticket counter was crazy and came with us to make sure we got our tickets and our change (since Chris had paid 5000 colones and it should have only cost 2010). Thankfully we only had to wait 30 minutes (enough time for chocolate caramel peanuts) for the next bus and we were able to meet up with our friends in time for lunch in Cahuita.
We had a wonderful lunch of rice and beans (a dish prepared with coconut milk and a little Caribbean spice), patacones (one of our favorite items prepared with plantains) and fish. Another group of volunteers met up with us shortly after we got our food and later we all headed to the beach to toss around a Frisbee and play some Ultimate. It was great to catch up with people that we hadn't seen since Thanksgiving or before.
Before dinner we came together for our "business" meeting and discussed how things were going and how things could be improved in Peace Corps Costa Rica then the group split into smaller groups for more delicious food. We went out with our friends Megon and Kevin and ate some delicious pasta full of vegetables that weren't cooked to the point of mush and then returned to the hotel to play a rousing game of Canasta (or Hand and Foot, depending on where you're from). We had played earlier in the week and the boys had won, the girls were the champions at the beach and now we have a running tally for our remaining time in Peace Corps. We'll see who walks away with the most wins at the end of May 2012!
We got up early Sunday morning and caught the sunrise over the Atlantic. After it had passed the stage of beautiful colors a group of us headed to Cahuita National Park. We walked about 3 kilometers of trail through the seaside jungle and saw Cara Blancas (White Face Monkeys) and Congos (Howler Monkeys) as we walked out to the point where we turned around. On our return trip we ran into a guided group and the guide was nice enough to pause his tour to point out a Sloth to us and lead us down the trail a bit to see an Eyelash Viper! Several photos later we walked out of the park and headed into town for a delicious breakfast complete with multi-grain bread (a real treat for us!).
After breakfast it was time for us to call an end to our weekend escape and we returned to the hotel for quick showers before walking to the bus terminal. We had an uneventful trip home and as nice as it had been to be away for the weekend with friends, were glad to be back in the comforts of home.