Even though I lived in Costa Rica for a year back in 1998, every time I wake up here and look out the window of our house, it takes my breath away. The beauty of the mountains cannot be described, and the constant closeness to nature makes you feel so alive.
We volunteer at Residencia de Vida four times a week: Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are our days for running errands and for sightseeing. We try to do one day trip a week to some place we’ve never been before.
Last week our day trip was to the San Ramon waterfall, 45 minutes from Atenas where we live. As we pulled up, we could hear the waterfall before we could see it. The kids jumped out of the car and ran until they could see part of the waterfall. Now at this point they jumped up and down like pogo sticks and simultaneously yelled, “Cool!” Then Camden chanted his favorite Spanish word, “Rapido, rapido!” as he took off running toward the waterfall. We did not let the kids swim in the water because I read there could be snakes in the water. Yikes. The waterfall was beautiful and so was the hike down to it.
This week our day trip was to Zoo Ave, a 50 acre animal wildlife park who’s mission is to rehabilitate and care for Costa Rica’s injured, orphaned and mistreated wildlife. Animals at Zoo Ave fall into two main categories: injured wildlife and illegal pets. When animals arrive at the refuge, they are evaluated by trained veterinary staff and given treatment. The ultimate goal is to rehabilitate the animals both physically and emotionally, for eventual release into the wild. Unfortunately, some animals are too badly injured or have spent a lifetime in captivity, and they will never be able to survive in the wild. These special animals become permanent Zoo Ave residents.
Zoo Ave made us feel right at home with all the iguanas roaming around. Since leaving Indiana in December, not a week has gone by where we have not seen an iguana. The year 2014 is definitely the year of the iguana for us Konescos. We saw so many iguanas at Zoo Ave that we lost count. I actually almost stepped on one but he alerted me quickly by raising the spikes on his back and giving me the stink eye.
And one of our favorite excursions is at the base of our house, an old coffee plantation dirt road. We hike/repel down the back hill of our house to the road (with a rope and two ladders we found in the shed). The road is jungly (if that is a word) and full of mango trees. We even found a random soccer field in the middle of the jungle right off the path. Since this old coffee road is remote, we are not sure why one was built here or who would play on it. But considering how much the Costa Ricans love their soccer, it really was not a shock that we found this soccer field in the middle of nowhere.
In one week from now we have our first visitor to Costa Rica. Kyra was one of our favorite babysitters back in Indiana. Kyra loves mission work and is coming here to help out at Residencia de Vida before she heads off to her freshman year of college. So we will cram a lot in the ten days she is here, both at the orphanage and sightseeing. Then the same day that Kyra flies home, Kelsey will fly down here. Kelsey is Marc’s cousin that visited us on the boat in the Abacos. I think monkeys and a volcano is at the top of both Kyra and Kelsey’s lists. We can’t wait to have our first visitors!