Kyra Stickford, one of our favorite babysitters in Indiana, just flew home this morning after a 10 day visit with us. Kyra has a real heart for volunteer work and every summer she goes on a mission trip. This summer we were lucky that she chose to visit us so she could work at the orphanage with us before she heads off to Indiana University. While we did get in lots of time with the kids at Residencia de Vida, we also wanted to show Kyra around Costa Rica, so the last ten days have been filled with lots of kids, travel and adventure. It was not as much adventure as my favorite movie from sixth grade, Adventures in Babysitting, but it was definitely still an adventure. Remember this great movie???We have a few banana trees in our yard and one of the banana bunches grew ripe for the picking the day Kyra landed here. Perfecto! Picking bananas is so normal for Ticos (Costa Ricans) but so fun and giddy for us Gringos. I wondered if a banana fresh from the tree tastes better, and the answer is yes!
Three of Kyra’s ten days were spent traveling to the beach (Manuel Antonio) and then to a volcano (Volcan Arenal) up in the mountains. Lots of miles but lots and lots of fun. Kyra’s highlight was touching a white faced monkey. Kyra has been obsessed with white faced monkeys since elementary school and she even did a report on them in fifth grade. So this really was a dream come true. When Kyra first spotted a monkey, I could not tell who’s squeal was higher pitched, the monkey’s or Kyra’s. Our mangrove monkey tour guide, Pablo, was terrific and we even got to eat lunch at his home with a meal prepared by his wife. When we traveled to the Arenal Volcano, we were spoiled by soaking in mineral hot springs (heated from the volcano). Although the volcano is not currently bubbling lava, it was fun to see a volcano in person. And we got to milk a cow at our hotel. Little did we know that while Kyra was in El Salvador last year, she became a milking expert. Our three days traveling was packed with lots of firsts for all of us.
One of my favorite parts of each week is going to the Friday feria (farmers market). Last year Kyra went to El Salvador so she recognized a lot of the “strange” produce at our Atenas feria. Her favorite part of the feria was meeting an old local artist and buying a wooden ox and cart from him. Another fun part of the feria was when Kyra ran into a local Tica wearing an IU sweatshirt. It turns out this girl’s sister married a guy from Indiana. Small world!
Once we got home from the feria we used all our produce to make our favorite Costa Rican meal, Arroz con Pollo. We used the recipe from the Residencia de Vida cookbook. The meal was labor intensive but it was delicious and loads of fun to make.
The kids of course wanted to take Kyra to pick mangoes on the coffee path below our home. Cam used her as a ladder and was able to gather more than normal. Oh, and the snake was a little bonus on the walk.
Kyra’s favorite part of the trip was being at the orphanage. The kids loved her long, red hair and played with it non-stop. For them it was like having their own live Rapunzel doll. Cherie (the director) is hoping that Kyra returns next summer for a longer period to help out at Residencia de Vida.
Kyra has always been a part of Joellen, Camden, and Maria’s lives because she’s babysat for us since our kiddos were babies. We had a wonderful time with Kyra and are so sad she is gone. But this evening Marc’s cousin, Kelsey, arrives and the adventure continues. Kyra, best of luck at IU and we will see you back stateside in a year!