Ada en Alex
The bell rings. I walk outside into the pouring rain. "Sunny, we're back!” I hear a young man shouting. Lifting up my heels to sneak over the fence and see Ada and Alex, a young couple whom I had welcomed on the ranch six days earlier. I open up the gate and jump into their arms. “Ow I am so intensely glad to see you guys again!" "Yeah, we couldn`t handle it anymore. We had to return to this place."Alex said, closing his sentence with a wink. " And….. we have brought a surprise for you." says Ada. Before I could even toss up a guess, she conjures a large pizza box from the trunk and a crate full of Imperial (the national beer). I invite them in, and while enjoying pizza and beer, we talk about their adventures on the coast illustrated by their pictures. As they wanted to spend their last day in beautiful Costa Rica wisely, they asked me on advice for a good hike and tossed an invitation to me to join them. National Park Braulio Carrillo seemed to me the best pick. Known for its bad and steep dirt road leading to the park, makes the park hard to reach and therefor really peaceful. Alex and his 4x4 rental don`t mind a bit of a challenge, so Braulio Carrillo it would be.
Completly matching its reputation we encountered an almost inaccessible dirt road the next day. As a true captain decorated with beads of sweat on his forehead, Alex steers around the lustful holes and boulders. Once in the park, the surrounding area is beautiful. Greener than green. We enjoy the forests and the beautiful lake that fills the old crater of volcano Barva. The next morning one last breakfast together and then it's really time to say goodbye to each other. I wave to them till their car totally disappeared from the hillside. I go back inside and grab my phone. A message from my father, "Grandma is sick, hospitalized. Can you contact us?". I immediately call back. Talking to my parents I stay reasonably calm. They have to go back to granny and hang up. I crawl into bed, I press my pillow close to me. For the first time since my departure I feel truly alone.
It's Saturday morning and I`m in the need of fresh air. The 'La Paz' waterfalls always had been on my wish list to visit, so I decided to take the car and head east to ride in the mountains. After surving the horror four-lane road to Heredia, I run into a road block. There is no signs of any kind for an alternative route (pura vida Costa Rica). Enlisting my own gutfeeling seemed to be the best and only option. I decided to make a U-turn and take the first reasonable turn that would come up to the left. The road leads up and appears to take me in the right direction. A few minutes later the road becomes narrower, turns into a gravel path and the steeper the incline the more my gut feeling increases this is not the way to go. Turning the car was, with a ravine on one side and a wall on the other hand, not a solution, into reverse either, the slope was too steep. While settle down my respiration I continue going up, hoping to find a spot to turn the car around. I finally find one. Just wide enough for the length of the car. I stop the car and bump a few times with my forehead on the steering wheel, while the horn forms a rytmic base for my just as rytmic Dutch swearwords. "Ok, San, we`re just going to steer the car back and forward till it`s in the other direction. Just do not end up in the ravine and you`ll be fine." I tell myself. Quietly I cross the car forward and backward, cm. for cm. The slope is so steep that the car at some points slides down along with the gravel. Quietly and as calm as possible I continue going forwards and backwards ... and then the moment had finally arrived. The car was reversed. I sigh deeply and wipe my sweaty hands with my pants. La Paz wasn`t my end destination that day, it was raining too hard. But a thick chocolate cake and hot chocolate with views over the mountains, I had definitely deserved. I park my bottom on a bench in the sun and catch the sunlight with my face. I chuckle when I take a bite of my pie. "Well done chick, you`re badass", I think to myself.
A new guest
Days pass by and guests are coming and going. In the morning I get the gardener in, prepare breakfast for the guests, Kalina and myself, bring Kalina to school. Give instructions for the day to the staff making sure everything is prepared up to every detail for any new guests. New guests are welcomed with a cup of coffee from our own beans, and guided around the property to show and teach them everything about the coffee they just drank. Some seek peace or are more on themselves, others stay until late at night at the kitchen table or take me out to dinner or to the bar. Every time I enjoy the stories and conversations.
On a Monday we welcomed Jadan. Like me, traveling alone and quickly appeared that we could get along really well (wait for more adventures with Jadan on my new blog). Together we visit La Paz waterfalls, go hiking in the mountains, visit Irazu National Park and in the evening we end the day with an Imperial on the balcony. "Too bad you're so tall”; Jadan quips, "Otherwise I might have fallen in love with you." (Jadan is over 1.5 foot shorter than me) "Yeah, sorry," I laugh, “If only you had been with 6 others of similar hight, it could have led to a beautiful fairy tale wedding." Jadan puts his brains to work for a moment, and once the joke then finally sinks in, he roars with laughter. “Salut”', we both say in unison, tapping our cans together.
We come back from a walk, and once home I grab my phone to see if there has been news from back home. To my horror, I see several missed calls on skype and then eventually the message "Grandma died. She passed away quietly. Marcel and Wim were with her. We`re now on our way to grandma. We are only reachable by mobile phone." I throw my mobile on my bed and feel the tears appearing in my eyes. Kalina shouts from her bedroom: “Sunny let's go, we're going to be late." "Bloody school" I think to myself. Kalina needs to go to the village for some school project. I wipe my tears from my face and put my pokerface on. "Ok, let's go chicka.” Once arrived at destination, I feel like a zombie. I smile and nod if necessary, propose a few questions here and there, and I'm very excited for Kalina. But my mind is back home, back in the Netherlands.
When we arrive home it's already 19:30. I reckon, in the Netherlands it is now 2:30. Too late to make a call. I crawl into bed. Mister Rodelle, one of the dogs, jumps on the bed and rolls up next to me. I put on some music and wrap my arms around Mister Rodelle. Slowly I fall into a deep sleep.
Jadan had invited us to join him to to the beach. Kalina could bring one friend (more did not fit in his Daihatsu). As a true teenage girl, she could not choose. We could go with our own car, then she could at least take two. Makes the rigorous selection a bit easier. "Ok Kalina, this is the deal. You put those convincing charms of yours at work with your father so we can take the car to Playa Jaco, then I put my spell on Jadan to convince him that it's a lot of fun to spend over 12 hours with 3 giggling teenage girls." "Ok deal” and we seal the deal with a high five.
To make the most out of the day we want to leave early, so Laura and Manduela (two girlfriends) stay for a sleepover the night before. Somewhat half asleep, we leave the next morning to the Pacific coast. Laura needs to pick up her bikini and I get the instructions needed to get acquainted with her parents. During the drive to her house Laura and Kalina bomb me with instructions. "Be as mature as possible. Do NOT mention that Jadan is coming along. Laura's father works for the CIA, so no smartass comments! "Entering the apartment, I`m invited to sit down on the couch for a cup of tea. Her parents sit opposite me. I feel like a boyfriend meeting his parents-in-law for the first time. “Sunny Ok, there are some things you should know.” says Laura's stepfather and together with his wife they start, each alternately, with the list of requirements. "Take care on the highway, people overtake on every possible side. Do not drive too fast, nor too slow. Do not overtake on a bend. Keep an eye on your mirrors for motorcycles. There are drugs on the beach, so keep an eye on the girls. Park the car in sight. Do not leave valuables in the car. The waves are high, so don`t let the girls go in deeper in the water than their waists. " ….. a long pause of silence kicks in decorated with my blank face. My eyes suddenly catches a wild gesticulating Kalina. She gestures that I must come up with some kind of respond. I blink a few times with my eyes and tell him I will personally ensure that everything will be fine. Laura's parents smile satisfied; "But besides all the warnings, have a very lovely day." says her stepfather with a smile. And with a head that still twists around after all the information, we get in the back in the giggle express.
If one conclusion can be drawn, it is that the outbound traffic in Costa Rica and three 15 year old girls who have to lead the way, is not a good combination. Driving on the left when suddenly the girls scream from behind; "You have to take this turn! You have to take this turn!" While traffic is passing by from all sides. It takes a lot of mindfulness to remain calm in those type of situations. Luckily we were soon on the last highway that led us to Playa Jaco. The teenagers were giggling quietly so Jadan and I (as the sound frequency of the back allowed it) good finally have a conversation. It was delightful to drive around here, to whiz through the mountains. With finally appearing, two hours later, the beach. We take our clothes off and run all together in the refreshing sea. Like little children we play in the waves. We dive in, let us rewind to the beach and run back into the sea again. "Shit who is actually taking care of the stuff" I suddenly remark. We look at each other and start laughing. I offer to take the first shift and flop on my towel. It is a wonderful day and tired but satisfied, we return at the end of the day back to San Isidro. Less than 10 minutes after departure, the first head starts to nod off and not even 5 minutes later, everyone is asleep. I put my sunglasses on, turn the radio on my favorite channel, turn the window down and enjoy the scenery that I can now observe in peace. Once everybody is dropped off, safe and sound, I get a sense of relief. Everything went well, no accidents, kidnappings, nothing. Just a nice day. I plop on my bed and fall into a deep sleep.
It is the day of the funeral. I prepare breakfast for the guests and look at the clock. It shows 6 AM. The funeral has just begun in the Netherlands. I throw some coffee beans in the grinder and put oatmeal on the stove. Meanwhile I make toast ready for Kalina and me. Kalina is late again, so I quietly bring the breakfast to the guests and give the dogs their morning hug. When I dropped Kalina off at school. I get Daniella, the cook, on the go and check out the guests. I give them some fresh oranges for the road, from the orchard, and wave them goodbye while their car drives down the road.
First I call my brother. He is at Schiphol Airport for his flight back to London and we talk about the ceremony. This was nice. I had recorded a speech through whatsapp and this all worked out well in the church. I am relieved. We hang up and I try to catch the rest of the family. They're all out for dinner and I get passed from hand to hand through the Ipad. We talk about grandmother, about the funeral. "It was beautiful, like grandma had wanted it." Here and there a joke is made, what lightens the conversation. The atmosphere is good and I'm glad to see and speak to everyone again. It's good. A nice farewell and yet so close from the other side of the world. For a moment I'm very grateful to Mr. Skype.
When I hang up, it's good. Thanks for everything grandma! Fortunately, we still have the good memories......
After a burn-out it was time for a change. I quit my job, sold my stuff and bought a one-way ticket to the Dominican Republic. What was supposed to be a 4 month adventure turned into 2,5 years and counting......
Photo by: Vanessa Marques Barreto