The Gift of Learning
"The best education you will ever get is traveling. Nothing teaches you more than exploring the world..."-Mark Paterson
We wanted our time in Costa Rica as a family to be more than just 3 weeks of tourist-y stuff. Part of the benefit of being there for an extended length of time was that we could explore some of the actual people and places that we were visiting to better understand the culture and history of this beautiful country. We also had a friend who generously gave some funds for our trip to do some cultural experiences that we otherwise would not have been able to do (food is expensive in Costa Rica :)).
Our first cultural tour was in La Fortuna and was a tour of a small local farm followed by a cooking class. Because of travelling in the low season (and because of a global pandemic) our tour was a private tour. This was special because it enabled our kids to ask questions and be engaged in the conversation with our knowledge guide. We were introduced to new kinds of fruits and vegetables that we had never heard of before (one of them smelled like dirty feet). We also learned the plant source for many medicines that have been used for centuries to treat various ailments. The kids pressed sugar cane and then we learned how to make tortillas and picadillo from scratch. We were then able to sit down to a wonderful meal. It was a magical night and definitely one of the highlights of our trip.
Our second cultural experience was in the Southeast part of Costa Rica where we spent the second leg of our trip. Outside of the Caribbean town of Cahuita lives one of the few remaining indigenous peoples of Costa Rica, the Bri Bri people. Our local guide in Cahuita (more about him in the next post) was able to take us to visit the Watsi Village of the Bri Bri people. There, we met Katato, a village elder who shared with us some of the skills and practices of his people. We learned how to make string from a palm tree, animal sounds out of blades of grass, art and utensils out of gourds and then helped me hot chocolate fresh from cacao fruit. They were extremely kind and generous to us outsiders and again, it was a very personable, relational and educational experience that we will not soon forget.
Both of these experiences, along with many others in Costa Rica, helped each of us to realize there are many different ways of seeing this incredible world and navigating it. But, at the same time, in all of those differences, each of us is still looking for meaning, purpose and relationships.