Día 3 – Comunidad indígena Maleku, almuerzo en la Vida Campesina, la visita a la Escuela Jacuri y los Ecotermales
Well, we had a very full day today. Breakfast at 7, on the bus at 7:45, and we were on our way to the indigenous community. At breakfast, we were all in awe looking from our breakfast table out on cloud cloaked Arenal volcano. The kids were as busy as the hummingbirds, buzzing around, taking pictures, and clamoring about how beautiful and amazing everything was. When we were on the deck outside the restaurant, we turned to our left and were able to see Lake Arenal. It was very fun to see all the kids outside using their Facetime and Skype to share the beauty with their loved ones. I even skyped my own mother.
When we arrived to the Maleku community, we were welcomed by two women dressed in traditional clothing made out of the bark of trees. One of the girls walking next to me mentioned how she couldn’t believe how the woman was walking barefoot on the trail. After walking through a small canopy of trees, we came to a clearing where the rest of the family stood waiting for us in front of three structures made of wood and palm leaves. The leader of the Maleku tribe is coincidentally named Jimmy as well. He did tell us that he has a Maleku name given to him by his great-uncle, and others in his generation or younger only have “decorative” Maleku names like FuFu which means butterfly. After teaching us about some of their traditions and history, we went to the best part of the visit, which was shooting bows and arrows! Jonathan, Karli, Hannah, and Srta. Weitzel all successfully hit their targets. After our target practice, we were brought back to a hut where the Maleku family performed a marriage ceremony in their native language.
Afterwards, we went to a beautiful organic farm. We started out the visit with hand shaping our own tortillas, followed up by an exquisite buffet of delicious homemade food. My personal favorite was the green papaya picadillo, however there were also beans, rice, chicken stew, and two types of yuca. Then for dessert, we were served a salad of fresh fruit. After our delicious meal, they brought us out into the farm where everything was grown and harvested. In our first stop, we learned about sugar cane. Our guide Jose did a great job engaging many of our kids. Hannah was the first volunteer to whack sugar cane, and next up was Jonathan, who according to the girls, made it look a lot easier than it was. My personal favorite was watching the kids work together to then crank the sugar cane through the machine. The kids also enjoyed trying our freshly squeezed juice. On the tour, we learned about coffee beans, yuca plants, natural pesticide plants, and even saw a lizard. The students were enamored with our guide and his nephew, who after the tour of the farm, accompanied us to the school.
The school was, for many of our kids, the highlight of the day! As we approached, we saw a group students dressed in traditional folkloric dance costumes in the colors of Costa Rica. They were eager to meet us and immediately took our hands and escorted us to our seats. After meeting different members of the school community, the kids put on a show for us! They were so endearing and talented, and you could tell how much they enjoyed themselves. Jonathan and Samantha were chosen to participate in the dancing. They did a great job! And we all had a good laugh. Then they invited the entire group to dance in a circle: a game that was kind of like musical chairs… but with a broom. We had a lot of fun learning about Costa Rican culture through the eyes of these energetic and joyful little ticos.
After saying goodbye to our new friends at the school, we headed to Ecotermales, a beautiful hideaway with various pools that are naturally heated by volcanic springs. Here we saw a group of howler monkeys! One was hanging upside down from his tail, eating! The park was full of natural wildlife. We enjoyed soaking and relaxing in the water after a long day, especially with our virgin piña coladas and strawberry daiquiris. Of course, it began to rain in the afternoon, but you barely notice the rain when sitting in the warm water. The mixture of cool rain and hot springs created a beautiful mist over the surface of the water, and streams of sunlight broke through the jungle foliage and mist to create a serene and peaceful moment in time.
And the fun didn’t stop there. On the way home, Jorge our driver flipped on the black lights and Sra. Lackey put on some tunes. We had a little dance party right then and there on the bus. It was a fun-filled action-packed day, and we received the comment from one of our kids that this has been the best day of their life. We’ll take that! And in part, we would have to agree with her.
In loving care of your children,
Srtas. Hause y Weitzel