How do you describe or detail God's grace in words?
It is an elusive, describing the transcendent. I will do my best.
First Five Days – Costa Rica
Upon arriving in Costa Rica, I was notified by Jan Millsaps that Greg had missed his connection and would not make it at his expected time of three hours behind me. It seems that Aeromexico decided to get a new computer / reservations platform at the same time that we were headed to Costa Rica. This would end up costing us 24 hours before he arrived. I hung out and waited a good bit, and was also able to catch up with Rafael Varela, a friend who I met when I passed through Costa Rica in 2006. We sat down to a nice dinner and caught up on what had been happening with both of us over the last few years. It was a really good visit, and I am thankful he had time to spend.
Greg arrived at around 3am that following morning, and we stayed in the rack until around 8am, and then we jumped in the little Suzuki Jimny (aka Jimny Cricket) and headed out to Guanacaste region in the north Pacific Coast. My plan to scout there got a strong confirmation when I was seated on the plane ride in by a lady and her son who were headed back from LA to their home, a hotel they own and operate along with her husband, on Playa Samara. This is a secluded part of the coast, and it was very nice and sufficiently laid back. We arrived early afternoon to Tico Adventure Lodge, and the family was a little surprised to see us. They probably get a lot of people saying they will drop in. I am really glad we did. It is a really great place.
We sat on the beach and let the day run out, enjoying some R&R and conversation with locals. This is a photo of some wild horses, out for a jog, who also were enjoying the peaceful evening.
The next morning we were up and headed to meet Aaron Hershberger at Jaco Beach. Latin America moves at it's own pace, and even though we left in plenty of time to get there, we arrived almost an hour late. The Pan American Highway is a two lane thing with much contest for the road, and often no chance to pass, not to mention a 30k detour we took (and backtracked) when we missed a turn. A quote from Greg – “The lack of signage in this country is disturbing!” Not everything is really well marked….. Beautiful drive though.
Aaron had hitched with an old surfer from the airport and got to our rendezvous point an hour early, so he was happy to see us. We threw his kit in the Jimny and went a few blocks down to a place where we could get fresh Mahi tacos and chill for a few. We had not eaten much that day, except for a little fruit. The Mahi tacos were excellent, as was the fellowship, and the sense of the trip taking shape was growing. Our leadership team was intact. We also met a few guys who were content to visit for a while, so at around dark we pushed off, headed up the mountain to Cliff Willis' place for the night, arriving about an hour later. Darkness concealed what we know soon to be beautiful scenes, shire-like views, and several switchbacks that crossed the river and lofted us up a thousand feet or more in altitude from the coast. Nice drive.
Cliff was welcoming and we fell into discussion with him and the others there, before retiring early. Tent. Rainy. Wet. But hey, we are in Costa Rica! The awesomeness wasn't really even dampened. The next morning Cliff gave me a tour of his ranch – a beautiful thing – and we spoke of his plans of things to come there, things for the Kingdom, things for the King. We ate eggs and Jimny Cricket set us back in motion, northward.
We were searching for a Messianic Jewish Community / Retreat Center that was rumored to be located near the base of one of Costa Rica's active volcanos, Volcan Arenal, but the more we looked, the less assurance we felt that we would actually find it. We stopped for coffee, we asked directions, and again, but no one seemed to know what we were talking about. Finally we were directed toward something that seemed similar to the locals, but looked really new age to me, but we headed up the drive anyway. We veered left and mistakenly into someone's personal driveway, people from California who have a vacation spot they use and rent, who took up our cause, and called around to all of their local friends. In the group was a two sets of parents of an adult couple (in-laws – California house owners, and out-laws – Bed and Breakfast owner / operators in Christ Church, New Zealand) and the young adult couple (from England). We had a world tour in their driveway. They were most helpful, and after cookies with the British flag were consumed, we finally got hold of someone on the phone who had a strong lead on the place we were seeking. It would be an hour farther.
We had to abandon the search and leave the Commonwealth in the good keeping of the locals, as it was getting near dark and we had to make it to Liberia so we could cross the border the following morning. So we bid them farewell, got a card, and struck out another hour to Liberia where we settled in like “five star missionaries” at the Hilton Garden Inn near the Liberia airport. I know you can't believe it, but I, too, have a soft side….. Awesome pool, burger that would make Five Guys jealous, and a really comfortable room later and we were squared away for the night. But hey, we knew we were headed into Nicaragua the next day. It would be hard there, or so we thought….
We missed the bus the following morning and had to go for the backup plan – a very fast taxi to the border! We were dropped on the CR side and cleared our paperwork to cross on foot, across a half mile or so of no man's land, into the wild west. We crossed safe into Nicaragua.