Where Your Mouthwash Comes From

February 26-27, 2008
Days 881-882

Picture of Mary.

Mary and her mom waiting for the bus.

A few days ago, I met a girl named Mary on one of my bus rides. She was studying computer science at a university on the Caribbean coast, and through a scheduling miracle of sorts, managed to take off for a few weekdays to visit her family. She invited me to visit her family in San Rafael de Guatuso, and soon I was introduced to her mom, brother, adopted brother, and a bunch of extended family members. They were a jovial bunch, and we had a good time exchanging the stories of our cultures that first night.

The next day, we took a four-wheel-drive truck up a long, unpaved hill to the Rio Celeste. On the way, we stopped at the Arbol de la Paz, which was probably the biggest tree I had ever seen. The river got its name from its mouthwash color, which was a result of the natural mixing of various minerals from the mountains. During our long hike, we stopped at hot springs, a lookout point, a swimming hole, and of course, a waterfall. It was a beautiful place and still largely a secret kept only by the locals.

My visit with Mary and her family changed my opinion of the Costa Rican people. I had thought they were a bit jaded from all of the tourism, which resulted in them being treated like servants by thousands of Americans per year, but Mary's family was very nice and just happy to meet a foreigner, despite having already met thousands before. The people of Guatuso were every bit as hospitable as those whom I had met elsewhere on my travels.

The photo album for this entry is here.

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