Sunday, December 26, 2010

Feliz Navidad!

We've been hearing how cold and snowy it's been at home lately. We hear it was even a white Christmas! Sounds like this year will be a repeat of last year's never-ending winter, which is exactly what we are trying to avoid.

It's summertime down here - literally! The schools here just finished for the year, and the kids are now on their 3 month summer vacation. Summer also corresponds to the dry season down here, when the rain stops for a few months and it gets HOT! It's a strange sensation to have Christmas in the summer!

I have not been my usual festive self this year, and consequently George has not been nearly as Grinch-like. Adalaya has tried to keep the Christmas spirit alive by making decorations for the house. The most creative, I think, is this tiny Nativity Scene that she made out of soap shavings.

As an early Christmas present to my friend-deprived child, we decided to "foster" a kitten while we are here. There is an organization in town who brings in stray animals, in order to spay / neuter them and then find homes for them. This particular kitten has a home arranged at the end of January, but until then it needed a foster home. Adalaya and I brought it home, much to George's dismay. But, who could resist this little playful ball of fur!

Not us!

We are thoroughly spoiling the kitten, but also trying to teach it good kitty manners. Adalaya named her "Elsie" because she looks similar to our black-and-white cat at home, named Elsa, but is also quite the meower and a little naughty like our other cat, Mitzie. She's very smart too, and likes to help Adalaya with her homework. Here she is telling Adalaya the answer to this math question.

We were invited to come to a Christmas play put on by the children of a local church. A guy dropped by our house with this invitation, and invited us to come to the performance at their church "down the road".

It sounded like a great thing to do, so that evening we walked to the church "right down the road", which is the only church we knew of. We walked in and seated ourselves and listened to a woman preach for about a half hour. She spoke with the fullness and intensity of the Spirit, and George thought she was talking in tongues, but I'm pretty sure it was just Spanish. Next, we thought for sure, it was time for the Navidad children's play to begin. Much to our surprise, the next act was a trio of Tico (Costa Rican) teenagers that came out dressed in full rapper regalia. With their baggy pants, over-sized hoodies, gold chains, bandannas, and sun-glasses (even though it was already dark outside) they commenced to rapping Spanish Catholic rhymes! It was at this time that we looked at one another and realized that we were in the wrong church! Although it was not the traditional Christmas event we expected, we were nonetheless moved by the power of the spirit.

On Christmas day, we did the usual opening of presents. This year most of the presents were consumable goods, such as chocolate and fireworks, with a few other small gifts - after all, we have to think about how we're going to get these things home with another month of van living in our future!

Another consumable present that we got for ourselves was this yummy chocolate cake from a local bakery. Great idea, George!

Here he is slicing it with our machete-of-a-kitchen-knife!

Christmas day was the most beautiful day we've had yet in Costa Rica; it was HOT and there was a beautiful blue sky, so we headed to the beach.

It was low tide, and we found this sprouted coconut on the wide swath of sand that leads out to the "whale-tail".

Here is the "whale-tail" formation as seen from above.

The rocky outcrop at the end of the tail is exposed during low tide, and many tidal pools are created which make for some easy snorkeling. It was Adalaya's first time snorkeling in the ocean, and she loved it! Here's the cute sea monster entering the water.

And here she is with George, exploring the treasures in the protected rocky pools.

We saw some amazing iridescent fish, urchins, and a lobster hiding in a rock crevice. Here they are again, searching among the rocks.

After a long walk home, a shower, a nap, and a little more of that chocolate cake, we joined a new Tico friend of ours for a lovely pizza dinner and a bottle of wine.

All told, it's been an unforgettable Christmas, although we have greatly missed our friends and family. We wish everyone a Merry Christmas & Feliz Navidad!

PS: Don't worry too much about George and the cat; they're bonding quickly. I was shocked to see this scene not long after we brought "Elsie" home.

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