Chapter XX

Trip Start May 29, 2010
Trip End Jul 01, 2010

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Flag of Costa Rica  , Limón,
Thursday, June 17, 2010

Strange things keep happening on this trip, and when we donīt think we have anything planned-opportunities just keep arising that we hadnīt even thought of before. Today we met with Aaron and Laura Nymanski, a couple who moved here less than two weeks ago from Winnipeg, Canada. Their cousins are special pioneers that we met while in Changinola, Amber and Curtis Mills from Calgary, Canada. We did a little searching for English speakers and when Joel was with Aaron they started a study, a pretty common occurrence every day around here. For me service was pretty miserable since Iīm still sloshing around in wet shoes and that is one of my least favorite feelings.

Aaron told us that evidently the brother I had contacted last night arranged for us to stay at a cabana on the beach in Cahuita that is owned by a sister. News to me. So we hastily packed up our stuff, left the key at the hostel and they carted us 30 minutes north to the less drug infested beach town of Cahuita. Cahuita is known for its black sand beaches and even better surfing. The Atlantic coast of Costa Rica is a surferīs haven and people flock here from all over the world.

We got dropped off at this beachfront home that had housed a couple young guys from Georgia helping the English group out for the past few months. Itīs a very nice house, our only complaint is that it smells like a wet dog. The town is absolutely dead-there are a few dingy restaurants and small shops, but it is really like the Twlight Zone here. We found a decent place and joined a few locals to watch the World Cup. We felt a nap coming on and picked up a few groceries as we headed to the house. At the store, I opened a refrigerator and the door knocked a beer bottle out of my hand and it smashed on the floor. I kept saying Ļlo sientoĻ and felt pretty embarrassed.

We returned to the house and Joel slept, which is what he spends the majority of his down time doing. Life seems to exhaust him, and he sleeps frequently. Well I guess thatīs what happens when youīre…23…

We went to the Spanish meeting and the congregation in no way reflects the town. They are really nice and a pretty modern and down to earth crowd. I commented during the book study-not sure if it was understandable, but everyone was super nice and though there were only about 5 other Americans-Canadians, many of the friends had lived in the States and spoke English.

We met some cool people and went to Aaron and Lauraīs for dinner. A couple from Nicaragua, Carolina and Francisco, were also invited. Francisco is definitely one of the most interesting people Iīve met on this trip. He was raised as a witness in rural Nicaragua and he became a rebel contra soldier after the sandinistas murdered his father in the 70s during the height of the CIA-instigated civil war. He got into drug trafficking and fought guerrilla warfare for four years until his conscience bothered him to the point where he prayed for Jehovahīs help. He promised to return to meetings if he could just get back in touch with the brothers. So one day as he lay in the street dressed in his usual camouflage in San Jose, he saw a brother and told him his story. The brother brought him to the hall and introduced him to everyone in the congregation as a brother, which really touched Francisco. He immediately kicked his drug habits and resumed studying, returning to the pioneer work where he regularly traveled to indigenous tribal villages where some had never before been contacted by the outside world. He has been a faithful brother ever since.

He and Carolina moved to Toronto and they lived there until about a year ago, when they returned to Central America to live here in Cahuita. They live across the street from Aaron and Laura, a street which houses about 14 witness families. Costa Rica has one of the lowest witness-to-population ratios in the world, and it is evident. This little community of just 3000 has two congregations and two language groups.

At one point, the conversation turned to food and I asked everyone about the most exotic foods they had eaten. Francisco initially said it was snake, and then casually added that he had also eaten turtle, monkey, shark, and enjoyed the occasional bull testicle.

He has a great sense of humor but was not joking about eating bull testicles. He told us how he prepared it and how men in his village would eat them raw, fresh off the bull. As a boy he was given the job of castrating the bulls which he told us about in great detail. It was fantastic dinner conversation and I was amazed that out of all these foods, he didnīt seem to think any of them were that unusual. He regularly goes shrimping around here, and I guess the local shrimp are like 10 inches long and he implored us to come back so he could take us. Heīs one of the most friendly and genuine people Iīve ever met, and he promised to grill me a testicle thee next time I come back. When I refused, he said that I just shouldnīt return unless Iīm willing to have an open mind. Like I said, hilarious guy.

The friends in this area definitely changed my initial viewpoint of Cahuita and I fully intend on coming back. I just may be a little cautious when I dine with Francisco.
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