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Created by Ronald Hilton on 08/12/00 4:16 AM

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COSTA RICA (Ronald Hilton, USA, 08/12/00 4:16 am)

Jaqui White has returned to Texas from Costa Rica. She reports:

"As we left the airport for the five-hour drive to the northwest corner of Costa Rica, the road was lined with pilgrims on their way to Cartago - the shrine of Nuestra Senora de los Angeles. It seemed that about half were on horseback, the other half walking. Many miraculous healings are attributed to this yearly pilgrimage.

Since we have been in severe drought for three years in Texas, it was marvelous to experience the rainy season on the Pacific Coast - everything was emerald green. In the afternoon, the gigantic lowering clouds would roll in, fill the sky, gradually turn black with thunderous downpours , accentuated by wild, spectacular displays of crackling lightning, each making one think that it was the end of the world as we know it. Amazingly, the weather was perfect, with not one mosquito. There are no screens on the windows or doors in Guanacaste province.

The diving and surfing were good, we swung through the tops of the trees with the howler monkeys, boated the rivers with the alligators, and admired the ubiquitous iguanas. Particularly enchanting was a very large sloth with long blonde fur similar to an afghan hound, sound asleep in the top of a tree. Since this is all they seem to do, it was revealed why slothfulness is one of the deadly sins.

One is impressed by the cleanliness and prosperity of the country. I was told that there is only poverty for those who refuse to work. Many Nicaraguans try to come in to Costa Rica to work, since Nicaragua is in such bad shape. The borders are guarded, however, limiting entrance. There always seems to be work in the tourist area. Forty thousand U.S. citizens live in Costa Rica, most of them in Escazu near San Jose. Many Europeans have also made Costa Rica their home, appreciating the climate, relaxed life style and lack of military presence."

My comment: Cartago is southeast of San Jose, and Jaqui was heading in the opposite direction, northwest. The pilgrims must have been going in the opposite direction. Guanacaste province borders Nicaragua, which has only a narrow strip of Lake Nicaragua's shore in that area, separating it from Costa Rica Two women tourists were kidnapped in that area a year or two ago by Nicaraguans. I love the picture of Jaqui swinging through the tops of trees with howler monkeys, who must have been fascinated with the visitors. The sloths are blissfully ignorant that they are committing mortal sin.

There are two national parks in Guanacaste province, Rincón de la Vieja (some anonymous old woman) and Palo Verde. There are many attractive national parks throughout Costa Rica. Located in the central temperate highlands, San Jose is a pleasant modern city, and it is not surprising that people retire there. Many Americans have settled in the Lake Chapala region of Mexico, but the crime rate in Mexico is such that peaceful Costa Rica is now much more attractive. If you are wondering where to retire, think of Costa Rica.

Jaqui has the audacity to ask ever in Costa Rica. I have been there umpteen times, umpteen minus one time more than Jaqui. I first went there nearly sixty years ago,along the dirt track which was to become the Pan American Highway.

A footnote: Carthage was destroyed by the Romans, who thereby became masters of the Mediterranean. It is a symbol of defeat. Why, as we noted, are there 13 towns in the US named Carthage, including the birthplace of Al Gore? Is he heading for defeat? Why is the old capital of Costa Rica named Cartago? There are Cartagos also in California and Colorado. Except for the Carthages and Cartagos in the US and Costa Rica, no other country in the world has a town named after Carthage. Were the American towns founded by defeated Southerners, who were well versed in ancient history?

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