I celebrated my birthday in the quaint town of Atenas, only 2 hours from our apartment (bus time). Walking from the bus stop into the town, we immediately felt a sense of tranquility, as if we stepped back in time. Typical of most Costa Rican towns, the church is in the center of the town. Across the street is an inspiring park, literally, with meaningful quotes from famous people nailed to the trees. I just felt happier being among the uplifting thoughts! Atenas has been named by National Geographic as having one of the best climates in the world, also adding to my well-being! I could actually imagine retiring here! Friday is market day, and although smaller than that of San Jose, the produce looked wonderful. We shared a yummy pastry and strawberries for lunch. Not only do they have the best weather, but we believe they have the best candy store in the world as well.
The park in the center of town
We are the architects of our own destiny-Albert Einstein
Looking down a side road, as we walked beyond the square, it appeared that school had just let out. A hundred or so boys headed toward us, joining our street, and swallowing us up into their crowd. They all continued with a destiny in mind, we then assumed they were on a field trip. Asking a few boys where they were traveling to, one replied that their would be a “work of theater”. Still confused we asked others, and gathered that there was going to be a fight. By the number of boys, we thought it might be between 2 gangs, but were told it was only between 2 boys-I suppose they have no playground fights! A police car was parked along the road where the boys were passing. Feeling rather unsure at this point whether to let our curiosity have its way, we asked the officer if it was safe to go on. Nonchalantly he assured us it was. A few minutes later, 3 police cars drove up to the group with sirens wailing and the boys scattered. Evidently a few times a year a threat of a fight takes place, and it is the main event for the youth of this sleepy town! It was quite hilarious watching the scattering as if there had been a gang war taking place. No punches had ever occurred!
What a show! It must be much easier being a police officer in Atenas than San Jose!
After witnessing such a cultural event we decided to grab a taxi and head to Poco Cielo, a Little Heaven, where we would spend the remainder of the afternoon and night. The name was fitting, with 5 bungalows set back among beautiful tropical gardens, and a magnificent pool overlooking the mountains. Our bungalow, decorated with a wood-beamed ceiling and beautiful carpentry, had 2 Queen beds (most beds here are double) a kitchenette, and a porch with two locally made rocking chairs.
The following morning the managers gave us as much time as we wanted since no one would be checking in. Before breakfast we decided to walk up the road because we were told that there was a view of the Pacific Ocean from the top of the ridge. Having walked for about a half hour we asked 2 men, waiting at a bus stop, how much farther up the road before we would find a vista. Our choices were about 7 kilometers (about 4-5 miles) or we could take a dirt path just a few yards ahead that leads up to some farms. We chose the path. Imagine the path that would take you to the top of a mountain in order to be above everything that would block the view of the Ocean, still an hour drive from Atenas. We made it! We could see where the ridges stopped, and in the hazy distance, where the sky and the horizon met, the Ocean. As has been the case in the past, our favorite experiences are the ones that are unplanned. We had no idea we would walk to the top of a ridge, looking out over tiny mountain towns, no cars or people on the path, seeing natural Costa Rica. On our way back down, Rod suddenly came to a stop in front of me. There in the tree were 3 toucans! Then, in the next tree over, sat 3 more! Beautiful birds with orange beaks, yellow chests and red bellies, they were a sight to see.
Climbing up the mountain-a pre-breakfast hike!
The climb down went quickly, and with well deserved appetites we walked into town, to Tres Hermanas (3 sisters) for a brunch of eggs filled with meat, plantains, potatoes, rice and beans, and squash in cream sauce, with fresh Costa Rican coffee for Rod and delicious fresh carrot juice for me (another first!) all for under $10.00 for both of us! Another swim in the pool to relax our tired legs, it was an excellent ending to a wonderful birthday celebration.