Other Tales Tales of the Class of 59
Memories of 2000 by Marilyn
CATIE in Turrialba Costa Rica [Fotos]

Watefall in the Aquiares river Rain, happily pounding on my aluminum roof. Waking up to mountains garbed in mist. Praising God daily for the beauty around me. Being busier than a leaf-cutter ant in the rainforest. A student teaching me that "papaya" is not just a fruit; it's a color. Soccer being THE sport. Lilac jeans for men being popular. Going to the Caribbean Coast with relatives over Easter. My car tires crunching coconuts just yards away from the ocean waves, the water warm enough to walk right in.

More rain. Mud-skating downhill in the car. Putting foam strips under the doors to impede the invasion of insect and spider armies. Spiders so big they thumped through the vacuum hose. (Reminders of India) Before my house was closed in, millers blackening the lights and threatening to drop into whatever was cooking. My kitten finding and killing (thankfully) an 18-inch long red and aqua colored lizard that I assumed was a rubber toy until I put my reading glasses on. A worker bringing a baby sloth to school. The music teacher belting out O Sole Mio just like Pavarotti. Volcan Turrialba National Park

E-mail from son Chris in May saying he was graduating 2nd in his class of Architecture with the Master's. Learning and teaching origami--peacocks, sampans, boxes, flowers, giraffes, elephants, koalas, owls, rhinos, lobsters, crabs and fish...from instructions written in five different languages. Taking the 4th graders on a field trip to the Rawlings baseball factory in Turrialba (where I live). Watching the 800 workers in a large hot room stitching the balls by hand, balls destined for the U.S. Major Leagues. Going to Tortuguero by launch to see the green turtles nesting. Seeing an alligator and several bands of monkeys on the way.

Returning to the U.S. in July during the heat wave (school winter vacation). The wonder of white eggs, hot water actually coming out of water faucets, lawn mowers instead of machetes, buying bananas that cost more than 3 cents each. Returning to tropical Costa Rica, ironically, to cool off, most days a pleasant 80 degrees. To a land where vendors on street corners sell lottery tickets and calcamonias de Piolin (Tweety bird stickers), the hotel wanting to know if I would like gallo pinto (rice with black beans) for breakfast, and figuring out how much the colon had devaluated during my three weeks' absence. Back to grocery stores which this week might be out of eggs...or ground beef...or baking soda...Back to my property whose treetops are sprinkled with toucans and oropeles. La Guaria Turrialba

Back to my banana trees and pursuing a stalk in my mini-jungle, vines wrapping themselves around me, pointy stickers covering my clothes--the kind that take an hour to pick off. Thinking as I puff up and down the hill that I'm too old for this and how unfair it is that all the birds have to do is alight on the branch and start eating.

My students' enthusiasm when I brought some coins from around the world--ones with square holes in the center (China) or fluted edges (old annas from India; Morocco) or the one with the kangaroo, and telling about some things that were at one time used for barter--beetles' legs, whales' teeth, salt, playing cards, jungle bird feathers...

The boa constrictor in front of the girls' bathroom that had just swallowed some hapless critter. None of the students had arrived yet--just the cleaning lady and I witnessed it. Taking a walk at night and hearing the armadillos quacking to each other, and listening to the macadamia nuts fall off my neighbors' trees.

Marinating ants in insecticide. White water rafting with a cousin through 18 miles of teacherous class III and IV rapids. Naturally, I was swept overboard and feared for my life...

Tamales made with real corn (as opposted to cornmeal)and rice, wrapped in two layers of banana leaves. My cat Tigre boldly chasing the same German Shepherd that threatened to have him as a snack two months earlier...

These are some of my memories of 2000. I'm headed back for another year of teaching the 21st ([Jan 2001] in three days), for school meetings start Feb. 1st. It's been great being on the receiving end of our class letters -- this letter is making up for lost time on my part.


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