Thursday was a travel day as we shift gears from our ministry work in the more developed San Jose area, to the isolated community of Barra del Colorado in the North Eastern corner of Costa Rica near the Nicaraguan border.
The break was nice as we had worked very hard the day before disassembling old wheel chairs for parts in one half of a fastener factory; while more skilled workers put wheel chairs together again and fit them for 21 needy people that day. It’s hard to imagine for those of us in Canada, but in Costa Rica there are many disabled children and seniors in need of wheel chairs who simply don’t have them, or have ones that don’t fit properly, which can be very painful and even cause permanent back injury. It was really quite special to see those people wait patiently for hours, and then leave in a “new” chair fit just for them.
The change in climate and flora is dramatic when you pass the summit and start heading down toward the Caribbean side; lush forest becomes dense jungle almost immediately. In the low lands approaching the river, many farms have been cleared to graze cattle, but here even the fence posts sprout shoots and need to be kept under control to keep the jungle at bay! It’s like the entire place is alive.
Part way through the journey we stopped for a brief canopy tour on zip lines. On it we saw a toucan, and a number of large bullet ants which one of the workers told us had a sting ~3 times more painful than a scorpion and lasts for about 2 hours. He knew this having been stung by both in the same week once! Mostly they stick to the trees, but Sonya saw one exactly where my foot had been a moment before… Fortunately we made it out of there with nothing but some exciting memories!
After many more hours in the trucks on windy and bumpy roads we arrived at Puerto Limon where we caught the local water bus to Barra, ~45 minutes down river. We all scanned the shore for crocodiles, but they eluded us for now. There were several stops along the way and the captain effortlessly manoeuvered the large boat into position so the locals could jump on or off. Ours was only one of several in Barra itself as the town is divided in half by the large river.
Before dinner, we went for a short walk to see the ocean, but the path was still underwater due to the recent flooding, so we looked for a way around. It wasn’t long before we came to a small house with a couple of kids playing outside. We stopped and asked if they knew another way, and the grandfather came out and invited us to walk through his property; however, it turned out their path was flooded too. They offered us fresh coconuts off a tree in their yard and I cringed while the young boy chopped away at the end using a machete as long as his arm while his small fingers held it in place an inch or two away.
They mentioned they had a farm nearby and I asked if they had vaca (cows) or pollo (chicken), but the young girl answered, CROCODILES! She said there were also sharks and bofeo (pink river dolphins) there… I’m still not sure what they actually grow, but the boys and I are sold! We talked a bit longer and the grandfather showed us his injured and swollen foot. Not being doctors, we did the only thing we could and prayed over it. The children followed us back on bikes, but the boy’s had no brakes. I chased him down and took a look to see if I could fix them – unfortunately they were damaged beyond repair; however after showing interest he mentioned that they had parts at home but didn’t know how to install them. We promised to come back tomorrow and fix it and I pray they’ll have what we need so we can return their kindness and make his life a little brighter.
And that’s what this whole trip has been about, doing and giving what we can, but receiving back in abundance.
This page contains our collections of stories from the field. We invite each team to share what is going on in the areas they are working in. Feel free to leave a comment and/or interact with us through each post. These are personal thoughts, opinions and experiences, that do not necessarily reflect the values of this organization.