la playa, monos salvajes y aguinaldos

I'm supposed to be working on a support letter right now, but I'd rather post a blog. Don't tell Robin.

There are a few more things I wanted to share about our week at the beach, but I was too tired the other night. I'll also throw in some random stuff from yesterday and today (free of charge).

- On Thursday, Robin and I went on a little nature hike/adventure. We climbed up a mountain that was beside the beach. It was really more of a big hill, but mountain sounds better. Here's a picture we took from a cliff as we were climbing up.
And, here's a picture from the top of the mountain. The buildings that you can barely see in the distance are part of the hotel we stayed at. When we got to this point, we got a call from the family we had gone with. They said they were ready to drive to a different beach. We wanted to go too, so we had to run down the mountain back to the hotel. We were pretty tired and sweaty by the time we got back, but it was fun.

- As we were leaving on the last day, we saw wild monkeys. Well, maybe I should say monkeys in the wild . . . their natural habitat. "Wild monkeys" sounds like something pretty scary. Anyway, it was cool. Their was a whole pack of them (pack of monkeys? . . . school? . . . herd? . . . cackle?), probably 8 or 9, climbing in the trees and running about.

- Yesterday, we drove into downtown San Jose. It was really our first time driving there. In fact, I wasn't even sure I knew the way . . . to San Jose. Driving through the city would be hard enough on a normal day. Yesterday, there was a parade going on. Chaos.

- There is a law in Costa Rica that says that businesses must pay their employees a bonus salary in December. The extra payment is called an "aguinaldo". Some Costa Ricans spend their aguinaldo on vacations, some on Christmas gifts. I think the rest spend theirs on fireworks. It is very common to see them illuminating the evening sky this time of year. One of our nearby neighbors had a party last night, complete with very loud fireworks. When they first started, I thought our apartment building was exploding. Robin took this picture from our bedroom window.

In case you're wondering . . . missionaries are not Costa Rican employees and thus do not receive an aguinaldo.

- We think we found a good church. We have tried a few different places since we moved to Belen. The last three weeks, we've attented a church called Vida Abundante. Its very close; we've enjoyed the services, and the congregation seems to be pretty young. It was recommended to us by a couple teachers from the school.

- Yesterday, we stopped by a fruitstand to pick up a pineapple and some bananas. Much to our delight, they had mangos. mmmm! Can you reach up, pull a star down from the sky and put it in your pocket? Such is mango. Seriously though, mangos are so good.

Remember . . . if Robin asks, I've been working on the letter.

Paz fuera

-For those of you who know Spanish, I realize that the preceding phrase doesn't really work. Some of my Spanish I students from last year came up with it and would use it often. Please forgive me. Also if I ever use similar incorrect phrases like ¿Que arriba perro? (another one of their favorites), I apologize.