As Samuel and I left his twin brother’s house to head toward Dr Ulloa’s office, we opted to journey over the mountain instead of around it. The mountain in question is the Poas Volcano, topping out just under 9000 feet in elevation. The 4 cylinder 4X4 pickup I was driving worked hard to keep going, switching frequently between first and second gears, attesting to the steep incline of the roadway.
A strong earthquake struck here in January, 2009, with the epicenter being in a little town called Chinchona. A bunch of tourists at La Paz Waterfall and Gardens had to be helicoptered to safety, as were all the residents of Chinchona. It took 2 years before the government got those residents settled into new homes, finally bringing that painful event to a close. Samuel wanted to see what it all looked like, in the area of that destruction, so we chose our route accordingly.
The scenery along the drive was spectacular, with plenty of evidence of the earthquake still visible. Unfortunately, the damage doesn’t photograph very well, so I have nothing to show you here, in this posting. (There are images and video available on the internet from folks who happened to have their cameras in operation at that moment, if you’re interested.) We saw the new town, called Nueva Chinchona -it looked like a trailer park but with little concrete houses instead of trailers, each on a postage stamp lot. Each is probably much less than the residents used to have, pre-earthquake.
We did get to see a beautiful waterfall along the drive, called El Angel, and some impressive vistas. Our destination for the night was the house we stayed in right after Samuel’s surgery back in April, belonging to his brother Gregorio. A few blocks before we arrived, Samuel wanted to stop and visit a friend.
While I played outside with a few local kids, some of whom I knew, Samuel visited inside with his friend. After a few minutes, they emerged with an invitation to “visit the gardens”. I’m always up to see gardens, so I happily tagged along. Very quickly I knew we’d entered some place more special than the traditional botanical garden, of which I have experienced many since they are a favorite place for me to wander. This place, called The Ark Herb Farm, grows everything organically and specializes in herbs and medicinal plants. In addition to the traditional plants-in-dirt growing methods, they also have a section where hydroponics are used. All in all, it was not only beautiful but interesting.
As we took our leave and drove the rest of the way to Gregorio’s, I began to hear wheels turning in Samuel’s head. While the fix to his knee seems to be proceeding quite well, we both are concerned about how he will be able to earn a living in the future. The doctor would affirm this in the appointment tomorrow morning, indicating that the type and manner of former employment is too strenuous for the replacement knee to endure. So, what then? We’ve talked much about this, up to this point. All of a sudden, Samuel is muttering excitedly.
He’s always planted beans, cucumbers and a few other crops, and enjoys the growing process as much as he likes to fish. Perhaps he can grow food for restaurants and interested neighbors, using some of the techniques just observed! It will require more thoughts, research and experimentation, but at least there’s a fire of enthusiasm in his heart for the future, as our time together draws to a close.