(Friday, December 28) WE MADE IT!! It turns out that Colleen Mitchell (our Saint Bryce host) and Fr. David know each other from LA!! We are all astounded at the beauty of the land. Fr. David said Mass at the Basillica of Our Lady of the Angels that houses the black stone Madonna (a national treasure). A dog was in Mass barking and dinner at an authentic Costa Rican restaurant was so yummy (Br. Felix has beef tongue). We are all BEYOND EXHAUSTED, but the friars are still laughing.
During the flight from Charlotte to Costa Rica we were all seated together as a group, so we were all switched seats and everyone had an enjoyable ride. The turbulence was to be expected and the kids who had never flown before said they enjoyed the plane ride. We thought it felt like a bumpy ride at Cedar Point at times and all raised our hands and “whoo” — O.K. Stacy and I did. Even though the turbulence didn’t last long, our pilot’s comment, “Fasten your seat belt and if there’s an emergency the light will go on,” may have been meant to comfort us, but to a couple of moms hearing the word ’emergency’ from a pilot was disquieting and comical at the same time.
Colleen met us outside the airport, which was a crazy scene of people, cars and motor bikes. The Costa Rican people working with and for us have been sooooo smiley and helpful.
The hotel is more like a motel and it feels like we’re at the lake. The windows don’t have screens and remain open all night for airflow. That means we can hear everything going on in the street below. The sleeping arrangements were quite comfortable, which is saying a lot from a picky American. The septic systems here can’t handle paper waste, so we have to throw away out toilet tissue in the waste basket. The thought is pretty gross. It’s reality here, though.
Coming with the brothers has been SUCH a blessing and a comfort. They are laughter and heartfelt discussions and DEEP theology and merciless teasing and gentlemanly with their polite, humble way of loving.
Fr. Daivd, within 10 minutes of arriving, was celebrating Mass at the Basilica in Cartago, which was hoped for but not prearranged. He had some stops and starts with his Spanish, but the people gave him a warm applause of welcome after Mass. Then they welcomed the youth group and thanked us for coming.
The group made the traditional act of adoration from the back of the church, down the main aisle scootching on their knees. Stacy and I thought we may not be able to walk the next day, so we walked to the altar rail to pray. You can look up the miracle of the stone Madonna, “La Negrita”.
… The beauty of the Basilica all lit up at night was magnificent and even more so with the relative dark of the city. There aren’t as many businesses lit up at night as in the US, even in bigger cities. Even though the roads and cars and people and graffiti feel like a larger city, the lack of sidewalks – plus ALLL the plant life make it feel like a smaller town (that just goes on for a long while).
Tom, David and Ale definitely have it over on the rest of us since they know some Spanish. Even if it’s a struggle for them, they’re doing GREAT and it’s been needed.