This morning we left the beautiful Arenal Paraiso Hotel Resort & Spa. Before leaving, we filled our stomachs with fresh frutas, huevos, y arroz con frijolesin preparation of our half day drive to the Pacific Coast. Along the way, we made a pit stop to take one last look at the Arenal Volcano and took a group picture.
As we continued our trek through the curvy mountains, many on the bus decided to partake in some friendly competition. Thumb wars, rock paper scissor, and paper plane making brought a smile to many and took our minds off of the pending motion sickness.
After about an hour of driving, we entered the tropical dry forest. The yellow fields and vegetation were completely different from what we’ve encountered in Costa Rica thus far. We passed by some amazing scenery including gigantic windmills, man-made lakes, and a majestic volcanic range. We learned about the underground irrigation system that is in place because of the lack of water in the area. Lake Arenal’s water is used to help water the farms for those located in the tropical dry forest. Fernando also taught us about the volcanic steam, wind, and water are used to create electricity for the residents
Of the many stories our tour guide, (the walking Costa Rica Wikipedia) Fernando, has told us, the one that stands out above the rest is about the professor and student who once visited Costa Rica. The professor knew the area, and visited a local village he was familiar with. They both stayed a night at the humble home of a family he knew.
The student quickly learned that the family was sustained by a single cow who supplied the milk and cheese that the family lived and depended on. Without the cow, the family had no source of income.
In the morning, the professor and student begin their trek to the next destination. As they left the home, the professor pulled out his knife, and wordlessly killed the family’s cow, their only source of income. Aghast by the actions of the professor, the student could find no words.
A year later, the professor called the student, wanting to know if he would accompany him once more to Costa Rica. The student obliged, curious to know how the family had turned out.
Upon arriving at the same village they had visited the year before, the student anxiously awaited for the repercussions of the professors actions. Instead, he was shocked to find the farm in better shape than they had left it. Luscious gardens grew where the cow once stood, and the farmhouse was replaced with a bigger, newer home. The farmer and his family welcomed the student and professor in, and gladly recounted the events of the past year.
“After the cow was killed,” said the farmer, “The farm was in trouble. No more milk, no more cheese, no more way of living.” So he planted a garden. And the garden grew, and grew, and gradually replaced the need for milk and cheese. Soon, the family was once more self-sufficient. “And,” The farmer proudly explained, “we expanded. We opened a shop in the market and now sell our produce.” With the profits resulting from the produce, the family was now more than self-sufficient. They were earning an income.
The student was shocked at the development of the story. As they left the following morning, he asked his professor why the chain of events had to occur for the family to finally become more than just self-sufficient. The professor simply stated, “sometimes, you have to kill your cow.”
As a student from America, we become accustomed to the lifestyle. Deviating from that—even something as simple as just losing AC, can send us into a tailspin. But here we are, six days in, and the energy in the air was palpable as we finished lunch and boarded the bus for the final destination here in Costa Rica. The two hour long drive was the same as any road trip. Movies, games, and sloths. It was our last road trip with the best bus driver in Costa Rica, Salvador, and none of us missed the opportunity to wish him adios before his long drive back to San Jose.
Call it the excitement of coming to a five-star resort, or just the relaxation provided by the Hot Springs at the hotel the night before–but we were ready to go. The resort has not disappointed yet. We’ve already had the chance to play volleyball, and we’ve all experienced the live music and food that only a resort in Costa Rica could provide.
To experience something as brilliant as this, sometimes you have to break out of your comfort zone. As Fernando hauntingly put it, “sometimes, you have to kill your cow.”