Lois writing now
I feel guilty about complaining that this trip was cut short, and that the Cuba trip was cancelled. It is a minor inconvenience, compared to the hardships for so many other people, not only in our community, but around the world. With schools closed, kids are home and parents are either trying to occupy them with meaningful activities, or else worrying about child care. There is new respect for what teachers do every day. In our state, schools are supposed to re-open April 6, but at least one state has decided they are done for the remainder of the school year. Seniors in colleges and high schools are missing out on their last months of activities.
Many folks do have to work: health care workers, police officers, fire fighters, grocery store employees, delivery people, public utility workers, and lots of others. But so many people have been laid off from work, and they are not sure how they will manage without their normal income. The tourism industry is a big one in our home town (just like in Costa Rica), and even the casinos are shut down. The sports writers for newspapers are writing about more urgent matters. I fear that many homeless folks will suffer a great deal, as well as those on the fringes of society. John & I have food, shelter, clean water and heat (and each other), plus a variety of house chores to do, so we are in comparatively good shape. This coronavirus thing is scary, and no-one knows how long we will be sequestered. The economy is in very bad shape.
John & I had a wonderful time on the Costa Rica trip, and it’s too bad that it had to end early, but it made sense to do so. We made it home safely on Tuesday night March 17. There were no problems with the airplanes (all of them were filled to capacity), and U.S. immigration and customs went smoothly when we arrived in Miami. John & I had applied for the Global Entry program with the US government a couple of years ago, so that gives us priority when we re-enter the country.
The flight from San Jose left at 6 AM, so we were up at 2:45 to catch the shuttle to the airport. There was a long layover in Miami, and then another couple of hours in Chicago. Those airports were kind of empty (see photo above). We were able to get something to eat, and also catch up on correspondence and phone calls during our down time. Special thanks go to John Gerty, who picked us up shortly after midnight when we arrived back in Traverse City. The snow is mostly gone, but we are still wearing winter clothing.
Hopefully all of this will be a memory by late next fall, when we are due to head overseas again, to Japan and India.
This is John writing
I came away from our trip in Costa Rica with a lot of respect for the country and its people. They have some problems, but compared to the US, they are very enlightened. They have no army. Fifty percent of their annual budget goes to free health care and education. As a result, they are the richest country in Central America. Undocumented refugees from Nicaragua can go to school and use their health care system at no cost. For the many homeless refugees, there are public showers and bathrooms. Their population consists of people of many different skin tones, from almost white to dark brown. It seems to matter about as much as the color shirt you choose to wear. The "ticos", (a nickname for Costa Ricans) are wonderful hosts. Their country has much to offer for the eco-tourist. They have beautiful beaches on both coasts, and in between they have mountains that tower to over 12,000 feet, whitewater rivers, high valleys with moderate climates, and lush tropical forests. When this pandemic is over, I urge everyone to visit Costa Rica. It was our second trip there in ten years, and we'd like to return some day.