Thursday, February 02, 2006

It's high-res, baby!

Before Dad got here, Alex told me he was sending us each a present. I knew the girls were getting dolls from the dollar store and I figured, Cool, a box of chocolates or my favorite conditioner or something.

No no. Not chocolate. A new 5 megapixel digital camera with 128 MB expansion card. It's high-res, baby!

I took 83 pictures on our trip to the Orosi valley yesterday. Here are 21 of them. I had to shrink them down for the blog of course, or it would have taken hours to upload them all.

(Still no word on broadband in my neighborhood because neither the cable company nor the sole DSL provider--the telco is a government monopoly--has seen fit to wend their way up my mountain yet. Although it was suggested to me today [hi Ruth!] that if Oscar Arias wins the election on Sunday--and he's expected to--there could be some progress on the technological front because he's fer that sort of thing. So that's something.)

So without further ado, I bring you...well, what we did yesterday.

We decided to be adventuresome and go the back way. Which, you know, is not like going the back way to the mall. It would be somewhat misleading but not inaccurate to say we headed generally east, then hung a right at the volcano...

Anyway, I asked Dad take a couple of scenery shots while we were driving down the road, to see how the camera did while in motion. I'd say it passed that test:

Then we came to a scenic overlook, so we got out and looked over the scenery.

We were going through Cartago, so we stopped at the Basilica, one of Costa Rica's holiest sites (Catholically speaking).

The story goes that a young Indian girl found a statue of the Virgin Mary in the woods on this site in the 1600s. She took it home, but the next day it was gone. She returned to the woods and found that it was back on top of the rock where she had found it. This was repeated the next day, so she went to the priest, who took the statue and had the same experience. The church was eventually built on the site, and the statue - now swathed in gold - is above the altar.

Many people make a yearly pilgrimage to the Basilica on a certain date each year, mostly on foot and some from towns many miles away. Many travel part of the way, or at least up the aisle, on their knees. On any given day many of the people who visit the church move from the door to the altar on their knees.

Some of them come to ask the Virgin Mary for specific prayers or miracles, and often they leave a token that represents their petition. In a specially built area behind the church, you can see the original rock where the statue was found, as well as case after case of these tokens (which can be purchased in a shop across the street). Most are in the shape of a specific body part that needs to be healed or cured. There are whole sections of hands, feet, eyes, etc. (And yes, every body part you can imagine is represented at least a couple of times among the hundreds of figures.)

There are also non-medical petitions, with figures representing houses, vehicles, chairs, weapons, name it. I'm not sure exactly what the whole-body charms represent...maybe the desire to have a child, or for the general well-being of a family member?

The shop across the street also sells plastic bottles in various shapes that you can fill with holy water from the spring near the site of the miracle. I got a bottle in the shape of the statue (in its current form - with golden rays emanating from it) and filled it for Yolanda's ailing mother.

I took my cue from that other guy and rinsed out the bottle a couple of times before filling it. I guess the "clean catch" concept holds true for holy water too.

After the Basilica we went to the Lankester (why oh why do they spell it that way??) Botanical Gardens, which were lovely.

Dad's favorite was (were?) the giant bamboo

Here's the view from the place we had lunch:

In the town of Orosi we saw another very old church, this one very small and quaint. It had a tiny attached convent, which has been converted into a museum of religious artifacts from various parts of Central America and Mexico, as well as some of the original furnishings from the church.

One of my favorite plant photos is not from the botanical garden, but from the landscaping around that church:

I also like this one, which is from the place we went next:

We finished the day with coffee at a restaurant called La Casona del Cafetal, which was recommended to us by a friend (hi again Ruth!), but which neither of us realized would be sooooo nice. And I mean "nice" like excellent food, service & ambience for a great price, without being (and this is key) "shouldn't-be-wearing-jeans nice" which would have detracted from the overall niceness quotient.

We ordered our coffee, then I went to the ladies room. I actually had to leave the restroom and go back to the table for my camera because this is what it looked like in there:

If you're going to go out for coffee, you may as well go to a place that takes its coffee seriously. All the art (outside of the restrooms) revolved around the planting and harvest of coffee, which is grown locally.

I'm pretty sure I don't really look like this, but it strikes me as one of those pictures that everyone else probably thinks came out good, so I guess I'll go ahead and put it in.

It's high-res, baby!!!


lisa February 03, 2006 7:12 AM  

Yay! I keep wishing you had a new camera, because I love when you post pictures but sometimes they're hard to see.

The last picture of you doesn't quite look like you, but it does look like the picture of you with your parrot quilt (May 2005) which also doesn't look like you. I think a lot of it is you look like you have really short hair in both pictures. Where is your hair? Ooh! I just looked back at the filling-the-bottle picture. There it is!

Jill February 13, 2006 8:00 PM  

Those pictures are fabulous; thank you for posting them. I am going to take my camera on my next food excursion.
I must say also that I love coffee icecream. I particularly love coffee icecream with crushed Heath Bars on top.
Now, I believe that when we are about to die, we won't say, "Oh, I wish I had fewer scoops of icecream."
Thus, my philosophy is, always order the good icecream, and cut back on crap.

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