By Jack King
A long time friend, and my cabochon student from William Holland School of Lapidary in Young Harris, Ga. Michael Smith, told me of his trips with his wife to the same resort on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica where they had been going for over ten years. My eyes and ears really perked up when he showed me colorful jaspers that he had picked up while walking on the beach in front of the resort.
So, Kathy and I put this location on our bucket list to do. We learned that Michael and his wife, Ruth, are benefactors to a local school there and that the kids loved having visitors to practice their English with. I discussed it with Michael and it was decided that when we went that we would take books on rocks and minerals that were aimed at youth.
A couple of books from our old club library made into my suitcase along with the other selection of books that we ordered. So, we scraped together some frequent flyer points and made a date for June for us to travel to Tambor, Costa Rica, with our friend, Michael as our guide. We flew from Charlotte to San Jose, Costa Rica, rented a car and were soon on our journey.
What a journey it was to be. We had planned on a 1.5-hour ride to catch the five o’clock ferry. NOT! It was blowing rain sideways and we missed the turn to the ferry and drove another 30 miles before we realized that we were lost. By the time we made our way back to the ferry, there was no ferry in sight and the next one was at 8:30 p.m.
I told Kathy that it could have been a.m. So, we opted for a relaxed dinner and to wait. The ferry trip was another 1.5-hour journey then about another 45 minutes to our rooms. The resort was all buttoned up by this time of night and the manager had to get up to take us to our rooms.
By the next morning we were all walking the beach and it was easy to see the source of the very plentiful jaspers as well as minimal petrified wood along the beach. There was a river about a half mile up the beach which came down from the mountains dumping the treasures of red, green, yellow, orange, brown, and black jaspers. Sizes ranged from walnut sized to fist sized.
I knew that I had the space of the books that I had packed as well as a couple of gifts but was soon wondering which clothes I should leave behind in order to pack more rocks. We all brought our treasures each day back to tables on our porch in front of our room and it soon became a culling process as to which jaspers were the best of the best. A very had choice indeed.
One afternoon as I was sorting thru my finds, a gardener looked up at me and said: “ Do you like rocks?” in perfect English. And so, the next adventure of our journey path began. We met the man on Sunday morning and he took us to a VERY secluded beach where he dives to spearfish and he said that the bottom was littered with rocks that we would like and that they were different than the ones in front of our hotel.
We parked the car and trekked about a half mile thru some very hilly woods and found ourselves on a very steep rocky cliff overlooking a spectacular black sand beach. Of course, there were no steps down to the water. It was careful step by step between the boulders which Kathy, Michael and our guide took.
Yes, I wimped out. In about an hour they were back with the agates that they picked up on the sand as well as the dived for treasures that our guide swam for.
Our next day, for me was the best. And that is the day that Michael and I went to Tambor Beach School. This is not like any Char/Meck school folks. A concrete block building with tin roof and a couple of ceiling fans. Our hotel manager came along to be our make our English understandable.
We started out with the politest 5 years olds who sang to us in English. Then Michael gave a rock program and every eye was eager to see what we had brought. By the time we got to the 11 year olds, ( who you will see in the picture) they were like bees on honey when they saw the books that we had brought. Just like in Mary Fisher’s junior’s group, there were a couple of kids who were already into rocks and wanted to learn ANYTHING that we could tell them.
One asked had we seen aquamarine. On the way into the school, I spotted a walnut size chunk of red jasper in the parking lot. When we showed the kids this, at break time all that you could see were bent over kids. The next day a teacher sent word that many kids showed up the next day with bags of rocks. While on this journey, we learned that their local translation of CON MUCHO GUSTO, which means to them, “WITH MY GREAT PLEASURE.”
Well, for Kathy and me, this new journey in life was indeed with our great pleasure.