September and October are the most beautiful months on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. And because most of the people who come to Costa Rica to visit are told that this is the rainy season (which it is on the Pacific side but not here) there are almost no tourists. Not so great for the businesses but wonderful for those of us who live here and have the incredible opportunity to enjoy this beauty in isolation. Snorkeling is the best since the sea is so calm – almost like a lake. So when my 60th birthday rolled around last Sunday, we headed off to our favorite spot at Punta Uva. It was so great to swim around and see all the amazing life underwater. We didn’t stay long but definitely got our first taste of many more adventures to come.
We did have very sad news on Wednesday though. Our good friend and neighbor Juni died leaving his wife and four children. He had just turned 50 on September 6th. The funeral and burial experience in this culture is very different than in the U.S. Because there is no embalming, burial needs to take place quickly. Sometimes burial takes place on the same day – particularly in the case of an elderly person. Also, the gravesite is dug by hand – there are no backhoes used for this purpose. Several of Juni’s friends, including my husband Tom, headed out early on Thursday morning to dig and prepare the grave. It was three long hours of work.
The wake was held that night at the community cultural center and friends and family came and talked and hugged each other. Then the family stayed with the body all night. On Friday morning the funeral was held in the cultural center which was extraordinarily hot! Many of us went outside to the porch to get some fresh air hoping for a bit of a breeze. When the service ended, the casket was put onto a truck and taken to the cemetery not far away while a parade of people walked behind. Another service was held and then there was a lot of spontaneous singing. Finally, nine days after a person dies there is a celebration of his life. It is thought that this is the day that the soul leaves the earth and enters heaven so people gather around to make the transition easier.
To end on a good note – our new deck was finished last week and it is wonderful to sit out there and just look at the wonderful garden! We love the other side of the house as well but it is nice to be able to sit and watch the different variety of birds and animals that visit the backyard. It is amazing that there is a difference in just a few feet but there really is.