Friday, January 15, 2016

Daniel's Bar Mitzvah in Costa Rica

My wonderful grandson Daniel! He has a cast on due to
a broken thumb skiing in Taos.
I now have proof that Daniel actually does eat. He is a
notoriously picky eater.

It's been too long a time since my last blog post and I apologize! I got caught waiting for the final pictures of Sean and Will's wedding and then I never got caught up. SO - I'll finish up their wedding photos later and meanwhile bring you up to date. We are now in Costa Rica. Our oldest son Joshua has moved his family; my wonderful daughter-in-law Michal and their five children, Daniel, Ariella "Cookie", Maya, Joanathan "Uzi" and Shira to San Jose, Costa Rica for probably one semester of school. We found about this in late December including plans for Daniel's Bar Mitzvah at the Orthodox Synagogue there last Saturday the 9th of January. This is big deal for Daniel and all his family but they had found it hard to make a decision as to where it would be. In addition they were very interested in having all the children learn Spanish and have international experience. Costa Rica fit the bill in many respects - not least of which was the very old established active Jewish community.
 So we made sudden plans to fly from Guatemala to spend the week with them before getting down to our boat. We flew in Friday afternoon and after only a brief pause at our hotel, joined them for Shabbat services at the temple. Daniel had a little experience meeting everyone that night and reading briefly part of the service. The next morning he was absolutely awesome (and this is not just his grandparents speaking). The congregation there labeled him the "Wonder Boy". He read and sang from the ancient Torah (with no vowels) ALL the 9 parts of the service. This is basically unheard of. And he sounded so great. Then he gave his speech, a discussion of that week's Torah portion. Josh sponsored the luncheon following the service. It was all wonderful. Unfortunately I couldn't take any photos as it was Shabbat, sorry. Afterwards we enjoyed ourselves in their new apartment. It's on the 12th floor of a very modern high rise overlooking the national stadium at the huge park in the city. That night was a big soccer game and the fireworks display lasted for 20 minutes - what fun.
From left; Deborah, Shira, Ariella, Jonathan, Scott, Maya & Daniel
Scott's first wife Deborah Garren with Daniel at the luncheon
following the Bar Mitzvah
The next day we were ready early for a trip up to the Poas Volcano National Park, about 2 hours from San Jose. It was a long pretty drive through pastoral landscapes with lots of dairy cows. This area was obviously settled by German immigrants and has a European flavor. The summit is 8,900 feet and lovely trails connect the 3 craters with the visitor's center. We spent several hours hiking to 2 of them. The main crater is quite active although the last big eruptions were in 1952 - 54. We also took the uphill trail to the Botos Crater, now occupied by a beautiful green lake in dense vegetation.  We had been advised to start early as the clouds and mists roll in later and obstruct the views. But on this day and the next we had perfect weather.
We were all hungry when we finished our exploration of the volcano and happily we found the beautiful Quieres Restaurant with a huge local buffet, "all you can eat", down the road. The views were extensive and the food good, with lots of choices for everyone.
I'll cover our next day's adventure in a (quickly) following post.

A timed shot in their new apartment in San Jose, Costa Rica

Dancing around the kitchen

Jonathan "Uzi", Maya and Shira

Maya, Ariella "Cookie" and "Uzi" on the way

"Uzi" and Shira under the Umbrella Leaf

Walking up to the Volcano Crater

Steam rises up from the thermal vents at the main crater

Cookie and myself pose

Daniel looking over the view

This is the second crater, reached after a good long uphill walk and really spectacularly beautiful

Our way was lined with flowers

Scott, Maya, Shira, Michal, Uzi, Heather, Cookie and Daniel\

Cookie pauses on our way up to the Botos crater
The view from the Quires Restaurant where we had lunch

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