Viajando, El virus Zika, y Aceite de Cedro

La cosa mas importante para que sepan los viajeros sobre Zika es que aunque no sea una condición médica serio para la mayoría de personas, todavía deben de tomar precauciones para no difundirlo.

Esto implica que no le piquen los zancudos en primer lugar.

Secundo, si le han picado, talvez sí o talvez no va a estar infectado. Sí usted ha estado infectado, es posible no saberlo, ya que solo uno en cinco personas muestran los síntomas. Todavía, que le piquen repetidamente puede pasar el virus a otros zancudos, que en cambio pueden pasar a otras personas.

Aquí está el producto que altamente recomiendo, y voy a explicar porque en un minuto: Cedarcide

Aquí están unos hechos del WHO y del CDC:

El 1 de Febrero, el World Health Organization (WHO) declaró que Zika es una Emergencia de Salud Pública de Importancia Internacional, similar al Virus Ebola del año pasado. Aunque la difusión del virus (especialmente en mujeres embarazadas) es de preocupación, el viajero común no tiene mucho que preocuparse. El “Centers for Disease Control and Prevention” dice que “ Personas normalmente no se enferman suficientemente para ir al hospital, y muy rara vez en cuando se mueren de Zika.” (Pagina de Web CDC)

Los factores de riesgo son los más altos para bebes que no han nacido, cómo el CDC dice “El virus Zika se puede pasar de una mujer embarazada a su hijo que no ha nacido.” El aumento de la microcefalia (o pequeño cerebro), un defecto asociado con el aumento de Zika, en su totalidad no ha sido confirmado por los científicos, pero se sospecha. El CDC recomienda precaución para las mujeres embarazadas, y recomienda evitar las zonas con Zika, si es posible.

Para la persona promedio, Zika dura aproximadamente una semana, y causa algunas molestias, tales como erupciones cutáneas, conjuntivitis y dolor en las articulaciones. En casos raros, puede causar una especie de parálisis. (Sitio web del CDC).

Hay muchas otras enfermedades en las zonas tropicales que provienen de los mosquitos, como el dengue y el plaudismo.

Los productos de Cedarcide usan el aceite de cedro, que se ha utilizado como insecticida durante miles de años sin que los insectos desarrollan ningún signo de resistencia. Mi marido y yo tenemos experiencia con cedarcide. El año que tuvimos nuestro primer bebé, los gatos decidieron traer pulgas. Una plaga de pulgas se desarrolló rápidamente, y debido al bebé, mi marido y yo quería algo natural. Después de hacer algunas investigaciones, pedimos grandes contenedores de cedarcide y fumigamos nuestra casa con ella. A pesar de que tuvimos que salir de la casa durante unas horas, es una fórmula natural y no deja residuos tóxicos.

Nos quedamos muy contentos al saber que Cedarcide ha desarrollado un repelente de insectos aún más fuerte, que mata a los insectos más grandes, tales como mosquitos, garrapatas y chinches. Sí, aceite de cedro no sólo los repele, pero puede matar al entrar en contacto! La fórmula ha sido probada en cuanto a potencia por laboratorios independientes, y es eficaz para estar en la espesura del bosque. Cedarcide vende Tick Shield (Escudo Contra Garrapatas) fórmula de fuerza industrial para este tipo de actividades al aire libre, repelente de insectos para los bebés no tóxico, y todo en el medio. Si está embarazada y teniendo en cuenta los viajes, yo recomiendo hacer su propia investigación primero. Es mejor tomar precauciones durante esos nueve meses. Pero para el resto de nosotros, Zika y otras enfermedades no deben detenernos! De hecho, Cedarcide vende un repelente de tamaño de viaje y un kit de chinches de cama para los viajeros para llevar en los aviones.

Are Dietary Hangups Eating Away Your Travel Plans?

Perhaps for me– and maybe you too– travel and being “on-the-go” seem like an accomplishment! In my case this is primarily because of the way diet affected me, ever since childhood.

My parents liked to get out and take me places, but I was sluggish, depressed, got car sick easily and complained a lot. The high carb diet of the 70s and 80s took its toll on me early. If your daughter is “sleeping beauty”, or your son seems overly tired, its important to look into the causes. In my early twenties, I finally figured out I had hypoglycemia, or blood sugar imbalance. Cereal and fruit for breakfast, sugary snacks, peanut butter and jelly on white bread for lunch, juice… At dinner, meat and potatoes finally balanced out my system, so that I felt like staying up late at night because I could finally concentrate on homework and reading. But during school, I simply could not make it through the day. I craved lunch meat and McDonald’s hamburgers– and although those aren’t the healthiest foods, my body felt it had a right to some protein and fat.

Some questions to ask ourselves:

  • Are we relying on high carbohydrate, sugary foods as snacks or meals?
  • In spite of the organic or gluten-free label, is it going to raise our children’s insulin level, leading to sluggishness, poor concentration and future diabetes?
  • Is there any real nutritional content to the food, or is it just filler?
  • Do we view the foods we feed our kids as being “fun” or the better choice– “nourishing?”
  • Are we giving in to peer pressure to feed our kids what other kids are eating?
  • Do we pay attention to our kid’s behavior based on what they’ve been eating?

Our bodies do need fat for energy, and for proper hormonal balance. When I found out about the Weston A. Price Foundation in my late twenties, I was ecstatic! Finally, free health information from a non-profit group equipped with research and advice for healthy eating! In spite of the plethora of health information reaching us over the internet, I have always come back to this group as the voice of reason, and the true meaning of “balanced diet” and “whole foods.” Although critics may say that too much emphasis is placed on animal products, the truth is that http://www.westonaprice.org is a non-profit group providing research about the quality of our food, how the nutrients work in our bodies, and where to find good quality, wholesome foods. As far as the ratio of meat, milk, vegetables and carbs– that is up to you and your doctor or natural health guru. The information you will find is not a diet plan, nor does it restrict any group of nutrients in favor of another.

In spite of the wonderful resources I have been privileged to find over the years, I feel that there are seasons where I’ve been overly busy in the kitchen, and this has prevented me from doing what I really love– getting out there and experiencing life! Especially when I found that my children had allergies and intolerances. When my daughter began developing severe rashes all over her body due to eating certain things, it was time to stay home and make everything from scratch. Fortunately, acting on what we knew, we were able to get her gut and her body stabilized within about six months.

While traveling and being on-the-go may seem like an accomplishment, if we are coming home from it all feeling wiped out and miserable, it may require taking a fresh look at the health equation. If we are obsessing  over the health equation, it may be time to get back to the basics so that we can actually get out and enjoy life!

 

 

 

Travel, Zika Virus, and Cedar Oil

The most important thing for travelers to know about Zika is that though it is not a serious health condition for most people, they still need to take precaution not to spread it.

This implies not getting bitten by mosquitos in the first place.

Secondly, if you have been bitten, you may or may not become infected. If you have become infected, you may or may not know it, because only one in five people will show symptoms. Still, being bitten repeatedly can spread the disease to other mosquitos, who in turn can spread it to other people.

Here is the product I highly recommend, and I’ll explain why in a minute: Cedarcide

Here are some facts from the WHO and the CDC:

On February 1, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that Zika is a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, similar to last year’s Ebola virus outbreak. Though the spread of the disease (especially to pregnant women) is of concern, the average traveler does not have much reason to fear. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that, “People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika.” (CDC website)

The risk factors are highest for unborn babies, as the CDC states, “Zika virus can be spread from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby.” The rise of microcephaly (or small brain), a defect associated with the rise of Zika, has not entirely been confirmed by scientists, but is suspected. The CDC advises caution for pregnant women, and recommends avoiding areas with Zika, if possible.

For the average person, Zika lasts about a week, and causes some discomfort, such as rashes, pink eye, and joint pain. In rare cases, it can cause a sort of paralysis. (CDC website).

There are many other diseases in the tropics that come from mosquitos, such as dengue and malaria.

Cedarcide products use cedar oil, which has been used as an insecticide for thousands of years without insects developing any sign of resistance. My husband and I have experience with cedarcide. The year that we had our first baby, the cats decided to bring in fleas. A flea infestation developed rapidly that fall, and because of the baby, my husband and I wanted something natural. After doing some research, we ordered large containers of cedarcide and fumigated our house with it. Although we did have to leave the house for a few hours, it is a natural formula with no toxic residue.

We were happy to learn that  Cedarcide has developed an even stronger bug spray, that kills bigger bugs, such as mosquitos, ticks and bed bugs. Yes, cedar oil not only repels them, but can kill them on contact! The formula has been tested for potency by independent labs, and it is effective for being in the deep woods. Cedarcide sells Tick Shield industrial strength formula for outdoorsy types, nontoxic bug repellent for babies, and everything in between. If you are pregnant and considering travel, I recommend doing your own research first. Better to take precaution during those nine months. But for the rest of us, Zika and other diseases should not hold us back! In fact Cedarcide sells a travel size repellent and a bed bug kit for travelers to take on airplanes.

 

How Do You Stay Healthy on the Go?

IMG_0414Heart healthy, gluten free, unprocessed, low sugar… How do you meet all these standards for a busy lifestyle? I’d love to hear stories of how you and your family stay healthy on the go! Please feel free to send a comment!

I will be sharing some exciting ways that we have learned! whether we’re on a road trip, or just running errands!

Today I wanted to share some fun recipes for the New Year! You remember in my last post how my little one threw almonds into our soup– and gave us a solution for the noodles that were purposely left out! Well here is that recipe, and a couple other fun fresh ideas to take us from winter into spring!

Red Relish Valentine’s Day Salad:

1 cup pomegranate seeds

1/2 cup beets

1/2 cup toasted walnuts

2 Granny Smith apples

2 cups frozen cherries (Costco!)

1 bag cranberries, lightly steamed until they pop (2 minutes)

1/4 cup maple syrup or honey

1/4 cup olive oil

Go-Green Kiwi Smoothie

2 large avacados

as many kiwis and green apples as you can fit into the blender

fresh sprouts or your preferred vitamin mix

optional maple syrup or honey to sweeten (Our family is OK with unsweetened!)

You may add other green vegetables if you like, but I prefer to keep fruits with fruits and veggies with veggies (its a little easier on the stomach that way)

Almond Crunch Stew

In a large pot, saute 1 large onion, red or yellow bell peppers 4 organic zucchini or summer squash in butter till soft. Add 1tsp oregano, 2-3 tsp of creole spice mix (2 tbsp celery salt, 1 tbsp sweet paprika, 1 tbsp course sea salt, 1 tbsp fresh ground black pepper, 1 tbsp garlic powder, 1 tbsp onion powder, 2 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp allspice.)

When the vegetables are soft and mixed well with the spices, pour in chicken or beef broth, and let simmer. (Optional: saute some ground turkey or chicken in a separate pan and add to the soup. Garnish with almonds and cilantro!

 

 

 

Crunchy Soup?!

Do You Take Your Kids’ Advice?Anthony

I’m not talking about bland generalities, like “they inspire me,” or they make me stop and smell the roses.” Come on– it’s January!

Did your children give you any good ideas this past year? Anything so adorable and creative you will always remember it? Any surprisingly grown-up, workable ideas? Any really good questions that made you stop and think– and have to google it? Any little projects they put so much time into you couldn’t help being proud of them?

Go ahead– remind them! Encourage them! And don’t be afraid to comment here on this blog– I’d love to hear some stories about how your kids inspire you!

I need to backtrack and think of all the occurrences this past year when my kids surprised me with something novel. I need to let them know how much I appreciate them! But here is one example from last night:

Crunchy soup?!

“Crunch, crunch,” my little guy was munching on almonds right next to me, and as usual, Mommy had two separate issues to tackle: how to get my son to eat his soup, and how to get my daughter (who was eating it) to stop complaining! “This soup isn’t tasty without noodles. Why can’t we have noodles?” my older child whined. Before I could explain yet another time, my little guy leaned over and dropped an almond right in her bowl. A half-eaten one at that! In spite of her shriek, I looked to my right and noticed my son’s bowl of soup was full of almonds. He seemed to have found them to be quite a tasty substitute for noodles!

One by one, we each tried the almonds in our soup. When my husband came home, the kids insisted he try them too. After learning that I did not intentionally alter a recipe, and that our son was the culprit– not me (whew!) he decided to try one almond, and to our delight, asked for more! No more complaints from the peanut gallery– I mean almond gallery!

Task List versus Inspiration List

Before I give out the recipe– which I will later– I want to point out what my little boy did for jump-starting my new year! If you’ve been following this blog, you may have noticed the recent silence. I don’t mean to make excuses. I don’t have writer’s block. I have what’s called a “bread and butter” business from home. I have clients, deadlines, and scheduling conflicts. I spent the autumn months doing quite a bit of commuting to train for this new venture. Just as I began blogging my children’s book, and blogging about travel, I have been “on the go” more than ever!

Throughout my seven years of being a stay-at-home mom, I woke up almost every day with my right brain in full swing– lots of ideas and a strong desire to write. I promised myself that as soon as my kids reached school age, I’d begin a blog. Well, I’m not breaking that promise! I have plenty of material to write about! It’s just that for the last three or four months, I’ve awoken to a task-list, instead of an inspiration list. And that’s been quite an adjustment!

When I took my blogging course last summer from Nina Amir, I learnedd that a blogger needs to have an outline– a projected course of material and how they will cover it. That outline can get us through times when inspiration seems to be lacking.

Thanks to my amazing little son, I recovered some inspiration! But going forward, I want to talk about what I will be doing with the blog:

What’s Happening with the Blog:

  • At some point, my husband and I will refine and hone the children’s book… stay tuned!
  • “Familes On the Go” newsletter and posts. Tips geared for active parents– not travel adventures only, but more practical, everyday tips for living a busy lifestyle!
  • Nutrition information. Living a gluten-free– or for that matter any health-conscious lifestyle can slow you down. (How to be healthy on the go is something my husband and I have spent a considerable amount of time studying and practicing.)
  • More book reviews– adult and child. Reading list for busy parents, as well as recommendations for children’s educational books.
  • Experiences with moving and transitioning, and helpful tips.
  • More product reviews
  • At some point, an updated look and more user friendly website!

 

Families on the Go for the Holidays

If you’re a family on the go that likesphotos old computer 10362 holiday activities that are educational, cost effective and where you don’t have to fight crowds, you may enjoy my next few posts!

I confess– we haven’t been “on the go” lately. We’ve sorta been lying low. Resting during this season… Although the weather has been pretty good here in the Chicago area, Our family seems to be sick every year starting on Halloween and that’s just the way it is for us. It was that way for me when I was young. So, we avoided all the candy, and caught up on much needed rest and our bodies healed much more quickly this year than ever! A few walks outside on nice days has been about all our energy level could sustain. I’ve even taken time away from blogging, but believe me, it has been to a good cause! Now we can get on to bigger and better things!

Though there’s plenty to do during this season, I’ve decided to share a few events that are local to the Chicago/Milwaukee area that have been meaningful to our family. If you like activities that are educational, cost effective and where you don’t have to fight crowds, you may enjoy my next few posts.

The Quentin Road Christmas Musical, Bethlehem’s Tower is outstanding! We have gone to it for two years in a row. Written by Linda Scudder and arranged and orchestrated by GRAMMY and Dove Award winner David T. Clydesdale, the timeless message of this production goes much deeper than a typical Christmas pageant and reveals significant details that tradition has overlooked… until now. I strongly encourage you to…

“Take a special journey with Quentin Road this Christmas as we unlock secrets from Christmas Past. With a 300-voice children-and-adult choir, dramatic lighting, and live animals (including an 8ft camel), we will present what really happened on that first Christmas night long ago.”

If you’re not from the Chicago area, I’ve heard that it’s broadcast around the world online. Tickets for the live performance are as low as $10, so its very affordable!

  • Performance dates: Saturday, December 12th – 2:00pm
  • Saturday, December 12th – 6:00pm
  • Sunday, December 13th – 2:00pm
  • Friday, December 18th – 7:30pm
  • Saturday, December 19th – 2:00pm
  • Saturday, December 19th – 6:00pm
  • Sunday, December 20th – 2:00pm

Tickets available at http://www.qrchristmas.com or by calling the Ticket Office at 847-438-4494. Address:

  • 60 Quentin Road
    Lake Zurich, IL 60047

Another event we have enjoyed in years past is the Holiday Folk Fair International– a glorious celebration of culture. Our family often enjoys cultural festivals at Milwaukee Summerfest, but this one has dances, music, food and crafts from a wide array of different countries and cultures. More details from website:

http://www.folkfair.org/ Nov 20-22

Enjoy the closing day of Holiday Folk Fair International for free as the Greater Milwaukee Foundation presents its centennial Gift to the Community for November. Free admission on Nov. 22 provides access to a unique and compelling celebration of cultures, including traditional music and dance performances; food and shopping vendors with global wares; arts, crafts and demonstrations.

Nutrition on the Go: Thermal Slow Cooker Recipes

A while back, in my post about thermal slow cookers,  I promised to give some recipes for the thermal slow cooker… Here they are!

Advantages to thermal cooking:

We use our slow cooker for entertaining, parties, camping, and just being on the go! My husband and I discovered thermal cookers (non-electric slow cookers) about eight years ago, and its a great way to save energy, and perfect for taking on the road, or even just to visit friends for dinner!

Another great benefit to it is that my children have special dietary needs. Since they require a gluten-free diet, they need extra calories to make up for not having bread or grains. I can make a pot of soup with rice, or a pot of buckwheat, quinoa or other gluten- free grains, flavored the way they like it. Then they can eat something before going into a restaurant.

Essentially, this little device saves energy and can be brought almost anywhere. Prepare it at home, put it into the outer thermos and let it cook while you’re driving!

Our bodies do need a little more sustenance as the weather changes, and most people spend  more time in the kitchen– which adds to the electric bill. Thermal cooking only requires a stove to get it to a boil, the rest of the cooking is done in the thermos!

Where to purchase them (using my Amazon shopping link)

Thermos Shuttle Chef

I like this one, not just for the color, but the size of it, and the great reviews it got (five stars), and the cost. It’s made by Thermos, the same brand as my first one: Thermos Shuttle

It comes in a smaller size too, and is very economical compared to some of the other brands listed on Amazon. Here is a link to some other brands available: non-electric slow cookers

Read the Safety Precautions

Before trying some recipes, please make sure to carefully read all directions on your thermal cooking device before using. Your thermos will cook the food for you, but it has to be brought to the proper temperature. Each thermal cooking device is different and will come with different safety precautions as to how long the food can cook for, when it must be eaten and whether it can be reheated. You will also need to know the amount of food that it can safely cook and how full to fill the inner pot.

Some Recipes and Sources: Bon Appetite!

The recipes I’m sharing come from the Nissan Thermos Cook and Carry System instructions (the one I have been using.) However, I am excited to try other thermal cooking systems, and I highly recommend Mr. D’s Thermal cooking blog: http://www.thethermalcook.com/ You can go crazy on his website watching videos and learning all these wonderful techniques!

Onion Soup (Serves 12)

1 Tsp Olive Oil

3 Tbsp tomato paste

4 1/2 pounds yellow onion, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick

10 garlic cloves

1/4 pound shallots, peeled and quartered

2 pounds leeks, white part only, sliced 1/4 thick

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

2 1/2 tbsp fresh whole thyme leaves

1 1/2 cup red wine

2 quarts broth

1 tsp salt

2 bay leaves

3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Over medium high heat, brush a large skillet with the oil, add the tomato paste, and cook until the color darkens, stirring to prevent scorching, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the onion, garlic, shallots, leeks, cayenne pepper and thyme, and cook until the onions become translucent and start to carmelize, about 8 minutes. Stir in the wine and bring to a boil.

Transfer the onion mixture into the Cook and Carry system inner cooking pot. Add the broth, salt and bay leaves, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover the inner cooking pot and place in the insulated transport container and allow to cook for two hours.

To serve: ladle into individual bowls and garnish each with a tablespoon of parmesan cheese.

Poached Herb Chicken

1 four pound roasting chicken

1 cup assorted fresh herbs of choice (I like tarragon!)

1 tsp olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut into 4 peices

6 medium red potatoes, well scrubbed, but not peeled

6 cups chicken stock

1 tsp salt

9 whole black peppercorns

2 cups fresh green beans

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

3 tbsp arrowroot

Wash and dry the chicken well, pulling off any visible fat. Stuff the cavity with the herbs and put in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Heat the Cook and Carry System inner cooking pot, add the oil and fry the onion for 3 minutes. Add the carrots and fry for two minutes. Transfer the prepared chicken into the inner cooking pot, on top of the onions and carrots, and tuck the potatoes in all around. Pour the stock over the chicken and vegetables and bring to a full boil. Add the salt and peppercorns, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface. Place the green beans on top of the chicken, cover, place in the insulated transport container and allow to cook for 3 hours.

Just before serving, make a sauce: 3 cups of the stock from the chicken and our it into a fat-strainer cup. When the fat has risen to the top, pour the defatted liquid into a saucepan. Remove 1/3 cup of the defatted stock and mix it with the arrowroot in a small bowl to make a slurry. Stir the mustard into the saucepan and heat gently. Remove from the heat, stir in the slurry, return to the heat and bring to boil to thicken.

To serve: remove and thinly slice the chicken. Serve the meat with the potatoes and green beans, covered with the sauce.

When at Home: Foreign Language

When at home: Foreign Language Audio learning

Ah, summer is almost gone! Yes, we travel a lot, but in reality school season has set in and there’s nothing we can do about it! My little boy is at home with me, and he is constantly asking me, “A donde bas?” “A donde bas usted?” He just naturally expects to be on the road, going somewhere! He’s learning some Spanish phrases because I finally figured out the best way to incorporate foreign language into our home is to listen to interactive audio CDs. I always had musical CDs in Spanish when they were babies, but now I really felt comfortable putting on the Pimsleur Approach Spanish. The best time to play it I find, is when I’m making meals, because that can get so boring and time-consuming– especially for a preschooler. Pimsleur can be expensive, but here is the version I use available on Amazon: Pimsleur Approach Spanish 1. I’m at level two, but that’s O.K. Sometimes I put on what the kids need and sometimes I put on my what I need. During meal prep, while he’s playing or while I’m doing puzzles with him;during dinner prep while my daughter can hear it too, and of course, on the open road!

I love that it’s interactive and that my mind is trying to get the answer before they say it on the CD. It is designed to just listen and repeat. It’s also designed to constantly refresh vocabulary just at the scientifically proven moment that your mind starts to lose its retention. The more times you hear a word, the longer you can remember it; each time gets incrementally longer and the Pimsleur designers have that all figured out! Here is an Amazon page showing the different varieties of Pimsleur studies that are available: Shop my Amazon links

I really believe in giving them potential to become fluent in another language while they are young. For a long time I obsessed about just doing one language, but through thrift stores and garage sales I have gradually acquired Chinese, French, Italian and other languages– there’s nothing wrong with giving them a sampling of multiple languages, and if you have babies still, it has been proven that they can learn to speak without an accent if you introduce it before the age of 16 months! I love the idea of learning it on the go– because my kids and I are too busy to be able to sit down and focus in front of workbooks right now.

When it comes to books, you may like the Usborne First Thousand Words books– each book has the same cute pictures and themes but they come in different languages. Help them learn their first thousand words easily and reinforce what you are doing audibly with Pimsleur. Here is my Usborne link: First Thousand Words

On my children’s book:

When I decided to blog a book, I knew I would never complete it without the pressure keep writing– which comes from having to post two to three times per week. Just read this quote from “The Weekend Book Proposal” by Ryan G. Van Cleave: “Ideas are cheap. A good idea handled poorly in writing isn’t publishable. A boring idea handled wonderfully in writing might well be publishable. It might even be a bestseller. Until you develop your idea on the page, you’ll never know if it’ll work or not as a written text.” That is my reason to keep blogging: to figure out whether it will work or not! Thanks for being patient and supportive of my blog as I figure it all out!

Children’s Literature Conclusion of Book 1

Buses… everywhere in Costa Rica there are buses. Buses to the cities, buses to the mountains, buses to the beaches, and to the rain forest tours. Waiting for a bus could be a little uncomfortable, but once we were on the bus, there were plenty of nice people to share conversation with. Nobody minded speaking Enlgish to us, nor did they mind our muy poquito Espanol.

One bus ride seemed almost magical. We left the beaches of Cahuita and  Puerto Viejo to go up into the mountains. We were on our way to visit an American missionary family. Norte Americano, that is– from Los Etados Unidos like us. They came to help people and had adopted many orphan children from Costa Rica. They had plans to take us to see the volcano, Mt Irazu.

The trip lasted several hours. At one point the bus driver let us get out to use the restrooms and buy bananas at a farm stand. As we rode through little villages early in the evening, everyone was outside. children were kicking balls, grown-ups walking dogs, fathers playing with their children while mothers cooked a meal. The missionaries informed us that almost everyone had a T.V. even in a poor country. Yet they didn’t seem to be occupied with t.v. They were all having fun outside!

We passed a banana field and a man boarded the bus and sat near us. He couldn’t speak English but he kept talking to us with his hands. He kept saying, “Bonita Senorita Sophia! Sophia Laurie!” “Like Sofia Loren?” “Si! Sofia Loren!” he exclaimed!This man only thought of nice things to say. “She is part Italian, and very beautiful,” Daddy said. The man was beaming and trying to tell us about his own beautiful children. I couldn’t help thinking how rough his hands were and how hard he had worked all day– even late into the evening– to take care of his own family. He must have children and grandchildren that live close by. How often do we see someone beaming from ear to ear after working so hard! And talking to complete strangers like us after being out in the fields all day!

Soon we arrived in the city. It had really gotten cooler outside. The bus stopped outside the ruins of a beautiful old cathedral that was all lit up with colorful lights.That is where we met our friends. They took us to dinner that night and to see Mount Irazu the next day.

“Mama, was Costa Rica your favorite place that we traveled to?” “So far, yes.” “Why Mama? Because it was so beautiful? Or because the people were so friendly?”

“Both,” Mama said. “Is Italy like that too?” Asked Sophia. “I think so. People like to talk. And they like to be outside going places– busy late into the evening.” “That’s how Giovina is,” Sophia said. “I think Daddy and I will paint Costa Rica first!”