Today was the end of our mission work in Limon and the beginning of our excursion in Puerto Viejo. It was bittersweet much like the chocolate we had the privilege of tasting.
It began with the best hits from our breakfasts over the last four days: fried bread, eggs, and mango. In the flurry of packing up and trying to prepare, it was a grace-filled moment to be able to share a meal. We then headed to St. Mark’s to conclude our time there with a farewell mass and the Eucharist with members of the local congregation.
The mass was in English but still distinct from a church service at Christ Church. The words were identical but the cadences and emphasis was unique in a way that made me pay attention to the words I was saying. The songs were lively, joyful, and at times confusing as they often did not follow the words written on the pages given to us, not unlike our work which was rewarding but largely only loosely based on what we expected.
After the mass, we truly got to see the fruits of our labor and the value we were bringing to the church. The wall we had cleaned, spackled, and sanded was finally covered with a fresh coat of paint (at least where people could see it). All of the supplies left over from the VBS were catalogued and stored for future use by St. Mark’s.
As we left, we all said farewell to Marva, Bethony, Hernan, and others, the wonderful people who had been guiding us throughout our week. It was extremely touching to see people who were so involved in their church and were truly working to give it life and to do the work of Christ. In addition to the gift of their example, they also gave to us homemade Costa Rican flags so we could always remember the time we spent at St. Mark’s.
After another scenic bus ride, we reached the coffee shop and cacao plantation known as Caribeans. There we met Paul our tour guide and the owner of the shop, a man who with the help of his wife, friends, and some talented indigenous people is single-handedly attempting to revolutionize the way that chocolate is grown, produced, and enjoyed.
The tour took us through a tropical rainforest, Paul’s cacao plantation which was once abandoned and overgrown but now thanks to the joint effort between himself and his workers is a thriving ecosystem not just for cacao but for an assortment of beautiful and amazing flora and fauna. He taught us about the history of chocolate and his own plantation. We learned so much about the cacao/chocolate industry, and how chocolate is made. Paul taught us to visualize chocolate in ways we had never considered before with comparisons to everything from fine wine to cheating on a test. It was an experience that we could not have had anywhere else in Costa Rica, or the world.
We were able to taste chocolate from every step of the chocolate making process from the cacao fruit straight off the trees to his 72% cacao 28% cane sugar chocolate bars each from a unique farm with unique bursts of flavor and texture. In a way, I had my second communion of the day when we all shared ceremonial drinking chocolate. We celebrated the opportunity to all be together in the creation of God and to witness true art being created for the glory of God. Words cannot adequately describe the beauty of the time spent in that place with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Our day concluded at Tamara, a Caribbean restaurant, where we had great food and danced to wonderful music until we were truly exhausted.
Today was filled with many gifts both physical and spiritual. It has been a privilege to once again visit and serve Costa Rica and it fills my heart with joy that my time here is still not yet finished.
– Sarah Kuo