Heidi, Boy 1, 2, 3, and I were strolling through Cahuita, on our way to a friend’s house, when we came upon the long line of vehicles and a police checkpoint. A motorbike was being turned away, so we asked what was up. “El presidente está visitando el colegio,” was the response. Wow! Luis Guillermo Solís, the current president of Costa Rica, came to Cahuita to tour the new national park facilities, and was now speaking at the high school. “¿Podemos pasar, queremos visitar a nuestros amigos que viven allá?” I asked them. They told us we could go see our friends as long as we were on foot.
Santiago (5 year old friend of Boy 1, 2, and 3), Fanny (his mom), and a friend were hanging out on the porch when we arrived. There was a lot of chatter about el presidente visiting next door. The boys all began playing in the yard, and we meandered over to watch them. The yard bordered the high school property, and we could clearly see the president chatting with other officials. I also noticed a couple of secret service gentlemen hanging close, earpiece and coiled cord in place. A friend of Fanny’s friend came up and told us all to come on over through the hole in the barbed wire fence that separated the two properties.
Fanny and her friend crawled through, while I stayed with Santiago and the boys. Santiago immediately began sobbing for his mother, and the two women urged me to crawl through with Santiago and Boy 1 & 2. Heidi said she’d stay with Zevy, so against my better judgement, I crawled through with my 3 young accomplices. As soon as I had done it, I wished I could take it back. Visions of being deported back to Maine in February hit me — a veritable death sentence for one that no longer owns winter gear.
But there we were 200 ft from the president. We closed in, and as we did, I looked back at our escape route. Two police officers had positioned themselves in front of the hole in the fence. Paranoia set in — were they staring at me?
President Solís finished his discussion and began making his way past us. He spotted Kai, and walked up to him, extending his right hand. Kai recognized the gesture, and reached out to shake the president’s hand. President Solís saw me fumbling with my camera, and motioned for one of his staff to bring Cove over. The president of Costa Rica then removed his hat, squatted down, and held both boys in his arms.
That’s how it went down, and in Costa Rica it was Pura Vida!
Here’s the story broken down in photos — minus the illegal fence climbing part.