The follow was originally recorded as an interview between Tico Times reporter Alejandro Zúñiga and his mother, Marcy Sacks.
Alejandro: Ok so one more time. Do you want to give me some background about who you are and what your relationship is to me?
Marcy: I am Marcy Sacks. I am a US history professor at Albion College in Michigan. I am also your mother.
A: This is very exciting. I’ve never interviewed my mom before. Can you tell us about your relationship with Costa and why you might be an appropriate candidate for our Valentine’s Day episode at the Tico Times?
M: I have the best Costa Rican love story in the history of Costa Rican love stories. When I graduated college, a long, long, long time ago, I decided I was going to travel before going to grad school. I was thinking about where I would go and I opted for five months of traveling in Ecuador and then Costa Rica, since they were countries that were safe places for a young woman to travel alone. Though I did not speak any Spanish!
I got to Costa Rica after two months of traveling in Ecuador. I spoke a tiny bit of Spanish at that point. I decided I would volunteer in the national park system. In the second park I landed in I wound up in Manuel Antonio – a really wonderful place for a love story…
Do I just keep going?
A: I’ve heard this story quite a few times. But our listeners have not. So you got to Manuel Antonio — what happened from there?
M: I was planning on 3 weeks of volunteering at Manuel Antonio. I walked into the park with my big backpack on.
I hiked into the park up to the ranger house, where apparently two park rangers saw me coming. One elbowed the other saying, “look who’s coming”. The other took one look and left for the week.
I spent a week in the park getting to know my way around it.
About a week in, this tall, very handsome man walked into the ranger park where we were having dinner, acting like he owned the place. He had a motorcycle helmet under his arm. He strode in and I was attracted to him. He was very handsome.
In the next few days, I tried to get to know him. He really wasn’t all that interested. He was doing interesting work with insects, collecting them and mounting them in these wooden boxes. I wanted to find out what he was doing. Most of the time he acted like I was annoying him when I sat down and tried to have not very good Spanish conversations (because my Spanish was poor).
After a couple days, the rangers found a Capuchin monkey in Quepos; somebody had kept this monkey at their house, which is not allowed. Wildlife has to remain in the park. They brought the monkey back into the park to arrange to find a reserve where they could send this little monkey
I thought this monkey was really cute and decided I would take care of it for the day. I took him and I was cuddling him and enjoying taking care of him. But after a while I had to go get some work done. So I decided to hand off the monkey so I could get my work done. This fellow, who had not really paid any attention to me, said he’d take the monkey while I worked.
I came back an hour and a half later and I found this baby monkey on the roof of the ranger house screaming and crying. I was heartbroken. This poor little monkey was really upset. It turned out the monkey had peed on him. He put the monkey in a tree and the monkey had climbed to the roof and couldn’t get back down. I decided this park ranger was really not worth my time. He was not such a nice guy after all. I was done.
He, on the other hand, was so moved by how upset I was over the poor little baby monkey that he took his motorcycle, drove off to Quepos, bought me a chocolate and a Tico Times newspaper, which he brought into the park that evening. Now we’re married.
A: And now some number of years later, I work at the Tico Times and you’re recounting your story for the podcast.
M: …Which is a little crazy. I have told everyone that I brought home the best souvenir that a person could possibly find in all of Costa Rica!
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