Holding The Lotus To The Rock

Zen finds a foothold in Costa Rica.

Peter Alsop

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To travel to the small Costa Rican city of Santo Domingo de Heredia you need three things: a good map, a good cabbie, and a good measure of luck. On this afternoon, I’m grateful to have two of the three. Santo Domingo, fifteen miles north of the capital city of San José, is like most Costa Rican towns in that it abjures the need for road signs; travelers get from Point A to Point B using landmarks, as well a significant amount of gesturing and shouting. The directions I’ve been given to Casa Zen, Costa Rica’s lone residential Buddhist center, are laughably vague: “Make a left at the church, a right on the big road, another right after the telephone booth, and a left on the calle de tierra,” or dirt road. After twenty minutes of driving in circles, Cesar, my driver, has passed two churches and innumerable roads that probably qualify as de tierra, and his patience is growing thin.

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