Third-grader has summer vacation to brag about


August 27, 1998|By Joni Guhne | Joni Guhne,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

WHEN DIEGO SOLANO returns to Benfield Elementary School Monday for his first day of third grade and his teacher asks, "What did you do this summer?" he's going to have a great answer.

The 9-year-old vacationed in his father's native Costa Rica.

Diego went with dad, Rumano Solano, and mom, Kathy Solano, a Maryland native, to visit relatives living near the city of San Jose.

They toured an insect museum, where they saw praying mantises about a foot long, and a butterfly farm, where, if they held quite still, the butterflies would land on their arms.

They went to the Zoo Ave bird sanctuary, where Rumano Solano played a small bird call to entice the colorful residents from the rain forest shadows.

The high point of their vacation was a trip to Corcovado National Park, where the family saw an active volcano, Mount Arenal.

Costa Rica "is so new, the mountains so jagged," Kathy Solano said, "that you feel like you are looking at the beginning of time."

In the daytime, they could see steam from the lava. At night, from the Tabacon Lodge and restaurant near the volcano, they could see the glow from red-hot lava shining in the darkness.

"It was thrilling, but the restaurant owner can't buy insurance at any price," said Kathy Solano. The lodge gets a break on its hot water bill. The natural wonder heats the 23 thermal pools on the grounds.

Mount Arenal was active in April. The locals don't worry about the volcano unless it gets quiet. Then they know it's active.

"We hiked through a rain forest at the base of the volcano at daybreak to hear the jungle waking up," said Kathy Solano. "Part of the hike was over a former lava field whose vast area of desolation made us feel like we were in another world."

Here and there, they would see a fern, or a bird the primitive rain forest returning to life.

"We listened to the monkeys and saw toucans flying. It was like being in a National Geographic video," Kathy said.

The Solanos, both musicians, met while playing for the Annapolis Symphony and he was a student at Peabody Conservatory. As symphony secretary, her job was to take attendance. A bass player, Rumano Solano is a member of the Richmond Symphony Orchestra. Kathy Solano, a violinist, is a member of the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra and the Mid-Atlantic Symphony.

Nature hike

Join Ranger Tom Mayer as he leads a one-mile nature hike along the B&A Trail Park beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday. Mayer will help hikers discover ferns, wildflowers, wetlands and wildlife.

Reservations: 410-222-6244.

Pub Date: 8/27/98

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