Murray Bridge Friendship Force visits Costa Rica and Mexico

Travellers: Graham Keller, Ray Symes, Margaret Case, John Berger, Jan Berger, Marilyn Keller, Jill Reddin, Gloria Mundy, Jack Reddin, Joy Symes, Journey Leader Lorraine Willis, Roland Schiek, Claudia Schiek and Trevor Mundy.
Travellers: Graham Keller, Ray Symes, Margaret Case, John Berger, Jan Berger, Marilyn Keller, Jill Reddin, Gloria Mundy, Jack Reddin, Joy Symes, Journey Leader Lorraine Willis, Roland Schiek, Claudia Schiek and Trevor Mundy.

An adventurous party of Lower Murray folk recently ventured off from the usual Aussie tourist route into some countries in Central America.

Fourteen members of the Murray Bridge Friendship Force Club enjoyed the hospitality of homes in San Jose in Costa Rica and Xalapa in Mexico.

A week of home hosting with a sharing of homes, friendship and culture is initiated internationally and implemented by local journey coordinators.

The destinations proved popular as the energy quickly returned after long flights with a warm welcome to embrace the music and dancing, with all finding it impossible not to join in.

San Jose is a city of 350,000 people. In this area visits were made to volcanoes, the La Paz waterfalls and an animal rescue centre as well as the beautiful National Theatre.

The city includes a number of UNESCO heritage sites with the hosts taking their visitors to museums, cathederals and archeological sites.

Strong bonds of friendship at such exchanges are consolidated but eventually set to continue at a distance at a farewell party.

Each party is unique but in Central America it involves traditional dancing and a masquerade performance.

The adventurers assembled in Xalapa, Mexico for a second week of hosting.

Xalapa is a city of about 500,000 people near the Caribbean coast.

Once again excitement and anticipation greeted the Murray Bridge ambassadors with dancing, eating and cultural experiences after a four-hour trip from Mexico City.

A meeting with the Mayor of Xalapa provided an opportunity to exchange a letter of greeting provided by Rural City of Murray Bridge Mayor Brenton Lewis.

The week sped by with city tours, a visit to an anthropological museum, coffee plantations with a day trip to Vera Cruz.

Once again members of the ambassador group rejoiced in the experiences unique to the sharing in another culture for a week at a person-to-person level.

The Friendship Force in Murray Bridge has been providing experiences at home and overseas for more than 30 years. Already a program is in place for the coming year.