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Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The Visit - Part Two (Funstuff)

Now this is the vacation I was thinking about all along. We had a good time just being together in Escazu, but there is so much more to Costa Rica. Here's what else we did.

Zoo Ave. - This was meant to be a little day trip, our first excursion beyond gringoland. However, we took a left off the Autopista, rather than a right. (Don't know how we missed it, there is a huge sign and if you have heard anything about Costa Rica driving, there ain't hardly ANY signs) and drove out to Grecia and Atenas. Beautiful. Tranquil. Had a great lunch at roadside place called Papa Something. My memory is foggy, but it is on the left. Saw leafcutter ants walking across the parking lot. Very cool. Got back to Zoo Ave and little boy blue was fast asleep. So he missed the first part. Now for my first dumb gringa confession. I thought the Ave. stood for Avenue, um, nope it's for birds. Lots of birds here. Beautiful birds, including free-range peacocks. Bars wanted the kids to stand real close. I thought it was a bad idea. Guess he forgot our last encounter with peacocks. The time in Napa when he stood for a picture next to one behind a fence and snapped at his back pocket. I think if it hadn't been for his wallet that bird would have gotten a piece of him. And that bird was behind a fence. We move through the zoo and the two best parts were:

  1. We saw a huge iguana thing in the trees (i.e. not caged)

  2. We were just finishing up when the weather started to change and this caused for some very active pumas.

Definitely a fun trip that I would recommend. But a zoo is a zoo. For older kids there is real wildlife to see.




Then we went on the road:


Lake Arenal/Arenal Volcano - We drove to the Lake Arenal area and found a cute little place to stay first night. We enjoyed their pool, ate their food, couldn't see the volcano and enjoyed speaking with our hosts. In the morning we went and did a walking tour in the rain forest. Mostly what we got was wet and tired. For the last half of the walk, Barry wound up carrying little boy blue fast asleep in our toddler hiking backpack (one of those many pieces of paraphernalia we brought that were bulky to get around, not needed that often, but a godsend at the right time!) while I had Sera in the baby bjorn. Luckily, Bella has boundless energy and walked the whole way, and was the only one NOT tired at the end. Go figure.

The next day was spent at the Tobaccan Hot Springs (http://www.tabacon.com/). This place is AWESOME. This was my favorite thing and I really want to go back sometime with just my husband (hint, hint Barry). We were tired idiots, unable to decode the map and realize that the spa was, a---(wait for it) ---cross the street and that you needed to ride the shuttle. We wasted a lot of time going back to the town of Arenal to find food, and taking naps, etc. I could have easily spent more time submerged. But it was so nice. And since we were only there one night, we sprung for the Volcano view room - so glad we did. After the kids were asleep, it was clear and Barry and I got to sit outside and watch the lava flows. And when I was up in the morning, I got a picture.



Monteverde - This was a long and beautiful trip. We found a cute little cottage to stay in. One bedroom, and a living area with kitchenette. The owner was very nice and had visited Niagara Falls in NY so we had something in common. He and this place reminded me of the family lodges on Lake Luzerne and Lake George back home. We did not do any walking or zipping trips here. We were all too pooped out. We went to a butterfly farm and at night the Serpentaria. More our speed with the little ones. Not sure it was worth the long drive for us to go here (and back) with the kids at their current age and ability.





But we found this great place on the back side of town were the guy sold fried chicken. That is all. Fried chicken in a plastic bag. Mostly locals buying. Cheap and delicious. And just like the Philippines, Barry said. He also said, "See, you just find something here and do it well and you can succeed."

Playa del Coco - From Monteverde we went on to Playa del Coco. We also picked up Barry's sister, Wilma at the Liberia Airport. We kinda felt a little like locals, waiting on her plane. We spent a few days here. Spent time at the pool. Took a day trip to a beautiful beach, Playa Conchal. During the drive, had to ford a small stream in the middle of the road. On the way back we took a picture driving through the water (yea for 4-wheel drive, remember this is the actual road) and felt like tourists for doing so. Bars got stung by something and the kids liked the beach. On the way back, we stopped to eat at a restaurant that looked like a castle. An American family lives there and runs it. They were very nice and the food was pretty good. It was nice to talk with someone with small kids that made this change. I would recommend stopping here for a snack. You can't miss it, it looks like a castle.
Jaco/Manuel Antonio Park - From here, we traveled south as far as we wanted to drive in the day. We got as far as Jaco. Looked like a good place to spend a couple of nights. We found a place to stay, ate and waited for daylight. During early evening (around 6 - 7 pm) I tried to go from the hotel down to the beach. There was a night guard. In my limited Spanish I asked him if it was okay (safe) for me to go there. Eventually I understood the answer to be no. So we waited for the next day. We drove down to Manual Antonio Park. It was beautiful. After parking, the dry path to the ticket booth/park entrance is shown in the photo. You pay some guys to help you stumble across their boat. We had a nice walk, we saw monkeys (howler and capuchin, unfortunately no spider monkeys for me), coati and some kind of crabs. My kids seemed to like the crabs the best. I am not that much of a nature girl, however it was really nice to watch the monkeys. We also took a swim at one of the beaches. I hung out with sleeping baby under a sheltered picnic area. Great time. We stayed until closing (~4pm). Had to walk out in the rain. And the boat guys weren't there when we left, so we left really soggy, but happy.

San Jose Area - The rest of the time, we spent in Santa Ana. We took a day trip into the city to see the Teatro Nacional and the gold museum and the market. I've been through open air markets in Taiwan, so this market wasn't that unusual. It was a nice day, but definitely not the most unusual. Still, nice to be in the hub-bub for a bit.
The rest - After that, we put Wilma on a plane home in San Jose and just hung out some more as a family. Grocery shopping and such. We did spend sometime shopping at the mall and looked at a few properties for sale to see what kind of options there were. But there will be more on that later. This is too long already.

1 comment:

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