Thursday, September 13, 2012

Costa Rica - day 5- Surfin Safari

Woke up to another beautiful day of sun. So much for the rainy season!?! We were definitely not complaining! We headed up the beach to Iguana Surf Shop to meet our instructor Julio for surf lessons for the group. Only thing we were allowed to take to the beach, across the street, were our bathing suits - stuff gets stolen apparently (again- no cameras=no photos). So off we went for 20 minutes of instruction on the beach and then straight into the surf for 100 minutes.

The ocean water was the warmest we had experienced in a long time. Made all the time we spent in it even better. All four of us benefitted from Julio's awesome instruction and enthusiasm. He was very patient too. So we were all catching waves with varying degrees of ugliness- because none of it was pretty. But it was definitely fun!

Lunch at Taco Stop was the best surprise meal we'd had yet. I even posted a review on Trip Advisor because we liked it that much. Back at the hotel we quickly put on some dry clothes to head out of town to visit a farm. This farm belonged to the owner of our hotel. She has taken in orphaned wild animals at her property for many years. She used to keep them at the hotel, but too many people were coming from other places to see the animals. So she moved them to the farm. Luckily another guest at the hotel told us about the farm so we asked if we could go.

At the farm we met Jojo, a white faced capuchin monkey, and 2 orphaned howler babies, who were 5 and 7 months. They were pretty shy at first, but as soon as the baby howlers saw my hair they went crazy. The first one jumped on me, grabbed my hair, and put it in his mouth. I was worried he was going to bite it off. But Horge, the guide who took us to the farm, assured me the baby was just sucking. And suck, and suck, and suck he did. And then the baby, Luca, joined in. They took turns, but always went for the hair. Their care taker, Ingrid, was like the baby's mommy. If she got too far away the monkies would panic and cry for her. Just like a little toddler, they would wiggle and squirm to get out of your hands and back to their "mom". It was so cute to see how much they loved their "mommy".

Jojo was a bit older, maybe 1 year, but they weren't sure on his age since he was orphaned when he was older. This monkey was very friendly and mischievous. He would jump from one person to the next, trying to steal your stuff. He took a bobby-pin right out of Michelle's hair. They also had 3 baby raccoons, which were adorable. It was an unforgettable experience.

Returning from the farm we had some time before dinner that night. We decided to rent some kayaks from our hotel and paddle out to the small island near our hotel to watch the sunset. Because Ian had a cold coming on, he crashed the minute he laid on the bed. So Michelle, Brent, and I rented a double kayak and squeezed three of us on it. Paddling out to the island through the waves and current proves to be a little nerve racking, but we made it!! One-third of the island was covered in shells, with lava rock covering the rest. It was a haven for hermit crabs and had lots of hiding places for large crabs too. We climbed to the highest rock on the island to take in the view. Looking around I noticed a single kayak paddling off the beach. Every time I looked back the kayak was getting closer to the island. Ian woke up, and not wanting to miss out, paddled out just intime to watch a dazzling sunset. Paddling home in the twilight was quick and we made it without tipping over in the surf!

Back on land we took a quick dip in the inviting pool. Dinner that night was at our hotel, set at a table right on the beach. The food was delicious, the weather was beautiful and clear. Another round of hearts that night, until we were drowning in exhaustion,brought another amazing day in Costa Rica to an end.

(pics of dinner to come)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Costa Rica- day 3- Driving and Dirty Cops

Although a powerful storm woke us up at 5am (of course we went back to sleep), we had a great nights sleep. Looks like Mother Nature got our requests for good weather the previous two days and made up for it by dumping her guts this morning. It was pouring like mad, but since we were going to be in the car driving to the coast most of today, it seemed kind of ideal.

Except for the wind that came with the rain, which blew much debris and many trees onto the road. We were barely 30 minutes into our 3+ hour drive across the country when our trip came to a sudden stop. A tree the size of Rhode Island had fallen across the 2 lane highway. Although two men with machetes were making quick work, looked like we weren't going to be moving anywhere unless we helped too. So we put on our rain jackets and started to remove the branches they had chopped off. Soon a man in a Nissan Sentra pulled up, said something in spanish to the machete men, then motioned for us to follow - so we did. That sweet Sentra lead us down a crazy, 10 mile dirt/mud/bush/tree road to get around the downed tree and back on the highway. We had a small 4x4 that made the detour just fine, but definitely had more ticks and noises once we were back on paved road.

As we drove west towards the Pacific, around the huge Lake Arenal, the rain started to let up and the clouds parted so that we got a very brief glimpse of the entire volcano.

After a bumpy (literally) start this morning, it was smooth sailing. Except for the semi we came within in 6 inches of hitting and then ended up in a ditch. Oh, and except for the cop that pulled Ian over doing 120km in a 60km zone. The cop basically told Ian he'd earned a very expensive ticket or Ian could pay him and the ticket would go away. After a $35 exchange was made we were on our way again!

We arrived in Playa Tamarindo in time to see one of the most spectacular sunsets I have ever seen. (Of course my photos will not do it justice) Our home for the next four days, Capitan Suizo hotel, seemed about as perfect as it could get. We went to bed that night feeling like we had hit the jackpot!!

Costa Rica - day 4- Playa del Ultimos Dias

Today was the ultimate beach day! (not sure if my spanish was correct in the title??). When you are expecting lots of rain for your trip and you wake up to bright blue skies.... Pura Vida!!

We did have another 5 am wake up call this morning, but not from the rain. A very loud male howler monkey was letting everyone know who was in charge. And he was doing it in the tree tops just outside our balcony. It didn't seem like he was going to stop, but luckily he did and we got a little more sleep with just the ocean waves and jungle birds for background noise. Luckily the entire family of monkeys were still in the trees for us to watch when we got up. Felt like we were at a zoo, but one with out fences. Encounters with monkeys, huge iguanas, raccoons, and birds.

A morning run on the beach was in order. Perfect beach for running=low tide+hard packed sand. Back to the hotel, jump in the pool, breakfast on the beach, suits on, surf boards rented, beach chairs claimed- ahhhhhhh! Heaven on earth in Central America!

After surfin was done and we were all sufficiently burned, we borrowed bikes from the hotel and rode up the beach to the small town for lunch. Ian scheduled surfing lessons for the next day while Brent peddled back to the hotel to get more money to pay for lunch. Oops- no credit cards where we ate!

After lunch we peddled home for a couples massage on the beach. Yep- it was rad! What was even better was that it was included when we booked the room. So sweet!

Dinner that night was back in town followed by a round of hearts with the Pauls, which ended when I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Costa Rica- day 2- Adventure and then some more adventure

A 7am pick up by the guys at Desafio Adventure Company and we were off to rappel and trek down a small canyon. The three rules of the company are 1- be safe 2- have fun and 3- get wet! We did all three and had a great time, feeling so lucky and amazed to be there and grateful the weather was perfect and totally cooperating.

We hiked out of the canyon soaking wet, changed, and ate a delicious homemade Tico lunch.

Then we were taken to our next stop- a canopy tour- which meant zip lining through the treetops of the jungle, down a mountainside, at speeds up to 40 mph, and up too 500 feet above the ground. It was a rush! And we got to see some Howler Monkeys too!!

We were worried the entire time we were going to get rained on, but the rain stayed away.

After our return to the hotel we headed for the hot tub to soak while it sprinkled. But soon even the sprinkling stopped, clouds parted, and we saw bits of the blue sky. During a nature walk around the resort property we even caught a glimpse of the top of the volcano. Dinner at the hotel that night was delicious and Facebook lessons, map questing, and stories back in the Paul's room until Brent's bloodshot eyes kicked us out were hilarious! Another Pura Vida day!!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Fast Forward to Costa Rica

Since I got behind on posting over the summer, and because I sure no body out there in the real world even noticed, I am skipping ahead from May to September. This doesn't mean I won't go back and update the summer happenings. This just means we are on vacation and need to let the girls see what we are up by posting here.

Even though I am so tired my eyes are stinging tonight, I promised to post a recap.

After an overnight in Dallas, and a delayed flight, we finally made it to San Jose Costa Rica at about 10pm. We were supposed to arrive at 730! We were met at the airport by our friends Michelle and Brent Paul, who were with the guides who would take us up to our destination for the next three days- La Fortuna at the base of Arenal Volcano. Didn't really realize it would take another 3 and a half hours to get there!!!

It was a crazy ride with an insane driver on wet, curvy roads, but we arrived in one piece, tired and only slightly car-sick. We checked at the Volcano Lodge with the Paul's and crashed in our rooms, which we could yell through the walls to each other. The sound of all the jungle creatures outside lulled us to sleep.

We woke up bright and early this morning and quickly ate breakfast at our hotel before getting picked up for our activity- river rafting!!

Although we had been rafting many times before, this was by far the most extreme rafting we have done yet. Not just because the Rio Sarapiqui had class 3 and 4 rapids. But mainly because our guide Luis was insane and set on making sure we nearly flipped the boat on every rapid. And the rapids never ended. Unlike the American river, with long stretches of relaxing flow between rapids, this river only had brief moments where you weren't paddling like crazy.

Even though Luis tried to kill us, he did a great job getting us through, proving that river guides in Costa Rica have a lot more fun than guides in the states, because they can get away with a lot more down here. We had an amazing time!!

After rafting they fed us lunch before the long drive home. It started to rain and then pour. We got back to our rooms just in time. We had nothing else to do but sit and listen to the pouring rain, watch the lightening, and scream (just me) after the thunder that sounded like it was coming through our ceiling. It was pretty entertaining.

We didn't let the the rain keep us away from a natural hot springs resort that night. It actually was a good time to go. Unfortunately we don't have any pictures because it was raining, and we were swimming.

The place was very cool with many hot pool/tubs/caves connected by pathways. There were also 3+ slides that would never find a home in the States. Also, if we were in the US we would have never been allowed in the pool in the first place because of all the lightening. But at least the lightning was prividing some light for our way because half of the resort was without power due to the storm. Adventure for sure!! Our adventerous girls would have loved this place! One day:)

View from our hotel of the elusive summit of Arenal Volcano. And the view out our window.

The housekeepers leave little towel animals for us each day! It's Ellie the Elephant!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Cousin Love

Amy and the boys came or a visit and got the royal treatment! We all love when they come.

Run, girls, run!

Quincee and Camden were on the track team at Placer this year. Although they both don't love to run, they gave their all. Quincee's favorite was running in the 4x100 with her relay team. Camden was a sprinter and took second in the 100 at the championships.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Tri, Tri, Again

Ian took on the inaugural Folsom International Triathlon in May. We had the best time following him around the challenging (1 mile swim, 26 mile bike, 6 mile run) route.

Go Daddy, GO!!!