17 April 2010

Adios Costa Rica

After two days of waking up to beautiful sun, today it is stormy and
overcast in manuel antonio. I think Costa Rica is sad to see us go,
but is trying to make it easier on us:-).

Thursday started with an early wake up call and travel to do a canopy
tour. This involved zip lines, rapelling, and a Tarzan swing. I, of
course, failed on the Tarzan swing. Swung over as was told, but didn't
go far enough and swung right back to the first platform. Oops. The
instructors, who enjoyed scaring us, yelled a bit, which freaked me
out more. Needless to say, I did not particularly like that station.

The rest was awesome, but a little slow as we had a dude with us who
was training to be an instructor and was not so great.

We got back and sun greeted us at the Bali House, so we took walks on
the beach and lounged around the rest of the day. Our amazing cook
showed up and presented an awesome meal of tacos, quesadillas, and
more. Yum.

Friday we had no official planned activities, but several of us went
to the national park down the road. At 7.30am, it was already in about
the 80s with severe humidity. So glad we left so early! Because of the
time we left, we also hit a particular part of the forest right in
time for the monkies breakfast. The little guys appeared out of no
where, it seemed, and played and ate, and stared at us. They got very
close, about a foot away...it was awesome!!

Upon return, it was another lazy day by the pool. I did make it down
to Quepos to check out the town (there wasn't too much there) before
parking on a raft on our pool until sundown. I'm thrilled that the
rain stayed away until late last night!

Today we'll head back up to San Jose to catch our flight home. Hard to
believe this week went by so quickly!!

14 April 2010

Lazy Daze

Upon arriving here to the Bali house, we decided to celebrate...we
celebrated so hard there were lots of bruises and many pics no one
remembers taking or being in. Even the rain couldn't dull the party.

But it did make for a painful Tuesday. I was up early thanks to the
birds and monkeys...headed to the pool and took a nap. A few hours
later the house started to wake up...most immediately took a nap by
the pool, too. Laura and I spent a few hours at the beach (and in the
water...it's SO WARM here; I've never been in ocean water so warm) and
eventually headed back upstairs.

The sun has not shown its face much on this trip. It's hot, for sure,
but cloudy and rainy. A few of us took a pre-dinner walk last night
and got back to the house moments before the rain started...it
continued all night and through this morning, with thunder &
lightening also making an appearance.

It probably worked out well for us in the end...today we went ATVing,
and what would have been dust was all mud. I made it through in one
piece, one putting my leg out once (ok, maybe twice) and getting in
trouble. While it was fun, it's not something I need to do again, I
don't think.

Now we're back for a quick dip in the pool, then off to the national
park nearby. I am hoping to see more animals...we are seeing tons of
monkeys, iguanas, lizards, crabs, and these big squirrel-looking
things with no tails. The monkeys, while very noisy, are very cute!

12 April 2010

Down the mountain

Yesterday was quite an awesome day. There was an early wake up call --
and a bit if a headache from the lava juice imbimbed the night before
-- but we all crawled onto the bus to head to our next adventure.

This had been one of my bigger fears -- rapelling down the side of a
mountain. The height, the lack of control...definitely one of the make
it or break it activities.

We took a bumpy ride up to the top of the mountain, and walked through
some fields full of termite nests until we arrived at the edge of the
waterfall and the beautiful rain forest.

The first rapel was pretty easy... Just about 30 feet down the craggy
fall. Then it was a rather rigourous hike to the next spot -- this
tour is definitely not for the out of shape. The second rapel was
about 100 feet...I was terrified when I stepped off the platform (the
"don't worry, we'll hold you" from our Tican guides wasn't that
reassuring as we outweighed them all)...but I made it off with
success! I was feeling pretty good on the 3rd fall, which was only
about 20 feet, and only slightly scared as we approached the final
rapel -- over 200 feet. It was also at that moment the rain started to
pour on down. It was awesome.

We're now in a bus headed to the southwest coast and our own house. We
are all excited to get there...both to see the house and get out of
this insanely driven bus!

10 April 2010

So Fun

Tonight we went on a volcano hike and then to some hot springs.

The hike was nice...we didn't see much beyond a racoon-like species native or something to Costa Rica. but post-hike, our guides...1. Gave us beer, then 2. brought us to see the awesome lava on the volcano...then 3. gave us more alcohol! It was awesome!

We then went to the hot springs...which had a water slide. It was like being on our own private Manteca awesomeness, but with drinks. It was so fun I can hardly believe it. We missed our bus ride back home, but the nice young man who had attended Cal Poly (yes, we tried to work him for some freebies), called us a cab or two and got us home.

Tomorrow we get up at the butt crack of dawn to go rappelling down the side of a mountain. Yes, I am a little nervous.

The Rough Life

It sure is rough, lounging all day by the pool, enduring a small rainstorm, and playing Mexican train all day....

Which is pretty much how we spent our whole day so far! I was up at the gym early...it is a really pretty facility, but hot as all get out. Even with air conditioning on, wow. Then it was down to breakfast, where the rest of our group started trickling in. The free breakfast at this hotel is by far better than I have ever seen (slightly better than Embassy Suites ;-) ) and we definitely enjoyed it.

And then? It was the pool.

We're heading out shortly to hike up the side of a volcano, then hit some hot sprints!

And dad, to answer any questions you may have...yes, I am wearing sunscreen, and yes, I am using my Spanish.

09 April 2010

Bienvenidos a Costa Rica!

We've arrived.

Today was mainly spent traveling...we left at 1.30am Friday morning, and after one very quick layover in San Salvador, arrived to San Jose, Costa Rica at about 9.30am. The first flight was a bit painful...I had a crying baby sitting next to me, and behind us, two men who decided a red-eye flight was the perfect time to have a very loud, very boring, five hour conversation. Needless to say, not much sleep was had on that flight!

Once we got to San Jose, we found the driver who would take us to our hotel near the Arenal Volcano, about 3 hours away. The 11 of us climbed into a bus with all our gear and started out on the ride, which was a lot smoother than all our guidebooks had led us to believe it would be! We stopped a few times, at a bank, restaurant, and McDonald's, and finally arrived at our beautiful hotel, Naraya.

This place is AMAZING. They greeted us with cool, fragrant washcloths and a delicious fruity beverage before taking us on a mini-tour of the property, complete with complimentary wine tasting. Soon, we were in our rooms, each of which has a gorgeous porch outfitted with a hammock, bathtub, chairs, and a stunning view of the Arenal Volcano. There is also an outdoor shower on the other side of the bungalow.

The moment we walked into our room we flopped on the beds and kind of forgot to get up to meet our group at the pool. Oops! But the nap felt oh-so-good! Then it was off to dinner, which started off in an...umm...interesting way. As Laura and I were walking over, we could hear singing. We look over and see a young man singing "Your Song," complete with his own words to a young women. We were witnessing a proposal! It was super high on the cheese and long-and-drawn out factor. He finally got down on one knee and she said yes. Sweet way to kick off vacation.

Dinner was amazing. I had a simple Tico dish of Casadas Tipicos, which is rice, beans, plantains, cheese and a salad...it was proof that simple can be better than anything else. We'll be having this dish quite a bit over the next week so I am pretty pumped.

Now it's off to bed...tomorrow we'll have a leisurely morning before heading for a volcano hike and visit to the hot springs.

And Tony, if you're reading, you'll appreciate this....they have the Magic Jack on their computers here at the hotel so guests can make free calls home. Brilliant!

Setting Sail

Dateline: 12.12am...just a few more minutes until we board the plane
for costa rica!! Just a few beers to make falling asleep on the flight
a little easier.

In just a few short hours, after a quick stop in San Salvador, we'll
be touching down in San Jose!