Friday, March 18, 2011

Costa Rica...ahhh

It has taken me over a week to post about our wonderful trip to the "Rich Coast".  We came home a little too relaxed I guess!  What a great babymoon we had!
Mike and I l feel as though we had 2 vacations within one trip.  We spent our first half of the week inland, visiting Arenal, swimming in hot springs, taking daily seistas (ok sometimes twice daily!), hiking, eating delicious local food (they call it "typical" food), exploring small villages, and attempting to converse with Spanish speaking locals.  The volcano in Arenal is still active.  Supposedly, you can see sparks coming from the volcano on a clear night, but, you guessed it, the two nights we stayed in La Fortuna were cloudy!  We were fortunate enough to get a clear glimpse of the volcano during the day:
We took a hike around Arenal, our hike was not even close to the caliber of hiking Mike and I are used to doing.  As much as I hate to admit it, hiking while 7 months pregnant (in humidity especially) is not easy!  But, the scenery was so beautiful, we weren't disappointed!

We followed a trail map to a waterfall, a couple of suspension bridges and a few other key points.  Also, listed on the map was a house.  We're still not sure why there was a house in the middle of the national park, or who the lucky occupant was.  But, as we approached the house, a cat walked up to us on the trail. I was very skeptical of this "kitty" but it took a quick liking to Mike brushing up against his leg.  I, on the other hand was hiding behind Mike.  I kept saying, "Are you sure it's just a cat?"  Mike said, "Of course, I'm sure".  Just then the cat meowed - but this was no normal meow - the kitty growled at us!  Needless to say, my hiking speed picked up a little at that point!  Here is the quick snapshot we were able to take as we sped away:

And here is what we discovered after a little research when we got home:

The "kitty" Mike was petting, was actually a Margay, or a miniature Ocelot.  It is about the size of a house cat, only more muscular, larger eyes and it DOESN'T have a collar!  After talking to some locals and reading up on local wildlife in a gift shop, we discovered, that this cat is very rare and near extinction, most locals have never seen one, and it just walked right up to us!

Our very wise friend, Margee was in Costa Rica last fall and highly recommended we visit the Tabercon Hot Springs, saying it's well worth the high cost of admission.  Mike raised his eye brows as he handed over the almost $200 we spent to enter what we both would normally consider a tourist trap but in the end we feel, Margee was right.  It was money well spent!  I thoroughly enjoyed floating in the water, soaking up the sun, seeing the beautifully landscaped surrounding gardens, going down the water slide (yes, Mike dared me to do it - I drew quite the reaction let me tell you!) and Mike relaxed with a few cocktails in the swim-up bar.  We had the best Sea Bass ceviche for lunch!  Margee was right, it was sensational!

Like I said, this was two vacations in one.  After spending two a a half days staying in small privately owned motels like this one:
where a local Tico woman made us breakfast every morning and spoke nothing but Spanish (when we explained we didn't speak Spanish, she spoke faster!). 
We drove west to the Pacific shore to meet up with Mike's dad and sister who were in Costa Rica attending the Michigan State Medical Conference.  Cathy, actually was presenting at this conference, not just attending.  The all-inclusive hotel we stayed at for the remainder of our trip was not a small privately owned motel, to say the least! 

We gorged ourselves with delicious food 3 times a day, caught up with Cathy & Dad and best of all got to spend some good 1 on 1 time with our niece Layla who we don't get to see often enough.  Cathy wasn't able to bring Johnny on this trip because he can't get a US passport until he's been with Cathy for two years. 

Mike, Cathy and Dad ziplined through the trees with a bunch of their medical conference friends, but Layla and I had to stay behind.....ziplining is one of many activities Costa Ricans consider me too fragile to partake in. 

Apparently, in Costa Rica I can have a cocktail (practically every bartender offered me a drink), but I can't paddle boat, kayak, horseback ride or, get this, snorkel.  Seriously, I think my pregnant belly would keep me afloat better than most of the overweight people they did rent too!  Fortunately, Bill & Vicky Hughes were at the Medical Conference too and Vicky loaned me her flippers and snorkel gear.  We saw all sorts of cool fish but best of all, when we came out of the water, we saw monkeys swinging from the trees right there on the beach!  Sorry, none close enough to take a picture of.  But I did get a great picture of Layla trying on the flippers too...
There is so much more I could tell you about our trip but this post is already longer than I wanted it to be!  We ended our vacation back in San Jose, ironically, our friend Heather was there for a night too (she's a flight attendant for Frontier!). We met up with her on our last night, closing out an awesome vacation!

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