The Plan...of course it's written in the sand at low tide....

The Plan...of course it's written in the sand at low tide....

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Golfito 2009

We had a quiet Christmas in Golfito this year. Only 12 of us for dinner. Every one helped in the preparation and all the food was great. Pictured right: Walter, Alan, and Ron.

A Peruvian family joined us in the festivities and their son had fun playing the spoons while Alan played the guitar after dinner.

Ron also entertained us with his beautiful voice. Below: Al and his new musical friend.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Trip to San Jose, La Fortuna, and Monteverde

December 16th ... 4:30 a.m.

Up at "Oh-Dark-Thirty" to catch a 5:00 a.m. bus from Golfito to San Jose. Once the sun was up it was fun to watch the country side pass by. We saw lots and lots of pineapple fields a long the way. Pineapple is the third largest income for costa Rica.

After 7 hours on the bus and a short taxi ride, we finally arrived at our first destination, Hotel 1492.

Hotel 1492 was a lovely little place . . . if it was good enough for Hillary Clintion, I guess it was okay for us (see lower left).

Below: We enjoyed a delicious dinner at an Italian restaurnt just a couple of blocks from the hotel.

December 17th ... 9:00 a.m.

The travelers are up and ready to head to La Fortuna with our driver Alex. We enjoyed the country side during our 4 hour ride.

Below: Mac and Alan at the rest stop.

First look at La Fortuna and Arenal volcano. It was cloudy when we got there but by 3:30 when we were scheduled to take our volcano tour, the clouds cleared and we had a beautiful day.

Below: Our coffee lovers had fun shopping for "Down to Earth" one of the best coffees of the world, right up there with "Blue Mountain" and "Kona Coffee." They have 3 harvests and the middle is the best. They only produce only 2,000 lbs. of the middle harvest and Al bought 2 lbs. of it. (Alan had some when we got back to the boat and he said it was "Most Excellent" lives up to it's reputation.)

Around 2:00 p.m. we arrived at our hotel Lavas Tacotal. They had a nice open restaurant and wonderful views of Arenal volcano.

Their staff also had A LOT of fun with their "Towel Art", as seen below.

December 17th .... 3:30 p.m.

Time for our tour of Arenal volcano.

On August 17, 1996 the volcano had a huge eruption, see picture right. Two villages and approximately 100 people were lost.

Today, although the volcano is still active, it looks like the picture below and is safe enough for tourist to view the activity and enjoy the beautiful views and lake Arenal.

Since the volcano is still active there were signs stating you were entering at your own risk.
We had an excellent tour guide and around 12 others joining us on our tour.

Above: Although this little guy was very beautiful, he was also very poisonous, and someone to avoid.

Above: On the way up to the view point.

Below: Notice the sign below "Area of high volcanic trespassing" and they mean it. As we sat on the rocks and watched the volcano we saw several eruptions. Not the kind where you see hot lava rolling down, here the volcano blows out hot lava rocks, some as big a VW car. Some we could see were bright red, and as they roll down the side of the volcano they break up. The white puffs of smoke are the hot lava rocks as the hit the side of the volcano as they bounce down to the bottom. You could hear a rumble and roar as the volcano erupted the hot lava rocks and they bounced down the side of the volcano. It was quite an experience, pictures do not do it justice.

Above: View of Lake Arenal Below: Walking back to van at dusk.

Below: Back at the hotel with our wonderful guide Bernardo (he was our guide for both the Volcano Trip and Safari Raft Trip)

December 17th ... 7:00 p.m. ....

After the ride up to La Fortuna from San Jose, the hike up and around the volcano, it was time to relax in some wonderful warm water.....Baldi Hot Springs, was just the right solution. We had fun relaxing in all the hot water pools and even tried our luck with the water slides. Alan and Gilles did the "fast" one and Rachel and I did the "slow" one....well there was nothing "slow" about it, but what a kick. Then we all tried the last open one, thinking it would be a piece of cake after the enclosed ones, and boy were we wrong. We were all air borne for a few seconds before landing hard on the slide again and then hitting the water with a force that can cause "water wedgies"..... Okay those of us in or "60's" can have fun playing too. We ended the evening enjoying a buffet dinner and our new friend, Ben, from Germany.

OHHHH, Alan caught in the act........

December 18th ... Safari Floating River Tour ... La Fortuna

We took a leisurly tour down the river with our guide from the volcano and our new friend Brigitte, a visitor from France. (boy was it funny when Rachel, French Canadian, found out Brigit was French - - the English went alway and the French started)

At the end of the trip they took us down the road to a small farm/ranch where we were served fried bananas, cheese, and a wonderful coconut cake.

Above: There really is a sloth in the tree! Below: A little better picture of one we saw at the end of the trip.

Above: The bamboo trees are huge in Costa Rica Below: see the little crock?

Below: Another view of the volcano on our trip back to the hotel.:

December 19th.....

We had a bit of rain on our trip across Lake Arenal from La Fortuna to Monteverde but it was still a peaceful and beautiful ride. There were lots of birds to see and for us water people, it was nice to be on the water for a bit.

The road from the lake down into Monteverde was interesting. A lot of up and down, single lane, rock/mud, etc. and at times it got pretty foggy. We had a good day though, some days they need a special four wheel drive vehicle to get you there.

Along the way we passed several trees they call "Red Machete Trees." They are called that because the flower looks just like a red machete.

December 19th...Hotel Poco A Poco

The hotel was very nice and again the staff was very warm and friendly. We had the cutest little bird visit us just outside the window.

We had dinner at the hotel and Alan had fun playing a little music with one of the local musicians.

December 20th . . . 7:30 a.m.

Up early and off for a 3 hour horseback ride. It was just Al and I, our guide Michael and his cousin and their little dog. We rode on the family's land and boy did it go on forever... first we were on Michael's Dad's land, then his Grandfathers, then his Uncles', etc. etc.

We rode up, down and through the coffee fields..............

We had a beautiful view at the top...........

It was a great ride and Michael was a fantastic tour guide along with his little dog who followed us the whole 3 hours.

After a 3 hour horseback ride it was time for the true test ...... "How far can we abuse our bodies and still walk?"

Above: Map of the 12 zip lines Below: Mac getting required gear

It was a lot of up hill climbs but beautiful things to enjoy along the way like this beautiful waterfall.

Okay time to put up or shut up............ after the first one they got a little less scarry ......
Mac coming in for a safe landing...................

I did half of the zip lines by myself but on the longer and faster one I choose to go with Adrian. It was much more fun for me, I could look around and enjoy the ride without having to worry about the mechanics of holding the line, keeping myself from turning, and most of all stopping. Adrian was a sweetie and so patient with me.

On the last zip line of the day it was pretty foggy and we were all a little tired but the adrenalin was still flowing. They offered, to those more daring, the "Superman"..... they hooked your feet up and you did the last line (the longest one) with you feet up and arms out to the side (they had several guides at the end to catch everyone). Al and I opted out of this one . . . .I choose to go with my buddy Adrian and was glad I did so I could enjoy the last line.

I can't thank Adrian enough. He made my experience a fun and enjoyable one. (Right: Adrian and Mac at the end of the canopy experience)

Here's a couple of really short video's.....(Alan did do the canopy also and he was very good, however, he was the one with the camera so all the pictures, unfortunately, are of me..)

December 20th

Last night in Monteverde and dinner at the "Tree House"....

December 21st......

Left Monteverde at 11:00 a.m. and returned to Hotel 1492, arrived around 4:00 p.m. We were the only guests that night so we had a light super of cheese, salami, bagels, apples, and chips and had fun playing cards.

December 22nd

Up early (5:30 a.m.) to catch a 7:00 a.m. bus back from San Jose to Golfito. The staff at Hotel 1492 were wonderful, they got up early to make us coffee and a light breakfast before we had to leave.
Left: Alan & Mac on the bus....
Below: Some of the views from the bus as we headed back down to the coast.

We meet some wonderful new friends on the bus. Karen and Briguitte (below) were on their way to visit family for Christmas. Adrian (below sitting with Rachel) was quiet when he first got seated next to us, but after ice cream, peanuts, and candy he warmed up by the end of the trip. Everyone on the bus seemed to be in good to be with friends and family for the holidays.

Back home again aboard "Effie".... it's nice to be home watching the beautiful sunset but what a wonderful trip. We will enjoy the memories of our trip for years to come.

A great big thank you to Christian from Miki Travel (506) 2291-44.55
and all the people who got us from place to place. The trip was very enjoyable, everyone so friendly and everything worked like clockwork. We would recommend Miki Travel Agency to all our friends planning to travel in Costa Rica.