Wednesday, March 30, 2011

February 19th: Costa Rica Day 6

So, I guess the name of this one is a bit of a misnomer, because we spent most of the day in Nicaragua, not Costa Rica.

We had to be up at the lobby to catch our bus at 530 in the morning - ugh. Let me tell you, that was an early day! On the way to Nicaragua we stopped at a little restaurant place for breakfast which was pretty tasty - I had the best orange juice I have ever had in my entire life! Now, I am not a huge orange juice fan usually, but if all orange juice tasted like that I would drink it 24/7. I was AMAZING! Anyway, then we hopped back on the bus and went to the border.

At the border we had to get off and we each had to get our passports stamped with an exit stamp on the Costa Rica side, but on the Nicaragua side the tour guide took all our passports and they could stamp them all together and then just verify that we were who we said we were when we got back on the bus. So the time in between we got to just kinda chill out at the border for a while which was odd. We perused the duty-free shops (I bought some yummy candies that were like Starburst, but so much better!) and then we just sat around chatting and getting to know some of the other people on the bus. There were a lot of Canadians and then there were also a lot of British people and a couple people from Ireland as well, so that was interesting. Also, there were a lot of Nicaraguans at the border trying to sell you stuff they made - and most of it was crap. I hate to say that, but it is true.
Our next stop was small little spot on a each with a great view of a couple volcanoes. While we were there we saw a bunch of little, hard, almost coconut looking things that had fallen off a bunch of trees. We asked about them and the guides told us that they were called ??? and that the people would often take the stuff out of the inside and grind it up and mix it with milk to make women more fertile, then they would use the shells as cups and stuff like that. It was beautiful there.
 The next stop was a volcano in Nicaragua that is still active called the Masaysa volcano. It was smoking and everything! It was so sulfury up there that you are only allowed to stay in the area off the bus for 20 mins. There was a giant cross at the top of this giant flight of stairs and they said that a lot of people get confused and think that the cross used to be involved in the human sacrifices they did, but that isn't the case. In fact, they did do human sacrifices in the area because they were placating the gods of the volcano so that it wouldn't erupt and kill them, but then this Christian guy came and said that actually the volcano was full of evil spirits, so he did an exorcism on it and then put up the cross to show that the volcano was 'clean'. And they always had a lot of gold in the area so later some other guys came and thought that the gold was actually what was in the volcano (basically they thought that when lava cooled it turned to gold) and they assumed there was a 'cooling room' somewhere in the area (there are a ton of little caves all around the outside) so they went exploring through all the caves to try to find this mythical 'cooling room'. It is so funny to me what people think sometimes.
Next was a quick stop to go shopping in Masaya square - that was great, I got lots of fun things there. :D Then we went to lunch in Grenada city in this little restaurant. Afterwards we took carriage rides all around Granada city. The guide was so knowledgeable about the area - he had been driving the carriage for like 7 years (since he was 15 years old!) and he told us lots of cool little facts about the things we drove past. It is the oldest city in Nicaragua and so there was a lot of history to tell us about.

After that we hopped back on the bus and headed back to Costa Rica. We went through the border again - same drill. Then we headed back to the resort. (I can't remember if we had dinner on the trip or not ... )

That night we went to the bar area and guess who was there? The waiter from the Mexican restaurant! (His name was Oscar just fyi) He was like "there you are! I haven't seen you in a while, I missed you" and we were just like "missed you too". We chatted a bit about what we had been doing and stuff. Then he says "You are really beautiful, do you have a boyfriend?" and I was like "no" and he was all surprised and then he asked "How old are you?" and I said "27" and he was like "me too! marry me?"
I, of course, said yes (jokingly of course - I would never agree to marry someone that I didn't know very well ... unless he could get me a green card! haha jk). This is our engagement pic.
We saw this kid we had met the previous night again named Pablo and chatted with him for a bit. He was interesting to talk to because he was from Costa Rica, just a different part, and he was there on vacay with his family. He had some great stories about snakes and other wildlife so that was pretty entertaining. Then it was off to bed because we were super tired.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Day 6 ... Oh Wait

I know, I know, I know ... we are stuck on day 5 and it is terrible! But I am just writing this little post to let you know that I haven't forgotten you! I swear! I just moved is all. And that kinda makes a girl forget about daily blogging. But I will finish telling you all about the trip. I guess maybe this is my way of making it last longer? I don't know, but I do know that I WILL do it.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

February 18th: Costa Rica Day 5

So this was the day we were going on an excursion to the Arenal volcano. We had to be up at the lobby by 7:30 so we could get on the bus. Our tour guide's name was Alonso (Mom kept calling him Alfonso which was funny) and he was really smart. He knew a lot about the area and the wildlife and filled us in on interesting facts all along the way. We drove for a while and stopped for a quick bathroom break and bite to eat around 10am in a little town that I don't remember the name of. Then we continued on our way to the volcano. The driver and the guide were good at spotting wildlife and at one point they saw a sloth in a tree, so we just stopped in the middle of the road and all hopped off the bus so we could go get a better look. Alonso had a telescope he let us use to get a better look and he even let us take pics through is which was amazing. It just looked like a big fuzzy up in the tree if you didn't know better.
We also got to see a Guanacaste tree, which is what the region is named after and that was kinda fun.(I think it is a beautiful tree and I have a bit of a decorating project in mind for use with that picture - I will let you know if/how that turns out)
We stopped on the way again and got to take some really good pics from this one spot by the Arenal lake - which is actually a man-made lake by the volcano.
Then we went further and saw some coati (or maybe they were cotamundi - I don't know) on the side of the road, so we pulled over again to take pics. They are like raccoons too, but a little more anteater-y than the other ones we saw.
Then we went further around the lake to a different spot and we got in a little boat and got to go to an area that had a beautiful view of the volcano. When we first got there it was a bit overcast, but it cleared up pretty nice and gave us some really nice photo-ops. (I am not sure I mentioned this before, but I got a new camera for Christmas, and every single day on the trip I was so glad to have gotten it!)
After that we had a quick stop in the city of La Fortuna to do about 45 mins of shopping. It was a really neat area and we got a pic of us standing in front of this garden-y area right in the middle of the city. 
Then we went for lunch at this different resort that had a lot of beautiful greenery on the grounds and after we ate we walked around and took pics of the grounds. I even got to hold a parrot which was cool (he was not indigenous to the area). But we saw a green macaw later that IS indigenous and that was fun. I was walking along a path kinda alone and suddenly off to my right I heard a whistle as if I was a beautiful girl walking by some construction workers. I looked around and said 'what the crap?' and a voice repeated after me. I kept looking and then suddenly, it was like one of those 3D eye puzzles and he appeared there. He was the same color as the tree he was in so he was hard to find at first. That was cool. There were lots of other pretty flowers as well.
Then we went to these hot springs called the Tubacon hot springs which were naturally heated by the volcano. They had 16 pools with different temperatures (most too hot for me with my sunburn) and they also had three water slides. The slides were not too hot for me. There was one that you just shoot out the end of like crazy and so we got a sequence of photos of me coming out of it - I know it mostly looks like a splash of water, but it was caused by me! I actually came out of the water to a round of applause because of how awesome the splash was. :D
 Then it was back to the bus to head back to the resort. We were back by a decent time and went to eat dinner. Then we did the same thing we did most nights - hung out in the bar chatting with the people we met at the resort, and went to bed pretty early since we had to get up in time to be in the lobby by 530 the next morning for our trip. Where were we going? Find out in my next post!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

February 17th: Costa Rica Day 4

*Sorry that I have sucked it up at updating. I am posting several days today to make up for it :D

So I hate to say this, but reading about Day 4 might end up being a bit boring since we mostly did the exact same stuff that we did on Day 3. Yeah, that's right, we just laid around by the pool and tanned. We went up to the office to try to book an excursion or two on day 3 (I know, I didn't mention that part, but I didn't really think it was super important). Anyway, we got our wires crossed and ended up booking more excursions than we intended on different days than we had intended - but none of them were for day 4, so we still just got to lay around and get tanned/burned.

Yeah, so we got a different spot by the pool this day because Jessie mentioned that she wanted a spot that was a bit sunnier because on day 3 we were in a sorta shady spot (which was actually nice we realized later). Anyway, Mom and I got up, got spots, got breakfast, sat by the pool. We heard the howler monkeys down on the beach making crazy noises (I swear they sounded almost exactly like the TARDIS from Dr. Who) so we went to check them out.

Then we sat by the pool some more. Ate lunch. Sat some more. Kinda napped. Read a bit. It was a great day. We went up to the room to rest for a while out of the sun and to take a nap - I spent some time using a little sewing kit we bought so I could fix this bag I had brought with me (but I didn't have time to fix before we went) so I could use it for our trip the next day.

We had reservations to go to the Mexican restaurant that night at like 8:30pm or so. At some point we went up to the room and showered and actually put on some clothes that didn't involve a swimming suit so that we could go to dinner. Mom and I both realized we should have been a bit more diligent about our reapplications of the sunscreen during the day because we both had some pretty nice sunburns going on. We were both a bit splotchy because we had spray-on sunscreen, and although we put it on each other we kinda didn't do the best job of rubbing it in. Oh well. So when dressing for dinner I realized that my burn hurt too much to wear anything that was going to touch my burn too much - this included bra straps. Luckily the bra I brought has straps that come off easily so you can convert it - I only bought it because it was cheap at the time and figured I would never detach the straps. I was so glad that I had one that did that though. I ended up not even wearing a shirt with my sleeveless dress (which I usually do for modesty reasons) because it hurt so bad that a shirt just wouldn't cut it.
 Then we went to the Mexican restaurant for dinner and it was pretty darn tasty. The decor included a cactus with a sombrero on which was fun. We had a waiter take a pic of the four of us together at the table so we could remember the moment. It was a good dinner. :D One of the best moments being when our waiter came back with our drinks (or something like that, not long into the meal). He looks at me and says "I really like ... your face." I was like "Um, thank you?" because, really, how do you respond to that? Anyway, then he continued with "I think you are beautiful" to which I actually said "thank you" - and not just as as a question.

After dinner we went out to the bar area for a while, but we went to bed pretty early because laying in the sun all day can sure wear you out! (Seriously, you might think I am kidding here, but it is almost like getting mild heat stroke and you really do get tired!) Plus there was the whole shuttle stops running at 11 thing as well. And we had booked a trip to go see the 'Arenal Volcano' the next day and we had to be up at the lobby by 7:30 in the morning so we couldn't really sleep in too much. Although, I did get a picture of Jess feeding fries to some mipatchi's (I am not sure if that is the right spelling - and actually I just looked it up and I can't figure out what they are - maybe that is just the Spanish word for raccoon?) They are little raccoon-like guys who live in the area surrounding the resort. Actually, I think the staff hates that the stupid tourists feed them all the time because then they don't go away. But they were cute!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

February 16th: Costa Rica Day 3

So I hate to say it, but looking back on Day 3 of the trip, it is actually pretty boring. We got up around 8 (I think ... I don't really remember) and went down to breakfast. I just want to mention here that the food at the resort we stayed at was pretty good almost all the time. They always had a variety of foods on the buffet - potatoes, meats, rice, beans, salads; anything you want basically. And then they always had the best fruit ever. And they had these loaves of fresh made bread every day that was to die for. Mmmm. Thinking about it now makes me drool :D The way it worked was that you could always go to the buffet, but they also had 2 restaurants on the property that you could go to once each - there was an Italian place and a Mexican place. To make sure you only went to each one once you had to make 'reservations'. Also, there was a dress code for the restaurants - basically it was semi-formal.

Anyway, after breakfast we went and claimed our spots by the pool. If you didn't do this early in the day all the lounge chairs would be taken and you would lose out. After claiming our spots we laid around for a while soaking in the rays and getting tons of Vitamin D. This was what the pool looked like that day.
From the spot where we waited for the shuttle to go back up to the room we could see this tree that was always full of awesome birds - like the one below.
That was pretty much all we did all day. We had lunch in the middle there somewhere which was tasty. That night there were these guys playing this cool instrument while we waited in line for dinner.
Also, every night they have different entertainment. On the 15th they had all sorts of dance numbers that were sort of traditional numbers they did some where the girls were in these huge awesome dresses and the guys wore these kinda old fashioned-y frontiersman outfits. In the number below it was a sort of tribal thing and it was GOOD.
Other than that we didn't do a whole lot. Hung out in the bar until it got late and then went to bed. A nice relaxing day all around.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

February 15th: Costa Rica Day 2

So one of the main reasons we stayed in Calgary overnight was because our flight out was RIDICULOUSLY early in the morning. Seriously. The flight left at 6am, so we had to be at the airport at 4am. See what I mean? RIDICULOUS. Anyway, we got up and got the airport at around 4 or 4:15, but that was the same time everyone was getting the airport for this flight (shocker eh?) so we ended up waiting in line. And then when we got to the front there were no seats left next to each other so we ended up sitting one in front of the other which was sad. It was my first time ever flying with my Mom and we didn't even get to sit next to each other. Oh well I guess, c'est la vie.

Anyway, we got on the plane and we got all settled and took off and then the first thing that they came around and offered, at 6:20 in the morning mind you, was wine. What the crap? Who drinks wine that early in the morning? I guess a lot of people since most of the people on the plane took it. Weird. I guess people figured "I am officially on vacation now so I can drink whenever I want". We also got breakfast on the plane which was nice since I was starving. It wasn't too bad considering it was plane food. The movies they showed were "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" and it had Michael Douglas and Shia LaBeouf in it.It looked pretty boring to me so I didn't watch it. That and I was tired. They also showed "Eat, Pray, Love" and that I did watch since I had kinda wanted to see it anyway.

We got in to Costa Rica and then had to wait in line for a long time to go through customs and all that stuff. And boy howdy was it HOT! This was expected, of course, but I was wearing jeans since it was cold in Calgary that morning so it was even more hot. Once we got outside we got checked into our hotel - they do it right there which was cool - and then we got on the bus which was air conditioned. Whew! Thank goodness for whoever invented air conditioning. This is a pic of us on the bus - the first photo we took in CR.

We then went to our resort which was about a half an hour drive from the airport on the bus. We got there and our room wasn't ready yet (not shocking since check-out for all the people who left was at noon and it was like 3 something) but we were starving so we went down to the 'snack bar' area and ate some food. Then we went to the beach and guess what we saw? That's right! We saw capuchins! On the first day! After we had been there only like 3 hours!

Aren't they cute? I think so too. And they came super close (if you can't tell). Then we went back up to the office to see what time the Edmonton bus was coming in. The guy we asked was the guy who usually drives the shuttle and he didn't know about the time that the bus came in. Then we went to our room for a bit and hung out for a while, then we decided to go down to the pool. We went out and caught the shuttle (let me just interject here that the resort we stayed at was on a giant hill with the office at the top and the pool/restaurant at the bottom and all the buildings in between. We were in building 1 so we were near the top. There was a shuttle that went by every 10 mins or so because of the hill. We took it a lot because Mom has bad knees and I am lazy). So on the way down the hill in the shuttle the driver asks Mom if she is waiting for her husband or something. She says no, we are waiting for a friend coming from Edmonton. He says that the Edmonton bus will get there in 20 mins. Mom says "Oh, that's good - we asked in the office and no one knew." That was when I had to interject "Mom - that's the guy you asked!" In her defense, we had only talked to him for a few minutes, and she was tired. I only knew it was the same guy because of two things - one was that I noticed his name was Jesus and I had never met anyone with that name before; and two was that he was cute. :D (don't worry, I have a pic of him later).

Anyway, we hung out by the pool for a few mins, but then since the Edmonton bus was coming we went back up to the office. Then we met Jess and she dropped her stuff in our room and we went to find her Mom. Find her we did. Then we tanned for a bit, then we ate and sat in the bar area for about 10 mins - then we went to bed. We were tired - we had gotten up early. It was a great start to the trip though - a no surprises plane ride and the hot hot sun.