20 July, 2012

Vacation...all I ever wanted

Just a few words about our Costa Rican vacation.

Costa Rica is beautiful and has the most! beautiful birds and a ton of wildlife. There are only about 5 million Costa Ricans (or Ticos, as they call themselves) and they are outnumbered by the birds, lizards, small mammals, and other animals. At the time of year we were there, it was also hot and sauna-humid every day (and night).

Bad things about the trip: Linda was sick most of the first week. She got a virus the week before and was still feverish and ill. Even when she was able to leave her room she didn't have much get up and go. It was sad...of all of us, she'd been most excited about the trip.

Neither of my nieces can sit still long enough at the breakfast/lunch/dinner table long enough for us to have what I call "civilized" conversation. By the final night of our vacation I was ready to drag them through a keyhole backwards for the way they whined during every meal. It really wasn't relaxing to eat meals with them, even though I cut tons of slack for the fact that they are only kids.

The good stuff:
Wow, the country is lush, tropical, and everywhere you look there is natural beauty.

Highlights were: a boat trip where we saw monkeys, crocodiles, and more birds than you can imagine; a snorkeling adventure where we saw more fish than we ever saw in Bermuda;  delicous DELICIOUS meals; waking to a view of the Arenal volcano the first four mornings of the trip; relaxing by the shade by the pool almost every morning; the lush tropical foliage and flora everywhere you looked.

Here are some of the pictures taken by various members of our party

Our view of the volcano at Arenal. We stayed at a resort where this view was the first thing we saw each morning. There were natural hot springs AT the hotel. We went zip lining and on a hike of the rainforest close by. One of nature's beautiful places.

There were iguanas (and his smaller lizard cousins) everywhere. This big guy lived near the pool at the beach resort we stayed at second. We would all be set up on our lounge chairs and he would be lounging nearby. I wasn't scared of him exactly, but I kept an eye on him!

A coati at the beach resort. They are about the size of a racoon and have much the same curious "into everything" attitude as a racoon. This bold fellow would get in people's bags looking for food if you didn't shout and wave your towels to warn him off. Check out the long nose!

The part of the coati you can't really see above. His tail is long and flexible!

Our first full day in CR we went on a 1.9 mi walk through the rainforest. We saw one monkey, one insanely large bird, about a million leaf-cutter ants, and much jungle vegetation. This is about the hottest I've ever been in my life. The humidity wrapped around you like a wet, wool blanket. This shirt was sweat sodden in the first five minutes of the walk, and stayed that way for the next two hours. On this walk we were either going UP a hill or DOWN one. The only level spots were the bridges!
A magpie-jay. Blue and bold and check out that hilarious feather that sticks up jauntily off the top of their heads. We took this picture on our house's balcony. It came in to eat some bread we laid out!
Our next to the last day there we went on a river ride. To get there we drove about an hour to get near a National Park. Then we cut off the main roads onto the bumpiest dirt road any of us had ever been on. It took us an hour to drive 20 kilometers to the park. Then we got onto a boat and took a two hour trip down the river to "Bird Island". We were fortunate to be there at a time when many birds were beginning to nest. We saw many birds building their nests, or actually sitting on them. So many new birds to put on my life list, the coolest of which was the Boat Billed Heron, which had a wide, almost cartoon-like bill. We saw several colonies of howler monkeys. They live the good life, doing little other than lying on tree branches, napping, grooming, and eating. The "howls" are more like a roaring sound than actual howling. Both troupes we saw had little baby monkeys (cute!) with them. We also saw crocodiles, which are not cute! at all.
Then it was back into the car for another hour back over the 20 kilometers, which were just as bumpy going as they had been coming!

Herons on Bird Island. They nest there.

The black blobs are howler monkeys.

Eating lunch at La Cima. The Garland family rode there on horseback. The other four of us arrived in our car! The closest we got to the "real" Costa Rica. A little family owned restaurant that served Costa Rican fried chicken and fried plantain and the coldest of cold beer - Imperial.

The lady at the table lead the horseback tour, and the man next to her (in the cap) was her husband. She's from Michigan and he is Costa Rican. They run a guest house and horse farm. We were grateful to her for telling us a LOT about life in CR.

Imperial beer, brewed right there in Costa Rica, went down well on a hot day!

The girls getting back on their steeds for part two of the trip.

Us all on the boat that took us to Bird Island.

We didn't get a picture of this bird on our own, so I found one on the internet. We DID see one of these on her nest, but could not get a good shot for a picture. Get a load of that bill!

"I am a boat-billed heron and I disapprove of this message!"

Costa Rica was beautiful, all the people we met were nice, and I would definitely go back.

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