“In order to keep a true perspective of one’s importance, everyone should have
a dog that will worship him and a cat that will ignore him.”

--Dereke Bruce

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Travel - COSTA RICA!



We just got home from a WONDERFUL week-long vacation in Costa Rica. We traveled with two of our best friends, sharing a lovely condo in Jaco Beach, which is world-famous for its surfing.









Costa Rica is a WONDERFUL country. First of all, it is breathtakingly BEAUTIFUL... the mountains, the sea, the beaches, and of course the amazing plant and animal life. Think Jurassic Park (parts of the movies were filmed there) -- without the dinosaurs, of course! ;o)









(VERY interesting fun fact: Costa Rica is the only country in the western hemisphere without a national military. The country maintains a diplomatically neutral stance, based on ideals of peace and pacifism. Without defense spending, the government is able to use its tax revenue for universal health care, social security, and free education. Pretty cool, huh? Who knew?!)

I loved MANY things about Costa Rica. The people (who refer to themselves as "Ticos") are extremely friendly. They love their country, and they value their tourist industry - and it shows. And while the typical standard of living there may be more humble than we tend to think of here in the US, there was NOT the poverty of some other countries we have been to, vendors were not pushy, and we never saw even one homeless or begging person.

And OH! The food was very delicious. Again, largely "humble" food, perhaps... but what those talented Ticos can do with fresh, simple ingredients like rice, beans, fish, pork, tortillas, plantains, sauces and salsas was amazing!

We loved eating where the locals ate; small, inexpensive roadside eateries called "sodas" were our favorites.





And have I mentioned the fruit smoothies?! Oh YUM! Had one every day. (Mango-strawberry was my favorite, but I think I tried them all!)


And the "Arroz con Leche" (rice pudding), with cinnamon and cloves... simply delicious! Had one of those every day, too! ;o)


And OH! How could I forget... the COFFEE! YUM! Costa Rica "is" coffee! We really looked forward to our morning cup... and our evening cup. And OK, maybe a cup or two in the afternoon... ;o) Seriously, the coffee was TO. DIE. FOR. Yeah, I'd go back just for that!





OK...so besides EATING (and drinking!), what did we DO in Costa Rica?

We spent a day at Manuel Antonio National Park. While we were there we took a nature hike with a guide who had an unbelievable knack at spotting things, like iguanas, monkeys, birds, butterflies, spiders, snakes, raccoons, sloths and more.

I LOVED the monkeys, they are so comical!




Gymnast monkey showing off all his tricks!


Colorful crab:


A "Laughing Falcon":






This guy was BIG! EEK!


The markings on this sloth's back mean it is a male.


We swam in the ocean and jumped the waves like a couple of kids.


I took a short nap on the beach and woke up with a start as a big, fat iguana ran right across my legs!!! ACK!




LOVED this road sign on the way into the park:

("SLOW! [Watch for:] People, raccoons, sloths, monkeys" !)

We also spent a day being brave and daring ;o) doing a zipline and waterfalls canopy tour. Oh maaaaaaaaan, I LOVE stuff like that! Strap me into a harness and send me sailing high through the tree-tops and I am in HEAVEN! (Literally!) ;o) *Wheeeeeeeeee!*


Still wearing our ziplining gear, but taking a break to enjoy the beauty of one of many Costa Rica's gorgeous waterfalls:


With our friends on one of the suspension bridges:


We went horseback riding in the mountains one afternoon, and watched the sunset from a beautiful look-out point.





My horse's name was Picaro:

Guess what Picaro means in Spanish?
It means "mischievous, naughty, sly, clever, rogue, rascal"!
And oh yeah, he was all of those things -- and more! He had a mind of his own, and he wasn't much interested in hearing what I had to say. In fact, Picaro pretty much scared *THE CRAP!* out of me a couple of times, and I am not easily scared! The path was rocky, twisty-turny and STEEP... and in order to save a couple of steps he'd frequently get TOO DARN CLOSE to the edge of the mountain, and I am not gonna lie to you - I was terrified. There were no guard rails, and it was a LOOOOOONG WAY down! I was really, really happy to get back on terra firma, let me tell you. I think I'll turn in my chaps, thank you very much; an equestrienne I am NOT!

The boys went spear-fishing one morning, we girls went shopping. We ate out and we cooked in.
We spent lazy days sight-seeing and checking out the area, and enjoyed several night-swims in the pool at our condo.


We walked on the beach...


We enjoyed the gorgeous sunsets...






...and we hated to see the week come to an end.

It was a wonderful winter getaway that we will always remember, and we definitely recommend Costa Rica!