Solo Good

Published: March 18th 2008
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Mr & Mrs ClausMr & Mrs ClausMr & Mrs Claus

Diane and Terry know how to make an entrance...apparently there is a one suitcase minimum for presents and reading material when visiting us.
After returning from our visa vacation in Nicaragua we enjoyed a quiet relaxing weekend in and around Esparza. We hadn’t seen some of our Costa Rican friends for a while so we invited Marlon, Andrea, and their one year old daughter Camilla to spend Sunday afternoon at Playa Dona Ana. It was Camilla’s first trip to the ocean and we enjoyed watching her parents fuss over her. It is very interesting to watch the subtle differences in child rearing no matter where we are. In Costa Rica the child is always golden and it seems like the parents will do everything to make sure their little ones are never made uncomfortable. Not saying we don’t protect our children but the Tico child must really go over the top to garner any negative attention from Mom or Dad. We really enjoy going to Dona Ana and when we can take our friends with us it makes it so much better.

Monday morning I made sure the radiator was topped up and headed to the airport to pick up Diane and Terry. The flight wasn’t arriving until after lunch but it is always a good idea to go early as the highway
Rider PrideRider PrideRider Pride

Christmas part 2 brought Rider Pride to Costa Rica.
can become very busy and if there is an accident the vehicles are not allowed to move until the police and the insurance agent arrive at the scene and create a report. Of course on this trip traffic was light and I made it with about three hours to spare. Diane and Terry were off the plane in short order, of course flying first class helps expedite the whole process, and we were heading back to Esparza in no time. As we left the San Jose area Diane and Terry were lucky enough to experience a typical Central Valley rainstorm. It actually rained most of the way to Esparza and when we arrived it had stopped but then the heavens opened up again. We hadn’t seen rain for about two months so it was kind of nice for us. However, I am not sure Diane and Terry were really excited about the prospect of experiencing a week and a half of rain. Fortunately the rain only lasted the one night and we were able to enjoy many hours at the Villa Posada del Sol over the next few days.

Upon arrival Terry was anxious to unload some of the
Blow HardBlow HardBlow Hard

We lost our coals when it took longer than expected to pick up the Dorado from our local fishmonger.
baggage they had brought along and we had a second Christmas. It was great fun to watch the boys get so excited over the movies, books, and clothes from home. Nataghia and I were very pleased to receive our Grey Cup champion t-shirts as we were very disappointed to have missed out on the excitement of the Rider triumph. After the gift opening we headed over to the Mirador Restaurant for dinner. Unfortunately the mirador, or view, of the Gulf and Puntarenas were abscured by the heavy rainfall. We did enjoy a lovely traditional Costa Rican meal and I introduced Terry to my good friend Ron Centenario. It was obvious that they were going to get on famously. We took Diane and Terry to their room early and made plans to spend the next few days taking it easy poolside planning adventures. It was very exciting to see Diane and Terry again as we visit them often in Saskatoon and we hadn’t seen Terry for quite a long time because of his work schedule. For the next few days the plan worked perfectly; we listened to tunes on the new speaker/i-pod player, used the wi-fi to plan our adventure to
Wiped OutWiped OutWiped Out

Another abrupt end to a day in the life of Ben.
the Arenal area, BBQ’d some great steaks and dorado(mahi-mahi), relaxed and enjoyed the beautiful weather and surroundings.

After three days of rest and relaxation we were off to the beach for a few days. During our extensive time at Playa Samara we have discovered several reasonable beach front accommodations. I had rented a house called Samara Beach Club for $500/week on behalf of Diane and Terry during our previous stay at Samara. It is a nice beach front apartment with everything you need to enjoy life on the beach; hammocks, beach chairs, boogie boards, two bedrooms, kitchen, deck with perfect view of the beach…. I had arranged Diane and Terry’s transportation to the beach with Freddie the taxi driver from Puntarenas who we met in Monteverde when we were there with the McLeod’s. I only mention this because getting to Samara without a car is somewhat complicated for the inexperienced Costa Rica travelers and non-Spanish speakers. Freddie drove them from the cabinas in Esparza to the house in Samara for $100. He threw in the non-stop dialogue for nothing.

I’m sure you can imagine what we did in Playa Samara. After securing a reliable source for Ron Centenario
The Calf WhispererThe Calf WhispererThe Calf Whisperer

Diane used her secret powers to make friends with a calf from next door.
and food we settled in and took advantage of the pleasures of life at the beach. Terry and the boys built a monumental sand castle that garnered numerous comments and photos from passers by. We went fishing for a couple of hours and Terry caught a nice fish for dinner. We supplemented that fish with some beautiful Dorado that Terry cooked up in the way that only he can. Four adults and two children polished off nearly 2.5 kilograms. Nataghia, Diane, and the boys went for a one hour horse back ride on the beach. Of course we spent countless hours swimming and catching waves with our bodies, boogie boards, and surf boards. Nataghia rented a board and we tried to get her schooled on consistently catching waves but it really wasn’t her day. The waves were a little choppy and tough to catch but I was pleased to have caught a few waves using her 9’2” board. Amazing what a guy can do when his shoulder is feeling strong. Of course the next day always reminds me that I won’t be doing anything too intense with my shoulder for a sustainable time. We also had a beach bonfire, which
Best BuddiesBest BuddiesBest Buddies

A rare moment when an ear wasn't getting licked.
was really hot and burned up so quick that we couldn't roast any yummy colored marshmallows that Diane loved. Of course all good things must come to an end and we left Samara after five glorious days. On the way home I stopped at the Puntarenas market and picked up two beauty Marlin steaks that we BBQ’d and that eased our sadness at leaving our favorite beach in Costa Rica.

It is difficult to not recommend visiting Arenal Volcano to people visiting Costa Rica. The Arenal Volcano is the fourth most active volcano in the world and if it is obscured by clouds, there are many attractions to distract from gawking at a natural wonder. Since we had visited Arenal twice in the past six weeks without seeing the top we were desperate to have the good fortune of some extended viewings. We picked up a rental car for Diane and Terry and off we went on the “snail trail” to San Ramon and the “no puke pact” drive from San Ramon to the Montana de Fuego Hotel near La Fortuna. Anyone who knows Terry should be familiar with his ability to attract good fortune and if we were
The Hermit Crab FarmThe Hermit Crab FarmThe Hermit Crab Farm

Uncle Terry was a beach bound Jaques Cousteau.
going to see volcano action it would be with him. Sure enough as we rounded one of the many curves there was the Arenal Volcano in it’s full glory. The Montana de Fuego Hotel has a perfect view of the volcano, an unbelievable breakfast buffet, a decent pool, and very nice grounds that feature some challenging trails. We enjoyed the full spectacle of the volcano for pretty much the entire two and half days we were in the area. As I have previously stated, there are plenty of things to do in Arenal, but when the volcano is on display it is hard to look away. We went on the same hike to the '96 flow but this time it wasn’t raining and we could see and hear the volcano perfectly. At one point on our hike the volcano vented so loud that Terry and I looked at each other with a look of concern. An added bonus on the hike for those who hiking at a more leisurely pace was a visit from some White Faced Capuchin Monkeys.
Our return to Esparza was uneventful other than Benjamin breaking the no puke pact, a semi crossing the road on a
Not A PoseNot A PoseNot A Pose

These boys have really depended upon each other for friendship.
turn because he was going too fast forcing me off the road(good thing I was going slow), and of course the typical experience of following a very slow truck with someone behind it who refused to pass. We enjoyed movie night watching “Cool Runnings” courtesy of Auntie Gail via Auntie Di and prepared ourselves for the always difficult goodbyes that would come in the morning. We were off on schedule the following morning and made excellent time to the airport. Of course when you leave an extra hour or two the traffic is as smooth as it ever is. We killed some time at the International Mall near the airport and I dropped Diane and Terry off just before lunch. I’m getting good at short goodbyes and I was back on the road to Esparza. It was an unbelievable drive back. It only took an hour and Nataghia could hardly believe it when I pulled into the driveway.

What a great time we had with Diane and Terry. We now believe that we have the whole hosting thing figured out and are somewhat sad that we won’t likely receive any more guests during our time here. With that in
Snakes & LaddersSnakes & LaddersSnakes & Ladders

A little fun out of the sun with Auntie Di.
consideration everyone was back to the grind on Monday morning. Nataghia got the boys back on the home school program and I was planning on shadowing my developer friend Johnny teaching him English and learning about his business. We also created a list of places we still wanted to visit before completing our 10 month adventure. We have several places we want to see including Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Manuel Antonio, Poas Volcano, a coffee tour, and one ferry ride across the Gulf of Nicoya. We are so thankful for all the company we have had over the past 10 weeks and cannot believe what we have done during that time. It seems like it is getting close to the end and it is exciting and depressing thinking about making the adjustments to life back in Canada. One thing for sure is that we now know that we can deal with pretty much any relocation challenge that might come our way.

Additional photos below
Photos: 16, Displayed: 16


Classic CastleClassic Castle
Classic Castle

These boys had fun building this castle that became a bit of an attraction.
Three Hour TourThree Hour Tour
Three Hour Tour

Ben was sick but not as much as I was when I lost the "big one" and screwed up the reel.
Rid'em CowboysRid'em Cowboys
Rid'em Cowboys

Nice morning ride on the beach.
Beach BonfireBeach Bonfire
Beach Bonfire

We finally got to have a bonfire on the beach. It is only about 7 at night
Volcano ArenalVolcano Arenal
Volcano Arenal

Our view from the hotel room.
Living Life LargeLiving Life Large
Living Life Large

Too many breakfasts like this one and the title would have more than one meaning.
Friends ForeverFriends Forever
Friends Forever

The obligatory photo at the end of the visit.

18th March 2008

missing photos
Hey!! Where are the pictures of Auntie Diane zip-lining?!!? I have been waiting weeks to see one of those.
18th March 2008

Auntie decided to abstain from the zipline.
18th March 2008

What, Diane? No zipline?
Hey Diane, if you're not going to zipline, go back to Canada! Just kidding, but you don't know what you're missing. The pictures make me envious and I wish we'd had more time to go horseback riding on the beach and see Arenal so clearly. If it was up to Ariana, we'd be back there next week. Enjoy your remaining days there, but leave something to go back for.
18th March 2008

I absolutely love hearing about all of your adventures! Your great descriptions about your travels have convinced me that we will be taking a trip there when we can!
20th March 2008

wow. you guys are so lucky to be having all this fun and such great visitors! And all that fish! They must know you all by name in Samara by now. I came home and have been cold ever since - even though, now spring is here! The Pelican...
21st March 2008

nice one dad!
23rd March 2008

What's next?
OMG, I have been reading your blog for the last 2 days. Like a good book, I couldn't put it down. I must say I feel very exhausted for you but also excited and exhilerated with one adventure after another. It is like watching SURVIVOR and can't wait for the next entry. I admire your strength and stamina through some of the many challenges you faced. Your family has grown and you will all have these special memories, now that you've done it, you don't need to wonder what if! I enjoyed reading this greatly. Thank-you for the amazing ride!! Be safe. ttfn joni

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