Showing off our favorite places in Costa Rica

Published: March 3rd 2008
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Lunch at the MiradorLunch at the MiradorLunch at the Mirador

View from the parking lot, alot like our view from our yard.
Without time to get lonely after Sharon and Jeff set off on their travels we began planning for the arrival of my sister Genny and her husband Mitch, who were supposed to fly into San Jose late on January 29th. We were going to meet them the next morning and do some sight seeing in the San Jose area. As I imagined them flying over the US on their way, Genny called me to say they were still at the Saskatoon airport. Their flight had been canceled due to weather/technical difficulties. With a cold spell hitting the Prairies with average temperatures of minus 35 with the wind chill factor of minus 50 Celsius I was once again reminded how lucky we are to be basking in the eternal summer of Costa Rica. And so I reminded Genny that all the waiting was truly worth it, soon she would be enjoying the laid back poolside lifestyle. After another day of delays and a very late night drive to Esparza we finally greeted Genny and Mitch on the morning of January 31st. We found them lazing poolside at their hotel Villas Posada del Sol, with relaxing smiles on their faces. And so began
Dance Mat FeverDance Mat FeverDance Mat Fever

Everyone took a turn dancing to the Veggie Tales Songs, what an awesome workout!
another round of holiday fun with a swim in the pool and lunch at the Mirador Enis Restaurant on the highway in Esparza. Yummy typical Costa Rican food with a view of the Pacific Ocean. I also found a great souvenir store that I didn't know existed right in our hometown.

While Genny and Mitch were ready to relax we also wanted to share with them some of our favorite places. We visited the Parque Central, the Eskimo ice cream store and the Riverview Restaurant for their delicious seafood platter. They also shared with us a bit of home, besides their welcome faces, a bag of mail and a fun new Veggie Tales Dance Mat for the boys. Everyone worked up a bit of a sweat and had a few laughs trying to dance to the Silly Song collection. I would recommend to anyone looking for a fun workout, just buy yourself a dance mat and dance!

I returned to the Parque Aventura Rio Barranca, the new canopy tour only 3 km from Esparza, where Genny, Mitch and I zip lined through the trees and thus started Mitch's new adrenalin rush hobby. We also spent one day at
Ziplining crazyZiplining crazyZiplining crazy

Mitch loved it so much they went again in Monteverde, and would have gone again in Arenal too.
the nearby beach Dona Ana jumping waves. While this is a nice local beach we couldn't resist recommending a visit to our new favorite place to hang out for days on end-Samara. We love the laid back vibe and safe waters here and it felt like home when we arrived at Camping los Cocos. This time we set up with our tent as close to the beach as possible. The first day I woke and lay in bed watching the sun rise- how truly awesome! Genny and Mitch stayed on the beach at the Fenix Hotel, a nice suite with kitchennette and a welcoming hammock oasis in the front yard. We visited for breakfast and spent time boogie boarding, swimming and just enjoying the sun. We also took a short boat ride to the nearby reef to do a bit of snorkeling. This was the first time that Benjamin had snorkeled, and Genny and Mitch. We saw a few cool fish and got comfortable in the water, some more than others. Unfortunately Genny got a bit motion sick but luckily the boat ride back was not long. Lesson of the day: It's always good to to try a short boat
Always asking questionsAlways asking questionsAlways asking questions

Benjamin was quite curious about the fancy neck pillows.
ride prior to signing up for an all day excursion.

After 3 days at Samara we all went back to Esparza and Genny opened up her hair salon on the patio. Since I've arrived in Costa Rica I have had a few 'not so great' haircuts. It could be just unlucky but thank you Genny for the stylish and modern cut. Benjamin loves his new cut just like Dad's and Owen is happy that the hairdresser understood him when he said, not too short!

The following day Genny and Mitch hopped on the bus to Monteverde. Since we had already done that ride and seen the sights they went off on their own for some fun. We did normal house stuff, like laundry and cleaning up cause even though it seems like we are always on holidays, we also have to take care of the dull stuff.

On Saturday the 9th of February we packed up the car again, off to Arenal Volcano for our second try to see the top of the volcano. Sharon came with us for her last days in Costa Rica, leaving from Arenal to fly home on the 11th. Once we arrived
Surfing RonSurfing RonSurfing Ron

Each time we go to Samara Ron practices his surfing.
in San Ramon I remembered that again I did not bring any warm clothes with us to Arenal. It is amazing how the weather changes in the San Ramon area and on the drive through the Los Angeles cloud forest area. We have to close up the windows and Benjamin always says that he is cold, not a common occurrence at home in Esparza. It is a very real lesson for us to travel such a short distance and see and experience the various eco-systems in Costa Rica.

As we drove into La Fortuna the sun was shining and we could see quite a bit of the Arenal Volcano. I was hopeful that we would see the lava flow. We went to our hotel, Eco Arenal Lodge, where we met up with Genny and Mitch again. They had toured Monteverde and then come across on the well-known Jeep-Boat-Jeep transfer. After some "comida tipica" at a restaurant called La Mesa de mi Mama (the table of my mom- we knew that it had to be good) we went to the La Fortuna waterfall. Since Ron's last visit they had built a nice parking lot and entry booth to the park.
Our first boat ride in Costa RicaOur first boat ride in Costa RicaOur first boat ride in Costa Rica

Here we are off to the reef to snorkel.
And they had created paved steps down the rather steep trail to the waterfall. The hike down was so worth it though as we arrived at the awesome beauty of the waterfall. There were many people swimming in the very cold pool at its base, but I was not feeling so brave to risk the pull of the water. Instead we all chose to cool off in the less daunting pool a bit further down. Since we are so accustomed to the warm water of the Pacific it was somewhat shocking to feel the fresh water. It was great though to swim with the little fish and do a water workout against the current.

After the hike we cooked dinner at the hotel and crossed our fingers that we would see the lava. The clouds however were not giving up the volcano, as it often clouds over in the evening even if it is clear during the day. Instead of volcano viewing both Ron and I enjoyed a good visit with our "little" sisters. The next day was spent relaxing pool side and doing a bit of looking around Fortuna. We said a sad good bye to Sharon, and
Holidays are for funHolidays are for funHolidays are for fun

Genny and Mitch, before the motion sickness hit.
then spent our last evening in Arenal looking at the clouds. Genny and Mitch did go on a tour, hike and a visit to the Baldi Hot Springs. They said it was very nice even with the little rain shower we had.

Our final morning in La Fortuna it was time to say good bye to Genny and Mitch. This is always the part about having company that is not so fun. The many visits we have had from our family have made Costa Rica the perfect place to live. The weather is sweet and so are the adventures and showing people around our new country for the year. We hope that our visitors have enjoyed their time here as much as we have.

Unfortunately we had to leave our newly adopted country in order to renew our tourist Visa so we had no time for sadness. Instead we went home, repacked the backpacks and left the next morning for a quick trip to Nicaragua. Once again we visited San Juan del Sur. The border crossing was smooth and no longer stressful as we knew what to expect. Our time there was spent playing at the new playground, eating ice cream every day at the great beach side Eskimo, finding ways to eat as inexpensively as possible(not hard at the mercado where you get a full meal for $2.25), reading and stocking up on some new English books at El Gato Negro. And we indulged in something we don't do here, watching English TV - it was great to see the newest ER. As always we met some interesting people and shared stories of life in Costa Rica and beyond.

We returned to Esparza early afternoon on Friday February 15th. The boys were very tired of the busy travel schedule and were ready to veg at home. They were also gearing up for the upcoming visit of Auntie Diane and Uncle Terry. Stay tuned.

Additional photos below
Photos: 16, Displayed: 16


Cloudy and cool on the way to Arenal VolcanoCloudy and cool on the way to Arenal Volcano
Cloudy and cool on the way to Arenal Volcano

This is what it looks like on the drive from San Ramon to La Fortuna, driving through the clouds.
Arenal VolcanoArenal Volcano
Arenal Volcano

We took this shot after we ate lunch, it was the only time in two days that we saw the whole volcano.
La Fortuna WaterfallLa Fortuna Waterfall
La Fortuna Waterfall

This was an amazing site to see. It is much larger in person and well worth the hike.
A cool swim in the currentA cool swim in the current
A cool swim in the current

We took a dip in the secondary pool which flowed from the waterfall, it was great exercise swimming against the current.
Eco Arenal LodgeEco Arenal Lodge
Eco Arenal Lodge

Beautiful grounds, huge pool and a variety of well-equipped rooms. Also very good service!

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