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Tom Ballard Photography
2014-05-10 thru 17.. Costa Rica FAM Trip!!!! FAM Trip???? There will be some readers who will know what that means now, but others will have to wait to find out.. Of course, when you do, it will be all so simple, but, be thinking about it if you do not already know the answer...
As with all my stories, there is a story behind the story.. This is the same with your stories, as I know now, but generally people do not share that part, but I do, and I will, so, lets get started...
Many years ago, and even I have forgotten how many, but I am thinking it was back in the 80's, I worked with a fellow whose name is now lost to history, even though I can still remember his face.. I just cannot remember his name at this time.. But, in a short, he had a daughter who took a Spanish class in school, fell in love with the language and wanted to go somewhere and work in a place where she could use the language on a daily basis!!!! I have no idea how she chose Costa Rica, but she did, and with the help of her family, after college I think, she moved to Costa Rica, a Spanish speaking country, and went to work in a hotel.. Then, as luck would have it, she fell in love with one of the employees, married there and made Costa Rica her new home..
For my buddy at work, having a daughter now married to a Costa Rica man, living and working in Costa Rica, meant he and his wife had to make several trips to this country to visit their daughter.. So, how is this a part of the story?? It tells you of the first time I ever heard of Costa Rica, and even then, I was not interested enough to even look it up on a map.. But, from the conversations at work, I gathered it was somewhere south of Old Mexico.. That was enough info for me and so I left it at that..
Then in the early 90's, the name Costa Rica comes back into my life. One day I am watching a nature show on TV and the subject is poison snakes, the kind that can hurt you bad.... And, guess what, one of the really bad snakes lives in Costa Rica.. The snake that is featured in the TV show is poisonous, and will kill you at the high end or hurt you really bad at the low end.. Either way, you are screwed, and it is aggressive.. What did I learn from this TV show??? The lesson was to stay the heck out of Costa Rica.. And, I took that warning seriously!!! I was not going there, count on it!!!!!!!!
Lets get serious, if a country has a killer snake running loose in it, you do not want to be there, especially if the snake is likely to chase you down, bite you and make you dead.. This you do not want to happen.. I am serious!!! So, what to do, stay out of Costa Rica.. Let the friggin snake have the country.. There are other places to go, and I do.. And I will share those stories with you. OH, the name of the snake, FERDELANCE!!! And, to learn a bit more about it and its buddies, watch this youtube clip, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBQTkAw9TOo.. There are several clips on youtube, but this one has very clear photos.. It is this snake that kept me out of Costa Rica for years.. In fact, in the late 90's, a very close female friend invited me to go with her and her friends on an adventure trip to Costa Rica.. I said, NO WAY!!! Not gonna happen!!!! And, I did not go.. Much safer to stay home and watch nature shows on TV...!!!!! However, she came back and raved about the great fun they had on their trip and made me feel really bad about not going!!! But, I was still alive, so all was good with me!!!
Years went by, and I forgot about Costa Rica, until another friend and her husband went to Costa Rica, for whatever reason, and came back telling stories of great fun doing water sports and ziplines, etc.... I was very happy for them, but still not warming up to the idea of going down and being killed by a snake.. But, it did seem odd that all my friends were coming back alive and telling stories of great fun.. However, I am thinking luck has been on their side.. But, who really knows.. I am still not going!!!
Then, I a few months ago, I got an email from a friend who is a travel agent. She was offering me an opportunity to travel with her to Costa Rica!!! There was this sudden chill that ran through me like ice water as I thought of the idea.. But, it would seem my nerves had began to soften a bit, as the chill wore off much sooner than it had in the past.. So, I sat back and started giving the offer some thought. As my mind set about going through the logic process, I had to recall that my work buddy had been there many times and came back alive. Two of my female friends had gone there and come back alive, and now a third female friend was inviting me to go there.. What could this mean.. Maybe there was a bad snake there and each of these females had been guided by some evil power to get me there so I could be attacked and killed by this horrible snake I had heard about... Is it possible I was being lured to my death???? This required some really serious thinking.. The thinking even included some serious sweating...
After days of restless thinking, many trips to the computer to read about snake bites in Costa Rica, hours of meditation, and god only knows how many cold beers and glasses of wine, it finally came down to my age.. At 62 years of age, there were some risks I was just going to have to take if I was going off to see the world.. The question was, are you a traveler or not???? If I was, I gotta go, if I am not, I gotta stay home.. People die from all kinds of things while traveling, to include plane crashes, bus crashes, robbers, falling buildings, fires, bad food, knives, guns, poison, lightening, falling trees, floods, and the list goes on, so how bad could it be to die from a snake bite.. If it happened, I would be the first person known to die from snake bite, in my family.. If nothing else, it would be a first and I would be the subject of many conversations for years to come..
Yes, during the 72 hours or so after I was invited to Costa Rica, I went through a living hell as I had to make a decision about facing the snake fear and accepting the invite.. Well, if you have read this far, then you are smart enough to know I finally broke down and accepted the invite, but it was not easy for me to do.. I have done two week solo backpacking trips, I have driven all over the Lower USA, Alaska, and Canada in one year, I have done two week solo canoe trips, and other high adventure trips, but this was the hardest one to say yes to.. But, yes, I finally gave in and called my friend and said, YES, I will do it, sign me up...
Once I gave in to the idea of going, and accepted the invite, the rest was easy.. My travel agent friend did all the work, I paid the bills I needed to pay, and before long we were confirmed, paid, and ready to go, except that now I added a new challenge, I wanted to go lite!!! Knowing that other adventures that I wanted to go on would require me to travel lite, really lite, I decided to use this trip to get ready for the future, and I did..
Once signed on for the trip, I started doing research for traveling lite, and I mean really lite. In my search for info on traveling lite, I found that some people who had been doing it for years were more than willing to share what they had learned.. And without hesitation, I will say a big THANKS to them.. If I could remember them all, I would list them here, but a Google search will bring in most of them. Plus, I learned that there is a lot of neat video clips on the topic on "youtube"... From all these people I learned a lot.. The more I learned, the smaller my pack size got.. Of all the people and of all the sites I learned from, this one fellow was the best, so I will give him credit here by sharing his website.. It is really good, so if you are ever in search of info on going lite, go to this man's site, it is http://www.onebag.com/. This man has shared some of the best general info I found, plus he provided the names of some great products to purchase. Many of the products he recommended, I bought.. Later, I will learn that he was right on.. The products he recommended were awesome..
I guess I could talk on and on about the getting ready part, but I will shorten it up to say that the one bag travel plan was good, and I had a lot of fun buying the products mentioned by the ONE BAG fellow, mentioned above.. The best suggestions that came out of it was buying Exofficio Give-N-Go boxers, Exofficio 'Air Strip" shirts, Ebags "Mother Lode TLS Weekender Convertible" carry on pack, and the Ebags packing cubes. The three bag set is made for the inside of the Weekender. Perfect match.. For the girls, there is a wheeled version of this pack... As for pants, I do not know what to recommend.. REI use to make the perfect pant, and I still have several pair, but this year when I ordered a new pair, they were horrible.. So, at the moment, even my favorite source is not a good one now.. Hopefully they will see the error of what they have done and go back to a better product.. They changed the design, the fabric, and they took away the belt that was forever supplied with each pair. Somebody should have their butt spanked for what they have done.. That is putting it mildly!!! But, for travel, when you can find them, get the nylon, cargo, with zip off legs.. Truth is, I do not zip my pant legs off, but I will many times unzip them on the sides to allow more air to come in, but, I do not remove the leg, for fear that I will lose it, as many have done!!!!!!!!!!!!! Be warned!!! It will happen!!!
If you are a traveler, or will become one, I can highly recommend a travel vest.. I have had several over the years.. And though not perfect, my best one was a gift from my sister.. I have used it a lot, but on this trip, a flaw in the fabric showed up. Not long before I left on the trip, the fabric started coming apart as if it were rotten!!! When I got home, I contacted the seller, Cabelas, and presented the issue. They seemed embarrassed at what had happened, then directed me to return it to the local store for evaluation.. In short order the inspector said yes, it was a defect, and ordered a new jacket for me.. The new jacket arrived at my door a few days later, and I am good to go again.. So, even though I had a bit of an issue with my first jacket, I still think it is the best one for now.. It is called the Safari Vest. I have the olive color. Check it out.. I love mine... As a photographer, the jacket is a big help, but as a travel jacket, I could not imagine traveling without it.. In the old days, yes, I could have lived without it, but now, no.. Today, when I approach the security line at the airport, I empty all the pockets of my shirt and pants into the pockets of my jacket. The jacket is then passed through the scanner, and I do not have to worry about all the stuff being there on the other side.. It is all inside the jacket.. If you get one and use it, you will never go without it...
Ok, back to the story.. Once all the official stuff is done with the travel agent, I start thinking about health issues that might come up while there. So, I checked our government health website, It was there that I learned that there could be some health issues, if one was not protected.. But, it was not a definite yes or no, just a maybe.. I called my doctor, whose office turned out to be no help.. But the office gave me some suggestions for places to go in town, for help.. As it turns out, there is only one in our town, and they are not very good, but for me, I think they finally got the job done. However, if you are outside of St Louis, I will hope you have better help than we do here. The CDC site provided by our government is vague on issues, and the health people just made it worse...
Nobody seems to know what you should do, so from experience, I suggest doing too much rather than too little, but probably the best advice is to do a lot of the research yourself and make your own decisions about what you want, in terms of shots.. That said, the travel company we would be going with, did not provide any recommendations for shots, etc.. But, I did get a typhoid shot anyway.. This much the heath place did recommend. I think I had to pay for it out of pocket, and, I was advised to take some Cipro antibiotics with me. To get the Cipro 500 mg tablets, six of them, I had to pay the health place 15 dollars just to write the script!!!! Your doctor might do this cheaper!!! Depends on how much they love ya.. But, I think it a good idea to have 6-10 of these tabs with you when you go, and I will tell you why later... But, when I left the health place, I had paid something like 95 dollars for my typhoid shot, and 15 dollars for my Cipro script... Later I will provide a list of supplies you should have to go here, or most any other place you travel.. There are a few simple things you should have with you all the time... I will share this later.
Needless to say time seemed to speed by as I got myself ready for this trip.. I had been many places, such as all other the USA, Canada, all of the Caribbean islands, Italy, Austria, and Switzerland, to name a few, but none of these places concerned my like going to Costa Rica.. I think I finally learned to accept the snake thing, though the thought never left me, but there was just something I could not get comfy with... But, no matter, the time till we would be leaving kept growing shorter, until one day, it was time to go!!!!!!!!!
I guess it is about here that I should try to tell you what a FAM trip is, even though I am not sure I really know, even now, but I will tell you what I think/assume.. FAM is short for Familiarization. Scattered around the world are millions( I assume) of hotels and resorts that are looking for business. But, how to get business is forever a challenge for them.. To survive, they need a constant flow of customers.. To keep this flow at a healthy rate, they have to have help, and much of that help comes from travel agents who have been to their place of business. How to get the travel agents there is a challenge..
As it turns out, the best way to get travel agents to see your place of business is to invite agents to come see your place, and give the agents a nice tour of your business.. But, agents are busy, hopefully, plus many cannot afford the prime rates these businesses charge.. This means there has to be a plan. Turns out, the plan is for the businesses to determine their low season, and offer cheap trips to agents during this off season.. Agents as a whole like to travel, and even if it is not the high season, with all the high season pluses, visiting a resort in the off season does give the agents a chance to have a personal travel experience, plus become personal with the property and the management at the locations they visit. The trip I will be on with my travel agent friend, who has invited me as a guest, is a FAM trip.. Guest also have to pay for their part of the trip, plus they have to pay a few dollars more, in most cases, but the guest does not have to participate in the business end of the trip, unless they want to.. On this trip, I think all the guests on the trip did all the same activities as their agent friend, even if they did not have to.. I did go to all the events..
What is an event? Well, that is just something I made up, the real name for the business conducted on these FAM trips is called "hotel inspections".. At each resort or other, the management arranges a tour of the complex. On these tours, the agents get a comprehensive look at the property. Most of the time this means, being shown rooms at all price levels, from cheapest to highest, plus, all the extras, to include the dining areas, spa area, plus any other recreational areas provided.. Gives the agents a nice overview of the business.. Some of the upscale rooms would never be seen by a common person, if they were not on one of these tours... Sometimes the upscale rooms were just so-so, but in other cases they would be off the scale!!!!!!!!!!!! So, the bottom line is this, we are going to Costa Rica to see hotels and resorts, but as we travel along, in a tour bus, we will get to look out the windows and get an overview of the country... This is what I went for, the view out the window.. Sadly enough this was not an adventure vacation, just a familiarization trip... That said, I am now back, I did not see any snakes, and I do have a very good overview of the country.. Whether or not I will go back is an unknown.. I have several friends who go there often, in fact, as I write this, they are there right now, but further south than where I went.. Maybe things are different there. I have been invited to go with them, and maybe I will next time. But, I will compare notes with them, and see if there is something different that I could see and do if I were on there trip...
It is Day One, and I am up before 0200. I call my travel friend to make sure they are up, they are.. At 0330 I am at their place. I put my car in their garage, and we take their car to the airport! In a reasonable amount of time, we are checked in and at the gate. I am doing a carry on, but my friend is taking a large bag and has to check it.. I have no idea what all she has in her bag, but I have only two changes of clothes.. It was part of the plan, to take two changes of clothes, and some soap!!! Hand washing is somewhat of a lost art, but it can be done, if you plan ahead!!!!!
At the appointed hour, 0600, we are on our plane and gone.. We are headed to Miami, from St Louis.. In Miami, we have a short layover, and then we are gone again. And, before noon, local time, we are landing in San Jose, Costa Rica!!! We made it.. Of course we have to get through customs, etc, but we do and we get my friends bag, and we find the people who are waiting to pick us up at the airport and get us started on our big adventure.. It is here at the airport that we first meet the man with the big smile, who will be our constant companion for the whole of our trip, our guide, Marco. You will see him in a lot of the memory images as you go through the memories I will be sharing.. Now before we get too far a long, I have to tell you that you will need some local money. How to get it is the question.. In the airport, there are money exchange stations, to which we go and exchange money.. As far as I could tell, they did not charge a fee.. We each exchanged 100 US dollars for their money. And, for love nor money, I do not remember how much money that was in theirs, but I guess I could figure it out.. Turns out, they gave us a cheat sheet to show the exchange numbers.. Their money is in Colones, It will be shown in the memory photos, but I think 1000 Colones is 2 US dollars.. And, as it turns out later, we will learn that many, if not all places, will take USA money... It would seem that they get enough business there to easily work in either currency. And, if you want US dollars in change, no problem, but, USA coins is an issue.. They do not work with those, as far as I could tell..
Once we have been met and approved by our guide, we are loaded, with gear, onto a shuttle that takes up to our home for the night. We are staying at a property called the Wyndham Hotel and Convention Center... We get checked in, and head for our room, but get lost. Takes three people to help us find the right floor, then when we get to the door, it will not open.. My friend, Grace, has the card with our room number on it!!! So, we go to the room she says we are supposed to have!! 4010!! When we try to get in, nothing. Door will not open.. So, before we head back to the front desk, she decides to check the room number to be sure.. Turns, because of poor writing which we could barely read, we were supposed to be in 4019!! We find it, we try the door, and in we go!!! We are making progress.. We secure the room, make sure we have all the basics, and off we go to explore, after we reset the temp control, as it was way too hot in the room for us!!!
In short order, we find the pool area, Grace finds other members of the team, and the conversations start.. I separate from the conversation and set off to get some memory photos.. Nice place, but is in kind of a strange area.. And it seems we saw a lot of security people on the outside.. Maybe this is the norm, but do not know... At any rate, Grace does the social thing, I do the photo thing and later we are both back in the room at the same time.. Oddly enough, she tells me that someone has bought a couple of beers for her and that she thinks they are 1 dollar each... Pretty good deal.. Now, she thinks we should go get more.. But on our way to get them, we meet an employee who does room service.. Grace orders four beers and ask that they be brought to our room.. In about 10 minutes they arrive.. Per her pricing, the total should have been 4 dollars, plus tax and tip.. Turns out, they were 20 dollars plus tax and tip!!! Guess there was a break down in the language somewhere.. The beer was good, and even at 5 US dollars each, this is about the going price for all beers on cruise ships and in resorts.. On the street, you can get these beers for 2 dollars or less, each, but in the resorts, it is 5 and up. At some point, they were 7 dollars each! And, for those who want to know, the best beer we found was the Imperial..
After the in-room beer, it was time to go meet our group again for our first "hotel inspection". For this event, we met in the lobby, where we were introduced to management, then taken on a short tour of the facility. Pretty nice. After the tour, we were taken to where a small buffet had been set up for us.. We ate, we visited with our new travel buddies, then it was back to our rooms for some much needed sleep, given that we had been up since 0130 our time! Tomorrow, we would be having an 0600 breakfast, then we were to be on the bus at 0800 to continue our adventure! To see the memory images shared from this first day of business, use the link below:
I am here to tell you, you have not traveled until you have traveled with Grace.. I mean that in a nice way.. The lady gets a new set of batteries every night.. She is generally going 90 mph all day, poops out completely at 10 PM, falls onto the bed and is sound asleep as soon as her body lands on the mattress.. You would think she would still be sleeping come daylight, but no, at anytime after 0200, you will hear doors opening and closing, things being run into, the potty being flushed, your bed being banged into, the shower running, among other things!!! What is going on!!! Grace is awake and ready to see the world.. Why on earth isn't everyone else awake and ready to get started... Do you remember the old John Wayne saying in a movie that goes something like this "We are burning daylight!"... Well, around Grace it happens everyday.. She lives up to those words.. Daylight is not to be wasted, and to make sure that happens, best you get ready long before the sun shows itself over the horizon.. Anything less and you are going to miss the day, completely.. Being there early is an understatement when it comes to Grace.. Is this all bad or all good, I do not know, but I have to learn to sleep fast if I am going to travel her!!!!
So what is all this talk about Grace being up early!! When you see the memory photos, you will start to get the idea.. By the time my eyes are open, Grace is up, showered, dressed, has coffee made, and is digging in her suitcase for something!!! But the earliest memory I have of her is her standing in the room holding a glass of wine and dancing around in front of the TV, singing something about lets party!!! I do finally get my camera, I do look out the window and see sun on the mountains that were yesterday covered in clouds, and I do get a memory photo of Grace and her morning glass of wine... I guess that if I stopped there, it would not look good, but truth is, someone at the reception last night had given her their glass of wine.. Grace brought it back to the room, assuming to drink it, but as usual, she fell asleep long before the wine was consumed.. This morning she just could not pass up the chance to use the prop for a morning photo.. Truth is, I do not know what happened to the wine.. Maybe she did drink it, but my guess is it was left in the room... But, this just goes to show who the day will start with Grace... Every day starts with a new set of batteries~!!
This morning we will be joining the rest of the gang in a dining area for a buffet breakfast, which is probably for all the property guest, but for sure it is for us.. However, since Grace is up and moving before anyone except the staff, we go for a walk to look around while we wait for the buffet to open.. While doing the wait, we go to the lobby area, where Grace finds a young gentleman who has been doing the party thing all night.. At 0630 in the morning, he is still in the lobby roaming around in his dress clothes and awkwardly trying to consume another can of beer.. Needless to say, he and Grace soon become best buddies, and is included in the morning memory photos.. What Grace learns from this gentleman is that he attended a wedding yesterday and a wedding party last night.. The party had ended during the night for everyone but him.. He was still at it, and somehow managing to survive!!!
At 0700, or there abouts, we joined our travel buddies in the dining area for a very nice little buffet style meal, with coffee, juice, etc... All this is rather unremarkable, except that the party guy, Oscar by name, shows up to visit with the people who are eating breakfast.. He caused no problems, but it was obvious he was disoriented in a big way.. At some point he left the dining area and was seen out by the pool trying to finish another beer and smoke a cigarette that was not lit. It would seem he was due for a long nap!!!!!
With breakfast out of the way, we checked out of our room and went to the loading area for our bus, which would take us to the east side on the country, where we were scheduled to spend the next two nights in Tortuguero National Park.. At the bus, I met with a new reality.. My small carry on, which I was proud of, was large compared to the bags of a couple other seasoned travelers I met while waiting at the bus.. When I tried to show off my small carry on, two of my travel buddies sort of laughed and said that was big compared to theirs!!! Really, how could that be!!! But, it was true.. Travel agent Peter and his wife Gloria, a judge in New York, and who had once worked with the TV star, Judge Judy, were the proud owners of carry on bags that made mine look huge.. To make matters worse, Gloria said they had traveled around the world with these bags and on several trips came home with clothes that had not even been used!!! They gotta be kidding.. But, I saw the bags, I photoed the bags, and I photoed Peter and Gloria.. Turns out they were great travel buddies and they have travel skills I want to learn.. So.. I will be staying in touch with them, for sure! I include photos of them and their travel bags in the memory files... So, remember, when you think you are the best, or have the best, be careful, someone can or will be able to do better.. When that happens, learn from them!!!!
In short order, we are on the bus, and our luggage is loaded, so we are all set to blast off to a fun day of exploring.. However, there is one small issue, two people, a male and female, who are on our list of travel buddies, does not show up at the bus.. First we wait, then some calls are made, then a complete hotel search takes place.. No sign of our travel buddies.. But, if I recall, they did check out, but they are not here.. The decision was finally made to leave without them.. To this day, I have not heard what happened to them... But, we got on the road and with a window seat, I was able to grab memory images as the world outside slipped past.. I really had no idea what I would see, so everything was entered into the empty folder in my head and onto the memory cards in my camera..
Earlier you met our guide, Marco. On this day, and all the rest, he will be constantly sharing info about the landscape around us as we travel along.. And, in a short, I find that he knows what everything is and can answer every question tossed to him.. When we asked about his past, we learn that he was born and raised here. Later in life he went to work in the cruise industry. For ten years he was on Carnival ships, working as a bar tender.... Then, after ten years of being away from family, he chose to come home and look for work, but work actually found him first.. Someone in the travel industry knew he had lots of experience with travelers, liked people, spoke more than one language, loved his country, and knew a lot about it.. Needing help to fill a guide position, Marco was asked to take the job and help the company.. To do so he would have to pass some industry tests, to get certification.. He was given many books to study and to learn the contents in preparing for the tests.. Generally it would take no less than a month to complete the study and take the test.. After four days, he had completed the studies, and took the test. He reported only missing the answer to one question, which probably did not have a definitive answer, but was a matter of opinion. But, the bottom line he was a natural for this job, got in, got it done, got high praise, and the rest is history, almost.. At that time, I think, he was working for a company. Later, he became an independent contractor and takes contracts based on his terms, etc.. Whatever the deal, he turned out to be the best I have ever seen.. He was great! We were super lucky to have him with us...
As we traveled along on our bus, Marco explained the landscape around us and discussed the effect that it had on the people living here and the country as a whole.. It would seem we were traveling through one of the biggest cash crops in the country, outside of tourism.. Bananas!! All along the roads we traveled, were large tracts of land that were growing bananas.. Truth is, there is a lot more that goes into banana farming than most of us would every imagine... Wish I could remember the better part of it here, so I could share, but I do not... That said, the bus did stop, Marco got out, gathered part of one of the plants, and the bus moved on.. As we traveled on, he showed us the part of the plant that he had gotten and explained how these bananas grow. The memory photos will give a glimpse of that demo..
Later the bus would stop again, and again Marco would leave the bus and come back with something he had harvested from a tree on the side of the road.. This time, it was something he called a lipstick plant.. I do not remember if it had anything to do with the lipstick women wear now, but it would seem that the product of this plant had been used in years past, by women, as lipstick. He even demo-ed it.. But made us promise we would not tell his wife, and of course we are still sworn to this secret oath until this day... But, to be sure the truth was spoken, some ladies had to try the product. One of the ladies was Grace.. Again, memory photos will share this event.. My guess is, she is still trying to get the color out of her clothes!!! It would seem this stuff is messy, by any standard... But, it was a pretty color..
The paved road we started on turned into a dirt road before we reached out stopping point.. In fact, we had several miles of rather bumpy travel.. But, at last, we arrived at a place of some kind.. The thing I remember most about our arrival was a sign that announced that this place had DELUXE TOILETS!!!! How does one have deluxe toilets??? Guess I will find out!!! I really want to see one, and as a matter of fact, I could use one at this point. Our bus, as I recall, does not have a bathroom.. So... When the bus stops, we are in a dirt parking lot, somewhere in the middle of a jungle. But, just like in the movies, there is a big building there to sell us stuff.. And there is a big sign on the building telling of the Deluxe Toilets.. I have to see this. And I do.. When I arrive at the building, I follow the crowd right up to the pay station for the deluxe toilet. It would seem that there is a one USA dollar charge to use the Deluxe Toilet... And, without hesitation, my travel buddies and I were handing over one dollars bills, fast, and heading down the hall to find the deluxe toilet.. I found it.. Actually I found them.. Behind one folding door was a room with a potty and a sink. In another room there was another setup like this, then when you passed behind the kitchen area, you then arrived at the big room with about 9 urinals, and two sinks and a couple of paper towel dispensers. Not bad, but deluxe!!! Well, I guess it was a matter of perspective.. But it was effective..
Now that we have paid a dollar to rid our body of its waste contents, we are met by a bar that sells goodies to put back in our bodies, to create more business for the Deluxe Toilets.. And, yes, we participated... Was not long before Grace and I were back to testing the local beers.. But the testing does not take long, and we voted the Imperial beer to be the best.. Which means that from here on, this will be our beer of choice...
With our deluxe toilet experience behind us and our beverages complete, we have to rush over the hill to catch up to our travel buddies who are now being loaded onto a boat!!!!!!!!!!! Yep, a boat, which is docked with a bunch of other boats.. Not sure where we are going, but we are going.. However, our luggage is not with us!!! The last time we saw the bus, it was in the parking lot, now we are getting on a rather large boat, and there is no luggage to be seen.. Are we going for a joy ride, and to return here, and continue, or what!! I missed that conversation... But, I do my photos, get on and get a seat that allows for doing some photos of whatever we are about to see... When all of our buddies and our guide, are on board, we shove off and begin a rather speedy ride down a river/canal. Still I am not sure where this will take us, but no matter, it seems to cause no concern to anyone!!! I ride, I take photos, and I wonder.. At some point in the ride, we come to an intersection with another water source. At this junction, we exchange drivers and our speed increases.. We are now really zooming along and in a much wider body of water...
After some more minutes, we start seeing houses and other building, the likes of which one might imagine to see in the back waters of Louisiana.. Only, we are in Costa Rica.. Then after passing the little buildings, we see larger buildings and more civilized looking real estate.. And, then, the boat slows and heads for a dock where several other boats are parked.. Once parked, we climb out of our boat, and go up some steps, where we find our luggage waiting for us!!!!!!! Really, it is already here!!! It had come in on another craft of some kind... As I recall, we grab our bags, go to the front office, get our room assignment, and head off to find our room, which will resemble, more than anything else, a cabin... The key to our new home is in the lock!!! Now we just have to figure out how to use it, and we do. Then, when we get the door open, we find a whistle, on a lanyard, hanging on our door!!! For what do we have a whistle.. Then I remember the snakes.. Maybe if you are bitten by the killer snake, you are to blow the whistle, at which time serious effort will be made to contact your next of kin and tell them they can claim your estate, because you will no longer be needing it... Whatever, we have a whistle, and it is red.. Maybe I am supposed to use it in case Grace becomes a problem during the night.. There are no phones or TVs in the room, so maybe a whistle is the only common call for help that is used around here.. Hopefully we will not have a desire to blow the whistle!!!
Inside the room, we find our usual two bed arrangement, and the front bed is decorated with some nice towel art, which we will grow to accept as a common decoration in the places we go.. Do they do this for everyone, or just for us is not known, but it is pretty, and is almost sad that we have to destroy it if we want to have a towel for our showers.. As I recall, we have a bar of soap, two hand cloths, and two towels. No wash cloths in this room.. And, we have no air conditioning.. This is going to be a test of strength as the temps here in the jungle rise.. I have no idea how hot it got but my clothes were soaking wet with sweat!!!!!!!!!!! But, we had chairs on the front porch, and we had a back porch, with a couple of chairs, for all the rooms.. The back porch was used only for viewing our neighbors, the blue crabs that were found to have homes in the ground near our porch!!! Some were not so friendly, but some were, and later we would meet the most friendly ones at the bar party! I almost forgot... When we arrived here, we were given pretty little refreshment drinks, but as far as I could tell, they had no intoxicating contents in them.. Very mild, but pretty... This could have been a good thing, as our room was all the way at the back of the property!! We sort of needed a car to there, but to be honest, the long walk was a hidden blessing, we needed it..
Before I get too much further into this story, I have to tell on myself, for my dumb actions.. While still on the bus, Marco told us not to drink the water from the tap in our room.. Maybe use it for rinsing our mouth, but not to drink.. Drinking water would be from the Big Blue five gallon jugs at the reception area.. Then during all the rushing around, I forgot this warning, and when it came time to take some pills, I went into the bathroom, found the water glasses provided, and used one to get tap water and to take my pills.. Later that evening I remembered I should not have done that.. And, yes, this will come back to haunt me later.. But, there was no water bottles in the room, suggesting we drink only from water bottles. Had I seen a water bottle there, I might have remembered, but the company provided no drinkable water in the room.. Later, I would borrow a water bottle from Grace and use it as needed, until we left this place...
I forget exactly when this took place, but shortly after our arrival, we were to assemble at the dining area for a buffet lunch, and we did. Was pretty good, as most of the meals turned out to be.. Nothing fancy, but adequate. But, since this is a fast paced trip, no time is wasted.. As quickly as lunch etc is complete, we are off to see the Turtle Conservancy place, which requires another boat ride, to get across the channel.. And, once we have landed on the other side, we are directed to the entrance where we pay two US dollars to get in... Getting in gives us access to the room where we see pictures of turtles and then to view a 20 minute film about the conservancy, how it was started and what keeps it going to this day.. Interesting.. It was out of season for us to see the big turtles come in and lay eggs, which is a big deal, but we were taken to the beach where some of this action happens. Pretty place, but no turtles.. However, there are people on the beacb selling coconut refreshments.. To enjoy one of these, you give the coconut man one US dollar, he then grabs one of the coconuts from his supply, he chops off the top, puts a straw into the coconut and hands it to you. I did this. I gave my dollar, I got my coconut, I drank the juice, which was good, then, when I started to throw the coconut away, he grabbed it and chopped it in half.. Then from one of the halves he made a scoop, with which he showed me how to use it to scoop out and eat the tender inside of the coconut!!! Good!!!! Amazing taste and experience to drink the juice and then eat the flesh of the coconut.. Worth every penny of my one dollar.
With my one dollar spent, it was time to catch up to the rest of the gang as they headed up the beach in search of what I do not know. That said, I did slow down to grab memory images, and I did catch up to our group, where I was able to hear an assistant guide tell the story of the green turtles that come here to nest and how the park came to be.. Interesting story.. Then after the turtle class was over, we were free for awhile to go visit the gift shop, and wonder the big town of Tortuguero. The gift shop took up about 5 minutes of my time, then I was out the door to see what I could find to take memory images of.. The experience was neat..
I had not gotten far into my walk when I joined up with Elyse, one of the travel agents in our group. We walked, talked, and took photos as we lumbered along down the only street in this town.. Oddly enough, there is a street, but no cars.. To only way into the park is by boat or by plane, as no autos are allowed in the area.. So, there is a lot of walking done here! That said, they have all the same modern conveniences as we do, just no cars....
As our walk progressed, Grace and Elyse's friend, Deb, caught up to us and got in on the walk, which did not last long as the street was short, and we had a defined time when we had to be back at the dock to catch our ride.. The hard part was finding a place to get a beer, but we finally did, in a pizza shop!!! Beers were cold and they were only two dollars, that is US dollars!!!! WE got them, we drank them, and then rushed to catch the boat... The day is turning out okay.. But, we have another hotel inspection to do, and we do.. Back at the home dock, we unload and go for a tour of the resort.. Once completed, we are off to the dining hall again for another feeding.. Then, with that out of the way, we head for the bar where we will have some brews and listen to a local band play.. Pretty music to be sure.. And, it is here that we find the friendly blue crabs.. Not sure what the deal was, but at our room, they were not friendly, however here, they would come right out on the dance floor!!! Maybe they were looking for a handout, but it seemed a dangerous thing to do, as they could stepped on my the dancers!!! But, they came out on the floor and they got away alive...
The music ended, Grace bought one of the music CDs from the band, and had them autograph it, the crabs left, and we went back to our cabin.. We have been told we will be eating at 0700 again, and then we will start our day.. These people waste no time!!! Busy is the word.. But, this I need to end with.. When we got back to the room, it was HOT!!! I took a shower to cool off, which helped, but even having a sheet over me in bed was too much.. That said, I finally fell asleep, even if I was sweating like crazy.. We did have a ceiling fan, and it was on high, which helped!!!!!!!!!!! Now here is the surprise, at around 0100, I woke up almost in a chill.. It was nearly cold in the room.. I had to find my sheet to cover up, and I think I turned the fan off, it was cold!!!! At least I was cold.. It would seem there is a strange thing that happens here, the hot of day moves out and a heavy chill moves in.. From what I do not know, but it does.. It feels good, but it does make a person hunt for cover in the middle of the night!!!!!!!!!!!! Was a long but interesting day.. Yes, there are memory images from the day, and to see them, use the link below..
Yes, it is now Day 3, and I have spent my first full night in the jungle... How was it?? I will have to think about how to answer that.. I did hear a lot of the night sounds you might think of, though I am not sure I heard monkeys, but might have... I do know, it was really hot, until sometime late in the night, when a chill came to the room and I woke up looking for cover!!!!!!!! How could it be so hot and then turn off to be nearly cold in the middle of the night!!!!!!!!!! I guess cold is a relative description, but it was very cool.. I would not have frozen to death if I had not found cover, but the cover helped a lot.. Could probably have used more cover.. In fact, I think there were blankets on the shelf at the end of the room, but I did not go after one...
Was I up early?? YES.. When you are with Grace, you are up early!!!! I think it was around 3:30 when she ran into my bed as she was going to bathroom.. When I asked her what was going on, she indicated she was okay, but wondered why I was sleeping so late!!!!!!! Said something about needing a cup of coffee, but there was no coffee pot in the room.. There was a small frig, but no coffee maker.. Darn the luck... She did say that we should get cleaned up, and go to the meeting area, as she thinks there is coffee there at 0530... Mercy, we have to wait a whole two hours for coffee.. She got a bellman to bring beer to the room at the other place, why can't she get coffee brought to this room at 0400!!! Maybe that will come later!
Yes, the day started early.. No coffee in the room, but we did have running water, so I took another shower and started getting ready for the day.. Grace was out on the back porch pacing the length of it waiting for the sun to rise, waiting for the crabs to come out, and waiting for me to get ready so we could go for coffee!!!!! Actually, it seems the daylight came earlier than I expected, so it was working out.. To be honest, I expected a lot more animal sounds, but I guess they were asleep.. Even animals have to sleep sometime... Grace is an animal, and she does not sleep, but I think the others do...
With our morning beauty treatments finished, we are out the door and off to the assembly area to find coffee.. We learned there was supposed to be a supply of coffee there all the time, but for reason, this did not happen.. However, Grace was determined to find coffee and did.. Somewhere in the back of the food prep area, she found someone with a coffee pot, and got them to share.. Before long she, I, we, and others gathered around, had coffee.. And, it was pretty good... So, we are off to a good start...
I am thinking what I can say about this day, and truth is, it will not be much.. It turns out if was a very action packed day, but not much in the way of stories.. But, yes, there are some.. Seems the big story of the day was the fashion show that took place after breakfast!!!!!! Yep, we had our normal buffet breakfast, we brushed out teeth, etc., and then we assembled again.. Today, we are going for a walk in the jungle.. And, we have learned that due to rain and a very soggy jungle trail, we will be issued boots to do this walk.. Meaning we will need socks.. Many of us had to get back to our cabins and get socks, then return for the fitting of the boots, which was a show in itself.. Till this day, I cannot figure out how their boot thing worked. There was a little building, where boots were racked or sitting in the floor, ready for our use.. Problem is, the boots had sizes painted only on the right boot!!!! What about the left boot??????? This was a crap shoot... It might not have been so bad if there were an issuer of boots at the door, but we all rushed in and started grabbing boots!!! Next thing you know, we had boots all over the place..
I needed a size 11, which I found, but only for the right foot.. Later I found a boot for the left foot that would work, only to learn that the sole in the boot was messed up, and I could not use it.. So, I had to go digging in the pile again.. And, yep, luck was on my side.. With help, we found another left boot for me.. Now, I am ready to go.. Once outside, I was surprised to see the ladies having a blast showing off their new footwear.. This of course required some memory photos, which we got, then rushed off to catch our leaders, and to get started on our tour.. Marco, our guide, is our general guide.. For these special events, we have a special person to take over.. Oddly, I did not get his name, but he too was very good, and patient with us as we tried to stay together on the hike, while at the same time, listening to his talk, and trying to get the memory photos we all wanted.. Yes, we wanted photos of ourselves in our fancy footwear, but we also wanted photos for the fancy trees we were being exposed to.. I am in awe for sure.. The world we are in is the one I have seen in Tarzan movies and in National Geographic magazines. This is the real deal.. Big plants, colorful birds, sloths, monkeys, strange trees, and the list goes on.. It was not a very long hike, but I could have made it last a day, if there were time.. I most loved the strange trees and plants...
Once out of the muck of the jungle, we had to wash our boots and get our travel shoes back on for the next adventure, which was another hotel inspection.. This one would require a short boat ride down the creek bank a short way.. We did the little tour and returned to our resort, where the girls proceeded to take advantage of the pool we had!!!
Somewhere during this day, I think it was this day, I had to call for help with an issue in the bathroom.. I think maybe I was considering doing a bit of laundry, and to do that, I would have to clean the sink, to be sure it did not have bleach or similar on it.. I made that mistake in Michigan.. Tried to wash clothes in the tub before checking for bleach.. Damaged two sets of clothes.. The cleaning people had left bleach in the tub, which took a toll on my clothes!!!!!!!! But, back to this place.. I did not see the usual lever to open and close the sink drain.. What to do!!! So in playing with the stopper thing, it went down, when I pushed on it, and it stayed.. Could not get it back up... I tried everything available to me.. I finally found a maid and asked for her help. She was working next door.. She did not know the answer.. So, she went and found another lady.. Now I have two women trying to figure this out.. Surely they know, since they work here, but no.. So, one of the ladies goes to the office to get help.. When she comes back she has a repair man with a tool box.. He walks in, looks at the sink full of water, reaches into the water, does something, and all the water starts draining out!!! What magic has he done??? It was easy for him!!!! Turns out, the sink stopper was a push to close, push to open type of stopper!!!!!!!!Who would have guessed!!!!!!!! This is the first one I had ever seen... Now I know!! But, I was super surprised the cleaning ladies did not know!!!! Hummmmmmmmm!!!
After the pool, it was off to the assembly area for lunch and instruction for the next event, which was a ride on the river or canal, whichever it is properly called. Looks like a river, but I think the experts say it really is a man made canal, built many years ago as a means to go into the jungle and harvest the huge trees growing there.. I did not see any signs of harvesting, so I guess that was over many years ago.. And, speaking of trees, several times during this week, to include this day, Marco told us that it is very hard to judge the age of a tree here, as there is no growth rings like we have back home.. There are no seasons here, only one, summer.. So, the trees here never develop growth rings.. The best way to judge age is by size.. After years of observation, locals know about how fast the trees grow, so size is a fair way to judge age.. Also, I was surprised at how fast trees grow here!!!!!! On the jungle hike, I saw trees that I would have guessed to be 200 years old. Marco then informed me that the tree was probably no more than 25 years old!! AMAZING!!!!!! As for the river trip, it was neat.. The photos will have to tell the story.. There is not much more I can add... Was just an amazing thing to do, to ride and look...
Back from our river cruise, we had a little bar party, had a little dinner, then went back to the bar for more party with the local band, who did a great job of entertaining our group!!! It was a simple day, but a day of good memories.. I understand that tomorrow, we will be packing up and moving on.. Long before I got to my room, I was thinking about the heat, and I was right, it was hot, again.. But, like last night, I took a shower before bed, spread out under the big ceiling fan, and waited for the cold in the middle of the night to arrive.. Can you imagine that, in the jungle, laying in bed sweating, waiting for cold air to arrive!!! The good part was we knew it was coming, so we were ready.. I had my sheet laying beside me, ready for use when the time come, and it did.. That is when the sleeping got really good! For the memories of this day, use the link below:
Day 4!!! We only have one week, and here we are starting Day 4!!!!!! Today, we have to leave our jungle home and get back to traveling.. But, guess what, I do not even remember last night, as it relates to the heat... Guess I was already adjusted to the conditions before going to bed.. But, for me, one of the secrets to a good nights sleep, is a hot shower just before bedtime.. I use the same treatment to get me awake and ready for my day!! Multipurpose activity!!! I went to bed sweating, woke up under a cover, trying to stay warm.. What a life!!!!
OK, I made it through the night. Then between Grace and the alarm, I am awake.. And, yes, I need another hot shower to wake up. Took one to sleep, now I need another to wake up!!!
I get the shower done and am being rushed along by Grace who needs to get to her coffee fix, quickly.. I could use one about now myself.. So, out the door we go, and, as usual, I am carrying my camera over my shoulder. That in itself is not an issue, but the point will be that as we rush to get coffee, I chance onto some flowers that are looking good, and I have to stop and do some photo stuff.. And, yes, when I look up, Grace is long gone.. She is needing coffee in the worst way.. I think I do as well, but I am determined to take these flower memories home with me, and so, I continue with the photo event!! And, yes, some of photos turned out pretty good. You will want to see them in the share file...
I catch up to Grace, who has found the inside source of coffee as there is none outside at the coffee station, which now that I think about it, never seems to have coffee.. The equipment is there, etc, but no coffee. As I recall we always had to go mooch coffee from inside somewhere.. I will have to think on this.. But, I caught up to Grace, I bummed some coffee from the staff people, then we went to sit on the patio area, as we wait for the dining area to open, and for our travel buddies to arrive..
Finally, at 0700, I think, we were allowed in to do the eating thing, which was always very adequate.. To say it was super would be way over kill, but we always got food and we always had enough.. The small thing that I remember was that the tables were always dressed up for us with neat napkins arrangements.. On one of the neater ones, I got the lady to show us how they made them.. Not hard, but practice surely improves the quality of the final product.. I tried a couple, but did not get anything impressive..
If memory serves me correctly, on our way to breakfast, we were to drop off our bags at the boat dock, where they would be loaded while we tended to our morning chores.. After breakfast, it is time to get back to our cabin, do our last minute bathroom duties, plus our final room check and then move out.. That said, the photos will show Grace and Sue doing some quality relaxing while the rest of us finish up in the rooms, etc. Then, once finished with our room, it is off to the front desk to checkout and head for the boat..
When we arrive at the boat, we find all of our luggage neatly loaded on and ready to go, all we have to do is find a seat!!! I find one that I think will be good for photos and I grab it. Now I am ready... This morning, we will be retracing our trip to get here.. Back up the river/canal, to our bus, which will take us to our next point of adventure.. Tis not long before everything and everybody is secured and we are ready to go. Was a fun ride back up the river, and it gave me a chance to collect quite a few more memory photos as we moved along.. A few things easily come back to mind.. First, someone had carved faces in a couple of the tree stumps, in the river.. On this trip, I got some photos of them.. And, we passed some young men filling sand bags, on a sand bar.. What the heck could that be for??? Turns out, they were collecting sand for construction jobs in town. There is sand on the beaches and in the ocean, etc, but it has salt in it, which is bad for making concrete, due to the salt content.. Here, the sand is in fresh water, no salt..
Also on the river was lots of traffic.. It was like rush hour here in town.. These canals are used a lot.. So, at several points along the way, we would have faster boats stacked up behind us.. Then generally our driver would find a wide area, pull to the side, let the traffic past, then we would continue on.. Who would have guessed that you would have a traffic issue on a jungle river/canal, but, here it is!!!!!!!!!
Back at the original loading area, we made sort of a crash landing, but survived.. Then once secured, we peoples got off and headed for the Deluxe Toilet!!!! For one US dollar, we could use the toilet.. Then, for about two more US dollars, we got a beer to replace the liquid we had deleted after paying our first dollar.. Pay going out, pay coming it.. Pretty good deal.. Sounds like they should have just given us the beer, then charged way more to use the Deluxe Toilet!!!! Makes me think of the new printer I bought a couple of days ago.. It is an all in one.. Very nice.. Less than 150 dollars.. Amazing!! But, then today I checked the price of the ink to put in it.. Seventy dollars to buy a new set of ink cartridges for it.. After filling it twice, I will have spent as much on the ink as the printer.. I am thinking, they subsidized the cost of the printer so I would have to buy the ink, later.. That is where the real money is.. Why not just give me a printer and charge me for the ink.. Phone companies do that with phones.. They should have just handed out free beer, then charged big bucks for the bathroom!!!!!!!
OK, so we are off the boat, we have been to the super potty, we have had brew, and now the luggage is on the bus, so we can load up and head out towards our next resort, which will have a nice view of Arenal Volcano.. In fact, we are staying this evening at the Arenal Springs Resort, I think..
Now, thank heaven, we are not going to do a none stop drive all the way to our next resort.. We will be stopping for lunch, though I do not remember where is was, etc. But, we did stop at a place that was expecting us and had a rather nice buffet lunch ready for us when we got there.. That said, we were told by our guide, Marco, that there would be a few sloths there, and we might even find the poison dart frog here!!! So, we ate quickly, went to the free potty, then took off out the door..
On the hunt for excitement, meaning the sloths and frogs, some of us did not get far before we stopped to see some art work.. How awesome.. I could have stayed and watched this one fellow work for hours.. He was making things out of glass, using a special heat source, much like a torch.. Turned out some beautiful work.. Grace bought a necklace with a glass frog on it.. Was really neat!!!!
I left the glass art and went to find the sloths. This was not hard to do, just look for the crowd of people.. And, sure enough, there they were.. I am not happy with my camera, but today it got the job done.. With my zoom and flash, I was able to get some fairly neat images of an active sloth.. Most we had seen were asleep or were very shy.. This one was rather busy and make a good model.. You will see it in the share file... But, I took photos of this one, then went on to find the others, which were asleep..
OK, we have sleeping sloths here, so I better go see where the next point of action is.. Does not take long, as I see a crowd of people gathered around an old tree stump type thing.. Has to be something going on here.. As I go that way, I meet someone headed back for the bus.. I ask what is getting all the attention.. I am told it is a poison dart frog.. This I have to see.. But, I barely did.. I thought these things were as big as our toad frogs, or something like that.. Turns out this little baby is little, and I mean really little.. Its body might have been one half inch long, but it was super red and easy to see. That is the body, the back legs were much different in that they were a beautiful blue like color.. I do not know colors very well, so I will just call it blue, but I am sure there is a better description..
The frog was a big surprise.. But, I can say I saw one, which I did not expect.. And I got a few photos, but the Nikon I use is near useless for this type of thing.. I try to tell everyone to NOT BUY NIKON.. Do not do it!!!!!!!!!! I even covered up the name on mine so people would not see it and think it good because I had it.. I have it, but I struggle with it.. More on that in another story, but focusing is just awful with a Nikon.. So, I took a bunch of photos of the frog, but only got three that are usable, and that is a stretch.. They are far from super sharp, but the images show the frog, which is a really neat color.. Wish I would have had better equipment and more time to use it... But... It was time to get on the bus and get gone...
In short order, we are on the bus and rolling, and we are getting a nature class as we roll along. This is about the fruits and nuts, etc, which keeps us busy for awhile, in fact the driver stops the bus, our leader gets out and buys fruit from a roadside stand, and gives it to us to try!!! Interesting... Little bananas and mango’s, I think.. We are not gone far when we are stopping again, for another encounter with the wildlife... Well, sort of... There is a tourist trap that has pet Iguanas to photograph. These poor critters have most likely been photographed a million times, one because they are here, and second because they are huge!!! I am guessing they are very well fed.. That would be my guess. They did seem to mind all the attention, and the photos.. Well, there was this one that did not like the attention, and actually jumped off of two foot ledge, did a belly flop on the ground below and ran off.. The others went back to their nap, and we went inside for the bathroom.. Here we did not have to pay to use the Deluxe Toilet!!!
Here the Iguanas were only part of the action.. When we learned that this place had good ice cream, the Iguanas were no longer of any interest to us. Now it was ice cream.. WOW, was it good.. I think nearly everyone got a cone or a cup of the magic stuff...
Iguanas photographed, free potty used, and good ice cream consumed.. Time to get back on the bus and get on the road.. This time, we do make it to the resort, which will be our home for the next two nights!!! Getting checked in took awhile, for some reason, but we got it done, however, after the check in, we learn that we have to walk about one fourth mile to get to our rooms!!! I am sure the walk was good for us, but that much of a walk to get to your room was a bit much.. Having said that, the room we had at the jungle resort was also a fair walk from the dining area to our room..
When we arrived, we were given a little cool refreshment drink.. Cute but no adult liquids in it.. Just the kiddie stuff, but good. Then after the check in, we headed to our rooms, and wouldn't you know, we passed by the sign that one sees when they go to the pool and spa!!! The sign had all the usual stuff, but then there in big print was a new rule we had not see at other places, “Love scenes are not allowed”.... It is a honey moon resort, I think.. So, you have to wonder what was going on at the pool that was causing problems.. Will have to do some research on this!!!
As I recall, the bus came near to our rooms and unloaded the bus. From there we carried our bags on to our rooms. Grace and I had room 308, and it was one with a great view of the volcano!!!! I think we got lucky!!!
After moving in, and relaxing for a bit, we headed back to the dining area for our evening meal, which was another buffet style event.. I do not know if this was just for us or if every customer here eats from this buffet.. Never thought to ask.. But, again, it was adequate. Nothing fancy, just good enough to get us fed... The meal was included, but most of the people added beer and wine to their meal, which they paid for by credit card, etc.. Then once dinner was done, it was back to the room..
Back at the room, we relaxed a bit, then Grace decided she would go join the gang at the hot springs, and wading pools, etc.. I on the other hand, decided it was a good time to wash clothes!!! So, Grace headed out to the pools, I set up my clothes line and proceeded to do a little laundry.. And, I do mean a little.. I did one shirt, one pant, and one underwear.. I should have gotten done faster, but had sink issues.. Finally got around that, and got the wash done.. Then just as I was finishing up, Grace returned and after listening to her stories of fun at the pool, we called it a night.. We have another big day tomorrow, starting with coffee at 0630, but our room has a coffee pot and Grace has already been using it.. If I remember correctly, when she got back from the pool, she asked if I wanted coffee!! This is at near 10 PM.. I said sure.. She made the coffee, gave me my cup, she sipped on hers, set it down, lay herself down, and in 30 seconds, she was asleep. I sat my coffee by the light stand, and turned the light out!!! Had either one of us drank the stuff, we would have been up all night!!!!!! By just smelling it, then letting it sit, we have done the right thing.. Was a good day.. Now it is time for rest... To see the memory images of this day, use the link below..
I think it is about this time in the trip where I Grace and I have had to come to some agreement on when to “get up”.... Wake up anytime you want, but stay in bed and stay quite until the alarm goes off at an agreed upon time, which I think is 0500!!! Well, that agreement was loosely followed.. I think she held out until around 0430 before she could not stand it anymore.. I think she had been awake since 0300!!! Well, bless her heart, she tried!! She was up and had the coffee on when I woke up... But, she makes a great cup of coffee, so all is well..
Today, by 0500, the coffee is made, and we are out on the front porch, if that is what it is called, drinking our coffee and trying to imagine what the Arenal Volcano would look like if we could see it.. In the memory photos, you will see what I mean.. The volcano is so covered with clouds at 0515, they almost covered us as well.. But, with the coffee in hand, we are relaxing in the chairs outside our front door.. At some point, I have to get my morning wake-up shower, and Grace enjoys the view.. Then, when I have my act together, we are off to the dining area, but we are too early, they will not let us in at 0600 when we get there.. They say 0630 is the best they can do, so we go for a walk.. We get to see the hot springs area and we take some memory photos.. Then at 0630 we return to the dining area and are allowed to come in for coffee and food!!!!!
This will be our first breakfast here, so it takes a few minutes to get oriented.. But, we do and we find things we will eat.. Being a picky eater, some of these eating things are a challenge for me.. But, I always find enough to take care of my food needs.. These places serve a lot of hog meat, and starch products, which I try to avoid.. But, with fruit and eggs and omelets, I do okay!!!
With breakfast out of the way, we rush back to the room, prep for the day ahead, and head off to catch the bus.. We have a full day ahead of us.. For our first event, we will do a tour of a neighbor resort by the name of Royal Corin. Cannot imagine where that name came from, but there it is, and it turns out to be a very nice property.. The photos will show what I mean... Then, with this hotel inspection complete, we are back on the bus and off to do some playtime..
Our first playtime today will be the Arenal Hanging Bridges hike.. I have heard this name many times and have seen it in the tour books, etc.. And, given what I had for info, I was expecting some really wild and amazing things to deal with.. We do arrive, we do unload the bus, we do go to the restroom. We have learned to never pass up a restroom, no matter how close together they are!!! Then, after a few memory photos at the social area near the entrance to the bridges area, we line up to start our bridge hike.. Our leaders secure the required tickets for us and off we go.. My ticket said 24 dollars on it. I do not know which currency this is in.. But, we all have tickets and off we go.. I chose this time, like most others, to be last, which allows me the best chance at doing photos..
From the ticket booth, it is only a few yards to the first bridge.. And, I was amazed at how many people were uncomfortable with the experience.. Though they managed well, I heard them swear they would never do it again!! However, I think this will not be the case. As we moved along the trail, these same people crossed the future bridges without showing stress!!! But, I can appreciate their first emotions.. These swinging bridges are very well made, or so I would say, but, they do bounce and sway as a large group of people like ours get on them.. When there is only one or two people on the bridges, I expect they will move hardly at all.. In the photos you can see the construction, and can judge for yourself.. But, they were safe.. That said, there was almost no time to look off the bridges and to see what to see from the bridges.. I think we were on a tight schedule, as we kept moving fast on the trail.. I did however manage to get some fast grab shots of the bridges and some trees along the trail.. I should also mention, the hanging bridges are not the only bridges, there are a few standard solid bridges on the hike, so you get a mix as you travel along..
Though our hike was very fast, we did get a chance to get a mental image of what the area looks like.. Taking more time and seeing more along the trail would have been a much better experience.. For at least one person, the speed that we traveled and the hills we climbed, became too much, and had to start stopping and taking breaks.. I stayed behind with one of the leaders and made sure this person completed the hike in comfort.. Which they did.. Then, we were back on the bus and gone to our next event..
The next stop was the Hotel Arenal. Here we did another hotel inspection and had lunch. Was a nice visit.. In the memory photos you will see the volcano images that were taken from this resort.. One of the rooms we visited had the best view of the volcano that I saw while in the country.. You will see what I mean when you see the memory photos.. And, while here, I will say, our lunch was ordered from a menu, and served at our table. Most often our food was taken from a buffet line.. It was suggested that I get the beef dinner, and I did.. It was good, by Costa Rica standards, but took a lot of chewing to consume it.. This would be a good time to mention that all the beef products I had in Costa Rica, would be labeled very tough by our standards here.. Not sure what breed of cow they get the meat from, but it is hard to eat.. I am guessing it needs to be pressure cooked... Oddly enough, the cows we saw in the country, were grazing in grass that was knee deep, so they were getting plenty to eat, I would think, but they were not fat.. Maybe the grass there does not produce the same softness of meat as we raise here.. Yes, much of our beef here is grain feed before we get it.. But, there, no.. No grain feeding. All the cows are grass fed right up to the last minute.. So, maybe this is the explanation.
With lunch out of the way, it is time to go for a tubing event on a nearby creek.. To get there, there was a couple of shuttle buses to take us to the event location, which was close.. There was a new bus and an old clunker. Yes, I got the old clunker, but it made it.. However, you would not believe the noise this thing made as it did a hill with about a 45 degree decline.. There had to have been some magical brakes or other system to keep it from doing a runaway.. It moaned hard as it went down, but it made it.. It would seem the event was taking place on a creek just down under the hill from the hotel where we had eaten lunch..
Once in the parking lot, and unloaded, we were met by some cheerful young people who were very much ready to get us prepared for our adventure. Among the things we had to do, was find a room to change clothes, which meant short waits in line, then we had to store our clothes in one of the community lockers. There was so many of us, that we took up a lot of lockers.. In the end, we were issued large lockers, and shared.. The key to these lockers were given to our leader, who was tubing with us..
After being outfitted with a helmet and life jacket, we were ready to go.. Some people also needed water shoes, but my Chacos were approved for the trip, so no shoe exchange needed for me.. But, I did need a caribiner to use to clip my waterproof camera onto my jacket.. They had caribiners, and once I had one, I was good to go. Today would be the first time my new Pentax waterproof camera would be tested.. Turns out, it did well... There were some not so good photos from the event, because I could not wear my glasses on the trip, plus, the action was fast, so the camera had more challenges than it could keep up with.. But, I did get memory photos, which will be shared at the end of the memory set.
Once all decked out in our gear, we are back on the bus for another shuttle. This time to the point upstream where we will get our tub and get in the water.. As it turns out, the place where we left our clothes, etc, will be our takeout point!
At last, we reach the place where we will start, and there to greet us is our river guides and a huge stack of tubes.. I was thinking we would just grab an ole car tube, jump in and off we go, but no, not like that anymore.. Now days, there are fancy, commercial, tubes designed just for this sport.. And, I will learn later that it is a good thing, as they are much better than the old car tubes some of used when we were young... But, we could not just grab one and go, we had to take the class on how to use them, which even if it sounds silly, was a very good thing.. There is a special way to ride these things and have a better experience. With our training out of the way, we were issued a tube. Once we had a tube, we joined the others in the water at the take-off point..
Once all were accounted for, the signal was given to start the event, and off we went.. What a hoot!! We ran into, banged into, and ran over almost everything and everyone in the river.. But, there were no fatalities, and everyone seemed to have great fun.. I grabbed as many memories as I could, but the action was fast!!! I will tell you that I was very impressed with the river guides and the stability of the tubes.. The guides seemed to be everywhere at the same time.. They had to get me unstuck more than once.. Some people flipped, but was rare.. So, we all made it to the end with big smiles on our faces.. However, when I discovered it was over, I could not believe it.. I thought this thing would last for a couple of hours.. My images tell me we got in the water at 4:04, and were out of the water at 4:24!!! Start to finish was 20 minutes.. Not much.. I think most adventures here are for repeated trips down the rapids, but for us it was a one pass deal.. The trip ended at a little pull-out near a road where the tubes could be recovered and taken back to the drop point..
As for us, we hiked back to the concession area, rinsed off with a water hose, changed into our street clothes, and went for a refreshment.. In the social area, it had been arranged for us to get one adult beverage each as a treat!!! Tasted really good after the little exercise we did....
Now dressed and relaxed, we are off to a little zoo type thing, where we can get up close and personal, with some critters from this country. The birds and the sloth, were out in the open, and we could get very close to do our photos, but when we went to the cat cages, etc, we could only see them through the containment wires, etc.. Which was a good thing. One of the neater things to see was the monkey that loved to show off, and show off he did.. They say he does it for all the visitors.. It is a wild thing, and is not to be messed with.. Some of the animal are easy for the caretakers, but not this monkey.. He has put at least one of the men in the hospital, due to an attack.. I am not 100 percent sure, but I think the place we have been to is a recovery and protection program for injured or abused animals, etc... These will not go back into the wild, as far as I know.. And, I think the hotel here pays the bills. I suppose the animals serve as a tourist attraction for the hotel.. And, as I recall, they are expanding the facility!!! Meaning it must be doing well..
Our next stop is THE SPRINGS resort.. This is one of the big upscale properties in this area.. Turns out to be very nice indeed.. Some rooms are the best I have ever seen... And, they have an amazing collection of pools and waterfalls to play in.. Some of these have hot water in them, others do not.. But, the whole thing is beautiful.. After we do the tour of the property, we are to relax and play in the pools until 7:30 PM, at which time we will have dinner here. The purpose of staying the afternoon here was to relax in the pools, and many of us did.. But, I guess even paradise gets boring.. By 6: 30 or so, most people were back at the meeting area and wanting to eat.. When I returned at 7:00 PM, I had to skip the shower, and just get out of my wet suit, get dressed and rush along to do dinner with the group, as they had moved the time up about 45 minutes.. But, I made it and we had a really nice meal.. That said, even though we are in paradise by their standards, we are not in paradise by our standards, even here at the nice place.. Keeping water and other drinks on the tables at all times is not something these people know how to do.. You almost have to beg to get your water glass refilled, etc.. You never really think about these things until you are away from home. But, people in other countries do things much different than we do. That said, the last resort we went to seemed to be a bit more like us..
OK, now dinner is complete, we make our way back to the bus, and return to our hotel. I am guessing it is well after 9:00 PM when we get back to our rooms at the Arenal Springs resort.. Time for bed... But, yes, I have to get my shower first.. Not Grace.. She walks in, flops over on the bed and she is gone.. Her lights are out! Tomorrow, our plan calls for us to be on the bus and gone at 0800, as we have a float trip to do in the morning, on our way to the next and last resort on this adventure. To see the images from this day, use the link below:
Today, we will be moving out early, after breakfast. As I recall, we were supposed to put our bags by the curb as we left for breakfast. Then go eat, return to our room if we have a last minute thing to do, then check out, get on the bus and leave at 0800.. The plan today is to go west to our next location. In the plan for this morning, is to go to a place where we will do a rafting trip.. Then, with the rafting trip complete, we will continue on west to our last home on this adventure..
What is an attention getter this morning is that at 0500, we can see the top of Arenal Volcano!!! There are no clouds.. So, we set outside, have some coffee and take in the view, plus get some memory images..
This morning, as usual, I am running late compared to Grace, who has already headed to the drop point with her bag.. Then, before I could leave the room, she came back to tell me that she had just learned from our neighbor, that a bunch of people in our group were extremely sick, with something that resembled food poisoning.. The poor people have been living in the bathroom, sick, since midnight last night, and were still in no shape to travel this morning.. It would seem that our guide and others had been informed that about 12 people out of our 38, or so, were too sick to travel, and would require another means of transportation, later!!!! This is not good for these poor people, or the trip plan this day...
At some point, Grace and I headed on over to the dining area, and was turned away because we were too early.. They would not even let us have coffee.. Oddly enough this country is a coffee bean country, but coffee early in the morning is not what they do.. At least they do not do it early enough for Grace!!!!!!!! To her, 0630 is like noon to the rest of us.. So, what to do!! We take a walk around the resort and gather a few memory photos, etc.. Then finally we return and are allowed in to the buffet area, where we got both coffee and food.. I think they let us in at 0700... And, yes, the topic at the table was our sick travel buddies.. What action would be taken to help them..
At some point, the leaders of our adventure chose to delay leaving the resort, pass on the rafting trip, and leave at noon- ish, in hopes that the people would be able to go with us. By doing this, the hope was that the sick people would not have to take special transportation.. I am sure a lot of considerations came into the choice, but for those of us who were not sick, we had little to do.. We were informed that our bags would be returned to our rooms, and that we would be allowed to go into town and look around for awhile, while we waited, and this is what happened.. Grace had already turned in our room keys, so she had to get those back, then we returned to the room to put our bags back inside, etc.. Alonso brought the bus to the front of the resort, and those of us who wanted to go, climbed on and off we went.. Town, as such, was not far away and we were there soon.. Our driver parked in front of the big church in town, an easy point to find when we returned, plus it was just across the street from the city park.. This is great, because both places will be easy to find if we are somewhat lost.. Marco went with us and gave us about one and a half hours to explore the town.. I went with Grace and Leslie.. During the walk, both of the ladies found things to buy, and I just looked, and took a few images.. I even took photos of the engine area of Alonso's bus.. He somehow managed to keep his bus spotless inside and out, all the time we were with him.. Very impressive!!!!! At the appointed time, we got back on the bus and returned to the resort..
Thankfully, our travel buddies were feeling a bit better, and it was agreed that they would be loaded on the bus with us, and the effort would be made for them to travel with us... What about the bathroom?? There was none on our bus, so, the hotel gave us extra rolls of toilet paper to use if we had to do emergency stops along side of the road!!! Also, Marco had gotten some type of med for the sick people to take this evening, after they arrived at the resort.. But, do wait until then as it might cause more bathroom issues before solving the issue!!! The sick people were also informed that there would be pit stops along the way, but, holler out if an emergency came up!!! Turns out, none did, but we had the paper, so we were ready!!! I am sure the sick ones felt bad, but the rest of us felt bad for them, so in a way, we were all affected.. What happens to a member of the family, happens to all the family.. We had to get together and look after each other.. It worked.. For some reason, I ended up sitting next to Elyse, who sort of became my patient. There was little I could do, except make sure she stayed covered as she tried to get some rest, and a few naps.. I gave her some of the charcoal capsules I was carrying, so maybe this helped..
After a modest drive, we stopped at a dining place where people could go to the potty, get drinks, get food if you liked going through the buffet line, etc.. I looked at the line, and chose to pass as I did not recognize anything there except the beans and rice.. This would be okay, as I had enough extra body weight to carry me over.. This would be a good excuse to use some of it up, but, then, along comes Grace with a surprise.. She has been given the beer from a neighbors room, back at the resort we left.. She has them in her carry bag, and offers me one.. I accept!! So, my lunch ends up being a can of Imperial!!!! I had planned to get club soda or similar for Elyse, but her travel buddy, Deb, beat me to it and got her a large bottle of ginger ale, so she was good to go.. As a matter of fact, I do not think she even got off the bus..
With our lunch and potty stop out or the way, we were on the road again.. We did do a souvenir stop, where a lot of people bought a lot of coffee.. I guess they know a lot more about coffee than I do.. I tried the samples they had in the store and I could not tell the difference from it and what I had at home, so I can only guess I am traveling with real coffee experts!!! On me, this special treat would be wasted... But... We get our souvenirs and we return to the bus.. Time to roll on.. And just before dark, we roll into our new home, the JW Marriott Ganacaste Resort and Spa. Not sure what to make of it from the drive in, but guess we will learn more soon..
I cannot say the place is very well arranged.. Not sure what the designer had in mind, but might have been drinking very heavily while doing the design here.. It was certainly not laid out as very well.. It took a long time just to find the reception desk, where we would get our keys, and our internet pass.. Internet for us while we are here will be free, however, later we will learn that each guess would normally have to pay 15 dollars per day for internet service, unless they were going to be there longer than 5 days. If they took the five day internet plan, they could get it for 10 dollars per day.. Sounds like the pony express would be cheaper!!! But, we get our keys and we are off to find our room..
We do find our room, and a nice room it is!!! And it has something we have not seen before, a sliding wall divider that allows one to see from the tub into the bedroom area.. I took photos of it, then we closed it.. But we did get here early enough to see the Pacific Ocean from our balcony before it got dark.. Looks like we have a great view for this visit.. That said, we are hungry, and there is no meal supplied for this evening, which seems really strange.. If we want to eat, we have no options other than to eat here in one of the several dining areas this place has.. We are so far from the civilized part of the country, there is no place but here to eat.. So, we gotta go hunt for food.. In our search, we run onto four other members of our group, who are also looking or food.. After more hassle than you would think, we found a place where we could get a simple hamburger and fries.. Was a neat dining area, but for this evening, we are tired and we want fast and simple.. Most of us get the burger and fires, which turned out to be great!!! Leslie, being a non meat eater, went with a soup and some other veggie thing. I am a meat eater and I loved my burger, but her veggie meal looked good as well.. I think the burger and fry combo was around 17 dollars, or maybe a bit more..
Now the food issue is taken care of, and some people have walked to the ocean and back already, so, now it is bedtime for all of us.. … Grace races to get to bed and to sleep, I take my time. I take a long hot shower, do my emails, then, I am off to the bed.. Nice bed at that.. Very comfy!! Day 6 is complete, and if you would like to see the memory images from this day, use the link below:
It would be boring to tell you Grace was up before the sun this morning, but she was... That said, waking up to a cup of hot coffee is good, so, there is a positive side to having a roommate that is on the move long before anyone else is awake.. We have to take this day serious, or I should say, we have to take this morning serious, as it is our last full day in this country.. Tomorrow is going to be a travel day!!! So, what to do??? Yes, you guessed it, live it up!!! And, to get the process started it will mean we will go out on the balcony and relax in style, taking it the view for all it is worth.. Oh, and we are going to be drinking some very strong coffee...
Speaking of the coffee down here, I still have not figured out how the local coffee gets such a high rating.. To my taste buds, it pretty much all tastes the same, but, yes, some can be made stronger, if Grace makes it... I think it was this morning that Grace decided to go all out on the coffee and max out our resources.. If you have been in rooms like ours, or similar, you will remember there are coffee pots and there are these little coffee bags you put in the machine and make some coffee.. I think the standard is a four cup pot.. And, the instructions calls for putting one bag of coffee in the holder, filling the tank with water, and flip the switch.. OK, you got the picture.. Now, fast forward to traveling with Grace, she wants things a little stronger than the recipe calls for.. First we did the one bag, then she upped it to two bags, and to be honest, I think, today, she managed to get all four bags, that were supplied, into the tray.. Yep, she did it.. Now what!! She fills the tank and the process starts.. When the brew is done, we only have half a pot!!! The bags soaked up a lot of water.. Not to worry.. Back to the bathroom she goes and comes back with more water... She keeps adding water until the pot has filled to the 4 cup line!!!!!! I am thinking it is going to take a lot of something to make this drinkable!!! But, to my surprise, I think she got it just right!!! We both tried it, we both agreed it was just right, and out to the balcony we went, to get a coffee buzz on and enjoy the view..
Speaking of coffee, again.. My dad once told of meeting a fellow who was talking about how people make coffee, and how this man liked his.. To my dad, he said, it just does not take as much water to make good coffee as some people think it does... I guess Grace feels the same way!!!
The coffee was good, the view was awesome, and the conversation was a joy.. Then, after a fast shower, we were out the door and gone.. Even with all the coffee and showering, we are still early for breakfast, so we go for a little walk to the beach area, then return for breakfast.. After breakfast, we get a tour of this resort!! It has some very nice rooms tucked away where most people would not see, or might not ever even think about, but there are there. These are the rooms for the big spenders!!!! You will see what I mean when you see the photos...
After the tour we were on our own for awhile. Grace and some of the others chose to do the pool thing, but I chose to roam around and do some memory photos, etc.. Then, later, I returned to the room, where I found a note from Grace.. Said she was meeting two of our friends for lunch, down at the grill and that I should come join them.. I did.. We were seated at a really neat little spot by the pool, and near the beach.. Then, lucky for me, I see hamburgers on the menu. In fact I see the same one I had last night, and since it was good, I ordered another.. Turns out it too was very good!!! So, lunch was great!
To be honest with you, I still have not figured out where we went, but we had another hotel inspection to do this evening, but it was several miles away, and we would have to be bused over to see it.. This means that sometime in mid afternoon, we have to give up our comfy life by the pool, get back to our rooms, get cleaned up and back to the assembly area to catch the bus.. It is about here that I will tell you that our sick people from yesterday are still not feeling well, but have come a long way towards healing.. They still make sure they know where all the bathrooms are. Just glad I am not one of them.. I have been there and done that. Was not fun!!!!
On the bus, we zip across country to a little town not far away and arrive at an “intown” resort.. Most everything we have been to has been somewhat isolated, but the one we are here to see is blended right into the town.. In fact, I think many people would drive right by it and not see it. But, our guides find it, the bus stops, we pile out, we follow our leader out to see the beach area, then we are guided back to a meeting area where we are handed some little juice drinks. Nice taste, but mostly sugar, I think...
With drinks in hand, we are off to see the rooms, etc.. In a short, this place is a big shock to see compared to the places we have been.. It would seem this is an older property, and could use some updates really bad, or maybe even be replaced.. The beach here was the best we have seen on this trip, and it looks like the beach is in a perfect place to see a great sunset, but the rooms, well, they are just barely bigger than the beds that are in the other rooms.. I think the bathrooms in the other places were larger.. And, here, the rooms smelled moldy or something.. Very strange.. But, some people indicated that this would be something many of their customers might like well enough to buy here.. It is close to an airport, Liberia. It is in town, for shopping, the prices are much cheaper, the beach is the best, so.. Maybe this is good..
The building we were just in, was only part of the larger complex.. When we finished here, we were taken across the street to another section, where very similar rooms existed, but instead of a beach, they had a big pool.. Hummmm... Not sure how that balances out, but here it is.. And, if you are thinking the price is cheaper over here away from the beach, think again.. If memory serves me correctly, the prices here are the same, or maybe even higher!!! You figure that one out...
Then, with all the touring completed, we were taken back to the beach and bar area, where we could join the locals for happy hour, and do some chit chats while we waited for dinner to be served.. We will be having our last dinner together, here.. This is where the guides and the bus driver, etc, will speak their last words of wisdom to us, and this is where we will hand over our tips to the guide and to the driver.. But, for now, it is happy hour.. And here is a great twist.. At one of the resorts we paid about 14 dollars for two Imperial beers.. Here we paid 2.75 dollars for two beers.. That is a big difference!!! But, it was happy hour!!! Now if I remember correctly, none of the other resorts had a happy hour!!! So, yes, we took advantage of happy hour, while it lasted.. We even got a couple extras to carry us past happy hour!!!
Happy Hour is soon to end, and so is the light of day. The sun is getting very close to the horizon, and people are beginning to turn around and take notice.. Then, there is Grace.. She wants a front row view, and goes to a waiter in the dining area, where she talks them into letting us go to the dining tables early, as these tables give us the best view of the sunset!!! There we are, happy hour bottles in hand, cameras clicking, and the sun is giving us its last bit of light for the day.. Was a really neat way to end the last full day in the country.. But, this day is not over, it does not stop here!!!! Not yet!!!
Once the sun is gone and the mood lights have come on, we are at an outdoor dining area, then the servers arrive and start the dinner process.. This time we can order from a special menu that was just for our group.. Turns out to be pretty good.. Though, again, I got the beef product, and my jaws were worn out before I got it chewed up enough to swallow it.. But, it got the job done.. Probably should have had it ground up and made into a hamburger!!!!
As the meal was near its end, our guide, Marco, sounded the attention bell and proceeded to tell us what a great bunch of people we were and how much fun it had been to travel with us.. I do not know if he was honest on this account or not, but we surely enjoyed having him as our guide.. I am thinking he was the best I have had on any of my trips so far.. I was very impressed with him, the driver Alonso, and the support crew that was also with us.. In the support crew was two who had set this trip up.. As I understand it, one of them owned the business that put this trip together, and the other was a helper.. Not sure how all that worked, but in summary, we had four people on this trip that were not at the same level as the rest of us.. But, they were great at what they did and as a result, we all had a great time and made a bunch of new friends..
Before the meeting was over, we all got big hugs from the guide, the driver, and the others who put this trip together.. Of course this is the place where we handed over our tips and said our good words about how great the trip had been and how impressed we were.. And, we were being very honest.. It had been a great trip, even with the sickness spell..
After dinner, we get back on the bus, and shuttled back to our base. Here we said a lot of goodbyes to our fellow travelers.. For some of us, this will be the last time we expect to ever see each other, as we came from points all over the globe, I think.. Meaning I had heard we had people here who had come from Australia to do this adventure!! That is a long way to go to see a resort, but my guess is, they had other business to do while they were away from home.. But, we had a great day, and now Grace and I are off to the room to get ready for leaving tomorrow.. To see the memories from this day, use the link below:
Day 8.. Last day of our adventure to Costa Rica!!!!
As with all adventures, both good and bad, they come to an end.. For Grace and me, today is the day this adventure will end But at the crack of dawn on this day, it is not over, not yet!!! Grace is up early again and moving fast to get her special coffee made and to take it out on the balcony for that last bit of relaxation in paradise before the rush to get home starts.. I grab a cup of the magic coffee she has brewed, and I join her on the balcony for that last feeling of bliss as we sit and take in the view in front of us.. Has been a really neat trip and this is a great way to start the last day.. Now, all I need to do is get my shower and some breakfast, and I will be good to go..
With my shower out of the way, I join Grace for the hike down to the dining area, where we find a couple of our buddies already doing the breakfast thing.. At this resort, we are served a buffet breakfast each day, and it is very good.. The omelets here are among the best! One omelet, some fruit, some other goodies, and my plate is full.. Time to eat! OH, and yes, more coffee.. We drink a lot of coffee here, as the servers here at breakfast are much more helpful than ones we met other places...
I am guessing the signs of being tired have caught up to me this morning.. Too much excitement.. I finished breakfast, and was having my last cup of coffee when I see two of our other friends across the room at another table.. I excuse myself here and head over to say HI, and see how they are feeling now, since they were among those bitten by the bug a few days back.. They tell me they are doing good.. Then after a bit more chat, Grace comes by and says she will see me at the room. With that, I say hang on, I will go with ya and I head for the door to catch up to her and two others who are leaving.. As we were going out the door, a waiter hollered and asked if someone had left a camera.. We all looked at each other and said no, we did not think so, and started to leave again. Then the waiter said it was a big camera!!! A big camera! I am the only one here with a really big camera, I grabbed for my shoulder, where my camera lives nearly all the time, and it is gone!!!!!! OOPs.. I rush back to the table, and sure enough, there it sits, under the table, right where I had left it.. I normally never take it off my body, but this morning, in the rush and the tight seating at the table, I broke my rule and sit it by my feet, to get it out of the way.. Big mistake.. Broke a rule I almost never break.. But lucky for me, the crew spotted it right away and helped me get it back... If am forgetting my camera, it is time to go home and rest.. My mind is slipping!!!!!!
Back at the room, we do our last packing, we say goodbye to the room and the balcony, then we head to the registration office.. There we drop off the keys and head for the shuttle bus that is waiting for us.. In short order, we are loaded on the bus and headed for the Liberia airport. Turns out to be a nice ride. Not sure how long it was, maybe an hour or so, but went without a hitch.. I say this because, once we are in the airport, we hear rumors that two of our people, who had taken a private shuttle, had gotten in trouble!! So, when I spotted the two ladies that were supposed to have had issues, I went to talk to them.. Unfortunately, they did not have time to share all the details, but it would seem that on the way to the airport, the police had stopped them and gave them a lot of problems about something. In fact the police demanded money to let them go. One of the women grabbed her cell phone and started recording the event.. This made the cops very unhappy, and I think they even took the phone and erased the clip.. It would also seem that the driver of the shuttle was someone the police did not like, and most likely was trying to make his like miserable. That said, the ladies were let go, and allowed to continue on to the airport, and I think they called back to the resort and reported this, as the driver and the shuttle were approved by the resort!!! Who knows what will come out of that!!!!!
After a short wait, Grace and I are on our flight out of Costa Rica.. I think our plane left just before 1:30 PM.. Out next stop was Dallas, where we had a bit of an issue in that to get through customs, Grace had to go to baggage claims, get her bag, take it through a check point, then resubmit her bag for the next flight home!!! Such a deal...
After a snack, and a short wait, we are on the plane out of Dallas, and at one point, we were flying directly over the area where I had been raised, southeast Oklahoma.. Then, later in the evening, we were back on the ground in St Louis, where we picked up Grace's bag, rode the shuttle to her car, and headed back to her home.. There I took my car out of her garage, and headed to my home.. I got back to my place just short of midnight.. I was back.. Had finally been to the famous Costa Rica, and returned alive.. And I had all my body parts.. Yes, I was worried about that poisonous snake all time I was there. I never forgot I was in the same country with the thing, but, here I am back, alive.. It did not get me.. I lived to tell the story.. And, to tell other stories.. Will I ever go back to Costa Rica?? I just really do not know.. The world is a big place, and I hope to see as much of it as I can before my time is up. So, whether or not there will be time to do Costa Rica twice, I do not know.. But, in summary, I will say, this was more of a business trip than a pleasure trip, so I saw the country much differently, I think, than most tourist would.. In fact one of my friends called just after I got back to ask how much I loved the country. They had been there on vacation and just loved it.. That said, they went at a different time of the year, saw much different things, did much different things, and came home with a whole different impression.. So, what you do and where you go will be very important.. That said, I had a great time, with a great group of people.. Am really glad I went.. Now, I am ready to head out on my next adventure!!! To see the memories from this day, the last day, use the link below.. And, Thanks for taking the time to read this story and to browse through the memories....
Travel items for all trips... Somewhere back in my story, I said I would provide to you a list of medical related things I think everyone should have with them, on every trip.. I started to list them here, then decided to just add a whole new page to my site and put the info there.. To get to it, use this link: Medical Kit.