Monday, July 30, 2007
When we come back from the beach along the Pan American Highway we pass though Las Juntas de Albangares on our way up the mountain. It's an old mining town where some people still mine gold. The statues in the picture above depict the miners, and in another part of town there is an old mining train. It's a pretty typical Tico town, and there aren't any tourists who come here. It's the equivalent of a county seat, and so you have to come here to conduct any offical business, such as business permits or payment of land taxes.
Jim's lot in Playa Grande
After we left La Fortuna we drove to Playa Tamarindo, via Tilaran and Canas, and then north on the Panamerican Highway to Liberia. From there we drove west to the Pacific coast of the Nicoya Peninsula. Stefano and his family went to Playa Panama to a resort, but we drove another hour south to Tamarindo, to Hotel Diria. This hotel has the most fantastic swimming pool - it's build like a beach, so you can wade in, which I think is great. There are little coves, with islands and bridge, and a swim up bar. We spent a lot of time swimming there during the two days we spent at the hotel.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
View of Arenal Volcano from our hotel room
We weren't aware that the springs and the resort were two different places, a simple mistake considering that I asked the parking lot attendent if we were at the Tabacon Hot Springs Resort, and he said yes, without pointing out that the hotel was actually about a mile further along the road. Due to the confusion, it took us a while to connect with our friends, but we eventually got tired of waiting, and started the drive to La Fortuna, when we came upon the other part of the resort.
We went for a swim in the hot springs, which the kids loved. It's quite well done; there are a number of different sized pools, some with waterfalls, and the water was quite warm. The largest pool in the front had a water slide, and Kevin and Catie spent most of their time in this pool, which was convenient as it was located next to the swim up bar. I tried taking picutures in the springs, but it was so steamy that none of them came out very well.We then decided to take a drive to the Arenal Observatory to have a closer look at the volcano. We drove up a narrow dirt road, across a rather sketchy looking bridge, and into the woods, up the mountain. It was about 8 pm and quite dark, and as we didn't really know where we were going the ride was scarier than it would have been in the daylight. We forded one stream, and when we came to another, we decided to it was too risky and decided to turn around. Antoniella thought she saw a light in the distance, so we got out of the car to investigate. Good thing we did, because we were about 100 yards from the guard's shack that in front of the driveway to the observatory. Back in the car, up another 2 km to the top, and as we got out of the car, Arenal put on a show. I had never seen the volcano up close before, and I couldn't believe the amount of lava flowing down the sides. By the time I got my camera out, it had slowed down, so in my picture you can only see some of the lava. It's disconcerting to stand under a live volcano, so we didn't stay too long, and left to have dinner in town. Lenny and Antoniella had arranged for Stefano and Marie to have a privately catered dinner in a rainforest setting to celebrate their 31st wedding anniversary.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Hiking, Foosball and Dancing
It was an exciting hike. Don Carlos has put a lot of new cattle on the farm, and they didn't seem as tame as the other cattle he used to have. Even the cows have big horns, which is rather intimidating. It didn't bother Kevin, and he picked up a long stick and yelled some kind of cowboy yell to get them moving along. Jessica and Luis Alonso were happy to have him take charge of the cattle. Then Don Carlos' rather frisky young horse started following us. I didn't figure out for a while that he kept approaching me (which had me rather scared, because the last time we rode horses on the farm this horse acted very agressively with the other horses) because I was wearing Kevin's Australian cowboy hat, which looks somewhat like Don Carlos' cowboy hat. Hmmm... I think I was confusing the horse. Anyway, Kevin took some time to get the horse to come up to him to eat out of his hand, and to let him touch him. When we told Don Carlos later that Kevin was working on taming his horse, he could hardly believe it, as he told us this horse is rather wild, and hasn't been broken yet.
We hiked down to the little house that is still on the farm, and talked Jim out of hiking all the way down to the river. (What goes down has to come up!) Instead we walked a little way to check out a waterfall, which normally has a lot of water, but that day only a trickle of water was running. All in all, we hiked for about four hours, and by the time we walked back to the car my legs were rubbery.
We now have a new bar right near our farm, Bar Pabas, and luckily it was open when we passed by! We decided to stop for lunch, and the kids were happy to see that they have a new Foosball game. They were playing some great Spanish cowboy music, and Jim and I did our best to embarass the kids by dancing.
Jessica and Luis Alonso invited us to go to Tilaran this weekend to visit Luis Alonso's parents, and to do some fishing. I'm looking forward to it.
Labels: Bar Pabas Monteverde Costa Rica
Don Carlos' Farm in La Lindora
Don Carlos Salas takes care of our farm for us. He and his wife Noemi live in La Lindora, a small village located about 15 minutes outside of Santa Elena. From his farm, he has a beautiful view of our farm, pictured in the photo below. Our farm starts just after the second peak from the left, and extends to where the mountain is obscured a bit by the trees in the forground. That's Carlos and Jim in the second photo.
Don Carlos wanted Kevin and Catie to come and see his twin cows; one set, the white ones, were born three weeks ago, and the golden ones were born about 12 hours before the photos were taken. Twins are not that common, and so Carlos was incredibly lucky having two sets of twins born in a month. He invited Kevin and Catie to come and work the farm with him, and they will most likely go work with him tomorrow or the next day. His day starts at 5 a.m., and I don't think we'll get there that early.
Labels: La Lindora Costa Rica
Sunday, July 22, 2007
There's a guava forest across from our farm, and despite the huge number of trees, Catie didn't find even one ripe guava. She has a lot of competion from the birds and the wild animals.
Coffee Tour Pictures
Catie and Liam got to ride in the oxcart at the Coffee Tour. These oxen aren't just for show; they are actually used a lot in Monteverde to haul heavy loads. I've seen them being used on the road hauling out huge boulders.
Even though it might look like he's not paying attention, Kev took it all in and now pretty much has the history of coffee memorized. He can relate the story in Spanish or in English, which is impressive.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
And Kevin Got the LAST Copy of Harry Potter in Monteverde!
Labels: Chunches Harry Potter
Friday, July 20, 2007
We hiked along another ridge and eventually found the springs. Jumper loved it; it was very wet and muddy and she had a good time sitting in the mud. We decided we'd find the shortest route to the other spring, and this time we listened to Kevin so we found it fairly quickly. The path leading to this spring was extremely muddy and I slipped and my hiking book sunk ankle deep in gooey mud. I also had to sit down a few times to avoid falling down, so my jeans were pretty disgusting by the time we got home.
I'm fascinated with language, and how different languages express ideas differently. In Spanish, for example the movie Finding Nemo is translated as Buscando Nemo (Looking for Nemo), which to me means something entirely different. Finding Nemo is so much more confident in the outcome. Anyway, that's why this entry is called Buscando Nacientes (Looking for Springs) instead of Finding Springs, because I wasn't sure that we would actually find them.
I'm starting to really know my way around the farm, which is a good feeling. When we used to hike there before I used to get nervous when we got a little lost. I have a much better sense of direction. It's not that big, but at 140 acres or so, it's big enough to get somewhat lost in.
A friend of mine here gives massages, and she came to the casita this afternoon after our hike to give Jim and me massages. What a treat! She's also studying to be a chiropractor and made some adjusments on me.
Monday, July 16, 2007
- We had such a fun day today. Today was my friend Tina's son Max' 8th birthday and we we went to their house today for Max's birthday party. Tina made several kinds of pizza and homemade chocolate birthday cake. The kids had a blast. We were there all afternoon, and then went to Friend's School Library to get some more books. We dropped off the videos on the way home and picked up two new videos. We were driving the Jeep, which is a lot of fun, because Jim went to San Jose for the day.I really needed a walk to work off some of that cake and ice cream, so we took our usual Coffee Tour Walk, which normally takes us about 30 minutes. Today it took a little longer because we ran into Don Juan, who owns the farm and whose children run the the Don Juan Coffee Tour. He invited us into the restaurant because he wanted to show Kevin a collection he keeps for the tourists of different currency from around the world. I'll post some pictures of several recent walks, including a picture of Don Juan.
In this last picture you can see our house from the road up from the coffee tour nestled in the trees.