Nicki and Patsy flew down from Hartford via Miami and arrived on time.  Amazingly, within a half hour of landing they had cleared immigration and customs!  Suddenly, there they were exiting the terminal!

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Leaving the parking garage was a trick because even though we paid for the parking and were at the barrier within the ten minute time limit after paying, we couldn’t get out!  Fortunately, an attendant came along and despite telling me we were just over the ten minutes, not, he finally let us through.  Then it was on to Vista Atenas.  Bill and I had stayed there the night before and were able to get our friends into their room even though only the maid was there.  What a view!

 

We relaxed for a a few hours and then had dinner at La Trocha which was delicious and a bit better than La Trilla, our usual dining experience which was closed.  Patsy and I had rice dishes while Bill liked his steak in a jalapeño sauce and Nicki had fish.  Our nine day travel adventure was off to a great start!

The next day the three hour drive to Monteverde was uneventful as was checking in at Los Pinos.  Our cabin had a kitchen, three bedrooms each with private bath, and a deck with picnic table in the front.  We bought some lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and basil at their hydroponic gardens and then drove into town.  Our reservations at Sky Adventures were in order so back in town we bought some groceries and freshly roasted coffee from Ken’s place.   A late lunch/early supper of toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches held us for the night tour.

This night tour was so much better than the one the first time we were here.  Right after we started our guide got a message there was a sloth out by the road!  Back we went and there it was just above the telephone lines munching away on its leafy dinner.  It was about twenty feet up and moved much faster than any other we have seen.  It’s nose looked like a pig’s and the two toes were very easy to discern.  Hanging upside down we were very taken with the length of its fur as it was swaying in the breeze and reminded all of us of Chewbaca.

The rest of the tour afforded us views of kinkajous way up in the trees, sleeping toucanets and a keel billed toucan, leaf cutter ants, a very green pit viper and a less colorful baby, a grey fox, baby hummingbird in a nest, anole, katydid, and Nicki got to see the legs of a tarantula.  For twenty-five dollars we were thrilled with our sightings!

After a leisurely morning we drove to Sky Adventures.  First up was the sky walk involving seven hanging bridges.  Right away we were able to see a sloth just below eye level as we were about forty feet up in the air.  The guide kept shaking the tree so we could get a good look at its face.  The rest of the walk was comparatively uneventful but beautiful up in the canopy.  Along a trail we came across a hummingbird nest with two babies safely esconced inside.

Then it was time to zip line!  The wind was rather evident which made me a bit less relaxed than I would have liked but still a good time.  Since the last time we had been here a lot of people had trouble getting all the way to the other side and needed help completing each run or had to go hand over hand towards the end.  Now there are several zips involving going over as a double with another person.  I found it a bit uncomfortable but provided a slight degree of safe feeling.

After resting a bit we drove further down the road to visit a hummingbird sanctuary where they were well fed and darting about madly.  Patsy and Nicki bought a few things from the nearby women’s cooperative and the whole foods store sold us great roasted peanuts at a bargain price.

Dinner that night at the Morpho restaurant was tasty and worthy of another visit.  After we had all gone to bed Nicki called out between our thin walls if we could hear an animal sound out back of our cabin.  We both went out to investigate and there high up in a bare tree was an owl hooting away!

In the morning, after coffee, cereal, and toast we packed up Wally and made our way south to the Pacific coast.  A stop in Tarcoles showed us numerous large crocodiles down in the river where they are apparently fed to make it a tourist attraction.  Further along we stopped so Nicki could touch the Pacific water on the inside of the Nicoya Peninsula where a container ship was resting further out.  Another stop just south of Jacó let us enjoy the more turquoise waters from up on a cliff.  Lunch was at El Avión restaurant in Manuel Anonio with it’s spectacular view.  As we were driving back out of town a spider monkey kindly walked across  the wires just overhead in front of us.  Upon reaching Dominical we located Pineapple Kayak Tours to sign up for the mangrove tour the next day.  Alas, there was no tour available but Nego was going to try to get hold of Rachel to see if something could be done.  While waiting we checked in at Pacific Edge with a spectacular view of the beaches.

After settling in we returned to Pineapple Kayak Tours to be greeted with a smiling Nego who told us Rachel had been able to free herself for her mangrove tour the next afternoon!  For sixty-five dollars each we would enjoy about two hours of paddling, water, fresh fruit, and free photos.

A bit of grocery shopping later we returned to our bungalow where we supped on the deck overlooking the ocean and were entertained by howler monkeys who wanted to be heard but not seen.  Later we cooled off in the pool and used the internet only available up there.  There are also two elevated decks accessed by stairs to give a better ocean view and to put one closer to birds in the trees.  We did see some toucans during our stay and a variety of geckos. Bill and I had our own bedroom with bathroom at the other end of the deck while Patsy slept on a day bed in the living room and Nicki took the inside bedroom.  The two friends shared a bathroom just off the kitchen.

The next morning we drove further south to the park Marina Ballena and each paid six dollars to enjoy a clean safe beach.  Nicki took a dip in the ocean while the three of us watched crabs, the few people, looked for whales, and Patsy built a cairn.  When it got a bit too hot we left to check out Villa Leonore which the Bodins had recommended to us for dinner.   Nicki ordered a lobster which would have to be found somewhere. Here is a video of the Pacific Ocean time.

After lunch and a rest at Pacific Edge, it was time for kayaking!  I was glad to hear we didn’t have to wear the life jackets, so I used mine to protect my bare feet from then sun.  We saw several kinds of herons, a kingfisher, iguana, hawks, pink legged birds, and Jesus Christ lizards scurrying across the water.  Paddling through the mangroves was eerily cool, especially the rather narrow one of the three.  At times it was buggy so Rachel loaned me a net to put over my head.  Fortunately the bugs weren’t the biting kind!  I was glad it was a leisurely tour as my forearms were getting weary about half way through!

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Just before reaching shore to disembark we saw two black mangrove hawks mating atop an extremely tall tree!  Freshly sliced papaya, pineapple, watermelon, cantelope, and bananas helped to rehydrate us along with bottled water.

By then it was 5:30 so we showered and dressed for an outdoor meal under roof a half hour down the road.  Unfortunately for Nicki there no lobster, but our meals were still tasty.

With most exciting adventures behind us we set off the next morning for home.  Along the way we stopped for organic coconut oil, a whole coconut, and fresh fruits.

 

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The Swiss cheese family factory was open in Canaan so we were able to get some yogurt, watch Wilberth stir the cheese makings, and visit the inside of the cheese storage room.

After unpacking the car at home we drove over to San Gerardo.  Café Bambú was about to close, but were willing to serve us batidos and tea.  Then we jostled our way up to Cloudbridge for a short hike to the first two waterfalls.  Bill wanted to meet the bride, Linda’s daughter, for the wedding the next day as he was going to be the photographer.  After stopping by Linda’s art studio and meeting the bride’s sister, we went to the house to wait for Tom and Linda to return from town with the bride and groom who had just arrived from San Jose.  After a while we decided to leave but did meet them down by the parking lot.

Bill cooked salmon for dinner along with potatoes and onions sautéed in coconut oil.  A salad provided the crunchy vegetables.  The three former teaching colleagues played rummy, and then it was early to bed.  Nicki took the loft, and Patsy made a bed from the dining nook cushions so she wouldn’t have to take the steep stairs in the middle of the night.

A leisurely walk up our road in the morning took us to the primary forest bit and the river as well as by Tita’s cafetal where Nicki checked out the coffee beans.

 

We decided not to tackle the very steep trail to the waterfall but could get a good glimpse of it through the trees.  Just before the pig farm Bill and Patsy went back to the house while Nicki and I went past the first bridge.  A squirrel cuckoo did fly into a nearby tree but we quickly lost sight of it.  Back down along the road three barbets were fighting making a spectacle of themselves up on a tree branch.  No toucanets were seen this time.  Here is a video of Cloudbridge and up our road.

Bill and I had to get to the wedding at Monte Azul for photos before, during, and after the wedding.  The weather was lovely, the ceremony sweet, and the bride simply elegant in her gorgeous dress.  We all enjoyed the candlelight fresh air dinner, and even our Panama hats were used for the big laugh photos.

Having decided to spend the last two nights in San Jose the next day we drove over Cerro Muerte and on into the big city.  Los Volcanoes, about five minutes away from the airport, was our final resting spot.  We were given three rooms all together in a separate section with our own foyer and gated parking spot.  Fun!  The down side is the two rooms closest to the street were a bit noisy from traffic.  Breakfasts, however, were filling and plentiful.  Coffee, a choice of orange juice or juice melee smoothie, any combination of fresh fruit, yogurt, and granola, and then eggs as you like them.

To avoid driving back through lots of traffic the next day we hired a taxi for thirty dollars.  He dropped us off at the National Theater where we took a tour.  The most fascinating information is that the main floor is adjustable.  All the seats can be  removed, and then a group of strong men go underneath and wind three big levelers to raise and level the floor.  Then it can be used for state dinners or as a ballroom.  There are only four others in the world.  Pretty amazing Costa Rica has one!  The statue below was created by a Tico.

A visit to the Gold Musuem, a walk and talk in the national park, and a scrumptious dinner at Kalú finished our day.  Another taxi ride, with poor Patsy squished in the back seat behind the rather oversized driver with his seat all the way back, took us back to Alajuela in time for final packing and sleep.

After breakfast we drove our friends to the airport and said sad good-byes.  Thanks for coming!

 

 

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