Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Costa Rica: Days 1 and 2

We just got back from an awesome trip to Costa Rica. Our first stop wasn't in Costa Rica at all, and we actually have no pictures of it, but we had a 5-hour layover in Panama City, so we took a bus to the mall. Anything to get stamps in those passports, that's the ol' family motto! It was quite an experience! Panama seems to be a little less developed country than Costa Rica, that's for sure!

We got into Costa Rica around 7:30 p.m. local time (9:30 EDT) - already completely dark there. We got our rental car and found our hotel after a wild goose chase through the maze of one way streets. M is a super duper executive level member at the Raddison, so we got upgraded to a very nice room, and they even had dessert waiting for us when we arrived. When we woke up in the morning (6 a.m. of course!), J was eager to look out the window. 

L snoozed a little later than J.

After we got up, we ate breakfast at the hotel, and had our first taste of Gallo Pinto, the Costa Rican national breakfast food (or so it seems). Delicious rice and black beans. It was a hit for three of the four of us! We walked a few blocks to an ATM where we pulled out 100,000 colones (there are 535 of them to a dollar, so not as much as it sounds!), then a few more blocks to grab some fruit and snacks for our drive. Then we headed off toward La Fortuna and the Arenal Volcano. 

The roads are windy and skinny, and L learned not to read his Lego Movie book along the way! Luckily, we noticed his poor, pale face and found a spot to pull over before he threw up his mango. I was glad to not have a stinky rental car the rest of the trip!

We traveled through city, desert, mountain, rainforest, and plains. After a few hours, we spotted Arenal, or at least 80% of it! That RV ahead of us had a sticker on the back telling of their current trek - all the way from the southern tip of Argentina to the northern tip of Alaska! Hard to imagine!

We arrived at our destination for the night: Cabinas Faro Arenal - we rented a cabin at the foot of the volcano. Below is the view from the pool area. The weather was perfect - in the low 80s - and the owners were so kind and helpful.

They started filling up the children's pool as soon as we got there, which L thought was awesome. He loved splashing in the water, and scaring his mother as he daringly ran and jumped on the slippery tile. I told him I did NOT want to find out where the nearest hospital was!

The area was so lush and green - things growing everywhere, even right up through the deck of the pool! It was like the Garden of Eden.

Have I mentioned that our boys love dirt? They do. If there's dirt on the ground, they will dig in it. Costa Rica was no exception!

The owner of our hotel/cabin recommended a few things to do, and we decided to head to the hot springs called Los Laureles that first afternoon. We got there around 4:30, and within an hour or so, it was this dark:

There were about 12 pools, all heated to varying degrees by the volcano, and it was great fun for the whole family. We tested all the pools, finding which ones were not too hot and not too cold, but just right. L had a great time, especially in a small pool that had a little water slide. He could have stayed forever!

We watched a beautiful sunset, and then headed back to our cabins.

The next day, we hiked down about 500 steps to see the La Fortuna waterfall. It was gorgeous! The water just below the waterfall was too deep for the kiddos, but M swam there, and the rest of us swam/waded a little downstream.

L really wanted to catch a fish with his bare hands - I don't know where he got that idea! He stood still for as long is it is possible for him to stand still (not very long), but to no avail. The fish didn't get close enough, or he wasn't quite fast enough. We reassured him that people who can do that have practiced for a very long time, and now he's one day closer to being able to!

After a little while of that, I noticed a teensy lizard, about half an inch long, climbing up L's leg! I ran back for my camera, but I missed him! He jumped off before I was able to take the picture. L was a little weirded out by it.

M swimming in the pool below the waterfall - can you tell which one is him? He's the closest to the center of the frame.

After the long hike back up those 500 stairs, and a nice picnic lunch, we went for a drive, partly to let J nap, and partly to see the sights. We drove around to the other side of the volcano and saw the pristine lake and a great view of the mountain.

After that, we debated about what to do, and eventually decided to head back to the hot springs since we'd enjoyed it so much the day before. It was a relaxing way to finish off the day! While there, J learned the word goggle (gogg - gull) and L said, "I have a great idea! What if we came back here on my birthday?!" If only, kid! :)


Donna "Nina" Dively said...

It looks so beautiful in Costa Rica! I could never just head off on an adventure in a foreign country like that. I am a big wimp. What great memories for your little family!

Michelle said...

Costa Rica?! How fun! And so pretty!!! Looks like a fabulous trip! Can't wait to read more about it and see more pictures!