Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Costa Rica 7

July 28, 2012

We were up early this morning, the first time waking to an alarm since we have been here. Everything was pretty much done last night to prepare for leaving, so there was just the last minute packing to do. Funny thing, Sarah was looking around for things we might be forgetting and she found the missing hard drive among the boxes of energy bars we had stacked in the kitchen. We thought it had been stolen from Connie's luggage! Ruth was relieved to have it!

Ruth had left her car with us last night so we could haul our luggage to the river. The plan was that Carlos would take us to Puerta Viejo by boat (a 2 hour trip). Ruth would deliver Sarah to La Gata and then meet us in Puerta Viejo where she would leave her car for repairs. She would then board a van with a driver, along with Connie, Kerry, Jerry and I to head to San Jose (another couple of hours). Well, that WAS the plan!

When we arrived at Ruth's this morning, the river was way up! It had been high the other day when we took our trip to the farm, but the water was now covering at least twenty more steps on the landing! Ruth was concerned that she would be unable to make it from La Gata to Puerta Viejo, so she sent Sarah on her own with the car and rode along with us on the boat. We loaded all of the luggage on board and set out on a very fast river! Last time we were going down river, but this time we were headed against the current.

There were downed trees and all sorts of debris in the water. The strength of the river was amazing. If the engine stopped, we were immediately pulled in the opposite direction and it took the full strength of the motor and several seconds before we could regain our direction. Several times Carlos stopped because of the debris, but several other times it was for something more exciting! Twice we saw monkeys and once we stopped to look at a tree with several iguanas in it! Carlos is amazing! He was maneuvering this 30 foot boat through a very fast, high, dirty river and somehow he still managed to find monkeys and iguanas in the jungle along the river. Then he held the boat still (in rushing water) so we could take pictures!

Because of the height of the river, we were able to see sights along the river bank that we would not normally see. There were many people out on the banks watching the water rise. They must keep a constant watch so they can untie their boats, move their livestock, or worse.

We finally reached Puerta Viejo and our driver was there waiting for us. We said goodbye to Carlos, who would wait there for Ruth, and headed towards the airport. We saw a couple of mudslides on the mountain, but thankfully it was passable! We stopped at the airport to pick up Josue, a student that Ruth tutors. He is receiving a laptop from the next group coming in. Our driver was taking us to Xandari where Jerry and I will stay for the next couple of days, but she wanted us to meet Josue. He is a very nice young man, we were surprised at how well he spoke English!

We said our goodbyes and they returned to the airport for Connie and Kerry to fly out and to pick up the next group. It was sad to leave them and the luxury of Xandari was making me uncomfortable after the ruggedness we just left. I am grateful that Ruth encouraged us to enjoy ourselves!

We were checked in early and shown to our villa in no time. I immediately took a long, hot shower! It was wonderful! The shower is open and separated from the walled garden only by a piece of glass. All of the tile work is beautiful and there are tropical plants everywhere. The resort is owned by a couple of artists and everything is colorful and well designed. There is original art everywhere you look!

Lunch at Xandari is quite different from our home cooked meals at Ruth's. It was yummy, but I think I prefer Concepcion's cooking! We started off with nachos, and Jerry had ham and vegetable pizza with fresh tomatoes, onions, zucchini, mushrooms. I ate a portabello mushroom sandwich with pesto and feta cheese on pesto bread with a side salad. It was all delicious, but more than we could eat! We took boxes boxes back to the room to finish for lunch tomorrow. We are pleasantly surprised by the meal prices and the view from the balcony in the dining room is stunning. We sit outdoors overlooking the lush landscape of the mountainside and the city of San Jose.

After lunch we took a nap, walked around the property, and sat in the jacuzzi for awhile. We met a young couple from Canada and chatted a bit. We spent some time in the lounge watching TV and checking the Internet. It was nice not to be on a concrete slab at the school, and I definitely did not miss the fire ants! Overall, we are very pleased with Xandari! I still miss Arbolitos, but it is very nice to be able to flush the toilet paper!

Dinner tonight was just as good. Jerry had Salmon Fettucini and I had a Pasta Primavera. We ate and caught up reading Sarah's blog, http://sarahlapallo.wordpress.com/2012/07/20/several-posts-at-once/ while we enjoyed the night lights of San Jose.

We are turning in early tonight. The rain I have come to love is tapping on the roof and it promises to be a good night of sleep!

July 29, 2012
8:00 pm

What a different day! We started off by sleeping until 9:00! After waking from an incredible night of sleep, we went breakfast where we had delicious, homemade whole wheat toast with local fruit jams and slices of Costa Rican cheeses. It was raining, but the view was still incredible!

After breakfast we relaxed a little in our rooms until the rain ended and then we set out to hike the nature trails on the property. There are 5 waterfalls that were discovered when the owners were having trails cleared through the jungle along the river. The fourth fall is 70 feet high and quite breathtaking! The entire hike was breathtaking in more ways than one! I thought it was just because I was out of shape, but I was relieved when Chris and Robin, the younger couple we met here from Canada, admitted that it was a tough hike for them as well! In all, it took us about 2 hours to get back, but I enjoyed it greatly. It wasn't quite the same as our 15 minutes in the jungle with Carlos, but it was still the jungle. The fact that there were manmade steps and cleared areas to walk didn't take away from the incredible plants, trees, butterflies, etc that we saw.

I think the one thing that will never translate through my pictures is the scale of the jungle. There is every size imaginable represented, from tiny little frogs and miniature plants, to giant butterflies and leaves big enough to be an umbrella or even a roof for a small hut. There are things to look at under every small stone and trees so tall that they seem to reach the sky! Everything is alive and there is life springing up from everywhere. Plants grow on other plants and even on the rocks. Trees don't seem to mind whether their roots are in the ground or hanging off the side of a cliff. The air is so moist that everything simply lives!

This property is a beautiful mix of vibrant nature, exotic plants, and manmade artistic touches. The attention to detail is extravagant and I have so enjoyed the color and pattern everywhere I look! The people here are also wonderfully friendly and there are few guests, so the resort almost feels private!

After our hike, Jerry and I took a dip in the pool and then sat in the jacuzzi for awhile. We chatted about our trip and our dreams of returning to Costa Rica. We will be spending a lot of time in prayer, listening to what God has in mind for us and this country! We finished our lunch from yesterday in our room and then headed to the main building for a little TV and Internet time. We also took a tour of the largest villa in case we return with the kids one day.

Jerry and I had massages scheduled for this afternoon before dinner. It was Jerry's first massage ever and we had them done side by side. It was so relaxing and well worth the extra cost, but quite a splurge for us!

Dinner was yummy tonight, but I can definitely tell that my appetite has decreased! I had tomato corn chowder and a salad, but I probably would have been fine with the soup. Jerry reminds me that I had a Funky Monkey (expresso, ice cream, bananas, and whipped cream!!!) this afternoon, and that may have filled me up a little! Jerry had nachos again and the pasta dish that I enjoyed yesterday.

We are packed up tonight as our 4:30am wake up call will come early. The kitchen has packed us a breakfast of muffins, fruit, and yogurt, and they will drive us to the airport. We are in for a long day tomorrow with a four hour layover in Newark, though Connie has warned us that customs is a long nightmare!

I hear the rain that has begun to fall. It is just in time to sing me to sleep! Goodnight Costa Rica and so long!

July 30, 2010
10:30 pm

We are home! The dogs were so excited to see us! It felt really good to walk through our yard and check everything out (in the dark!). We are so tired and it is not raining, but the crickets and the frogs are singing to me so I suppose I will sleep well! I am going to miss Costa Rica! I am already thinking of how I when I can return.

Mom and Dad picked us up from the Richmond airport. We had a short flight there from Newark after a very long layover! The flight from Costa Rica was very long (5 hours)! All were uneventful including the customs and security.

We woke up today at 4:30am Costa Rica time and this is the latest we have been up in weeks! I will write more tomorrow!

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