Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Icy Rain and in a Plane for...

Costa Rica! 

That was a wonderful experience, leaving the cold behind and landing in a tropical climate for 10 glorious days. This holiday was under the auspices of a dear friend, once-in-a-lifetime, to be sure.

From Costa Rica's Liberia airport, it was a 3+ hr. ride to Arenal, the closest town being La Fortuna, not quite halfway between the west and east coasts of the country, in the north close to Nicaragua. The town is fortunate because the early settlers found it a fertile region and also because lava from the volcano stopped before it reached the town.

We stayed for the first 4 days in close view of Volcano Arenal. This is one of the 200 or so volcanos in Costa Rica. Only about 5 or 6 are still active. This one last erupted in 2010.

Volcano Arenal 

Mostly I lounged by the pool and swam daily, and visited the on-site hot springs (the general area is awash with hot springs), basically just getting acclimatized to the warmth and humidity, drinking my share of Pina Coladas, the only rum drink I like.

Yes, there were bugs.  I'm that person who frees bugs caught indoors (except mosquitoes. No, not mosquitoes). I spent time every day trying to rescue various bugs from our luxury room. Oddly, there were no screens anywhere so the little things could get in easily.  One early evening (sunset is around 5:30 pm and it gets dark there by 6 pm) I was reading in bed when a giant moth flew out from under my bed, flapped crazily around the room and finally landed on a beam above the glass door. I'd already freed one giant moth the night before that either was playing dead or really was in that state—I found it on a pillow. Either way, I put it out on the balcony. It was gone the next morning. If it didn't fly away, the wind took its corpse afar.

Fortunately, there were no mosquitoes, although my arsenal contained: BUG (an anti-mosquito natural spray I bought on Amazon); Citronella (my friend bought for me on Amazon); Deet (which my friend had brought along for herself and I had access to); Skin So Soft by Avon (which another friend gave me because it has a rep as a mosquito repellent). I didn't use any of these products.

We did one rafting tour over very small rapids and saw Howler Monkeys high up in trees, lots of birds of various sorts, long-nosed bats resting on a tree's bole for the day, iguanas of different colors, and I thoroughly enjoyed the 2 hrs. through water surrounded by a dense growth of trees and plants of all sorts that produced some of the best air in the world.  I wanted to stay there just to keep breathing the oxygen as it likely should be found on this planet.

This Spectacle Owl couple was the highlight of that raft ride.

Spectacle Owls

The place we stayed in is a hotel/spa and I had a pedicure while my friend had a mani-pedi. There were a few flying bugs in the spa and the pedicurist said (translated by my friend) that they were not mosquitoes but bees. Until a yellow one landed on my leg which she picked off with her fingers, dropped on the floor, and it crept away stunned. Fortunately, it didn't sting me. Translation said it was NOT a bee but a wasp!

We headed south on what was supposed to be a 3-hour car trip but took 5-1/2 hrs., stopping only twice, once at a hotel that sold papaya jam by the jar, which of course I bought.  On the deck was a charanga, a small rodent-like animal that was given a slice of bread by one of the servers.


On the road, there were many other animals, from the domesticated horses, cows, cats, and dogs, to these guys, members of the raccoon family.

A community of Coatis

Our new location was Tamarindo, a beach/surfing town on the Pacific Ocean about half-way between the northern and southern-most boundaries of Costa Rica. Our wonderful hotel had a huge pool surrounded by forest on all sides, and I swam in the shade of the palm trees several times a day. My friend went to the property's private beach for the sunsets, and I was there once, but I have delicate, pale skin that requires me staying out of the sun (and which keeps me from many things in sunny climates).

The spa therapists gave free 10-minute neck and shoulder rubs by the pool which convinced my friend and me to buy full body massages. I've never had a massage outdoors before. It was in a curtained area surrounded by forest, the curtains blowing in the small breezes that wafted through which caressed the skin. What a lovely experience.

This area had lots of little black bitey bugs and mosquitoes and I suffered maybe a dozen bites overall during the last couple of days. We had a cabin to ourselves, which was amazingly wonderful. These small buildings sit here and there within the tropical forest, narrow winding paths to each, ours fortunately near the pool and the restaurant. The room didn't have many bugs but I did notice a twig on the bathroom floor moving very slowly, not the multipeds we in the north are familiar with as it seemed to have no legs. It took two days for it to reach the shadows under my bed where, apparently, all bugs were destined.

We took another tour, this time on a boat, to where the ocean (salt) and inland (fresh) waters meet. It was a terrific couple of hours with a super friendly and knowledgeable guide and we saw many birds, monkeys, and two crocodiles. Costa Rica takes care of its wild animals with no-hunting no-feeding laws. Tourism is their 'green gold' as the guide said, and they recognize the value of nature. This is why the boats can get near the shore and people can see the animals, which are not afraid and which do not come for handouts of people-food.

Young crocodile

Beautiful Blue Heron

I can't say enough about how wonderful it was to get out of winter clothes and into near-naked warmth. There are many things I could have done, like seeing the turtles laying eggs on the beach, but in truth I was pretty beat from the horrible weather in December and January which kept me locked indoors with a long and horrible cold/flu thing (icy cold weather which I've returned to in early February!) I had work to do, but really didn't mind doing it in the warmth.  

I swam several times a day. Ate papaya and mango each morning. Read books!!! Enjoyed two meals a day and lost a few pounds. Listened to Howler Monkeys every night that sometimes jumped on our roof, and saw them close up as they visited the pool area in the afternoons. Raccoons converged on the outdoor restaurant during the dinner hour and one night I saw 7 of them in the restaurant. Neither hotel was crowded with humans and that worked for me. (And OK, I fended off mosquitoes towards the end but didn't use products. If I've contracted Malaria, Zika or Durango Fever, it's my own fault!). I guess this is called a vacation. 

I'm exceedingly grateful to my friend—who wishes to remain anonymous—without whom I would not have had this incredible trip. 

I'm so lucky!!!

(in Arenal)
A break instead of a breakdown  

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