Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Adios Costa Rica

We ended our three weeks in Costa Rica with a bang.

The end of the last week brought more surf lessons, a field trip to a local school to watch the festivities for Guanacaste Day (the state of Guanacaste where we were staying was once part of Nicaragua and they celebrate their independence on July 25th), more Spanish lessons and swimming.  We also had to say goodbye to many new friends whom I'm sure we will be staying in touch with.

Dawson and Josie from Austin, TX

The kids played soccer on the beach at sunset while the parents cheered on with beers and wine.

And now that we're home and I've downloaded my photos from my good camera I can show you some from last week when we went to Playa Conchal on a field trip with school, their Pirate Ship sail, and up in the rainforest.

On Saturday we rented two double sea kayaks and kayaked out to the island we've been looking at for the last three weeks.  Unbelievably, I didn't get a picture of us in the kayaks but do have some nice shots of us on the island, checking out the tide pools.  Snorkeling with the kids (real snorkeling with snorkel gear and all in water over our heads) was a highlight of the entire trip for both Kevin and me.  We saw some cool starfish and neon fish.  It was like we were swimming in a fish tank and it was so fun to see the kids get so excited.

And to satisfy Holden, we finally made it to Tamarindo's Mini Golf.

After saying our last goodbyes, we left Tamarindo early on Sunday morning and went to Rinc√≥n de la Vieja National Park, about an hour and a half drive away.  It is a series of active and dormant volcanoes with amazing wildlife and waterfalls, bubbling volcanic hot springs and active "mini volcanoes".  We started with a three hour hike and saw some bubbling volcanic mud baths, huge waterfalls and steaming volcanic gases.  Costa Rica is so good about using their natural resources for energy.  Most of their electricity comes from water power from Lake Arenal, solar power, wind turbines, and even energy harnessed from the hot volcanic gases.

We finished with a stop at Rio Negro's mud baths and hot springs.  You paint yourselves with volcanic mud, let it dry and then rinse off in a series of natural springs of varying temperatures from very hot to cool.  It was magical and my skin has never felt so soft.

We were so, so sad to stay in the airport hotel that night and leave the next morning for home.  But as always seems to happen this year, as we were flying back into New York City and I saw the Empire State Building all lit up in green from the airplane, I got goosebumps and had that feeling again that I couldn't believe how lucky we are to get to live here.  I was so excited to ride the taxi back through Queens, over the bridge into Manhattan, through the park and up to our Brownstone.  And while I've spent the last 12 hours doing our laundry from the last month (in an apartment-sized washer/dryer, no less), I'm still so happy to be home.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

We're Still Here!

Yes, believe it or not, we're still in Costa Rica.  And having so much unplugged fun that it's hard to pull out the laptop to check in with you people.  But here's a brief update on our last week.

When I last left you Kevin had just arrived.  We headed out of town the next day to spend the weekend up at the Arenal Volcano.  We hiked around the rainforest and across hanging bridges, some as high as 45 meters off the ground.  We saw more monkeys, poison dart frogs, bats, exotic birds, sloths, butterflies the size of my hand, a viper snake and even a tarantula!  While the country only takes up 0.03% of the earth's surface, it contains 6% of the world's biodiversity.

Before we came to Costa Rica, Holden memorized his entire Wildlife Costa Rica guidebook and the kids have been marking the date and location of each animal sighting in what has become our family Bible.

While there we also got to spend time at the natural volcanic hot springs at a resort at the base of the volcano.  They had some insane water slides that I'm sure would be illegal in the U.S.  Ella was thrown out of one about 6 feet off the surface of the swimming pool looking a little shell shocked.

While it was nice to get some relief from the heat, we were antsy to get back "home" to Tamarindo.  We all missed the beach and our friends and our big apartment.

On Monday while the kids were back in camp Kevin and I spent the day down the road at the Langosta Beach Club.  For $25/couple we were allowed to use their facilities for the day, enjoy their pools, lounge chairs next to the pool bar, order drinks and lunch and Kevin even took out a surf board.

This week at camp the kids took more surf lessons (they're both completely hooked on the sport), took a field trip on a Pirate's Ship (80 foot sailboat), made some more art projects, and had a BBQ on the beach.  Unfortunately, there wasn't room for parents on the sailboat so I'm hoping to get some photos to share from the teachers.

Their classroom
After pick-up at 2pm each day we either hang out at the pool with the other kids, head down to the beach as a family, have sunset cocktails, or Kevin has taken the kids out for more surfing time.  Last night was Movie Night for the kids so Kevin and I turned down the invitation by the other couples to join them at a big dinner on the beach in favor of a real date night, just the two of us.  Probably (likely) our only one all summer.

Man, are we all going to be sad to leave on Monday.