Sunday, March 16, 2014

Cost Rica - Part 2

Okay, here’s part two of our Costa Rica report for those of you who are interested. To the rest of you, this post should wrap up the vacation update so it should be safe to come back here later this week.


The four of us went on an all-day excursion with a guy we met on the beach. We arranged to meet him the next morning, but a different guy showed up. We weren’t sure whether he was affiliated with the first guy since he didn’t even know where we were going and we only understood about 75% of what he said, but somehow it all worked out okay.  We went to a waterfall where we could swim and go behind the falls, then we went ziplining.  We were skeptical when our guide drove us to someone’s house with no other people around, and in the yard was an empty swimming pool and a zipline not much bigger than the one my dad built. After about 15 minutes, some people came swinging down the zipline, finishing up their tour.  Then the guides led us up the hill and we were relieved to find out there were fourteen different platforms we would be zipping between, rather than just the one we’d seen from the yard.  The guides were great; they even took our cameras for the whole time and took lots of pictures of us swinging through the forest. It was a lot of fun and the whole experience proved once again that low expectations hardly ever result in disappointment.

After lunch, we walked around a volcano and played in the mud. We all had the feeling that the locals/employees were laughing at us for being stupid enough to follow the guide’s instructions when he told us to coat ourselves in mud. But we did it anyway because we’ll never see them again.  After we scrubbed it all off, we did a sauna and hot springs, and then went on the most awesome waterslide ever.  By “awesome,” I mean primitive, unsafe, bizarre, but hilarious. We raised our eyebrows when we saw the old slide and a little frightened when we learned we were required to wear helmets and inner tubes to protect our body from being bashed against the cement sides, it was so much fun and I’ve never laughed that much on a waterslide before. We’re lucky to have avoided any permanent injuries.  We also had the option to go horseback riding to see another waterfall.  Someone had told us the horses were so decrepit that they felt bad riding them, so we opted out of that.

I wasn't going to post this for all to see, but this picture makes me laugh every single time I look at it.

On the way back to the resort, there was a festival in one of the towns we drove through on our way home, so the guide suddenly stopped the van and said to meet him in an hour.  I’m not sure if he had some business to attend to or if he thought we’d like to watch the parade that was about to start. Either way, it was cool to see a bit of local culture. I don’t know what the occasion was but it involved cute little children riding on ponies. I don’t think we celebrate that holiday in Canada.


I ate a lot. Maybe not as much as Jim and Sabrina, but I got my money’s worth. The buffet was good and had lots of options.  There was usually a delicious lunch at the outdoor grill by the pool, but the a la carte restaurants we went to in the evenings were just okay. We ate tortilla chips with fresh guacamole and pico de gallo at pretty much every meal, as well as lots of fresh fruit.  The pineapple and watermelon were especially sweet and fresh and yummy. The buffet had a small section of traditional Costa Rica food, which I regret not trying more of. We did eat a traditional rice and beans and fish meal on our excursion, which was really good but the restaurant was totally geared towards tourists so it’s hard to know how authentic it was.  At the resort, we tried to be thorough with the drink sampling - strawberry daiquiris, rum punch, Dirty Monkeys, and yummy drinks served in coconuts.  It's very important to stay hydrated when it's so hot.  

In the horrifying food category, here's a dead pig.  Even worse was the half eaten carcass of a second pig that's too disturbing to post.


Went we went ziplining, we saw white-faced monkeys, coatis (which are like raccoons), and an agouti (big rat with long skinny legs). At the resort, we saw howler monkeys a couple of times, as well as iguanas and lizards. Jim and Sabrina also saw crocodiles and more monkeys on a river boat excursion they did. I was sorry we didn’t see any tree frogs, giant sea turtles or snakes, but on the positive side, we also saw very few birds.  The only time the birds affected me was at breakfast when they came way too close for comfort. So unfortunately Dale and I had to eat breakfast inside every day, but at least then we were closer to the fresh fruit.

Besides the birds at breakfasts, the only other thing I could have done without were the fires burning in the hills near our resort. We were in a part of Costa Rica that was less rain-forest and more arid and dry. The trees on the hills around our resort were brown and dormant, and apparently every year at this time, there are fires. We were told there was nothing to worry about but with the language barrier, we weren’t totally convinced. The smoke smell was quite strong sometimes and on the last day, there were ashes floating into the pool. It wasn’t a big deal for us, but if you had asthma or allergies, it would have been less pleasant.

Looks like the resort is on fire.  It's not quite as close as it looks, but almost.

Home stretch

On the way home, we had an overnight stop in Chicago. It was a good transition because knowing we still had another 24 hours of holidays lessened the sadness of leaving Costa Rica. And since Chicago was freezing cold, we were already used to the cold weather by the time we arrived in Winnipeg.  In Chicago, we stayed in a beautiful boutique hotel just off Magnificent Mile – the décor was very modern and artsy and it had the most comfortable bed ever. Our time was short and sweet, but we had awesome burgers at Grand Lux Café for dinner (which is affiliated with the Cheesecake Factory), walked along Michigan Ave. (stopping to buy hats and mitts along the way), saw the bean at Millenium Park, went to a really cute café for breakfast, and went to a few shops.

And then suddenly we were back home. We had a happy reunion with the kids and then after about half an hour, it was, “Mom, you have to help me with my New Zealand project” and “Mom, I need help with my science fair project” and “Mom, I got a concussion while you were away.” Actually Chloe texted us about her concussion while we were still in Costa Rica. By the time she told us, she had already been to the doctor and things were under control. She fell during Cheer practice and hit her head. The doctor gave her strict instructions not to go to school for two days and to do no homework, no physical activity or tests until she was 100% better. She’s much better now, although she’s still taking it easy with physical activity.

That’s more detail than I thought I would go into, but right now there’s a blizzard raging outside so I’d much rather think and write about Costa Rica. Anthony and Doug & Lorie and their kids are off to Mexico tomorrow … I wish we were going too.  The last (and only other) time we were at an all-inclusive resort holiday was with them. Even though we were at a different resort in a different country this time, so many things reminded me of our holiday with them. I thought of Teresa a thousand times – so many good memories, but sadness that there won’t ever be another trip with her to make more memories.

Before Jim and Sabrina start to get hurt feelings, let me say that they were also awesome to vacation with. Dale and I like to sit and read and nap, but Jim and Sabrina liked to take part in every activity the resort offered.  They were on a first-name basis with all of the recreation staff – playing beach volleyball, ping pong, aerobics in the pool, pilates on the beach, dancing on stage in the evening show, or just starting conversations at the swim-up bar - you name it, they were in. If they weren’t there, we may have spent the entire week in our lounge chairs, so it was good that they got us doing stuff too. We had tons of fun with them, laughed a lot, and made many happy memories. The whole trip exceeded all of my expectations and I would go back in a second.  Especially this blustery second.

Okay, now I’m done. 

Photo bomb by the crazy Monkey Man who choked Sabrina and bit Dale


Anonymous said...

Um, now I need details on Sabrina drowning AND the choking biting monkey man?? You can't leave the fans hanging on a long like this , Ellen Kornelsen! This Costa Rica trip will need to be made into a trilogy please!! (And I get first dibs on auditioning for the role of Ellen when the movie script is written).



Anonymous said...

Yes...details re: Sabrina saving a drowning person and the choking/biting monkey man. You've got your holiday posting down -- always leave them begging for more. :) Thanks for sharing your pictures and stories. I love Costa Rica!


Anonymous said...

What were you trying to spell out there with the mud covered bodies? And yes, I also laughed at that helmeted-tube-bearing-bikinied clan.


Daniel said...

Hmmmm, how big is the dike? Better show Dad that waterslide!

Thanks for part II of the trilogy - I'm enjoying this trip too!

(now why do I have a '70s disco song stuck in my head...)

Anonymous said...

Just saw this now!! Made me laugh, and wish we were back there again! You described it very well. Great pics! The fresh fruit was BULLSH*T!!!!