Sunday, February 28, 2016

Grandma, Grandpa, and Goodbye

Our final week in Costa Rica my parents were able to come down and play with us.  We let the kids forget school and we just showed Grandma and Grandpa some of our favorite things.

Nothing like true "sand"-wiches.  Picnicking at Punta Uva.
We took them to a place called the Jaguar Rescue Center.  There is no jaguar there, it was only named that because the first animal they ever tried to rescue was a baby jaguar.  Since then they've rescued and released all kinds of creatures including cats, turtles, sloths, monkeys, owls, anteaters, snakes, caimans, and all kinds of birds.  While we were there the anteater was chowing down in a bin full of termites (above left), he was not at all bothered by the termites crawling all over him.  We also found sleeping red eyed tree frogs, (above right stuck to the leaf above Maggie's head).  It had been storming that morning so the baby monkeys had stayed at the center instead of playing out in the jungle and they put on a good show.  Maggie spotted a couple of lizards, captured them, and kept them as accessories for the rest of our tour.





Adios Punta Uva.
Anybody can spot critters in a rescue center, but we wanted to show them what it was like out in the wild so we went to Cahuita National park.  There is a gorgeous stretch of beach and a trail that runs through the jungle right along.  We found plenty of leaf cutter ants as well as the funny spider that wove an X on his web and then hid behind it folding his eight legs into the four points of an X. (below see how easy it blends into the jungle).  We also spotted howler and capuchin monkeys, as well as a couple of sloths before we made it to the estuary for some swimming.



This is what Costa Rica has been to us,
freedom.  Freedom to stretch, run, grow,
learn, and have a really good time.
The kids really wanted to show Grandma and Grandpa the BriBri village, so we drove there ourselves giving them the same tour our guide had given us.  
Beautiful girls.
Bow and arrow instruction.
This time one of the daughters in the family and a son helped
us make chocolate.  The Shaman and his wife are for
scheduled tours.  
Then off to play in the waterfalls.
It was water apple season.  Water apples look like a fat pear with thin red skin.  The tasteless flesh is white and surrounds a single, somewhat fuzzy, light brown marble sized seed.  We found a few of these cast off around the pool and broke off some chunks to toss to the fish that we could vividly see in the crystal clear water.  The fish went ballistic!  It was Tessa's favorite part of the whole day.  For Grandpa the fresh cool water was heavenly.  I think he could have stayed there all day.


video

Selling the van.
We had worked it out to spend the last few days in an area of Costa Rica that we had not yet been to, Arenal.  Arenal is a picture perfect volcano that dominates the landscape in the north-central area of the country.  On the drive between East Coast and Arenal we met the buyer for our van at a bus stop in San Jose.  Off the side of a busy road in a crummy, (we'll let's face it, almost all of San Jose is crummy) part of town we transacted the sale.  If it hadn't been for the lawyer present, and the buyer being a really nice family man, getting that much cash on a dirty street would have felt like a drug deal.  Instead it was just one more crazy Costa Rican adventure.  

Then we continued our drive to a family's small ranch called Parrot Hill.  Arenal is up in the highlands with the top of the volcano at about 5500 feet above sea level.  The altitude brings a chill to the air, especially for those of us who had been living on the hot coasts.  True to it's name we did see a parrot every morning it would fly in out of nowhere pose for some pictures, want a snack, and that just as quick as it came fly off again squawking like mad back to the jungle.  

Our first day was beautiful and sunny and we made the most of it.  Starting with a horseback ride up through the property behind the home and then hiking to a refreshing waterfall.  We were back by early afternoon so we packed up and headed into town.  We got a day pass to a resort that included swimming and a zip-line.  
Morning view from our porch at Parrot Hill Ranch.  It was so fun to get a
visit from this wild green parrot every morning.  
We figured out he likes green beans and bread,
but not walnuts.

There is no place that this girl is happier than on a horse.

From the top of the hill we could see lake Arenal and the volcano.


The jungle never ceases to amaze me.
Jonah enjoying the last of the BriBri chocolate.


At the end of the ride, Charlie had set up a seek and find
treasure hunt in a tree.  He hid "treasures" in socks and tied
them to a big tree.  One of us found a chunk of onion,
another garlic, Tessa got crackers, but I picked the sock
with the grand prize, a candy bar.  

Everywhere we traveled in Costa Rica my parents would take
note of the cattle.  As full time farmers and dairy operators cows
are a big part of who they are and we loved hearing them discuss what breed this was and what cross that one was every time.
.Max, "We got to Parrot Ranch yesterday and we went right into action.  First we rode horses up to the jungle and hiked up to a waterfall that must have been two below zero.  When we got back my horse was stubborn which I partly blame on the fact that she was pregnant.  Our guides hung fruit from a tree and we needed to grab them.  I got a carrot.  Then we went to a zip-line that was so fast you could go 80 kmph.  After that we went to a huge set of pools.  There was a hot pool that had a huge waterslide.    By it was another cold pool that had a bridge to jump off.  There was a thing that looked like a volcano that was a maze inside and the biggest water slide that had a tunnel and a four foot drop.  It was an awesome day."
Los Lagos Resort





Tessa, "We did zip lining over the canopies so fast it almost blew my lips off!!!  We went to the water and it made us fly!!!  We went on a water slide that went underground then spit you out!  My feelings were great, I was so exited to go zip lining and the pool just felt epicly awesome.


Los Lagos had many pools.  Most of them were perfectly heated from the geothermal waters in the area.  They also had a bunch of slides without any regulations.  That meant that regardless of height, weight, or age, we could all go down whatever slides we wanted.  We all did and it was glorious!

The next day we tried to go to a different resort for a bit a variety, but it didn't work out.
Max, "Today we went to a place called Baldi.  When we got there we were excited, but then we found out that we couldn't go onto any of the slides so we had a big crisis because there was a buffet at the end.  (the kids wanted the buffet, but hated the pool situation) We ended up going to yesterday's park and we found that we could go to a buffet there at 5:00.  We played and basked in happiness of the miracle.

Baldi is a beautiful resort but after all the freedom and fun of
the day before, not being able to go on slides was devastating.
So we went back to Los Lagos for sliding and
swimming until we were all waterlogged.



They also had garden's an ant farm, and a few animals to visit.
and the much anticipated buffet!
Before we dropped our rental van off we stopped
at the LDS temple in San Jose.  It is a smaller
building but absolutely beautiful.  
We stayed that night near the airport and in the morning all of us went to the airport.  Grandma and Grandpa returning to their farm, and for us a journey into yet a new unknown.  Italy here we come!