Costa Rica, Day Ten: August 24, 2014

Stressful day, for me, anyway.

The signs that the elevator is broken are gone but were not taking a chance, so we walked up the stairs just before 8:00am.

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There were more landslides overnight during that thunderstorm.

 

We went looking for the snorkel place where we were supposed to be at 8:15 –  and rode around for 30 minutes. We had “directions” and a “map” but we still couldn’t find a restaurant called “Gloria and Claudio” where we were supposed to meet.

Tom asked in two other restaurants.  It turns out that we weren’t told we were supposed to part on the street and walk up the boardwalk to find Gloria and company.

Finally, at 8:45, we were walking up the boardwalk and someone approached us and asked if we were O’Connors – right place!

She complained that we were keeping everyone else waiting and said to take off our shoes.  We started wading through the low-tide mud and surf towards a rubber dinghy that was to take us to the snorkel boat. Tom said NO and we left.  The person who met us was astounded that we wouldn’t do that. Fortunately, we had our car there so we weren’t stranded.

In our driving, we had seen a tour place. We went there to sign up for a tour to Nicaragua. We’re not using the tour place here anymore. We signed up for 3 things and got discounts on all, more than what we lost on today’s trip.  The guy wanted $150 US in cash as a deposit.  The rest could be paid by credit card on the actual trips.  We only had $60 between us so we owe him $90 on Monday at the first trip.  Watch for Monday’s post!

Upcoming tours: Monday, a different snorkel trip; Tuesday, Nicaragua;  Wednesday, break!; Thursday Monteverde; Friday, NYC; Saturday home

Tom got our money back – grudgingly – for today’s trip – I don’t know how he does that.

At 4:00 we were supposed to do a presentation.  Over the years, we have done several timeshare presentations. AARRGGHH! It was supposed to be 90 minutes. It turned into 4 hours. We told them we weren’t going to buy but they kept pushing and pushing.

They said they weren’t selling timeshares, they are selling vacations.

 

It started with lunch/dinner here and the first guy. In passing, he asked about our place here and we mentioned the front light and elevator.  He called someone called “Dan” and said he didn’t want something like this interfering with “his sale”.

Then, he took us to Ocotal to see some of the rooms and we talked to another guy.

There were scammy-sounding schemes where we gave them some of our existing timeshares and a pile of money and we would live happily ever after, vacationing all over.  We had no way of leaving because we were in the middle of nowhere with no car.

They had some units built and they were building 40 more (construction noise OR an untruth).

Tom gave the second guy suggestions on quitting smoking and agreed to be a contact on LinkedIn.

Finally, they got the message that we would not buy today no matter what and took us back to Coco Bay.

On the way, guy number one asked if our light was fixed, could he make “his sale”.  NONONO!  English is even his first language.  We kept getting big hints that if they didn’t sell 10 of these in some amount of time, he would be fired.  Yada Yada, violins in the background.

We got back here and there was a third person for “another company” trying to get some of our money.  Apparently the first 2 people had included his “services” in their presentation and he was there seeing if he could salvage anything out of this non-deal.

Finally back up the mountain, down the 4 flights of stairs and our light was fixed.  One good thing out of four wasted hours.

Costa Rica, Day Nine: August 23, 2014

This was another easy day.

When Tom was making reservations for Costa Rica, he set out searches on both RCI and Interval.  We had one week here at Coco Bay Estates, then we were going to move to Flamingo Beach Resort.  That was ok, sort of.  Then a second week became available here but we kept the second week at Flamingo and gave it to friends, Bev and Pete.

We mostly spent the morning online checking Facebook, I worked some on a final exam that is due at 9:00 am Monday – UK time on a Coursera course – and trying to figure out how to get to Flamingo Beach Resort.

flamingo-routeWe had all kinds of maps, including the Google one at right.  The trouble with all of them is the route numbers.  None of the roads here have signs that say what the route number is, or the name of any street.

The little directions that come with that map were also no good since we were to go through the towns of Filadelfia, Belén and Huacas.

Luckily, we had been through Filadelfia before, when we went to Palo Verde but the other ones had no signs letting us know where the town limits were, “Welcome to Huacas” signs or anything.  The maps would be better if they said turn right at the fruit stand or something.

We rented a GPS when we first got here but today it had trouble acquiring satellites and we would be driving along and it appeared to suddenly download new (or updated) software, then restart.

But, as always, we persevered.

2014-08-23 11.28.15 2014-08-23 11.28.29We set out about 11:30 am.  Before we even got to the little town, we saw an odd sight.

That boat, aptly named Fear Not,  is being towed by that backhoe(?).  The boat is taller than the electrical wires above so the guy on the left, in orange, is standing up, holding up the electrical wires with a piece of wood.  The woman is holding a piece of aluminum or metal.

 

We retraced our steps towards the Liberia Airport but when we got to that fruit stand, we turned right instead of left.  All new territory now.  Between the in-and-out GPS and sporadic signs to Playa Flamingo, after only one wrong turn, we made it to our friends place about 12:45.

flamingo_beach_resortWe met them in the lobby and then went and had a very nice lunch in the little outdoor restaurant.

We went out on their beach (white sand) and got a view of the buildings just up the coast.

I have to sat that their place is much nicer than ours on a whole – room is smaller – and more friendly/helpful people around.

Here, we’re kind of by ourselves on this mountain and have to drive to even get to the pool.  Most of the “staff” here seem to work for another company which is selling timeshares/vacation clubs/something slimy.  More on that later.

Our front light is still out and our elevator may or may not be working after nine days here.  We still have our 15 issues since day one and some new ones have been added.  Those will be in a summary after we get home.

But, I digress.  We had a great time with our friends but had to head home at 4:30 or so since it gets dark at 6:00.  On the way back we were stopped by police for a routine traffic stop.  Tom said it was right around Costa Rican Mother’s Day when all the family gathers at home.  That may involve drinking and/or fighting which may have triggered the traffic stop.  In any event, they let us go after seeing Tom’s driver’s license.

Most of the drive went well except when we went around a corner and there was a kid skateboarding in the street.

We got back to our place just as a big storm was brewing.

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And there was a huge thunderstorm.  The power went out on one wall where modem, router and telephone is.  Then the fridge went out but it came back fairly soon.

Someone came to our door to ask if we’d reported a fire.  Uh, no.  We wouldn’t be sitting around if the place was on fire.  We don’t even have a phone to report a fire.

Finally, our modem, router and phone came back and all was well for another day…

Costa Rica, Day Six: August 20

We first went to the next door beach of Playa Ocotal and took some pictures, then drove around the small town of Coco Bay and the beach. We did get out a little and walked around the boardwalk.

Nothing exciting. We were saving up or energy for the Arenal Volcano tomorrow.

 

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Playa Ocotal looking towards “our” place. I believe that this is the bay we have in our view from the terrace.

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Playa Del Coco boardwalk

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We thought this ladder in the middle of the road was a bit odd…

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Costa Rica, Day Three: August 17, 2014

We all woke up early since the sun rises early. Still no Internet. It was Sunday so we figured it might come back sometime on Monday…maybe. We went down to the tour desk to see if there were any partial day tours for today and full-day ones for tomorrow. The ATV won for today, leaving at 1:00. But first, breakfast in the little restaurant here.

I remembered that we had that other Internet outside Brian’s office and went outside there to log my iPad on with WiFi so I could give AT&T a pile more money and I could get more Global Data, just in case. Sneaky, huh? Turned out, it wouldn’t start until midnight on the 18th, but better than nothing!

Our driver came about 1:00 and we headed off for the ATV trip. This turned out to be a place that also has ziplines and such. We met up with another couple, Tony and Donna, before we headed off up and down unpaved, rut-filled “roads” When we left the Congo Trail Canopy place we visited two beaches: Penca Beach with white sand and Potreros Bay with dark sand), and had snacks at a beach bar. Michael later commented that we learned a lot about operating an ATV but nothing about Costa Rica. True!

Back “home” and found the elevators had signs on them that they weren’t working. Surprise! Tom and Michael went out for Subway subs. When they got back, there was a huge rainstorm and loud booms. We looked out and some of the rocks were coming off our mountain. Great – landslide!

We played some of the games I’d downloaded last night, then early bed. Tomorrow is an early day.

Costa Rica, Day Two: August 16, 2014

I woke up about 7:00 with a dream of my mother telling me if I didn’t wake up soon, I’d miss pickup Michael at the airport. Uh, no – he’s arriving at 1:00 PM.

I went out on the terrace to see if the internet connection was any better. No. I rebooted the router and modem. Didn’t help. Rebooted the computer. Also didn’t work. We decided to call for help. The telephone message said “Invalid Account”. Tom wanted to call the front desk using his phone and we decided it would cost way too much since it would be the same as calling from our house, an international call.

Our list of things that don’t work, or we think they should have, grows longer. There are lots of candles, but no matches. We WILL carry on, though.

I took some pictures now that it’s daylight, mostly of the rock that envelops half of our apartment, and possibly is blocking out our internet. Lots of little lizards running around on our front rocks and dirt.

We went to the front desk area and met Brian who heard our long “to-do” list. He claims that the internet is down for some sort of repair all over the area. While we were there, the internet came on for a few moments.

From there, we drove to the airport to pick up Michael. He was the first one out of Customs/Immigration! Headed home and got some lunch at “our” place. After short naps, Tom went back down and the offices were closed so we couldn’t sign up for tours tomorrow. Michael is only here tomorrow and Monday so we need to get some plans going.

It was a slow kind of afternoon and we decided to go back to the pizza place for dinner since they had been so helpful the night before. On the way, we got stuck in our elevator AGAIN. Tom tried calling the number in the elevator but no one answered. Finally it moved. We vowed to never take the elevator again, at least unless someone was on the outside to push the button from there.

The power went out but only momentarily. We need to get matches for those candles!

Since there was no internet, I decided to download some fun apps to play and re-download one which shows the stars.

Michael and I were playing games which meant I missed the notices that said I’d used 40% of my Global Data, 25%…5%… Poof!

 

Costa Rica, Day One: August 15, 2014

We got up at 3:30 am for our trip and to walk Mimi. She didn’t seem to mind at all that it was still dark out. My stomach felt queasy so I didn’t have anything to eat – or any coffee. Oh no! Without coffee, there may be a headache later today.

Our taxi arrived on schedule at 4:30 – things are going well…so far.

Our flight was only 37 minutes which was a good thing because our second flight was 3 terminals away, another security check and only 2 hours. The plane was very small so we had to give them our “carryon” luggage to pick up later on the tarmac.

For such a short flight, it was pretty smooth. We landed at JFK, picked up our luggage, literally on the tarmac and weaved our way through makeshift canvas walkways to try to find the Delta terminal. Very crowded. Finally left security there, went outside to try to find the AirTrain. Lots of stairs so the rollabout suitcases had to be carried. The signage wasn’t that great, either so we had to ask for help – several times. We finally made it to the JetBlue terminal with a bit of time to spare.

The next flight was smooth, too. HOORAY! I’m not good with turbulence to say the least. If someone is screaming, it’s always me. The row of young women in front of us and behind us thought that the flight was an airborne bar. They had been drinking before the flight and continued during the flight. The steward even ran them a tab, something I’ve never heard of on a plane before. The ones ahead of us were watching a show calledPaternity Court on TV and it was quite hilarious, apparently.

At some point, as we were landing, they were looking at the map and thought that we were 4147 miles above sea level, rather than feet. Apparently we were coming in from outer space.

On the jetway, heading to the terminal, one revealed that she had been smoking vapor cigarettes in the bathroom.

I hope they have a wonderful 10 days here – if they remember any of it!

The airport went smoothly, very similar to Barbados with Customs and Immigration. Lots of people offering to help (for tips, of course) but we knew where we were going and were able to weave our way thgouth the crowd.

We found the van for Avis. As soon as I got in, the headache struck, big-time. A combo of no coffee all day and the air freshener in the van. It was so strong, even I could smell it.

Our trip to Avis went well. I got several Extra-Strength Tylenol in me. Our car is a black Nissan sedan. We’d requested manual but they didn’t have any. That turned out to be a good thing later.

The rental agent, Douglas, set up our GPS unit to take us to our condo and we were off. We found Coco Bay Estates and got through the security gate which consisted of a guard, an orange cone and a stop sign (arrete in Spanish)

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Check-in went well, the people friendly and helpful. We followed their van up to our place for the next 2 weeks. I say “up” because our place is carved out of the side of a small mountain. The road has several hairpin turns. The final one to our place involves a hill and at the top, you can’t see the road or anything coming below. AARRGGHH

Here’s a PDF of our site_map.  Our parking spot is on the 4th level of “Segovia”. We had to take an elevator down to our place on one – 102. There was a sign in the elevator that said if the power goes out, it will reset itself. Uh-oh.

The van driver showed us into our place and around, although some of the stuff turned out later to be untrue. One the surface, it’s very nice here with 2 big bedrooms, each with it’s owh bathroom. There were only 3 hangers for the 2 bedrooms so we could have 4 people here, sharing the 3. There are no drawers for storing clothes so I stacked up my clothes on open shelves in a walk-in closet.

A nice living-room area with comfy sofa, washer-dryer, nice patio with glass doors in every room. The A/C works well. Hooray!

I fell asleep for a nap almost immediately.

We decided it was time to go get something to eat. Turns out, the restaurant here closed at 3pm. <sigh> We would have had to drive there, anyway. The roads look unsafe to walk on, even without the hill. So, we decided to go into town to a grocery store. It was about 5pm local time (7 at home) and dusk. We retraced our steps from earlier and saw a grocery store. This was a very local store, everything written in Spanish, which was to be expected, but we had trouble finding things – we never found peanut butter. We did get hangers, though so we now have 13.

When we got out, it was completely dark. People walking in the narrow streets, and riding bikes…and we got lost. We must have missed a street or 2 and our GPS wasn’t recoginzing any of the items I tried typing into it, in English OR Spanish. Our place wasn’t listed under lodgings. At one point, had we continued on the street we were on, we would have driven into the Pacific Ocean.

We were both getting very testy. I had a little headache still, was hungry from not eating all day (that earlier stomach queasyness) and exhausted. It was 10 pm (midnight our time) when we stopped at a small pizza place. Our waitress spoke Italian so she couldn’t help us with directions at all but pointing at the menu got us a pizza. From my long-ago Italian college class, I was able to dredge up enough to get Tom an orange juice. I just went with agua. She was able to find another patron who knew enough English to give us directions.

We changed our order and got the pizza to go. Back to our place, gathered up some of the groceries – the ice cream was melted of course. Into the elevator (no AC) and it wouldn’t move. It took a few minutes but we finally got that going. Into our place and Tom went back for the rest…and called me from the elevator. It was stuck so I went out in my barefeet to push the elevator button from the outside to make it move.

When he went back for the rest, he walked up and down the 4 flights of stairs to avoid the elevator.

Finally, about 11:00 (1 am, our time), after putting the groceries away, we had cold pizza for dinner.

I entered the info for WiFi do finish up my “church work”. The computer showed a strong WiFi signal. Excellent. Except it didn’t actually connect to the Internet.

Luckily, I have a data plan on my iPad and I’d added some Global Minutes. I used that as a hotspot to connect my computer to the internet and finish that work.

Off to bed and dreams of my mother scolding me for sleeping too late.