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 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.

Costa Rica, Day 6

I’m writing this post from home since I ran out of time to to it in Costa Rica.

Saturday was a “rest day”.  Ha!  We were originally going to leave Quepos early and head to San Jose, leave our stuff at the Holiday Inn and head further north to the Poás Volcano.

We decided that would be a bit much so we mostly packed up our stuff and headed to Dominical, a small surfing town.   

Dominical has been know for many years to the international surfing community because of its consistently good waves. Discovered in the early seventies by a group of intrepid and dedicated surfers, Dominical has steadily gained in popularity over the last 30 years. The town has become a haven for surfers with local restaurants. 

The unusual conditions of the beach is what gives its surf both size and dependability. The wave is a beach break with a twist, that twist being the mouth of the Rio Baru to the north. The river empties out of the mountains to the east and deposits sediments that form into a sandbar that spreads like a pair of lazy rabbit ears north and south of the mouth.

From http://www.dominical-costarica.com/aboutdominical.html

This town was down a dirt/gravel road.  We missed it the first time because it looked more like a driveway than a road into a town.  There were all little restaurants, towel and tshirt stores.  The picture of the VW bus was a restaurant called San Clemente and the bus had sculptures of Elvis, a frog and a surfer hanging out the windows.

Some of the other images are taken out of the window of the car and include rivers, palm tree plantations, the mountains and more.

The picture of the airport made me very glad I was in a car and not in one of those little cars!

We got back to Pueblo Real, finished packing.  It was raining then and the last balcony pictures were taken in the rain as a little comparison to the balcony pictures I took the first night.

We checked out and headed north to San Jose but we didn’t get on the road until about 3:30 which kept us on the road after dark.  One of the pictures is of the sunset through the car window.

We stopped at the Crocodile Bridge over the Río Tárcoles just north of the Pacific beach town of Jacó.  I thought I saw some but Tom said that they were logs.  We had some ice cream and continued heading north.

Thank goodness for GPS – we got to the Holiday Inn about 6:30.  We checked in there, unloaded the car and went to dinner next door at… Denny’s!  Almost like being back in the US.  We found the only nearby ATM in the Fiesta Casino.  Then we returned the rental car which was also less than a block away.  Everything was so convenient.

I watched part of a House – in English – before falling asleep early.  We had to get up at 4am the next day…

Costa Rica, Day 1

Yesterday seems so long ago. We were in Virginia at 4 in the morning waiting for a cab.

The plane trip to Atlanta was uneventful but I had started having panic attacks the night before so a bit of Xanax helped.

On the next flight to Costa Rica, the Xanax had fully kicked in and I was asleep before takeoff. When I woke up, I thought we were landing.

Tom and I were seated across the aisle from one another which was ok but the woman to my left kept trying to talk to the man to tom’s right so I switched places with the man.

The young woman in the window seat made several bathroom runs. On the last one my tomato juice managed to spill on my white pants. Fast thinking from Tom got me some club soda and all was well. When the young woman got back I had the window seat,Tom was in the middle and she was on the aisle.

We got into San Juan and got our rental car. 2 others who were on Kirkland had bad luck with their car they had something smaller and it cost way more than ours so they were pretty unhappy. They were actually coming to the same place we are but a day later.

Thank goodness we got the GPS. We never would have found the place without it. We passed lots hikers in the road headed to San Juan. Turns out they were pilgrims headed to the cathedral for a very special holy day.

We got here and I posted last night’s balcony pictures.

Unpacked and had some wonderful food sent in for dinner. It was so good, chicken and rice, I could have it every day!

Today we went out for the orientation to see what was here. We had coffee and a fantastic juice mix of pineapple, banana, mango, guava and watermelon.

The person telling us about the place said there was an iguana here named Pancho who liked to hang out by the pool and sometimes swim. He recognized cameras and would pose nicely…but would chase you if you didn’t give him a tip of food. He likes hibiscus, especially.

A raccoon came by during the talk also.

We stayed in that same area for a nice breakfast. I had more of that juice mix.

Off for a shuttle to Quepos for groceries. I’m glad we took that. We never would have found the store. Thank goodness there were pictures on most of the products. My Spanish isn’t that great.

On the way back I took pictures of the “Oh, My God” bridge. It lives up to it’s name. Fortunately that’s being replaced.

Back home and to the pool. Then a long call to the states to clear up a little mess I’ll post about tomorrow when I have more energy.

Dinner at the place we got the takeout from. This time a Latin American grilled pork and pineapple. That restaurant is run by the same people who did breakfast. Just a different location.

No rum punch here so I’m trying lime ice tea and lime vodka. Not bad but I don’t think it will be a hit anywhere.

Bedtime soon. Hopefully tomorrow is more relaxing!

Costa Rica, Day 1

Yesterday seems so long ago. We were in Virginia at 4 in the morning waiting for a cab.

The plane trip to Atlanta was uneventful but I had started having panic attacks the night before so a bit of Xanax helped.

On the next flight to Costa Rica, the Xanax had fully kicked in and I was asleep before takeoff. When I woke up, I thought we were landing.

Tom and I were seated across the aisle from one another which was ok but the woman to my left kept trying to talk to the man to tom’s right so I switched places with the man.

The young woman in the window seat made several bathroom runs. On the last one my tomato juice managed to spill on my white pants. Fast thinking from Tom got me some club soda and all was well. When the young woman got back I had the window seat,Tom was in the middle and she was on the aisle.

We got into San Juan and got our rental car. 2 others who were on Kirkland had bad luck with their car they had something smaller and it cost way more than ours so they were pretty unhappy. They were actually coming to the same place we are but a day later.

Thank goodness we got the GPS. We never would have found the place without it. We passed lots hikers in the road headed to San Juan. Turns out they were pilgrims headed to the cathedral for a very special holy day.

We got here and I posted last night’s balcony pictures.

Unpacked and had some wonderful food sent in for dinner. It was so good, chicken and rice, I could have it every day!

Today we went out for the orientation to see what was here. We had coffee and a fantastic juice mix of pineapple, banana, mango, guava and watermelon.

The person telling us about the place said there was an iguana here named Pancho who liked to hang out by the pool and sometimes swim. He recognized cameras and would pose nicely…but would chase you if you didn’t give him a tip of food. He likes hibiscus, especially.

A raccoon came by during the talk also.

We stayed in that same area for a nice breakfast. I had more of that juice mix.

Off for a shuttle to Quepos for groceries. I’m glad we took that. We never would have found the store. Thank goodness there were pictures on most of the products. My Spanish isn’t that great.

On the way back I took pictures of the “Oh, My God” bridge. It lives up to it’s name. Fortunately that’s being replaced.

Back home and to the pool. Then a long call to the states to clear up a little mess I’ll post about tomorrow when I have more energy.

Dinner at the place we got the takeout from. This time a Latin American grilled pork and pineapple. That restaurant is run by the same people who did breakfast. Just a different location.

No rum punch here so I’m trying lime ice tea and lime vodka. Not bad but I don’t think it will be a hit anywhere.

Bedtime soon. Hopefully tomorrow is more relaxing!