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 Five: August 19, 2014

Not many pictures today – today is the day Michael had to fly home to go back to work :(

Up all the stairs – the elevator is still broken and there is no sign that anyone is fixing it – or will ever fix it.

We had breakfast here at Playas del Coco, then goofed around for a bit.  We did a survey of the pool area.  Very nice landscaping!

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The forgotten T-shirt from our ATV trip.

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map-to-airportAfter a bit, Michael packed up his backpack (except for the T-shirt, above) and we headed back to Liberia for the Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport.

We got there in fairly good time.  Good thing – there were no check-in machines so Michael had to stand in line with his carry-on backpack after he paid his departure tax.

liberia-airport-2The airport was redone a few years ago and is so much nicer than the one at San José, Aeropuerto Internacional Juan Santamaría, where we were 3 years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After being sure he made it through Security and up the stairs to his flight, we got some coffee to go and headed “home”.  On the way, we stopped at the pharmacy for some cortisone cream.  The pharmacist there had helped him with an eye infection and she was helpful again.

After that, the Alto Mercado for groceries and a dip in our pool.

Day Four, Montego Bay, Jamaica – November 20

Jamaica

We were up fairly early this morning and watched the ship make good use of its azipods to dock next to the Star Taurus, a crude oil tanker.

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After that was successful, we went to the Garden Cafe for breakfast.

About 10:30, we went down to 4 and down the gangplank to check out a bit of Jamaica.  We were at the regular cargo pier (#2), so we took a shuttle over to the cruise terminal.

This terminal was several tacky shops but Tom got some postcards and I got a little bag for carrying my Kindle on deck.  He looked at watches in The Royal Store but didn’t buy anything.  They gave us a free Jamaica keychain for looking.  Whoopee!

We took the shuttle back and made good use of most of the other folks being on tours and such.  We had a hot tub to ourselves for over half an hour.

In a bit, a couple folks joined us.  One was a veterinarian and Tom told her about my Cushing’s experiences.  After about 45 minutes I got out to read for a while.  Then in the pool – salt water!  Who knew?

Tom thought I should go over and talk to the veterinarian but I said I was on vacation, not here to “talk shop” unless I found that Cushie-looking woman again.

We stopped by the Great Outdoors and had some coffee.  A yellow butterfly flew by but didn’t stop at our table.  It wasn’t as big as Alice’s butterfly, but I wondered all the same… How does a tiny thing like that fly up to the 12th deck of a ship?

I’ve been thinking a lot about Alice on this trip.  She would have loved this cruise, especially the Sea Days.  Looking all around at the vastness of the ocean, the beautiful clouds, sunsets, the moon.  I know her soul is out there, somewhere, in one of these beautiful things that God has created.

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Great Outdoors

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Great Outdoors

Back in our cabin, it was fun watching people hustle back to make the 3:30 all-aboard.  I got some shots of the ship just sliding out from the dock, parallel to it, instead of backing into the Star Taurus.  The folks on board that ship looked happy that we didn’t hit them, too.

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We bid a fond adieu to Montego Bay and head off into the sunset.

We tried the Garden Cafe for dinner tonight, too.  Pretty good – both plates worth!

The usual after-dinner deck stroll, then back to the cabin.  I was asleep by 9:00PM…and up at midnight doing my website chores and blog-writing.

We didn’t go to the show again.

Tonight’s towel animal was a lobster.

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Today’s Stats:

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Today’s Forecast:  Mostly Sunny 85F/30C

Sunrise: 6:22 am

Sunset: 5:34 pm

Arrival: 8:00 am

All Aboard: 3:30 pm

Traveling to New Orleans

New Orleans

For the first time ever, I got most of my packing done the night before.  I still work up about 4:00 am, with my mind racing, thinking about what needed to be done.

We got to the airport in record time.  Our flight was at 11:45 and we were there by 9:45 am.  Another first.

We found a table with a very interesting woman from Indianapolis on her way to Boston and chatted a bit, had some coffee and breakfast-y stuff.  Read a little, just relaxed.

Then I heard the final boarding call for our flight.  I hadn’t heard any of the others.  Raced over the gate and were the last ones on.  A poor guy waiting in stand-by almost made it on.

It was a pretty uneventful flight.  There weren’t even any events like coffee or peanuts :(

Even though we couldn’t carryon our carryons due to being last on the plane with the overhead bins being full, you’d think that they’d come off first on the carrousel but no.  I don’t know how last on became close to last off.

We got the shuttle bus Route #2 and headed for our home for the next few days.

The Wyndham Avenue Plaza Resort was the first stop! Their website says:

New Orleans, Louisiana is one of the prime vacation destinations in the world with a host of fun attractions, unforgettable special events like Mardi Gras, and epic nightlife complete with live jazz and blues seven days a week. Located in the historic Garden District, Avenue Plaza Resort is only minutes away from some of the most exciting urban districts, including the famous French Quarter, hip Magazine Street, scenic Jackson Square and St. Charles Avenue lined with grand architecture.

Just outside the door to these charming vacation suites you can easily catch the convenient New Orleans trolley line that travels straight to Canal Street and the French Quarter in just minutes and out to the fashionable Uptown district near Tulane University and Loyola University. You can also stroll through the Garden District to experience a real taste of the South, with the beautiful homes and historic landmarks that characterize this one-of-a-kind neighborhood.

We were greeted right off the shuttle by a most helpful gentleman who reminded us of some of the above and got us in to the registration desk.

After checkin, we got to our studio apartment, which is bigger than our first apartment was.  There’s a view of the pool out back, a courtyard and the “Ashley House”, which was built above ground. Despite being built in the mid 1800s Ashley House and its entire historic memorabilia survived the massive flood waters that devastated New Orleans.

It once housed prisoners of the Civil War, and is reputedly haunted by an ethereal woman in the parlor, a phantom pianist, and footsteps sounding in unoccupied parts of the house. Numerous “cold spots”, unusual electrical disturbances, and doors that are operated by unseen forces have been reported.

Though the ghosts in residence claim it was they who held the flood waters at bay, salvation was more likely due to the original designers building the property above ground because the common superstition of the day was that feared diseases such as malaria and yellow fever originate from the ground!

We’ll actually have to go check that out!

trollyAfter we got settled, we headed out four our first streetcar trip to Canal Street.  We got off at the end of the line, walked around a bit, then got something to eat at a Marriott.  Back on the streetcar for our new home.

I did a bit of work while Tom went out junk-food shopping.

Major nap, then shower, then bedtime.

We’re staying in the Garden District.  From http://www.neworleansonline.com/tools/neighborhoodguide/uptown.html

The Garden District is a dynamic community grounded in a strong sense of tradition. Some of its homes are still known by the names of the families that built them over a century ago, and official flags designating Mardi Gras Royalty are a common sight here during Carnival season.

Laid out in 1806 by Barthelemy Lafon as an open, semi-urban system of interrelated parks with basins, fountains and canals, the Garden District was “one of the earliest expressions of the Greek Revival to appear in New Orleans,” according to noted architect, the late Samuel Wilson, Jr. The streets still bear the names of the nine muses of Greek Mythology, and many of the mid-19th century Greek Revival and Italianate homes built in this classical setting remain.

Today stroll under the oaks of Coliseum Square or any of the smaller parks in the Garden District and you are likely to find locals playing with their dogs or reading on the grass. Walk down Magazine Street, the neighborhood’s commercial center, and feel the energy as antique shops give way to contemporary design studios, offbeat clothing stores, restaurants, and much more. Visitors can even find an old-world barber shop, operated by Irish barber Aidan Gill, who offers Guinness and whiskey with his hot towel shaves.

Dubbed the “Garden District” for its capacious showy gardens, this New Orleans Neighborhood is noted for its astounding scenery-just one of its numerous attractions. Visitors are amazed by the elegant homes and the stylish setting that lends itself to a very relaxing and enjoyable experience for all.

Winding Down…

I haven’t made very many blog posts this time around because we haven’t done much except read, work, nap and a few dips into the pool.

Yesterday, we went out on a catamaran, though – the Cool Runnings III.

They picked us up at 8:15 am.  We were on time for once, but still the third of 3 couples going from The Crane.  We didn’t make any more pickups.  WooHoo!

So, we set off from the Careenage. This is an inlet into Bridgetown where several ships, boats and catamarans make berth. The “bridge” in Bridgetown is over the Careenage. There are two bridges now. The original is now a foot bridge with the newer, wider one for vehicles.

On any of these ships, they have an open bar and start off with yummy banana bread for a morning snack. After they clear the Careenage, they put up the sails and we’re off.

Tom on mobile – of course!

Our first stop of the morning was Payne’s Bay where Tom swam with the giant sea turtles.  A woman taking pictures was talking kind of snootily to someone that “In Hawaii they gave them flippers…”  I barged in and told her that they couldn’t have flippers at this stop because of the turtles but they would have them at the next.  “So?!?”  I told her the turtles were an endangered species and didn’t like being kicked in the head with flippers.  Sheesh!

Turtle at Payne’s Bay, Barbados

The second stop was Folkstone Marine Park. All these ships stop there because it’s home to a sunken barge. This creates a home for lots of marine life. I’m not very good at recognizing fish but I always know when I see a school of sergeant major fish.

School of fish, taken from the deck of Cool Runnings III

Our last stop was a swimming stop off Alley’s beach. During this stop, we had a typical Bajan tourist lunch. The main dishes in this are flying fish, barbecue chicken, peas’n’rice, green salad, potato salad, a lo-mein sort of dish and rolls. Sometimes a sweet coleslaw, macaroni pie or beef stew is added but not today. Today’s dessert was carrot cake with cream cheese. Just like at home!

I didn’t get in the water this time but that’s ok – I just love being on the boat.

Something new – just as we got back to the Careenage, the captain/crew started playing this and most everyone danced their way into port.  What fun!

Back home and into the pool.

The next post will be the one where I list what I’ve been reading on this trip.  It will be fewer books since I’ve been working more than usual…

They’re Baaack

It was Wednesday and we had breakfast at L’Azure, one of the restaurants here at The Crane.  I told Tom I couldn’t take much more of staying in the penthouse.  I felt like it was too big, I wasn’t really here, that it was isolating being so far away from everything, that I felt like I was watching the pool area on a TV.

So, after breakfast, we packed our stuff and moved to our “home” – 211.  It just feels so right to be here.

There was no one in 211B so the connecting door was left open.  We actually own this apartment, too, but usually put it in the rental pool.

The year that my dear friend, Sue (SuziQ to Cushies), was here, she stayed in this apartment and used the garden a lot to think about things.  She was going to come back with us the next year, too, but she died first :(  I still miss her so much.  I’m writing this in “Sue’s garden” and remembering how special she was.

So, we’ve been going about our daily business, working mostly, a bit of reading, time by the little pool, a few naps scattered here and there…

Life is good.

They’re Baaack!

It was Wednesday and we had breakfast at L’Azure, one of the restaurants here at The Crane.  I told Tom I couldn’t take much more of staying in the penthouse.  I felt like it was too big, I wasn’t really here, that it was isolating being so far away from everything, that I felt like I was watching the pool area on a TV.

So, after breakfast, we packed our stuff and moved to our “home” – 211.  It just feels so right to be here.

There was no one in 211B so the connecting door was left open.  We actually own this apartment, too, but usually put it in the rental pool.

The year that my dear friend, Sue (SuziQ to Cushies), was here, she stayed in this apartment and used the garden a lot to think about things.  She was going to come back with us the next year, too, but she died first :(  I still miss her so much.  I’m writing this in “Sue’s garden” and remembering how special she was.

Back-door

So, we’ve been going about our daily business, working mostly, a bit of reading, time by the little pool, a few naps scattered here and there…

Life is good.