Monday, February 12, 2007

Showing admirable restraint...

...I've only posted about ten percent of the photos we've taken so far.


As you know, my sister Lisa and her husband Scott were due in at a very reasonable afternoon hour last Monday, but missed their connection and in fact didn't make it all the way here to my house until close to midnight.

We were planning to leave for the beach the following morning, but opted to lie around the house instead. While we were lolling about we heard this little bird crash into the window, so we spent some time holding it gently while it recombobulated itself.

Other than that, most of Tuesday looked pretty much like this:

By Wednesday we felt up to the trip and set out for the beach. Any trip that relies even partially on street signs like this is bound to be a good one:

Self portrait by Lisa, who spent pretty much the entire trip sitting between the girls:

This is the northernmost part of the gulf that separates the Nicoya Peninsula from the mainland of Costa Rica. There used to be a ferry here, but now there's a bridge. I was expecting quite a long one, since the ferry used to take half an hour or more but, as bridges go, it's actually not one that I would pay any particular attention to in the States. Still, it's presumably Costa Rica's longest bridge (2400 feet according to my own measurements on Google Earth), and it is also the single point in the country that my father in law yearns to see with his own eyes. (He will eventually, but with any luck it will be Alex who makes the trip.)

By the time we got that far, we'd been on the road for nearly four hours, it was well past noon, and were going to be over an hour late meeting Alex at the designated gas station. When I saw the Burger King signs, I knew what had to be done. I was surprised to find that the Burger King wasn't so much built by the side of the road as it was parked there; still, they had a full standard menu and clean bathrooms, so we were in no mood to complain.

We got to the gas station an hour and a half late, but didn't find Alex there. The guy in the office hadn't seen him, so we waited around for 20 minutes or so then left a note for Alex and headed off in the direction he would be coming from. Fortunately, he was running even later than we were, and we met up with him 15 minutes down the road.

We redistributed baggage and passengers, and Scott kindly agreed to drive Lisa and the girls in the Montero while Alex and I continued on in the red car for the last 20 miles of dusty, hole-y gravel washboard road.

We stopped to let the minnows nibble Julia's toes (Robin's toes were reluctant to participate and the grownups opted to keep their shoes on.)

This. This was done on purpose. It ended well, but I'd be lying if I said some of us didn't have second thoughts at some point near the middle.

Happy to be there.

Just in time for sunset!

These little cuties (they're small) were clinging to the ceiling of the open-air restaurant, and chirped occasionally while we had our dinner. Unfortunately, the geckos, some stray dogs and a couple of cows constituted the entirety of the wildlife for the evening. We did go out to the beach after dark to look for the nesting turtles that this beach is famous for, but found not a one.

After breakfast and a morning romp on the beach, we headed for our next stop. Fortunately, the extent of our car troubles for the trip consisted of having the dirt road shake the bolts right out of the roof rack on the Montero. We stopped to buy some new ones and all was well.

Back over the bridge...

We stopped to enjoy our first real glimpse of Lake Arenal, which was built in the 70s. The Costa Rican government bought out the valley and dammed it up to create the 20-mile long lake for the hydroelectric project that now provides most of the country's electrical power. There are underwater ghost villages at the bottom of the lake!

It was full dark by the time we got to Arenal Volcano. We did see one glowing lava flow while we were still on the road, but it was clouded over by the time we got to our hotel. Fortunately, it was beautiful and clear the next morning. (Alex missed this part, because he headed back to the coast to return to his survey project.)

After breakfast and a dip in the pool for the girls, we packed up and drove to the hot springs that Alex and I went to once when he was down for a visit, and which is now a permanent part of the Quilt Retreat itinerary.

The girls are both high-order wimps when it comes to warm bath water, but kept right up with all the grownups when it came to lounging around in the hot springs, including the hottest pools (41 C / 105 F). Go figure.

Then we drove home. Lisa was taking pictures out the window of the moving car, and we later discovered cows in pretty much every picture.

We stopped for a few minutes to see the topiary bushes at the park in Zarcero and made it down to the main highway just before dark.


Julie February 12, 2007 9:36 PM  

I think my blood pressure (already pretty low) dropped several points just looking at those pictures.

Also fantastic are the girls' beaming faces in the presence of their Auntie.

meredith February 13, 2007 1:12 AM  

You just sold me on Costa Rica, what a beautiful place, I'm on my way......

Jennifer February 13, 2007 3:20 AM  

Ditto what Meredith said! Your pictures are beautiful. They all look like post cards. And your girls are beautiful too. And happy!

Dad February 13, 2007 5:59 AM  

Julie, Meredith, and Jennifer have it right on all points.

What a joy to see our two daughters and their families having such a great time together! (That's unusual, but ONLY because of the distance.)

Question: How do you "park" a Burger King? Is it really a trailer? Is it nailed down, or can they cart it around to follow the tourists?

Jennifer February 13, 2007 9:49 AM  

I have no idea, just that all the operative parts - the kitchen and the cash register - were inside what was clearly a truck. The person who took our order had a computer and everything, but she was sitting in the passenger seat, leaning out the window to speak with us.

The bathrooms and the roof over the open-air seating area were permanent, so I'm not sure just what the point is, but there you have it.

The Teacher February 15, 2007 10:07 PM  

Gorgeous pictures...I especially love the silhouette one, the fence one and the minnow nibble one. :D

Anonymous November 25, 2007 12:47 AM  

Never been south of the border, but since the housemate is un Colombiano maybe it would make sense to retire to Costa Rica in another 20 years or so......

- oddjob

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