Food, Photos and Travel

Friday, April 18, 2008

Long haired hippy

Quentin is in serious need of a hair cut.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Costa Rica- Manuel Antonio

Part 2

On our fourth day we traveled from Monteverde to Manuel Antonio, which is a small, touristy beach town on the central Pacific coast. The drive was long (about 5 hours), but we were rewarded with breathtaking views around every corner. Along the way, our driver stopped to show us some of the local vegetation, including cashew trees (who knew they grew from small, peppery tasting fruits?).

We also stopped to see some Crocodiles, basking in the hot sun:

In Manuel Antonio we stayed at a great little budget hotel called the Hotel Vela Bar. Our rooms ranged from $45-55 per night, and though they weren't anything spectacular they were clean, and the
Add Image location was perfect (right in town within walking distance to the national park and the beach). My room, for $55 per night, had a small living room area, a separate bedroom and a private patio which I shared with the monkeys:

On our first full day in Manuel Antonio, we went Waterfall Repelling. This was, quite literally, one of the best days I've ever had. It started early in the morning, with a brief drive outside of city. Here we left our comfortable van for the back of a 4x4 pick-up truck. The drive to the waterfall was about 45 minutes into the jungle down a pretty bumpy dirt road. Along the way, our guide picked various plants and fruits that any perfumer would be envious of, including lemongrass, cloves, citronella, cinnamon, and ylang-ylang. It is utterly amazing the sheer number of botanicals to be found in that country.

When we arrived at the repelling "facility" we were fed a gorgeous breakfast of fresh fruits, coffee and pancakes and I was given a complimentary hair braiding. Then we donned our repelling gear and set out across a bridge straight out of Indiana Jones:

(I only took my son's small point and shoot for this excursion, so excuse the crappy photos)

At the other side, we spent a few minutes swimming before getting down to business. After a quick lesson on the "practice waterfall", THIS is what we discovered we would be repelling down (a 150ft waterfall):

It was a little scary, to say the least, but once I got going down, it was absolutely thrilling. It was the dry season, so the waterfall wasn't flowing as fast as I would have liked, but it was exciting nonetheless.

Here's Jen and Tina on their way down:

After repelling, we got to relax for a bit under another waterfall, before heading back:

That evening, I got to watch (and photograph) the sunset from Manuel Antonio beach:

The following day, Jen and I went on a full day white water rafting tour. The scenery was beautiful, however, after experiencing class 4-5 rapids in Bali, the class 2-3 rapids were a bit wimpy. Jen and I were a little bored, so we resorted to telling our rafting guide wild tales of my crocodile wrestling skills (I'm quite an accomplished crocodile wrestler, in case you didn't know).

On our final day in Costa Rica, it was time to move on to the city of Alajuela, so we could be a little closer to the airport. On our way, we stopped at the Old Bridge over the Colorado River, for bungee jumping (see the videos below). Of the three of us, I was the only one who ended up doing it (twice!). It was one of the most thrilling experiences of my life. My back is still angry with me. You've seen the video, but here is the bridge I jumped from:

I loved every minute of Costa Rica, and plan on going back there as soon as I have the chance. My husband and son would both love it. Whether you are a backpacker, on a honeymoon, with your family, or are looking to retire to somewhere warm and tropical, I would highly recommend it.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Costa Rica

Part 1: Monteverde

It's been a week since I've returned home from Costa Rica, and I'm finally starting to get back into my normal routine. I always seem to go through a bit of a depression period when I return home from traveling, but I've learned how to manage it and work through it.

I don't even know where to begin in describing Costa Rica. As my friend Jenn said "I've been to some pretty cool places, but none have pulled on my heart as much as Costa Rica", and I couldn't agree with her more. It is a stunningly beautiful country, with mountains and beaches, friendly and happy people, great seafood, perfect weather, and lots of adventure. I can see why so many expats and retirees make it their home.
Our first three days were spent in the cloud forest of Monteverde. I've spent some time in a cloud forest in Ecuador, and the environment was very similar. We stayed at a fantastic little lodge called the Arco Iris. The rooms range in price from $25 for a small budget room to $140 for a cabin large enough to fit 4. Everything is made from gorgeous teak wood, and there are lovely little Costa Rican carvings dotting the grounds. The lodge is in an excellent location, in the town of Santa Elena, but it feels like it is away from it all. On our last evening there we were treated to this:

In Monteverde there are several companies offering "Canopy Tours", or what we Americans would call "zip lines". Each person wears a harness and zips from tree top to tree top through a series of cables. At the end of the course, there's a huge tarzan swing, where leap from a 15 meter high (at least) platform and swing out into the jungle. Our first day there, we went to Selvatura Park. Jen and I enjoyed it so much we went back a second day to 100% Aventura for another round.

Miss Jennifer on the zip line (look at how long and high it is!)

Me (photo taken by the aforementioned Miss Jennifer):

The views in Monteverde are nothing short of spectacular.

On our way to the beach:

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Bungee Jumping in Costa Rica


I even went back a second time:

A full trip report is coming soon!