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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Costa Rica Part 1

If you don’t know then shame on you LOL
only joking but seriously if you don’t know then Hendrik and I went on a week long road trip vacation to Costa Rica. 
We had 2 completely different vacations in a week’s time since we wanted to experience all that Costa Rica had to offer.
Let me preface this by saying that the week leading up to vacation was HORRIBLE!  I was in school, he was working and finishing up jobs and lining everyone out for the week he was going to be gone, not  to mention it was the first week of the month so that meant closing out February and opening March.  YIKES!  I’m pretty sure I was at work BY 7 each morning and 3 days I didn’t even break for lunch….there literally wasn’t enough hours in the day.  I’m such an organization freak that I was wound tighter than a 8 12 day clock…as Elizabeth would say.  I didn’t pack until 5 that morning. 
Anyways Friday night after we got off work I made it to MV around 8 and we were on the road to Dallas.  By the time we got gas, stopped by our parent’s houses and were in Dallas at the Marriott it was close to 11:30.  We checked in, got our parking pass for the week, and hit the hay to get a few hours of shut eye before our 3:15 AM wakeup call.

Day 1- Saturday March 8th

Our flight left around 6:30 from DFW to Charlotte, North Carolina…don’t ask I have no clue why there aren’t direct flights or at least connections more southern than where we started but either way we loved the Charlotte airport.  They had a ton of restaurants, it was easy to maneuver, and had all these potted trees and white rocking chairs that travelers could rock in while waiting for their flights.  It was a huge Southern front porch. LOL  We had Genghis Grill for lunch then hopped on our 5 hour flight to San Jose, Costa Rica.  We arrived in San Jose around 2:45, got our luggage, and were escorted to the rental car office about 1 mile away.  I had never booked a rental car before and man after these shenanigans I’m not sure I ever will again…it was a HUGE ordeal.  Long story short after 3 rental offices, $1500, 5 hours, a ton of tension, and lots of F bombs we were on our way to the rainforest with our 4X4 Montero and a GPS!  As soon as we left the rental office we stopped at a very local dive on the side of the alley type streets and had a local Costa Rican dinner for about $10 total. 

I was praying on this drive that the rest of our vacation wouldn’t be as stressful.  With this incident on top of the week I had already had my little self wouldn’t have been able to take any more before having a complete breakdown.  After driving on paved and unpaved roads, all Spanish signs, and hair pin turns we finally arrived at the Rio Celeste Hideaway Resort at 11PM.  About an hour before we arrived Hendrik and I completely quit speaking…we were tired, aggravated with each other and the situation and just really ready to arrive at our destination.  Check in was painless and we were escorted to our private bungalow.  As soon as we walked in and dropped our bags I headed to the bathroom to take a quick shower and hit the hay but not before Hendrik sweetly told me I make him more stressed than a week of him running his own business ;) after that all the tension of the day dissipated and we were able finally relax and go back to our normal selves.  



Day 2- Sunday March 9th

After our long work week and long travel days we were super exhausted and slept in until 10 that morning.  A plus to traveling to Costa Rica is it on the top of Central America and still in our Texas time zone so no jet lag!  After we woke up we decided that we were going to hike we got out our tennis shoes and headed to breakfast.  This was the first time seeing our resort in the day light hours and it was so pretty.  The pathways were lined with vegetation and all sorts of tropical flowers and the pool and entry looked just like the pictures I’d seen on the internet.  We were seated at our breakfast table which sort of became “our table” over the next few mornings and the waiter presented us with a choice of a traditional American breakfast with eggs, bacon and such or we could chose a traditional Costa Rican breakfast.  We both chose Costa Rican…when in Rome!  It was so good and different.  We both got fried eggs, a piece of cheese, Costa Rican sausage (which is sort of like our hot dog) and rice with black beans and cilantro mixed in.  It never occurred to me to spice up dry rice with things but I will definitely be using this recipe next time I make a Mexican dish.

Open air dining area

Costa Rican breakfast


before our hike
After breakfast we asked the front desk clerk how far the national park was and she said just walk out the drive way, take a left and it was 1.5 KM down the road.  Ok easy enough we decided instead of driving we would just go ahead and start on our hike and walk to the park.  WRONG answer.  We walked 2 KM to where we “thought” we needed to be then decided we better walk back the same way and get the car seeing we weren’t really sure where the park was.  The directions seemed easy enough but there are Rio Celeste signs everywhere all meaning different things so we really had no idea where to go.  After hiking back to the car and I mean hiking because we were on unpaved roads with hills that were, I’d say, sloped more than 55 degrees with huge rocks as ground cover we got in the car and headed to find the park.  We drove past the detour we had previously made and there it was easy peasy. 

my honey when we were just starting out

Rio Celeste

after our wrong turn

our view the entire first 3 days in Costa Rica

We checked in at the park office paid $20 and we were off.  Hiking the Rio Celeste National Park was so beautiful and even though it was a really REALLY tough few hours physically it was so rewarding and a great way to kick off our vacation.  We hiked a total of 6 KM inside the park and saw a big, beautiful waterfall, a blue lagoon, and visited a lookout point.  We hiked back through the mud since it was raining pretty good and learned quickly that all is fun when you are going downhill but it’s a pain to then remember in Costa Rica what goes down must come back up. LOL  It was a running joke with us the remainder of the trip.  You weren’t supposed to get into the water areas in the park so after  our hike we hurried back to the hotel to change into our suits and go down the hill from the resort to swim in the Rio Celeste. 

The water was pretty chilly but we sucked it up and even got cut feet on sharp slimy rocks all for the sake of adventure!  We returned back  to chill in the hot tub to warm our toes after that chilly water then to our bungalow for a nap before we dressed for dinner.  We had enough driving for a while and since our hotel was so nice we decided to eat dinner in the hotel restaurant.  The hotel had a professional chef on hand and our food was really good.  It was expensive for the overall feeling we had about the food but we enjoyed dinner non the less.  After dinner we went to the community area of the hotel and played several games of chess.  We both know how to play and don’t have a board at home so we took full advantage of the board the entire 3 nights we were at Rio Celeste.  I won the first game easily which only made Hendrik want to play more games.  We played 3 games total our first night with a 1-2 final tally (Hendrik winning).  On our way back to our bungalow Hendrik insists we get a nice board for mind challenging games at home!

tuna tartar

fish ceviche


a great mind
Day 3- Monday March 10th

We woke up at our normal time on Monday and headed over for our Costa Rican breakfast.  I had seen on the internet during my research that there were hanging bridges in the area so I asked the concierge where and how long it would take to get to them.  She said it was about 40 KM away and wrote down the name on the piece of paper for us.  We headed out and had to stop at a gas station to get the name of the actual town they were in.  We plugged it in to our best friend , the GPS, and we were off.  The really sucky thing is that it was literally only 4 miles away as the bird flies but once you throw in the Costa Rican terrain it ended up being about 50 miles away and a 2 hour drive down unpaved roads.  The plus to this is that we saw so much of real Costa Rican life, got to check out huge pineapple fields, snag an orange off a tree, and break in to some poor soul’s pasture to nab two very green bananas.  We arrived in the town of Bijugua and paid $17 each for the easy hike which contained a total of 3 hanging bridges.  Compared to the day before this hike was super easy.  It was supposed to take people around 2 hours and we completed it in 45 minutes.  After our hike we stopped in at the restaurant on the grounds to get a coke and enjoy the view.  We still had a good portion of the afternoon left so we headed back past our turn to the hotel and into a small town to explore and maybe find a restaurant to eat at later for dinner. We didn't find a restaurant but we saw the daily lives of the people of that town and also had a good view of the nearby volcano.  Once we had seen all there was to see of the small town we headed back to the hotel to swim in the pool and play a bit of chess before dinner.  Since the town was small we didn't find a place for dinner so we had dinner at the hotel again.  I had a really creamy pesto dish and Hendrik had steak.  We left for our room stuffed.
Pineapple fields

snagging a fresh orange that was so juicy and good

grabbing some bananas

super happy after our easy hike

we love our tractors and our Ag

volcano ahead....way in the distance

loved this creamy pesto and pasta dish

beef...its what's for Hendrik's dinner

Stay tuned for our next portion of our Costa Rican trip

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