I am an adventure seeking wife and mother first! Travel, and endorphins are my best friends. I will try anything once, unless I know
I would be in danger. I have a crazy love of God, running, triathlon, the outdoors, dirt, wine, friends, good Vegan food, Yoga,
animals, happiness, and life! I truly believe the only limits in life are the ones set by ourselves. So get out there and expand the limits!!
~~Only she who attempts the absurd can achieve the impossible.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Una Caminata Magica y Misterio ** A (truly) Magical Mystery Hike**

Punta Mala

We try everyday that we are here to have some sort of experience.  I feel like everyday is a gift to be unwrapped here.  We never quite know what it is going to be, how it will present himself, or when the gift will appear.
Yesterday, we had the great pleasure of taking an unexpected hike with some wonderful friends here.  I got a quick email (luckily before our internet went down) about a Magical Mystery Hike to Punta Mala (Punta Mala means Bad Point or Bad End in case you were wondering) Anyway, we thought, “HOW FUN” and off we went to meet our hiking buddies.  Our gracious “tour guide” (she really isn’t a tour guide, but LOVES to take people out to PM.  We all agreed she could charge Gringos for the tour) is a wonderful expat from California that has lived here in Costa Rica for a few years.  She, along with a gentleman from London, a sweet couple from San Francisco, a beautiful woman from Israel, and Greg and I (Alli made the mistake of NOT wanting to come along with us, which she regretted after our return) made our way down the beach North, walking, about an hour, at low tide.  The things we saw and discovered along the way were truly amazing.  From monkeys to mangroves, shells, crabs, lobsters, HUGE….I am talking gigantic pieces of driftwood, places that were once liquid, molten lava that cooled and had made some incredible art formations in the rock, and outcroppings in the water, that can only be seen at low tide that was lava rock that has lifted from the ocean floor to rise above the water.

We searched for sea glass.  This was one part, I loved.  Looking for this marvelous, hidden little treasure.  I was like a kid at Christmas with the first piece I located.  It rose up out of the sand like a viridescent crown jewel, just waiting for my eyes to see it.  Gorgeous!  I found three pieces.  All different shades of green, and one piece if Amber.  A tiny little Amber seed. 

Once we made it to our destination, that is where the fun started.  We made our way across the lava rock, searching in the tide pools for little fish and creatures that had been washed up in the tide earlier.  We made our way to the edge of the outcropping, to see over the edge.  It litteraly felt like we were standing in the middle of the ocean, and in a way, we were.  Maybe not the middle, but we were out a good ways.  The waves coming in were incredible, and intimidating.  The narrow opening between these two lava formations was getting pummeled with waves.  So hard and enormous, that if there was the slightest slip, you would certainly be meeting your death.  During the full sun, I hear you can see Tiger Sharks in the clear water below where we were standing.  But during the time of day that we went out, late afternoon, the sun was not high enough to see clearly.  I stood there in awe of this ocean.  Quite possibly one of the most powerful forces on this planet.  We moved along the edge and made our way across a little stream, which was actually the tide making its way back in over the rock.  Lot’s of little sea creatures peered up at us, and then quickly retreated to their rocky hideouts, even a little electric blue Pufferfish…..where is Alli we kept saying????

Yellow Pufferfish swimming in the Dragon Pool

Our next stop was our guide’s favorite spot, which she has named The Dragon Pool.  It is a tide pool with an outcropping of lava that extends over your head that look like a dragon.  It has such a likeness, that it makes you feel that when this lava was hot, and flowing, quite possibly this enormous, fire breathing, dragon was sitting there and was turned to stone.  It was a magical place.  Us four girls all climbed into the pool for a little “bonding time” We sat and stared at all of the tiny fish swimming around us, including a frightened little yellow Pufferfish.  I had a hard time getting back out of the pool, it was such an incredible experience.

But at the ocean works, the tide was coming in, and it was getting later in the day.  We climbed out, with one more stop to make. 
There is a place that our “guide” wanted us to climb up onto the rocks for a photo.  This place, perched high above the water was a little frightening (not really) it was right on the edge where the enormous waves were flooding torrents of water over the top.  The others in the group gave a quick, “NO way, are we sitting on that!!” and with that, Greg and I went to make the climb on the slippery rocks to the top, to get a photo.  It was really not as dangerous as it looked.  But we did get SOAKED!!!!  We sat, posing, with the ocean water, hitting the sides, lapping up over the tops of our heads, and laughing like two little kids!!  What a way to end the trip.  

We made the hour walk back down the beach to Esterillos Oeste, on the way back, just the icing on the cake.... I found a Sea Purse.  This, I could hardly believe.  The first trip that we ever made to Costa Rica our wonderful neighbors gave our three kids and I a Sea Purses on the day we left, explaining that these gorgeous, wooden-looking seeds will occasionally wash up on shore here.  They are meant to bring you *Good Luck*, and are quite the treasure.  We fell in love with these “seed pods” and brought them home with us, and still have them.  Last year, I searched everyday for them along the beach.  Scouring along on my runs and walks.  I FINALLY found one…one in the whole 3 weeks we were here.  I felt pretty fortunate.  This time, I told Alli I would search and search and HOPEFULLY find another one, special just for her.  Just as we were coming back, I just happened to look down and there it was, a gorgeous little Sea Purse.  I was so excited to take my tiny treasure back and give it to its new owner, Alli.  She was ecstatic to get the gift, and has now decided she wants to make the hike to Punta Mala.

Little Sea Purse

We made it back just before dark to share a few beverages with our friends.  It was an amazing adventure. One we will not soon forget. 

Today, we are heading to Playa Blanca.

We just tried a new fruta none of us have ever had.  Manzana de Auga, which translates to Water Apple.  Hmmmm, not too sure what I think about it, but when a sweet Tico man comes up with a huge box that he is handing out to everyone, you feel like you should not refuse his kindness.  I did run across the street to the Low Tide to see if anyone in there has had them before.  ??  We cut in to it, and gave it a go.  A nice Policia came in for a drink, shook my hand, and told me they are "fantasico!!"  They have the smell of apples, and roses.  A soft skin, with a wet, juicy, white inside.  A tad bit bitter to me, but Alli sat and ate three of them in a row.  Hope she doesn’t regret that later today.

Manzana de Agua

Hasta Luego y Pura Vida

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Borracho en Costa Rica (Drunk on Costa Rica)

Finally taking a chance to write a little.  Me y mi familia have been in Costa Rica for 5 days now, and are settling in. As always the flight over was uneventful and always seems to take too long, because we are always so anxious to be back.  Being here a few times now, as soon as we are off the flight, we take a big sigh of relief, and quickly make our way through customs. While some are still wandering around wondering where to go, and who to see, we are out the door to our car.  This time, we got into San Jose later, around 7pm, and decided to stay the night.  Wasn’t too thrilled about making the drive over in darkness to the coast.  Driving here is always “interesting” but at night….no way!
We headed to the coast the next morning.  We knew there was a possibility that the new highway might still be under construction.  They are replacing the temporary bridges.  So the old way it was.  I actually don’t mind diving the old way over.  It is longer, but very beautiful.  Big mountains, many coffee farms, lush rain forests and gorgeous scenery.
We made our regular stop in Jaco’ to stock up for our kitchen.  Already the heat seemed unbearable to us.  Always takes us a couple of days to acclimate to this heat after we leave Idaho.
We got into our cabina at Tranquilo, unloaded our groceries, and bags, changed, and headed down to the beach. Gorgeous!

This is where I truly feel myself unwind.  Not that I am especially ever wound-up, but there is something that happens when my feet hit the sand, then the water.  I feel the salty, ocean breeze against my skin, and I melt.  It’s what I explain to people as the “glass of wine” melt.  That feeling you get after drinking a glass of wine.  That relaxed, loosened up, slow, unwinding that takes place.  That’s how I feel when I am here.  That sooooo relaxed feeling, as if I have been tippin’ back a few.  My happy sweet spot.  We spent the rest of the day, walking the beach and soaking up as much Vitamin D as we could take, watching the crazy Macaws flying, and doing their extraordinary, acrobatics in the trees, and having a few Imperials on the beach. 

That night, The Low Tide, of course, and then off to bed with the warm breeze coming through our open windows and the sound of the cicadas, crickets, and other little singing critters, serenading us to sleep.
Every day has been gorgeous, and warm, in the 90’s.  We get up early, to get a walk/run in before the sun gets higher and we can’t. Another thing that takes time to acclimate are my little wintery Idaho feet.  They have been pampered, and pedicured, in slippers, fluffy socks and soft carpet all winter, and that first run on the sand always sends them into rebellion.  It has been amazing running in nothing but shorts and a sports bra.  It feels so liberating after the confines of our long winter.
We were able to catch breakfast this morning at a great little place called No Worries.  Great owners, delicious food, and then took off to spend the day in Jaco’, a little touristy town just 15 minutes north.  It’s a whole different scene there.  We like going in every once in a while, but much prefer the non-turista areas.
 We have all eaten enough fruta since we have been here to kill someone.  I cannot get enough pina (pineapple) it is so juicy, and taste like candy.  I even had to pull off at a stand coming back into Esterillos today to get another.  Can’t wake up without the pina!  This place is a vegetarians dream.

Juicy papaya

We tried to teach Alli a little driving today in our tiny little car.  Of course it is a stick, and that was……an adventure.  I had Greg get in back.  HA! I had to allow her to try.  All of our kids have had their first driving experience in Costa Rica, and Alli HAD to give it a go.  Yah, no…maybe next year!  She does have a couple of years before she can drive in the States.  Needless to say, Greg aged 15 years in the back seat, and came up front with sweat teeming down his face.  I of course, with my little “half drunken” outlook, thought it went ok, and laughed the rest of the way into Esterillos.

Our little hammock loving girl!

Now, I am on a quest to learn or find out how to make Gallo Pinto.  Which is one of the typico dishes of Costa Rica.  I fell in love with it the first time we were here, could eat it by the truckload, had it again this morning for breakfast, and am now determined to make it on my own.
Anyone know? Hopefully I will figure it out in the next few weeks that we are here!
Right now I am off to lie in the hammock on our patio.  We are getting an amazing tropical storm outside.  I wish you could all hear and smell it!

Pura Vida

Greg playing in the outdoor shower

Monday, March 7, 2011

Choose Your Own Adventure

This is always my favorite time of year!  Spring is in the air, the sun is getting warmer, Daylight Savings time is starting, the Groundhog has spoken!!!!
….And we are OUTTA HERE!  
Just when I think I quite possibly can’t take another day of looking out to the gray days, the vacay arrives!!  The next window I will be looking out of is from an airplane landing in San Jose, Costa Rica.  Then we are off to our little slice of Heaven!  We will hop into our teeny, tiny little car and make our way over to Esterillos Oeste for three weeks of blissful sunshine, and sand.

I am finishing my packing today.  Picking and choosing what I will want.  The hardest part is what to wear on the plane.  Every year this is an issue.  I leave here, where there is snow on the ground, a 20 degree chill in the air, to get on the plane where I am always frozen, only knowing when we exit that plane, that sweet, hot, sultry humidity will hit me like honey molding around my body.  I will immediately start to sweat, and forget all about the cold weather at home and will want to start what I always call, “the big peel” Peeling our clothing off, layer by wintery layer.

I cannot wait to be back!  I say it time and time again, but this place changed who I used to be.  Maybe that is why I always love going back.  Each time I loose things I dislike about myself, and bring back only goodness.  The people and the culture teach me different things each time I am there.

I cannot wait to smell that country, where there is always a smell of Sandalwood and Lavender.   Cannot wait to feel the heat.  Cannot wait to just relax, have no schedule, laugh uncontrollably with Greg and Alli about the adventures we always seem to find ourselves in. Can't wait to teach Alli about something new, and allow her to work on her Spanish.  This is my time to re-charge my soul’s battery!!  But for today, I pack, I fuss over airplane attire, I make sure the kiddo has her passport and swimsuits, make sure my house is in order, and I thank God for the opportunity to visit this amazing little country.

 I have learned by now, not to make any plans before we arrive.  People ask all the time what we will be “doing” for 3 weeks.  We never go with a “plan” We are always swingin’ by the seat of our pants, but always have the best time, and find the most amazing things to do.  It is different every day!  Every time we have a plan, they change, so now we make our own adventure as we go along.  It’s like the books I used to read as a kid.  Choose Your Own Adventure…. do we turn right or turn left??  Each way will be incredible and new, and will give us the most excellent memories.
So off we go…wonder what turns we will take along the way??

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Running...cheaper than therapy!

Happy to say, we survived our first week of The Little Mermaid, and Alli’s gymnastics meet.  Man, those kids work so hard, and the show has been amazing!!
This week, we are still in “show mode” AND trying to gather our stuff for our trip.
I keep getting up and opening my blinds to all of this snow,  and think….a few more days.  Love the snow, not the cold…well, the bitter cold.
The weather is Costa Rica has been steamy.  95 degrees everyday.  Ahh, that’s what I am talking about.  That is my kind of weather report.
I always get giddy this time of year, knowing we are going back to our home away from home.  Biggest thing, I CANNOT wait to be running on the beach.  I LOVE running on the beach.  It is one of those simple pleasures in my life. I get up early, and walk onto the beach…the sand squeezes between my toes, the waves make a beautiful music in my ears, the macaws sing in their squawky voices, cheering me on along the way, the monkeys looking at me from their homes perched in the trees, the sun is rising, the steam is coming out of the rain forests, and I am off.  Running along these beaches for mile after mile where I never see another soul.  It is magical. 
My feet will be sore from the sand the first few days. But I will love it.  My eyes will sting with sweat, and ocean water, but it will make me smile.  After two days, I will be hot and sweaty, and I will laugh thinking about how cold I have been.  I will most certainly fall and be rolled to the ocean floor catching my first wave on my surfboard, but will be joyful!  This place for me is my Heaven.  I look forward to going every year.  I need to go every year, just like I need to run, it’s my drug.  It’s my therapy.  And after this long, cold, Idaho winter, I am ready for 3 weeks of therapy in Paradise!