I received the greatest gift of a full week (Dec.26, 2008 – Jan 2, 2009)with my wonderful daughter Lia, her fiancé Brian and of course their dog Piglet (so Ruby got a great gift too!)
* click on any of the pictures below or elsewhere in the blog to see a larger version
I rented a car for their visit and picked them on on Dec. 26th, Boxing Day for we Canadians, and they all arrived at the San Jose airport (near Alajuela on the map below)
right on time and were out in my arms in 20 minutes! A 2 hour drive West on the Pan American highway and we were at the Costa Rica Yacht Club (CRYC) in Puntarenas and soon had them all aboard the good ship Learnativity, starting to adjust to the heat and humidity, a major change from the cold that was gripping most of the USA and Canada it seems. Here it is about 85-95F during the day and humidity runs between 60-75%. Not very winter like but I’m loving it!
We spent the next day just hanging out on the boat, introduced them to my dear friends from back in our time together at marina Barillas in El Salvador, Kelly and Phil aboard Samadhi V and we all went to explore and eat in the local town of Puntarenas.
Lia and Brian and Piglet have stayed with me aboard Learnativity before, but never been out sailing so they wanted to try that out and so bright and early the next morning we cast off at high tide so we had enough water underneath us to get out of the river estuary. We ran aground a few times but powered through the mud and soon we were motor sailing (not much wind) south into the beautiful Gulf of Nicoya. We headed down to Bahia Ballena on the south west tip of the entrance. This turned out to be a great spot that we had almost to ourselves and Lia and Brian quickly mastered the art of anchoring and we were set for a day of swimming, snorkeling and exploring ashore.
We visited the small little fishing dock and got there just in time to see them unloading all the dorado (tuna family). The one cafe/bar/restaurant was closed so we went over to the hotel on the beach a few hundred meters away and found a great spot for a lunch outside.
The beach was very shallow so we had to pull the dingy a long way up and without the aid of the yet uninstalled dingy wheels so we got a bit of a workout before lunch and after. Then it was back to the boat and into the water for a refreshing swim.
New day requires a new view so we pulled up the anchor and headed north to another great anchorage between Isla Tolinga and Isla Alcatraz and found a fabulous beach that we took the dingy over to and where Piglet and Ruby had a total blast chasing each other and the crashing surf. Another day, another anchorage so we were off to Isla Muertos and had quite the adventure when we went ashore to find the Bahia Luminosa resort. We actually found the resort fine but it had been sold 5 months ago and they were just waiting for the new owners to come in and apparently put in new condos.
Well, Wayne took the wrong fork in the road and we ended up having a very energetic and scenic walking tour of the local hillside. BUT, check out the great views we got!
But once we found the right road, a pickup truck stopped and gave us a ride into town and we had a great lunch at this little cafe where “Ray” the owner, cook, VERY proudly showed us the 3 new cabinas he had just built. The FIRST in town (population about 6)
One more day, one more anchorage so we headed up to Isla San Lucas to check out a wreck that was in one of the bays and found a floating restaurant for lunch. No menus, no problem, we just ordered the daily special of fresh cooked camerones (shrimp) but forgot to ask the price! Let’s just say it was a very delicious and very expensive lunch!
But enough fun in the sun, time to head back to CRYC as it was New Years Eve! We got back together with Phil and Kelly who had just picked up their two super fun boys, Alexander and Nicholas, and were treated to not only their great company but a great gourmet treat from the talented chef’s Phil and Kelly. We did our best to stay up to ring in the new year, but we cruisers are used to early to bed and early to rise so we barely made it.
Wanting to get the New Year off to a fun start we piled all 5 adults, two boys and two dogs into a van we had rented (thanks to Kelly!) and we were off for a very scenic drive around Lake Arenal. (see map above) We stopped for lunch and realized how different the weather was inland and at higher elevations and then it was on to the bit event of the day; zip line tour!
For those not familiar with this, it involves steel cables that are stretched over canyons and canopies of the rain forest and you slide down them while hanging from a small pulley connected to a climbing harness you are wearing. In our case we had 8 different cables, two of which were over 2000m long so you REALLY get moving, up to 45MPH at some points along the way.
But the most fun was yet to come. It was raining and misty (not called a cloud/rain forest for nothing you know!) and so as we were zipping along so quickly, the pulley was providing a constant refreshing spray of all the water on the cable……..
What a BLAST and SO much fun to share this as a group.
Here is me, thanks to Kelly’s shot, zipping in from the last run. For more great photos and write up on all this AND a great video that will help you life the fun of zip line tours through the eyes of Alexander, be sure to check out the excellent blog that Kelly and Phil (and boys) keep up at http://www.samadhiv.org/ Worth checking in there from time to time in the future as well as looking back a bit to get a glimpse of what the cruising life is all about!
Believe it or not, this was not even the best part of the day yet! We no sooner got cleaned up, (took awhile) than we were treated to what is apparently a very rare showing of the Arenal volcano erupting and we had front row seats from up on the platform of the zip line tour. Now THAT is how to start a New Year off in style!!
And we never let up. Thanks to Kelly’s great sleuthing, phoning and Emailing, she found us a fantastic hotel/B&B/farm called Finca Luna Nueva to stay at and so we awoke to a gorgeous day overlooking the rainforest and greeted by the many birds in the area. This is a fully working farm where they are growing indigenous plants from the rain forest and jungle and other parts of Central America and helping local farmers to introduce more of these plants into their diets and learn the secrets of bio diversity, sustainability and so much more. The owner took us on a two hour tour of may parts of the farm and we learned and tasted a LOT along the way.
But it was time to go and get Lia, Brian and Piglet off to the airport so we headed back towards San Jose in the van, got them there in plenty of time and then the rest of us continued on to the PriceSmart (Costco clone) near the airport to do a round of shopping for provisions for our respective boats and upcoming sailing trips. We got back to CRYC late that night, exhausted but with smiles we just couldn’t stop.
Hope all of you reading this have 2009 off to a great start as well.
Thanks Lia, Brian and Piglet for helping to get 2009 off to SUCH a great start and for all the fun memories.
Thanks Kelly, Phil, Alexander and Nicholas for making this such a fun group experience.
2009 is already a year to remember!