Friday, February 29, 2008

Wow! What a Month! Trips, Chats, and just plain Fun!

More pictures at the bottom of the screen, scroll down to viewer.

The beach at Tortuga Island was fantastic. At the risk of encouraging an avalanche of tourist, this is a must take trip. The bus picked Dottie and me up at the highway bus stop and believe me "leaving the driving to us" has a whole new meaning here in Costa Rica. The bus is much more relaxing, and we could take some pictures as we went too. The catamaran trip to the island was spectacular! A friend had given me the tip, and it was all she said it was and more.

In between trips, we took some one day, closer to home shopping trips. I couldn't send my guest home without some wares from Costa Rica. Los Musas Waterfall is near, and watching the kids play on a Sunday afternoon, while we laid in the shade of the park, was very relaxing. After making the round of Gracia and Sarchi, with all the beautiful furniture and souvenir shops, we were tired and glad to have a few days to hang around the patio, relax, sip smoothies, and she could catch more sun. I actually got my fair share of sun just being out running around. Not to mention how much my pups were glad to have us at home. They are the perfect tropical companions...sleep while I read or knit...walk when I want to get some much needed exercise...and they thoroughly enjoy the fresh fruits and veggies here also. What more could I ask for. The only time they feel any discomfort is when it is time for them to eat, and who needs a clock with their routine well developed. They enjoy house guests at least as much as I do, and do their part to make them feel like part of the family. Each morning they made a beeline to see if Dottie was up, and were anxious to share her banana as well as mine. And lest a morsel would go to waste, they enthusiastically checked the floor after breakfast. Suitcases mean someone is leaving, and they are never sure exactly who they will be left with, but one thing is for sure, it will involve a "t-r-e-a-t", and that can't be all bad. And, yes, they can spell.

The trip to Monteverde...I'll not not do again. Not that it was not nice, but for those of you who have never been, what they have can be found in "any place" Costa Rica, with only a fraction of the trouble. The road there is the problem, and we took the bus. Don't think I have eaten that much dirt since I was a kid in Montana. It took 3 1/2 hours once we left the highway to get to the town. Hugging the hill on the wrong side of the road, while trucks passed on the drop off side was no problem for me, but the lady in the car behind us as we backed up, down hill, had the whitest knuckles I have ever seen. Driving a rental is not what I would do to get to that 'vacation' spot. If I lived there, wild horses could not drag me down, only to return again. It was beautiful, the town could have been 'Any Where, Arkansas, USA', with just as many souvenir shops, and information booking tour offices. If you go, Sky Walk is great, and our guide was very knowledgeable, and friendly.

Our next trip was to the Hot soak, and a day trip to Arenal area. The springs was my most memorable and favorite time. Laying in the mineral water until I was sure I must look like a prune was fabulous. They have several types of massages and facials also. The rooms were great, clean and the grounds were beautiful. The food was excellent, and again great quantities of fruit to enjoy. They are not far from where I live, so I will be taking trips there many times to enjoy this beautiful nature spot. We had a couple hour stop over in Zarcero to take pictures and enjoy the beautifully sculptured trees, and the stopped to see the Loco Coco Art Gallery also. Many talented artist display their creations there, and the grounds were beautiful too.

We went into the Arenal Waterfall park area, but decided after going down 20 or so of the 480 steps to the falls, that perhaps we could see the falls best at a distance. Five or ten years ago, I think I could have done the steps, but after talking to others who were on their way back up, what little they could say (totally winded, and they could have been exaggerating), we opted out. Ice cream and the souvenir shop sounded just fine to us. Next time I go, I would love to stay overnight there to see the fireworks from the volcano at night. I'm sure it is spectacular.

Now in between all this, Dottie and I were able to catch up, starting right where we left off, on all the 'girl talk' we could possibly want to say to each other. Relaxing and just hanging out with the view from my patio, was how we finished up her visit. I was sad to see her go, and know she had a great time, but she had to get back to work and her boyfriend. She gave him such a raving review, that and the T-Shirt she gave him, proved to be the ticket to his upcoming trip here. He wore the T-shirt to his workout at the gym, and found out that a guy there has land in Costa Rica and is coming down in March. So the friend asked if he wanted to come down too. Small world, and to think a T-Shirt changed his plans for his next trip.

Scroll down to see the pictures we took on our trips, and some taken here in the neighborhood too.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Knitting Site...another neat site for me to cruise.

and I'm amazed that I only found it recently.

For those of you who are knitters, crocheters, spinners, designers...and have never been to Ravelry, check it out! I had to wait about 3 months for an invitation to join and be able to sign on, but it was worth the wait! There are 72,879 members, and I can't imagine how many groups one can sign up for with the site. There are 130 pages of groups...just for starters. I started a page for Costa Rica Knitters, and there are 7 knitters registered on the Ravelry, who have identified living in CR. Who knows how many others there are, unidentified, hiding in the land of cyberspace. There are projects, in process and finished, stashes, yarns for sale, and the list never ends. Ravelry has a place to list all the knitting/crocheting books, well, most of them, in my library, like, some are still being added to their data base. Can you imagine the volume of people online at one time is well over 2000+? Free patterns are a nice sidebar too, millions that there are! I am so excited! It means another neat site for me to cruise...

A Friend is coming to visit, and a neighbor has a birthday.

So much to write about today! One of my long time friends is coming from the states to visit me for a couple of weeks. She will arrive tomorrow, and I don't know which one of us is the more excited about her visit! One thing about moving this far away from all my friends, other than missing them terribly, is that now they have an excuse to travel. We have a trip on a catamaran scheduled, and will do some of the other fun things too. Got to go to a volcano or two, to a hot springs, a rain forest, and going to try to do a zip line also. I have not seen much of Costa Rica myself, yet, so this will be an adventure for me as well. So many places and things to see, and still we will have time to get caught up on all the girl talk as well. She will have to get some sun, to show off when she goes back to the low temperatures of Illinois again. I'm sure that will be no problem, with the fact that we are in our summer now! It has been right around the high 70*s, and low 80*s, everyday now, and not a drop of rain. That also means very little power outages, and no internet flakiness either. Wonderful!

I have been going through some things, still can't figure out why I even brought all the stuff I did. The clothing I use to wear to work, dress clothes I call them now, are not of much good to me here. Well, at least not in the quantity that I had. I never dress up, say once or twice a year...there will be a June wedding, and I add a jacket now and then for show, it comes off soon after I am where I am going. And everyone of my friends has short term memory loss, so even if I wear the same thing to each "event", no one remembers, and oh the uhhhs and ahhhhs one gets. Even when I put on make up, it is an "event", they call me it was a red carpet event. We do have fun though, seeing how different we look when we "make-up" or play "dress-up". It take so little to entertain us... Anyway, what I started to say was that, I sorted out the things I could really live without, and carried a bunch of things to the neighbors. The Tico's are the most GRATEFULL people I have ever met. They have so little, and are happy with life. The neighbors have 3 daughters, early 20's, and all are such hard workers. They were so glad to get the clothing, and what they can't wear as it is, they will redesign it, and it will have a new life. How glad I am that they will use the things I gave them. Some time back, I cleaned out the 30 some odd pair of shoes that I brought, and gave many pair, and handbags, to them also. Within 10 minutes, 3 pair were being worn.

This week was "the mother's" birthday, so I put together a small bag of bath lotion and spray for her, and took it to her house. She was at a loss for words, and it has been a long time since I saw so many tears of thankfulness. It was an expression of my gratitude for her friendship, and I wondered if her family had been able to give her anything. I'm almost sure they could not afford to buy her a present. We gringos, are so blessed, even on our retirement benefits, we have more than they. And it is amazing that I spent so much on just clothing, while I was working, and now I think how much money I would have, had I not just "had to have" the many things I bought over the years. I, like many others, got caught up in the cycle of spend, spend, spend, and the things that were a "must have". I am truly amazed at the little I need now, and how happy I can be, not having the stress that comes with the "stuff".

Another NavCafe! This one in San Ramon!

Tomorrow is the "training" day for the staff at the new NavCafe in San Ramon. There will be free food and drinks for everyone. On Valentine's Day, the 14th, they will have the grand opening and, hopefully, the staff will be ready for another busy day of free food and drinks. Daniel always puts out a good spread, and many gringos usually show up. There should be live entertainment, and if it is anything like the opening of the Palmares NavCafe, you can count on a good time. I am going to try to remember to take my camera and will post back some pictures of the days and of the coffee shop too. They have great coffee, and many different types of smoothies, shakes, cold/hot drinks. I am not sure what the food will be at this one. The Palmares coffee shop features mostly Italian style dishes. And Daniel Jr. is a pretty good Chef.