Saturday, January 12, 2013

Christmas in Costa Rica

First post rehashing my family vacation to Costa Rica!

10 Days in Paradise  

Day 1

After a 6 or so bus ride we arrived at our first destination, Manuel Antonio, known for its preserved rain forest and wildlife. Very humid and VERY hot but very beautiful! While Clinton, my dad and I took naps Clara and my mom went down to the beach got to see a baby sloth up close and witness monkeys drop coconuts on tourists heads. I guess the saying is true, you snooze you lose! 
Below are some pictures of our hotel and the surroundings. 
Our house with perfect pool access 

Behind our hotel was a short jungle trail that included some hanging bridges.
The Costa Ricans are very eco friendly all of the artwork lining this trail was made out of  old bottles and the steps were made out of old tires

We ate dinner at a restaurant called El Wagon. While walking in we were greeted a by a man who said with importance, "And I, make the pizza!" we laughed and quoted him the whole trip. The power went out multiple times during dinner and was mostly lit by candlelight. 
Dinner at El Wagon

 Day 2 

We spent the day in the national park but first we had to listen to about 10 "official national park guides" tell us that we wouldn't see any animals if we did not hire one of them to show us around the park. We decided to try to find the animals by ourselves for free and were glad once we got inside of the park and the place was crawling with monkeys, raccoons, and iguanas.
Very hot and humid! 
Puerto Escondido

That night we had dinner at El Avion. Muy expensive but a great atmosphere! We also had a great time flying the old plane. 
El Avion during the day

 Days 3-8

 We got up early the next morning had a tico breakfast which consists of rice, beans, and a little bit of eggs. A shuttle picked us up and took us to our beach house which was in Playa Grande. We had a brief stop (45 minutes) for a bike race and stopped for the bus driver to eat lunch and switch shuttles. Finally we arrived about 6 hours later. We were on the beach almost everyday from morning until sunset,with the exception of one day for sunburn rehab. The smith family loves the beach!  
Goodbye Casita de Eclipse!
longggg bus ride

 Finally on the beach! It was only a 5 minute walk away from our beach house. The nearest town, Tamarindo, was about a 15 minute walk and boat taxi or if the tide was low you were able to wade across.

Our favorite desert The Cookie Monster, sometimes pronounced Cookie Munthster depending on the waiter
The sunsets were phenomenal!
Wading across to get home on Christmas Eve
Christmas Breakfast!

Goodbye Casa Cameleon!
We loved Playa Grande and were a little sad to leave but the next adventure awaited! 

Days 9 & 10 and a half

 The next day we were on another shuttle headed to La Fortuna near Lake Arenal and the Arenal Volcano  We arrived in La Fortuna in the late afternoon and wandered around for something to eat. Here we found the best hamberguesa in all of Costa Rica according to Clinton. Unfortunately the whole time we were in Arenal it was raining with lots of clouds covering the volcano. 

A picturesque scene as we were driving to Arenal. The bus driver let us out for a quick break.

Our wonderful raincoats! (nicknamed bat-coats) 

 Later half of Day 10

We got on a public bus to head back to San Jose, it was very crowded but all of us were lucky to get seats. We drove directly to San Jose which required going over a mountain and being in a cloud pretty much the entire time. 

Once we got back to our hotel we rested a little and then prepared to go to this shopping mall that was nearby that the hotel shuttle would take us to. As we were being dropped off the driver said he would pick us up promptly at 9pm and to be waiting for him. We shopped around and ate dinner and grabbed desert by that time it was 9 and we were looking for our shuttle. Fifteen minutes go by and he is still not there, we decide to wait another 15 minutes and then try to call the hotel. 9:30 rolls around and he is still not there, we get some help from a nice man working at the ice cream shop and the hotel says they will send a shuttle and it will be there in less than 5 minutes (about how far away the hotel is). 

In the end we find out the hotel shuttle totally forgot to come back and pick us up and we had to get taxis back to the hotel. Some good that came of this experience is that we got our export taxes done at the hotel and were able to breeze through the airport and get to our terminal to find out our plane was delayed! haha. Just our luck. It was an amazing vacation and I was very grateful for the opportunity. Thanks Mom and Dad!

Below are some pictures from Arenal as well as the smith family Who Wore it Best contest and a shout out to my little sister. 

Anxiously waiting for the shuttle
Smith Family, Who wore it Best Contest

Last but not least my favorite face from the trip, inspired by the mean monkeys at Manuel Antonio. This face is called the Angry Ape. 

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