Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Costa Rican Scoop!

I must apologize in advance...this blog is only for the die-hard readers because I am at work with nothing to do today so I got a bit carried away in my blogging....

To add another country to our “countries visited lists”, to be beach bums for a bit, and to find some fun adventures where our main objectives in visiting Costa Rica and all of them were officially accomplished!

Our “weekend” started Thursday evening when Amanda and I went to dinner with Ruth and Eduardo to an Italian restaurant. This was eventful for a couple of reasons. First, just because hanging out with Ruth and Eduardo is allllways super fun and second, because the restaurant we went to had menus that were literally probably 75 pages long…I have never been so overwhelmed about ordering food in all my life! However, it was delicious and thus worth all the pre-ordering work. After that we went and hung out with Roger for a bit since we hadn’t been able to see him all week….honestly, hanging out with Argentinians just never gets old:)

Friday morning we were going to peace out at 5:30 am but woke up to a true Nica style thunderstorm with iiiiinnnnsannneeely heavy rain and thunder. After sleeping a bit more and partaking in breakfast at Casa de CafĂ© (that place never gets old…especially since the waiters know me!) we headed for the border. Our plan at that point was to get to Costa Rica…somehow…not exactly sure of the specifics but somehow come hell or high water we were going to get there. I like to say that Amanda is a “travel bulldog” which is a most endearing trait I must add! I hope to be a travel bulldog myself one day. Anyway, we drove to Penas Blancas which is the border town between Nicaragua and Costa Rica…being a border town means dirty, gross, dirty…did I mention dirty? We parked my car at the Dollar car rental there and hoofed it across the border to rent a car on the CR side because rental cars cant cross country lines for some reason. Anyway, we met a nice dude at the car rental place on the other side of the border (After getting another stamp in my passport…wohoo!) but he didn’t have any cars. Plan B: we took a cab to Liberia with this young driver who was super nice and obsessed with my name (yep, he said Gee-nay!) and I think that someday there will be a small Costa Rican child running around with my name…well, sort of my name anyway:) We had driven about 20 km from the border when we were stopped at a little check station only to learn that we had somehow missed the place on the Costa Rican side of the border where we were supposed to get our stamps….oy vey! :)So our nice cab driver drove us alllll the way back to the border for our second attempt at legal entry into the country.

We finally made it to Liberia where we rented a Toyota Peuget (yeah…what a terrible name, huh? Oh and it was a stick so Amanda took over the captain’ing of the car) and headed East for Playa Coco and the beginning of our adventures! The highlights from Coco were a delicious restaurant where I had amazing fruit punch (please don’t be thinking High-C right now, think after I ordered it they went back and juiced some fresh fruits…delicious!!), also a nice Columbian man’s jewelry stand where Amanda went CRAZYYYY shopping and I found some fun souvenirs for some sisters I know. BUT the best thing we found of all, was a little gelato store that someone recommended….move over BlueBell, Coldstone, 31 Flavors because the best ice cream ever is in Costa Rica! Nina, your lemon and cherry nut ice cream is still better but I think I will need to compare when I get home…:)

After Playa Coco we drove to Tamarindo which is the primary beach city and is soooo touristy and States’ish it isn’t even funny…there are so many gringos running around…for some reason, most of them didn’t appear to have bathed during their time in Costa Rica….ew. Anyway, we got a hotel, went swimming, and went to bed early since we were both worn out from our long, wonderful day…though we were both super proud of ourselves for traveling accomplishments thus far!

Saturday morning we woke up early and enjoyed the beach while it was just us and the surfers since the rest of the world was still asleep and missing out on the beautiful morning on the beach. After breakfast at restaurant right on the beach, we just shopped and walked around Tamarindo a bit. Oh, Mom and Nina, I took tons of pictures in Costa Rica of all the beautiful flowers for y’all!

After a calm morning, we were needing some adventure so we took off in our little Peuget for some random beaches (after asking our friend from the hotel for where we should go and she hooked us up with some great maps! I love locals!). The best ones we visited were Playa de Piratas where the water was just amazing to watch since the waves were just angry looking. I have never, ever seen a beach like this or waves like this! One minute we were standing there and the water was at our ankles and the next minute it was at our necks…way, way creepy! The rain forced back into the car and we took off for the next beach, Playa Conchal where LITERALLY the sand is not sand at all, but small pieces of sea shells. The picture in the last post of the foot in the seashells is at Conchal. Talk about unique and beautiful! BUT the coolest part of all, was that there was a place to rent snorkeling gear for pretty cheap…so of course we jumped on that (snorkeling has been on my life to do list for a LONG time!). For about an hour we floated at the top of the water looking down onto a reef and the seashell sand and several schools of small shiny fish…we didn’t see anything too exciting but we definitely saw some fish action. I loved it! Now, remember how I said that the ice cream in Coco was the best ever? Well, as we were leaving Conchal we saw a sign for the same ice cream place about 10 minutes up the road…so we took off for that excited to tear up some more ice cream (vacation, remember? Don’t judge me…) only to find a muddy dirt road. Now, we were fine until we came to a point in the road where literally there was a river running through the middle for about 100 meters before the ice cream store (Oh, by the way EVERYTHING in Central America is about 100 meters away when receiving directions:)). Just know that were this ice cream only mediocre we would have turned around and given up…but oh no, we just buckled up, grabbed the handlebars in the car, started praying, and made that little Toyota Pueget show what it was made of! Somehow we made it through and lets just say that ice cream tastes even better when you can say that you literally forded a river to get it…lol

Back in Tamarindo we went to dinner and just tooled around town a bit, but we went to bed early again because Sunday morning we woke up at 5:30 am so that we could be at the ocean by 6 am to meet Nobel and the beginning of our fishing excursion on the ocean! We found a guy who made us a good deal on 6 hours fishing on the ocean….not to be picky though, but this did NOT turn out to be fishing. Sitting on a boat while there are 4 lines trailing behind us with bait on them where the capitan does all the baiting and everything is NOT fishing in my book….but nonetheless, it was cool that Amanda and I each got to reel in a fish. Hers was a tuna and mine was a mahi-mahi. I didn’t feel too much ownership, but I did enjoy it. The fishing may not have been that great, but the boating was amazing! The waves were soft and rolling, the sun wasn’t too bright under the shade of our boat, the dolphins were jumping everywhere putting on shows for us and Nobel the capitan was super fun. The dolphins were really, really fun to watch and keep an eye out for because we saw them sporadically throughout the whole day, but the best part was when we saw 2 tortugas (turtles) in the middle of the ocean. They were hanging onto each other and I told Amanda I thought it was funny that they floated together like that…she looked at me with a look that said “I don’t think they are just floating together right now..bless your heart” and then it was confirmed when our capitan said “Oh, happy turtles!”….so on our trip to Costa Rica we learned that July 20th is part of the tortuga mating season....the picture in the previous blog is of the random mating Tortugas in the middle of the ocean. Immature? Definitely. Hilarious anyway? Obvio! (obviously) Another random immature thing from the morning: in our small’ish boat there was no bathroom….for 6 hours….so lets just say that I have a great memory in mind of tinkling in a bucket…on a boat….right behind the capitan…in the middle of the ocean…in Costa Rica…in Spanish…now THAT just brings a smile to my face!

The coolest part of the “fishing” was when we took our newly caught filets to a restaurant just a few feet from the water and they cooked it for us….mmmmmmm! After our amazing lunch, we hightailed it out of town and to the border and back to Nicaragua without any incidents, thankfully. Although I loved Costa Rica, there was something reassuring and comforting and familiar about being back in Nicaragua. Luckily also, we made it back in time to take Amanda to my favorite pineapple selling stand on the side of my favorite road for my last fresh coco in Nicaragua…it was actually a super sad moment….

Yesterday at work was my meeting with Roger and Javier to review all my work and my final recommendations for our brands from what I did this summer. I felt pretty good about it, so I was thankful for that and I had a good visit with Javier during my evaluation…I think I am a big nerd because I love evaluations especially from good people analyzers like Javier. However, Javier, Ruth, and Mariana (3 of my FAVORITE people here!) all left yesterday afternoon for a week in Guatemala which meant I had to tell them good-bye for good….lets just say this was one sad, sad gringita to see my new friends go….

Last night Amanda and I worked on packing, which is code for admiring all of our souvenirs for ourselves and everyone else…we both got some cool stuff for sure! Her last meal in Nicaragua was at my favorite “fritanga” where I have a waiter friend (I think that is a sign of frequenting a restaurant too much…then again, I am pretty recognizable here…how many gringas go into the fritangas here?) and we enjoyed all of our favorite Nica foods…oh there are many… I dropped off my Central America travel buddy at the airport this morning and once again I was counting my blessings for the really good friends I have. How lucky am I to have had 3 super special visitors here in NI!??!?!

I dont have much work over the next few days, but I have lots of random wrap up thoughts so I know I will be blogging more...get excited;)


Mom/Mimi/Helen said...

Oh, how I love your posts!!! But let me say that it is just as well that my hair was already gray, because it definitely would be now. I know that you have been perfectly safe, but I have to tell you that your adventuresome spirit went a little overboard on this excursion:) I am proud of you for being so brave and I am glad that Amanda was with you!

I can't wait to see all those pictures. I just can't imagine how it must have been to experience the ocean like that. You know that I get excited when the dry lake has water in it!

I love you!!

Jennifer said...

A few thoughts from your post -
1. I have always admired your dedication - but your latest experience for ice cream takes the cake. We are definitely related.
2. You definitely pushed the envelope on the adventuresome spirit as mom put it. Go Nette!
3. I thought I was the only one, but I also love a real evaluation. I have unfortunately not found too many people who are willing to put the time in to make it really meaningful. Honestly, that is one of the many characteristics about Dr. Capps that makes him so admirable - truth in love.
4. It is confirmed - we are sisters - love to eat and NERDS!

Janette's Joys said...

Mom: I like to think that I am mostly responsible for your gray hairs, which means that all my life I have just been preparing you for this phase in my life:)

Jen: What I didnt put in the blog but makes us sisters even more is that we were running SUPER late getting out of Tamarindo...but had we had even a few more minutes...we would have had the favorite ice cream a 4th time;) lol Actually, as we were almost to the border and Amanda realized we were actually doing great on time, she said, "man, if I would have known a couple of hours ago what I know now we would so have stopped for ice cream!" Sooooo funny:)