Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Holiday, Part 3

I'm hoping to wrap up the retelling of our adventures with this final post. Since "a picture is worth a thousand words," I'm going to pack in as many photos as I can. There was just so much that we saw and did and it was all so exciting. Also, you can make the pictures bigger by clicking on them, if you so desire.

We spent part of a day driving down the Caribbean coast checking out the beaches and little towns along the way. This picture is of Punta Uva which is considered one of the prettiest beaches in Costa Rica.

During one of our afternoons, we took a boat ride out to an island that's just off the coast of Limon. It's a National Park reserve and, with the exception of the Park Ranger, is un-inhabited. The island is made almost entirely of coral.

However, we did not pick the nicest, calmest day for the trip, nor do I believe we picked the most reputable captain. Don't get me wrong, the guy seemed nice enough, but there were no life jackets. Not even a life preserver or round, white flotation ring. Nothing. Nada. Zip. It was during this boat ride that the meaning of the phrase "hysterical female" became crystal clear.

My cousin and I, who had chosen to ride in the very front because 'it's just more adventurous', could not stop laughing. We giggled the entire boat ride from the minute we hit open ocean. The waves were HUGE, but our terror was bigger. Anyone who has seen the movies The Guardian and Perfect Storm, will understand the massive swells our tiny boat was tossing on. There were moments my rear end - MY rear end - actually left the seat while we took a free fall to the bottom of the wave. It was a laugh-or-cry moment. The hysterics took over. I was never so glad to reach terra firma.

However, the island was beautiful, the waves crashing on the rocks, majestic. It's something I'll never forget. 'Course, I had to endure the trip back which included a slow, torturous, tour-by-boat around the island before heading for safer, calmer waters. Here are some of the pictures from the island.

The day we were leaving Sara and Chris's, it poured. I'm talking monsoon-type rains. This is a picture of the area directly below their house. (The houses are built on stilts because of the amount of rain they get.) About thirty minutes before I took this picture, the entire ground was under rushing water. There was a river running through the yard, right up to the saw mill.

I was greatly concerned about getting me and my luggage safely to the truck. One of the workers thoughtfully constructed a path of wood from the house to relatively dry land. I made it halfway, at which point the blonde in me took over.

I didn't notice the rest of the path. Uncertain of where to go next, I took in my limited options (not seeing the curve in the path) and stepped off onto what I thought was soggy, but solid, ground. I was wrong. I sunk TO MY KNEES in mucky, gritty, sludge...and started to fall. I put the other foot down and staggered a step forward before coming to a quick stop and, with it, the shocking realization that I had left my sandal behind. A foot-and-a-half deep in sludge.

Cinderella I am not. I did not handle my single shoe-ness with the same fleeing grace. I let out a frustrated yell that, not only shocked the workers, but gave them a great amount of amusement and entertainment.

We managed to get on our way and headed to Arenal, the volcano. We arrived later that afternoon and decided to hit the hot springs. In protest of their outrageously high prices, we decided to climb down the slope to the bridge where the river and springs run. The rivers are considered public property and are open for use to any who wish to venture there. You cannot, however trespass on the grounds and pools that are nearby. A high-priced hotel bought the small operation and shut it down in hopes of forcing tourists to pay their steeper prices.

Sara and I changed into our swimsuits in the truck - no easy feat for me - while the guys took off down the path to the hot springs. We followed, but with dark pressing in, we couldn't see them. We did, however, spot the guard and, in fear, we retreated. Unsure of where to go, we tried squeezing through the small opening between the chained gate and the barbwire fence.

Sara made it no problem, but it was soon apparent that not even half of me would fit. I called for her to come back and she began to wiggle her way through the narrow opening. The sound of footsteps and radio static drew nearer and we could see the approaching beam of a flashlight. We started to panic, me hissing "hurry" and Sara wiggling faster. She got stuck. Her swim suit caught on the rebar.

Hyperventilation set in. A few more wiggles and she sprung loose. We raced for the bushes where we hid out until the guard had passed and our breathing returned to normal. Then we burst into giggles. It was those nerves again. After we managed to get ourselves into some semblance of order, we decided to try the path one more time. And lo and behold the guys appeared and led us down the slope to the hot springs where we were able to relax and wash away the remaining adrenaline in the soothing, rushing warmth of the water.

We scaled the slope in pitch blackness, got back to the truck and found a hotel for the night where we cleaned up before going out for supper to celebrate Sara's birthday.

The next morning we drove to see the volcano and Lake Arenal. Beneath Lake Arenal is an entire city. The government wanted to create a dam and decided to build it there and flood the town. The people were paid to relocate and below the calm surface is an entire city. I find it a little creepy to think there's a ghost town down there.

This little guy scurried out of the bushes at the sound of the truck and confidently crossed the road and approached the vehicle. Obviously he's well fed by tourists.

Here are some pictures as we drove through the mountains to the pacific coast.

And here are some pictures of the resort where we stayed. I took these while sitting in a lounger by the pool. Oh. So. Nice.

Our room was in a building a short walk from the pool. We passed this fountain and pond on the way.

And here's the local wildlife that lives near that pond.

A herd (?) of monkeys, about thirty of them, were crossing through the trees and palm leaves right outside our room.

The resort also had a bird enclosure, butterfly farm and snake...thingy, that we visited. The snake picture was for my husband. It gives me the heebie-jeebies, but he thinks it's cool. The big white lump on its head is a tick. How gross is that?!

This is one of my favorite pictures. This little guy was hanging out above the bird enclosure. He was just chillin' while he watched all the tourists below.

And last, but not least, these were our furry friends that liked to join us, either in the restaurant for lunch or at night around the pool for a snack.

And that pretty much sums up our trip. We had a very interesting flight back and two days after arriving home I was out shoveling the snow off my van.


Barefoot Sarah said...

That's great, Shauna! I specifically love the part about the night guard. You must have felt completely "007" or "Prison Break" out there. I've never been to the hot springs anywhere, but it sounded lovely. Thanks for being so patient to post all the pics!! Can't wait to see you on Friday!

Becky said...

That was some adventuresome boat trip...and the scenario with the guard is especially hilarious. You guys had quite an adventure that you're sure not to forget any time soon.

And hot springs? On top of everything else? And that resort looks amazing! You guys got to see and do a lot!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a lot of fun!! I'm so glad you guys got the chance to make so many good memories!


Jenster said...

The whole thing looked absolutely fabulous! What a great trip you guys had.

Thanks so much for sharing the pics!!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like quite the adventure! :o)

The pictures are beautiful, but I can't get the one of the snake with the tick on his head out of my mind. EEK!

Travis Erwin said...

That tick is nasty. Looks and sounds like you had a great time. I'm envious.

Shauna said...

Sarah - The adrenaline was pumping for sure. LOL! See you Friday.

Becky - The memories will stay forever. We got to experience quite a bit and it was all wonderful. But I still would have like a life jacket. ;-)

at - I highly recommend making those kinds of memories.

Jenster - The trip was a real blessing at just the right time. I'm glad I was able to share the pics with y'all...even the fuzzy ones. :-)

Lisa - I still can't look at the snake. There were two other snakes in the cage, one with a dead mouse in its grasp. Thankfully those pictures didn't turn out. *shudder*

Travis - I was told the ticks can actually burst. That's more info than I wanted.