Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Our Costa Rica Gift Of Happiness: Day 1

Barbara: We arrived safe and sound!! It was a great and easy first day. We arrived in beautiful Costa Rica midday after a 5 ½ hour flight from Toronto. (Note to dear readers: don’t watch the movie Contagion during a flight. Gesundheit. Yeah….)

Deb: We were met at the airport by two guys with the biggest smiles in the world: Andrey, manager El Silencio Resort and Spa (our first stop), and Jimmy, our trusty driver. Andrey greeted us by saying, “Welcome home,” and as the day progressed, we could see just how proud they are of their country. And rightly so.

Phil: The generosity and hospitality of the Costa Ricans is even more wonderful than I remember from our last trip.

Barbara: Andrey asked us right away if we preferred to go straight to the hotel and unwind (something I would normally prefer), or if we wanted a tour of a coffee plantation. We all decided that if we could have just a quick bite first, then we’d be good to go for the coffee plantation.

Deb: They took us to a great little joint where we all had chicken and rice Costa Rican style. (Note to self: might be better to be a little nauseous on the winding roads than stoned out of my gourd on ONE Gravol.) Did make the trip to the coffee plantation a “trip” though.

Colin: I picked coffee beans. The red ones are the best ones. The workers can pick up to 20 bushels in 10 hours. I picked 15…. Beans… Took me a half hour. My back is killing me.

Just a side-Barb here: The coffee plantation is called Espirtu Santo and is a fair-trade co-op, with sales around the world and 10% of the their product staying right here in Costa Rica. Our lovely and gracious hostess, Carrie, was so engaging, friendly and informative, we wanted to take her with us.

Phil: To get to seventh heaven you have to go through some serious cloud. They don’t call it a rain/cloud forest for nothing. Visibility on the road between the coffee plantation and the hotel was at times only a foot ahead of the headlights on roads best suited for all-terrain vehicles.

Deb: It was only the constant reassurance from Andrey that Jimmy could drive this road with his eyes closed that assuaged any panic.

Barbara: And then we arrived at El Silencio Lodge and Spa! Oh man. Gorgeous, peaceful, lovely sanctuary. A 5-Leaf hotel (which signifies the highest compliance with eco-friendly practices that a hotel can have). Phil kept saying that he never expected a hotel with such high environmental standards to feel so posh, comfortable, and decadent.

Deb and Barbara: So we will sign off tonight fire-side in the dining room, sipping a lovely glass of red wine and awaiting our first dinner in Costa Rica. Just so you guys know, we’re under no obligation from the Costa Rica tourism board to say any of this, so trust us when we tell you that anything we say will be a reflection of our true experience in this country.  Thank you Gift of Happiness.


  1. Deb: "(Note to self: might be better to be a little nauseous on the winding roads than stoned out of my gourd on ONE Gravol.) "

    No way! I'd rather be stoned than nauseated, any time!
    Keep the stories coming ....

  2. Oooh, I like this style of reporting you guys are doing! Sounds like fun, so I'm thinking it is actually more fun in person. (I just keep clicking on that leaf on their facebook page. No luck yet.)

    Barb, give Colin one of those "stoned" pills. Sounds like he could be a complainer. :)

    Rest up, relax, then go play LOTS. Those of us in the single-digit temps will look forward to hearing about the rainforest and all its glory.

  3. Okay, Barb, you are apparently gonna have to wrestle the pills out of Deb's hands to give to Colin. Deb, I want to enjoy your trip. Guess I can't get too fussy about what trip you take. :)

  4. So glad y'all arrived safely and are already having fun.

    The pictures are such a treat!

  5. Love the banter, love that you are having fun immediately....Enjoy your dinner, red wine and your friendship in a foreign land that has invited you and now are your gracious hosts. I love that you are all talking and giving us your "take" on Costa Rica!!!!!

  6. Oh my god...that basket. *tries to keep a straight face* Sorry. I'm grown up, really I am. In fact, here I go to their website to click on that leaf Dawn is talking about.

  7. Oh, I wish I could be there! It looks like a hoot (but I wouldn't go - it's too warm for my liking...).

  8. *shakes head* Oh, Sara. Ya goofball! lol Of course, I had to scroll back up and see what you were giggling over. *hugs*

    Actually, the first time I went through this post's pictures, I instantly noticed 2 things in the pictures. I mean, right off the bat, the first 2 things that grabbed me:

    1. Good God. Deb is right. Barbara is so stunningly gorgeous. Like ethereally, unearthly, unbelievably beautiful. Wow, Barbara. These pics really, really show it. Wow.

    2. Awwwwww, Deb's got Colin's jacket draped over her shoulders in that one picture. So sweet. *warm, fuzzy moment*

    Then, I just got a craving for the scent of roasted coffee beans and a latte. lol

    Deb - I, too, suffer from car sickness. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Very badly. I can't even ride in the backseat of a car just toodling around town without getting queasy. BUT, I hate, hate, hate, hate, HATE being drugged. Any form of sedation pushes all the worst of my NO NO NO DON'T YOU DARE DO THAT TO ME I WILL PUNCH THE CRAP OUT OF YOU NO NO NO I'D RATHER JUST BE IN PAIN buttons. So, it's a wicked nasty quandary to be in. I usually bring a bag of really strong all natural candied ginger bites to chew/suck on/eat for the whole trip. The ginger doesn't totally fix the problem (fresh air and not getting hot/stuffy is also reeeaaallllyyy important), but it does help a lot. The Mythbusters even found success with ginger in one of their episodes.

  9. Deb -


    It's just chunks of ginger root crystallized with cane sugar.

    There are plenty of recipes on the internet for making your own. I'm not surprised because the health food store baggies of it are kinda pricey.

    But, then, I'm the kind of nut that when I'm peeling ginger root for a recipe, I end up with a piece of it in my mouth to suck on raw. I like the strong flavor.

  10. BTW, whoever took that pic of the red coffee beans amongst the leaves -- SPIFFY!!!

  11. This is so much fun to read. So glad the husbands are on board as well. So far so good.

  12. Wow, this looks like so much fun! I can't wait to hear about all your upcoming adventures. Love the photos (I have to admit to having the same warm fuzzy moment as Rigel), thank you so much for taking us with you on your journey!

  13. Wow this is AWESOME !!!!!
    the red coffee beans look really good no wonder they are the best ones..and its a great picture too !!!!....... So happy you guys are having fun....!!! Chicken and rice Costa rican style....yummmmm i am drooling here :P !!!!
    wow this whole trip sounds like a "Dream come true".....Gosh its so fun to read.... !!!!!i loved the pictures too.

    Gosh i loved the second picture of you both with a cute smile !!!! You gals are SO Gorgeous !!!!!
    And the third picture....Awwhhhhh Deb is wearing Colin's Jacket.....So sweet !!!!!!(i realised it after reading Rigel's comments)
    And the Last one ...well Colin it explains why you back's killing ya !!! Ive actually heard the baskets are heavy i mean they look cute but they kill you when you wear them...and you have to bend to pick the beans....... I hope you feel better !!!!
    Loved this....Keep updating :D

  14. Good morning everyone! So lovely to wake up to all the coments. I LOVE what you guys notice. Of course Barb's beauty is a no brainer! LOL! Colin is reading the comments beside me and muttered "are they making fun of my basket? tee hee.
    We slept the sleep of angels last night in our gorgeous cabins! Got back and found two furry heating pads in the bed which we kept with us all night. I will let Phil or Barb tell their version of the heating pad story. Rigel I so hear you. I hate feeling out of control and the thing about gravol is that while they do the trick they totally dry you out. So it is that shoved in a trunk dry mouth freak out feeling I get from it. However, I do agree with Kate-being stoned is better than nausea. Let's just say I am going to brave it and hope I do not get sick at all! If I do, I'll bite the bullet and take the darn things. Thanks Rigel ginger does work as I have tried it on board a rocking ship. Did the trick. That and green apples believe it or not! What a joy it is to meet different people of the planet and experiencing their worlds. Ahhh to be rich and be able to travel to every single spot on the globe. Yes when I come back a second time I choose rich! Anybody up there listening??? We are off on a cloud forest adventure this morning. It was amazing to wake up and literally be in the middle of rain and cloud right in front of our faces. I also loved the fact that many of you noticied the jacket. He offered it my darling husband because it is not hot where we are. Let's just say I packed unwisely. They say that each location we are in will bring warmer and warmer temps. But right now it is light a cool damp spring day.

  15. Well GOOD MORNING !!!! And Colin....Yeah we were making fun of your BASKET !!!!! Hope you are feeling better now !!!
    So happy you guys are having fun !!!!!!
    Love you all xoxo

  16. OH MY GOODNESS SO MANY WONDERFUL CONTRIBUTORS!! Hi everyone hi!!!!! *waves, sitting in her Snuggie with a cup of jo and Let's Make a Deal on the TV* :D

    I LOVE this. Makes me miss Nicaragua so much! And Colin's basket is so freaking awesome! I almost died laughing! Glad you are all having a wonderful time so far!!!!

  17. Why, of COURSE we're making fun of the basket ;]

    *grumbles. wrapped in Snuggie. hands and nose are cold* i'm cold. You all look nice in warm in the beautiful Costa Rican sunshine. Maybe someday I'll venture back down in that area (see Holly's comment).

    used to get carsick...INCREDIBLY carsick when I was younger. Seemed to shake it now, as long as I don't read in the car. Easy enough.

  18. Love the pics keep them coming. Hope u all have a very amazing and safe trip

  19. Ps: somethin i forgot to add was loved colin with that basket. It made me laugh. in a good way not bad.

  20. I was wondering where you were going to be staying! My trip in the cloud forest was up north a bit, at Monteverde. There's a great butterfly sanctuary there where you can see blue morpho's live (unusual), go on a nighttime nature walk (not as fun when it's wet), and zip line (awesome).

    Poas and Arenal are both really fun areas to visit; Poas is gorgeous, and Arenal's hot springs are relaxing and lovely.

    Down south on the coast is the Manual Antonio area, which was AMAZING so far as seeing monkeys goes (and sharing your breakfast with them...somewhat involuntarily).

    I look forward to seeing more of your trip - I'm so jealous; I've missed Costa Rica almost every day since I left.

    As I suggested to Colin on Twitter, please eat lots of local breakfasts for me!

  21. I am so glad you all are having a good time! Barb and Deb, you look lovely. I love that your men are contributing to the posts as well. Love the comments. Just lovely!! Have a wonderful time and stay safe, girls; don't do anything I wouldn't do!*wink, wink*

    Deb, hope the car sickness doesn't bother you too much so you can enjoy the trip to the fullest.

    Lots of love! xoxo

    P.S. Colin, like Lyndsie, I laughed at the basket pics in a good way, not a bad way (still giggling a bit...). No wonder your back is hurting! And aren't you the gentleman giving your jacket to Deb. Taking care of her....Aww...sweet!


  22. Ah, I'm glad you had a wonderful first day! :)

    It doesn't look very warm...well, we do have a hgurricane going on that's pretty fair. :P

    I don't drink that Costa Rica coffee a very good/special one?

    Colin looks like a kangaroo. ;)

    Oh and I also heard that ginger might help with nausea.

    Take care! =)

  23. Only with you gals would I feel comfortable talking about my husband's basket! xo

  24. Hey guys!! We're just getting today's blog written, but wanted to join Deb in thanking you for your comments and laughs! I do really feel like I have you along (Rigel, did you notice a certain seahorse necklace in any of the shots???)

  25. (I'm an idiot -- we didn't post any pics where you can see the necklace...)

  26. So happy for you all! Soak up every beautiful moment. What a blessing.

  27. I was about to pretend I saw the seahorse necklace, just to make you feel better, Barb. ;)
    Looks like a lot of fun. I bet the coffee place smelled heavenly...if you like coffee. I'd want to smell some cream and sugar too just to round it out.
    Would love a photo of your meals. I've never thought about what people eat in CR but I'd like to see..por favor.
    I'm glad someone mentioned the ginger. It really does work. You can probably get a pot of hot water from them and make your own ginger tea, if you've a need.
    Any wildlife yet? I'm waiting for you guys to experience monkeys, not the musical group mind you. Watch out for dinosaurs. Wouldn't like to see you all et up. ;)
    Tienen un gran tiempo.
    Hugs & Habaneros Damas y Caballeros

  28. Thanks Hollye, we are. And we are thinking of you and hoping that things are looking up. Karen we will take pix of our dinner tonight! I am a food photographer from way back. Love my pix of food. In the rain forest today we were looking for monkeys but sadly we only ran into Mickey Dolenz.

  29. Awwww, Barbara! *hugs, hugs, hugs* *sniffle* Now that you've mentioned it, I can recognize the big glass bead from the side in a couple of the shots. *glows* Oh, Barbara. Total warm fuzzies. :) I knew you wore the earrings, but I didn't know you'd ever even put the pendant on a chain. I'm surprised you even still have it much less wear it much less pack it for a trip! Consider the cockles of my jewelry making heart warmed! *hugs*

    I wasn't going to say anything because y'all are, ya know, like freakin out of the country and likely with unsteady communication, but I guess this is a logical segue.

    "Your item could not be delivered on January 04, 2012 at 2:03 pm in CANADA due to the addressee not available at time of delivery. It is being held while the addressee is notified."

    Is someone gathering your mail for you? Or, did you file a mail hold card? Because, otherwise, it's gonna come back at me by the time y'all're back. Too many days. :( It figures that after being lost in the system for way over a week longer than it was supposed to take, when it finally gets found and moving again, it arrives when y'all're gone. *facepalm*

  30. oh no Rigel! We left on the 4th and maybe they came before our dog walker arrived. Hopefully they will try to deliver it again while we are away! Sadly, so sadly there is notthing I can do from here. Our dog walker is there all day so if they come again, he will sign for it. Fingers crossed.

  31. Hey there -- BARBARA here (Phil is busy on my computer downloading photos for our next post.) Just wanted to add, Rigel, that I do wear both all the time but had no idea until recently how significant the seahorse was to you. Warms my cockles, mwah!! See you in Day 2 shortly!!

  32. DEB:

    If it works like here, the postman will have left a notice card in yesterday's mail for someone to bring that card to the post office and pick up the package. But, I'm not sure about there. Hopefully, the dog walker was able to speak with the postman today. *furrows brow*

    Dammit. It just figures. *sigh*

  33. I enjoy following your blog...My wife just won the trip you are taking now :-)

  34. Thanks for the link to Pack for a Purpose. I'm sharing it. What a brilliant idea!

  35. Jimmy is the best driver ever!!!

  36. I learned of your blog site while reading someones post on the Visit Costa Rica Tourist Board, Gift of Happiness. I too am a middle aged North American, living in Costa Rica… middle aged assuming I live to be a 126 years. I have lived in Costa Rica now for 43 years and counting. I married a Costarrican . I could write a book about the funny life experiences I encountered while adapting to a new culture and language at such a young age. I could write an entire book series about him only.
    Almost a year ago, a friend suggested I join the social media FB world as a means to communicate with her. This was a key that reveiled a new world . At first I used it for communicating to a few friends back home, then discovered lost classmates, videos, links , u tube tutorials, and now the world of blogs, yours as being the first which I, hopefully will be able to continue to follow.The section comment as...just thre me for a flip.. so I just put anonymous. I do not have accounts except FB and that was not an option. Still learning about my new world.My name is Glenda Arlene Morris De Orlich

  37. I haven't checked back to this page for a while, but there are some great comments here! Jimmy IS the best driver ever! (although we've had some other amazing ones too!) And congrats to the other blog giftee!!! Enjoy your trip.

    Glenda, it is so lovely to meet you!!! Please join us here are often as you can. You'll find just the loveliest bunch and you'll fit right in!


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