Colin: I did not giggle. And I thought it was lovely that Deb was in the pool this time without her shoes on.
Phil: But she did bring her purse.
Deb: We went down for dinner after our spectacular day and all had a dinner tipico, which means a typical Costa Rican meal. We were, as we had been the night before, the focus of a long table of college-aged girls who kept staring and giggling in our general direction.
Phil: We deluded ourselves into thinking that they did not recognize Colin but were wondering who were these handsome men at the next table.
Barbara: At which point I told Phil to get over himself. (we’re kidding!)
Deb: As it turned out, the girls did recognize Colin and were tickled to death to have a group photo with him. They are a lovely bunch of college gals from Little Rock, Arkansas here in Costa Rica for a soccer tournament.
Barbara: Friends or yours, Rigel? (again, just kidding)
Deb: The morning started early with a wonderful buffet breakfast. Have we mentioned the food lately? WOW. Everywhere. Wow. Road-side stops. Wow. Hotels. Wow. Good food, Costa Rica!!!
Barbara: After breakfast, we were picked up by our driver, José (not the same José as before, btw) who was taking us from Arenal to the coast—and to our next hotel, The Harmony in Nosara. José, as with every other driver we’ve had, was charming and sincere. A real (young) gentleman who spoke perfect English and who offered us fascinating tidbits of Costa Rican lore.
And what a drive! Deb did well, in case anyone is wondering (she went Gravol commando—au naturel—and sat in the front for the windy bits). The drive was long—a good five hours—but we passed through some absolutely stunning scenery. We watched the volcano recede after slowly emerging from the clouds for the first time since our arrival, and found ourselves in the deep lush forest, which for the most part is protected from development, that surrounds the gorgeous (and huge) Lake Arenal. On our drive we saw large families of white-nosed quati (a member of the raccoon family) scrounging for lunch and greeting the tourists. So sweet!
This drive really cemented my conviction that Costa Rica can hardly be called a “third world country” anymore. We have now crossed hundreds of miles of country and everywhere we go, the towns and roadsides are spotlessly clean and beautiful. Every economic reality seems to be reflected in the homes, but the difference is, house-pride is unilateral. Every garden and yard is neat, with no garbage, and with some kind of spotless porch oriented for the best view. There is no sign of crime, although it must exist. Maybe in the big cities, and certainly more of the petty nature than anything else. And more importantly, poor live beside rich, fancy home beside modest. Literally side by side. I have rarely seen this kind of community openness.
Deb: After a few hours’ drive, we got to the canyon. We looked at the area with some familiarity—and then realized the mountains looked like the opening credits from Mash (the only thing missing was the helicopter): dry, clay-coloured landscape, the green mixed with stunning gnarled leafless trees.
Barbara: We finally arrived at The Harmony Hotel––
Deb: Intake of breath: paradise. Outtake of breath.
Barbara: ––This is an oasis settled not far from the beach (the area right on the beach here is protected as a turtle habitat).
Colin: For turtle poking.
Barbara: We wasted no time getting changed into bathing suits and running down the short, sandy path to the OCEAN!!!!! Oh my. It is miles and miles of creamy sand, crashing waves (just thick with surfers waiting to catch the next wave), and sun sun SUN!!
A Side-Barb: Today is Deb and Colin’s ANNIVERSARY!!!! Sing it with me: Happy anniversary, happy anniversary, happy anniversary, happy anniversary, happy anniversary!! 23 years of wedded bliss. And we get to share the day/night with them (well, not the night-night, but you know what I mean). We are just now heading off to our private garden showers (you read that right—private outdoor showers!!!) to get ready for dinner and a relaxing evening of celebration! For our dear friends, for friendship, for Costa Rica.
PS while internet was working fine on our arrival, we haven’t had any luck in the “after hours”, so this was not posted at dinner on Jan 8 as was intended. Instead we are going to bed (after our spectacularly delicious dinner), post unposted, and hoping it goes up in the morning!
|Colin being sweetly approached by college athletes|
|Arenal Volcano from our room at Arenal Springs Resort|
|The view of Arenal from the road.|
|On the road: White-nosed quati|
|Awesome chicken tacos on the road|
|The pool at The Harmony Hotel: Paradise!|
|Enjoying the anniversary dinner! (Phil apologizes for the grainy shots here; he was using the iPhone for the dinner shots--low light -- and our not-excellent water-proof digital for the beach shots)|