Thursday, July 11, 2013

Fifty Shades of Green, or, Costa Rica Recap: Part I

After months of anticipation at lots and LOTS of research, we finally flew out for Costa Rica on Tuesday, June 25. The 3 flights it took to get us to San Jose, Costa Rica included an 8 hour overnight lay over in Houston. Not that anyone really needs to hear this, but for the record: AVOID 8 HOUR OVERNIGHT LAYOVERS. It was unpleasant.

Anyway, once we arrived in Costa Rica and flew through a busy customs line thanks to having very small children (sorry, rest of the family who had to wait!) we quickly encountered several points of anxiety for me right off the bat. First, meeting up with Kimmi and Ari, who had been backpacking though Costa Rica and Panama for 11 days or so. That one was a total non-issue; they were waiting right at the airport with spiky fruit for us to try!

Because I had done nearly all of the research and planning for the logistics of the trip, ensuring that all the details of the trip went off well caused me no small amount of stress. I was so grateful when the transportation van was there waiting for us that I somehow managed to not have a stroke over the fact that they forgot the (MUCH DISCUSSED) car seats. With nothing to do about it but shrug, we all piled in and headed for a couple hour drive to the interior of Costa Rica and a region called Arenal. Below is a photo of the villa we stayed at and the Arenal volcano immediately behind it. The picture just doesn't do it justice; the volcano was SO close and so dominating of the landscape when you are there in person. Just... wow. 

The next morning, we woke up and started off on the busiest day in terms of activities of the entire trip. We started off with a 3 hour nature hike that included suspended hanging bridges.

I know this is an idiotically obvious thing to say, but the rainforest is the most unbelievably green thing you can imagine. I often forget that I live in a desert, but boy, this certainly reminded me.

Baggins was less than thrilled about being strapped into a baby sling. It was HOT.

 Before long, I was wearing the sling just as a stylish accessory sans baby.

This amazing hidden waterfall was about 2 hours in, and poor Bug was at the end of her rope. It was lucky there were butterfly gardens at the end of the hike to serve as motivation.

The lens I was using on my camera on the trip does not have a zoom feature. So, yes, I was that close to the butterfly. Is that amazing?

On the same property as a the amazing nature hike (which I could go on and on boring you with details of but I won't) was our next activity: ziplines. We flew down almost 2 miles of zipline over 8 cables. IT. WAS. RAD.

Major props to MJ who volunteered to stay behind with the littles during the zipline portion of the day. Bug was thrilled to pieces that she got to use "princess cups" at the on-site restaurant, and Baggins discovered the wonder of ketchup. Everyone wins.

After the ziplines, we jumped back in a van and headed further down the hill to Baldi Hot Springs to enjoy the pools for a couple of hours. This resort has something like 25 pools at 12 different water temperatures. It was the perfect way to unwind after a busy morning and afternoon.

Our day passes included a buffet dinner that was pretty decent as buffets go. What was beyond decent was the absolutely divine pineapple drink they had at dinner. Ask me if those glasses all belong to me. Oh, wait. Don't. (They do. So there.)

Mister ate the roasted potatoes until I thought he'd pop. 

 The whole crew. You can't tell by our smiles, but we were actually standing in a cold pool right in the middle of a big warm one. Gluttons for punishment, I guess.

As you can see, our vacation got off to a big start in a big way. I can't say enough times how grateful we are to Nana and PopPop for making this happen. It was a trip we will never forget.

Stay tuned for more pictures and details to come!

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