Posts Tagged With: Photos

Day 23: ~Fun Currency~

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The currency here is SO much more interesting than the boring ‘ole U.S. dollar. U.S.D.s are all the same size and the same color….but Costa Rican Colones are different colors and slightly different shapes!

The Costa Rican Colon is named after the explorer, Christopher Columbus (Spanish name: Cristobol Colon) 😉

500 CRC is ~ 1 USD, which makes converting our money at grocery stores and what not pretty darn easy!

They also use more coins here. Partially, I think, because people don’t make very much money, so change gets used more when you aren’t spending a lot. I know when I show a $20 (USD) in the grocery store, they have to call over a store manager to check it and make sure it’s legit, because that’s a lot of money around here. USD are generally accepted here pretty much anywhere you go. Also, the buses are used a lot, so it’s nice to have change on hand at any given time. I would not use USD on the buses.

Picture of the dinero!

Picture of the dinero. Isn’t it purty?!

At the bottom are the coins (I’ll go over those after the next picture). As far as the bills go, there is one bill showing the front, and another showing the back. The red = 1,000 ($2), blue = 2,000 ($4), yellow/cream = 5,000 ($10), and green = 10,000 ($20). I never see any bills larger than 10,000 and those are not common. Also, note that there are 2 different 5,000 bills. The cream colored one was what we saw when first moved here, then the yellow was introduced and that’s mainly what we see now. The cream ones are pretty rare. We’re going to bring one home for our “collection”! I only had one 10,000, so you don’t get to see the face on the front. Instead, I made sure you could see all of the really cool animals on the backs! The red has a deer and a tree, the blue has a shark, yellow has a monkey, and green has a sloth.

Next, we’re going to check out the coinage…

Coins!

Coins!

In case you didn’t notice, that’s a U.S. quarter below the line up of colones. That’s just to give you an idea of the SIZE of these coins! The 500 one is HUGE! It makes a quarter seem tiny (it’s the size of a 10 colones/2 cents)…

500 colones = $1

100 colones = 20 cents

50 colones = 10 cents

25 colones = 5 cents

10 colones = 2 cents

5 colones = 1/2 cent (lol)

Ok, that’s your lesson for the day on CR money!

It’s going to be hard going back to the boring USD. All I want to do is take one of every CRC bill back with me, but that would be a lot of money in USD just sitting in a “collection” somewhere in our house…..Idk, I’m still thinking about it though 🙂 What do you think? Is it worth it to keep high bill currency? Lemmie know!

~Thanks for reading~

Pura vida!

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Day 21: Our Apartment

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We have loved our apartment complex. We actually owe it all to Kristin Wilson with Poker Refugees. For an upfront fee, she took care of all our apartment and banking needs and made the transition super smooth. Worth every penny!

Kristin found us Avalon Country Club, the apartment complex we have spent the past year in.

Avalon Country Club. The complex is pretty big.

Avalon Country Club. The complex is pretty big.

We are on the first floor and have a great porch area with a view of a pond.

The patio!

The patio!

There is a beautiful pool area

To infinity, and beyond!

To infinity, and beyond!

with an incredible view

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and a restaurant attached with delicious food and drinks!

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There is a small soccer field enclosed with a net (less ball chasing, yay!).

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Even tennis courts!

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Also, there is a quaint gym area with a lap pool nearby.

Outside of the gym.

Outside of the gym.

Inside the gym.

Inside the gym.

 

The complex is gated and has guards at the front gates 24/7. Although we still express many precautions while living here, I must admit that there were a handful of nights where we left our patio door open or Peter’s office window open all night with computers, TVs, cameras, Ipods, etc all in view and when we got up the next morning it was all still there. Pretty incredible! Especially since when I visited Texas in April, I turned my back for 5 seconds in a grocery store and had my wallet stolen…

Anyway! This place has been good to us. No major problems, and the pool area feels like a resort most of the time. We don’t live near the beach, so it’s kind of like the next best thing. We were even able to negotiate our rent price down $200 more dollars after 6 months! 🙂 *Side note*: That’s one of the things I love about Peter. He’s almost never afraid to ask for a deal, and I swear 8 times out of 10 he gets what he asks for!! It’s saved us a lot of money over the years.

Overall, our fully furnished, 2 bedroom/2 bathroom apartment with all amenities cost us an average of $1,200 each month.

It is a little bit outside of town, but we are really happy with where we stayed. I would recommend it to anyone who doesn’t want an ‘authentic’ Costa Rican experience…lol. It was more Americanized, but also more comfortable.

This video does a good job of showing you around.

~Thanks for reading~

Pura vida!

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 20: Cooking Costa Rican style back home

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My last post was about foods that I missed from home. Well this one is about foods we’ve had here that I want to take home with me and continue to cook. I’ll just let you know now that not all of the recipes below are “Costa Rican”. Some are just recipes that I started cooking here for the first time! I’ll admit, the non-Costa Rican recipes are all from Pinterest. If I found a recipe that didn’t have too many ingredients and/or was made out of fresh ingredients, then I would gather everything up and give it a go! The recipes below are my favorites!

1) Avocado Enchiladas

Oh em gee. This is by FAR the BEST recipe that I have ever cooked. Not due to my fantastic [correction] non-existent cooking skills, but because all of the ingredients taste so great together.

Here is the link that I got the original recipe from. I made a few changes, though. The original recipe is a vegetarian recipe which I think would still be delicious, but the chicken here in CR is so yummy and gives the whole dish a better texture. More solidity and less squishy. 🙂

This recipe comes with instructions on how to make your own enchilada sauce, which I did not do.

“Aint nobody got time for that!”

J/k, but seriously, I used the powder packet that you mix in tomato sauce with to make the enchilada sauce. The ingredients for the author’s sauce looks great too, but I was just lazy.

Next, I didn’t have red onions, only white. So, I just cut those up REALLY tiny as to make sure they got cooked really well in the oven. At least, this is what my mom told me to do when I made it when she was here and we had no red onions…mom’s know everything when you’re 26, right? Try and tell my 16 year old self that….HA! Also, I haven’t covered mine with foil either time I’ve made it. The first time, I totally missed that step in the directions, and the second time I just decided I liked the way it tasted so I stuck with it. I think I ended up taking it out after about 20 minutes instead of 25. My cheese was browned on top and we were hungry! lol

Oh yea, and this recipe makes WAY too much for 2 people, so I only used 2 large avocados and filled 15 small tortillas and cut everything else at least in half. We still had leftovers!

Avocado (and chicken) Enchiladas

Avocado (and chicken) Enchiladas

2) Tico Rice/Gallo Pinto

This rice is super easy and really yummy. I actually think I like the Tico rice more than the gallo pinto. That may just be because I didn’t think my gallo pinto turned out as good as the locals’…lol. I’ll keep working on it.

HERE is the recipe I worked from for the Tico rice.

It was delicious!

HERE is the recipe for gallo pinto.

I think I went wrong with my gallo pinto by not sauteing the beans with the rice. I just sauteed and cooked the rice, then mixed in the black beans and some of their juice. It was easier at the time, but not as good in the end.

Me, cooking fajitas and gallo pinto for the first time!

Me, cooking fajitas and gallo pinto for the first time!

3) Million Dollar Spaghetti

**Warning** Unhealthy dish alert! Also, not a CR dish. Just one I found that looked yummy and easy!

This dish could easily be made much healthier than it is, but our selection is somewhat limited down here. So, I think if we make this one back in the states, we would sub in whole wheat pasta, low fat/fat free sour cream and cream cheese. I found this recipe on Pinterest, which is also where I found the Avocado Enchilada recipe. Pinterest should give out cooking degrees, because all Peter tells me now is, “I’m glad you are such a good cook!” and I’m like, “Uh…. thanks!” Thanks for making me look good, Pinterest!

Anywho, HERE is the recipe. I subbed the beef out and used chicken instead and it still tastes great! I also like to add more red sauce to my leftovers when I reheat them. One, leftovers tend to become more dry in the fridge. Two, I like there to be more red sauce than white sauce and when I tried to just add more to the original recipe it didn’t turn out quite right.. Oh! and I also like to add a little red pepper flakes to the red sauce to give it a little kick. We’re into that sort of thing around here.

**Also notice that on step numbers 3 and 4 of the recipe link you only use half of the meat sauce at first, then pour the second half as another layer.

4) Arroz con Leche

HERE is the recipe. I used a bit less sugar (just ’cause that’s a LOT of sugar!) and didn’t add raisins or cinnamon because I don’t like raisins and Peter doesn’t like cinnamon.

I think if I made this dish again, I would definitely add the cinnamon. I’ve tried this at restaurants here, and cinnamon is a pretty key ingredient. Peter may just have to deal next time. Plus, cinnamon is SUPER good for you!

I would have loved to cook plantain maduro (a sweet plantain) while I was here, but I never really tried it. It looks really easy though, so I think I will be trying it back home. It’s one of my absolute favorites here!!!

All in all, we want to take the idea of cooking simply home with us. I want there to be less crap in our food and more fresh ingredients. I hope to continue blogging once we return to the states, it’s going to be more geared to our lifestyles of eating and more activity in our day-to-day lives based on how great of an experience we had with it here. I will do my best to keep everyone updated on how it goes and how much success we have with it back home. We love food, so it will definitely be a challenge for us. However, we really love GOOD food so I hope we are able to cook it all up!

Can’t wait to post more yummy, healthy (and some not so healthy, lol) recipes when we return home.

~Thanks for reading~

Pura vida!

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 9 Comments

Day 17: Close to Other Countries

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One of the great things about being in Central America is how close you are to other countries.

In order to maintain a legal tourism status, non-residents must leave Costa Rica every 90 days for at least 72 consecutive hours. We spent two out of the country trips returning to the U.S. to visit our families, and for weddings and what not. Surprisingly, we never made it back to our actual home in Vegas. Instead, we opted to spend our time in the States with our families in Missouri and Texas, which we are happy about!

The other two times that we had to leave the country, we chose to visit the two countries that border CR, and that’s Nicaragua to the north, and Panama to the south.

Nicaragua was our first trip we took in February. Peter had been here since Dec. 1, so we had to leave before the end of February to be safe. There are two places that are popular to travel to in Nicaragua from CR. One is San Juan del Sur, which is a beach town. The other is Granada, which is more inland and near a very large lake. We chose Granada and were not disappointed!

First off, we got a really nice bus from San Jose to Granada for      $           which took us across the border and all the way through to Granada. It is quite a long bus ride. Around 9-9 1/2 hours!

Next, we only spent about $25 a day for both Peter and I to eat and drink, including alcoholic beverages!

pizza and beer, yum.

pizza and beer, yum. Tona is the best beer, btw.

Third, the place we stayed was really cute and the guys who run it are extremely helpful and friendly and speak English really well. It was called La Islita Boutique Hotel.

La Islita

La Islita breakfast area

Last, there are a lot of fun things to do there. Everything from tour volcanoes and bat caves to just taking a stroll through the city to view the Spanish architecture.

Nicaragua 115

Nicaragua 102

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We did all of the above. We had an AMAZING night tour of Masaya Volcano. Actually, I guess it was more of a sunset tour because the sun was setting while we were touring the volcano.

The crater was HUGE! And sulfur smoke was rising from the deepest part of the crater.

The crater was HUGE! And sulfur smoke was rising from the deepest part of the crater.

Sun setting...gorgeous coloring! This was when Peter was bald! :-)

Sun setting…gorgeous coloring! This was when Peter was bald! 🙂

View of the crater from up on a hill nearby.

View of the crater from up on a hill nearby.

After it was dark, we got our flashlights and helmets and toured a bat cave and underground, dormant lava tube!

Ready for the bat cave!

Ready for the bat cave!

Trekking through the lava tunnel!

Trekking through the lava tunnel!

All in all, you could tell how Nicaraguans are struggling so much more than Costa Ricans. There was even a man that came up to our table at dinner (we were eating outside on the restaurant patio area) and asked to take our food that we had not eaten after we were done. It was just a few chips and some salsa. Definitely a humbling moment that made us appreciate all that we have….

 

The other place we went in order to stay in CR legally was Bocas del Toro, Panama! We had an amazing time with two of our amazing new friends, and you can read all about that trip in the following links

Bocas del Toro: Part 1

Bocas del Toro: Part 2

Bocas del Toro: Part 3

It was such a great trip, it took 3 posts to cover!

We have loved traveling to other countries while here. Each time was a different experience from CR. The U.S. is so big and only borders Canada and Mexico. You know though, I’ve never been to Canada….maybe we should try there next. Then I can at least say that I’ve been to the two countries bordering my own home country!

Guess you’ll just have to continue following to see what the future brings!

~Thanks for reading~

Pura vida!

Categories: Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Day 13: Friends We’ve Made Along the Way

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If you are visiting Ticavida for the first time, Welcome!

We have been so lucky to make such good friends since we’ve been here, and today I want to talk about how happy we are to have met each one!

The first people we met when coming here was Kristin and Nicki, who work with Poker Refugees (FB link here). They are the people who moved Peter and I here in the beginning. They helped out with finding an apartment, setting up a bank account and so much more with the whole process of setting up shop here. Also, they are just cool chicks to hang out with!

Next, I got a job teaching fourth grade at an American International school. The first day was far beyond hectic for me and I had no clue what I was doing since I have never taught before, and I do not have a teaching degree. Luckily, I got some amazing guidance from the third grade teacher, Betsy! Unfortunately, she was only around for another two or three weeks after I started, but I know it was better for her that way. Peter and I also watched her adorable little pup for a few days!

I also met another really cool couple from the Northeast, Mike and Natalee. My first impression of them was a little weird-ed out because they are not married, but they have the same last name. I couldn’t decide if it was by chance they happened to have the same last name, or if she was just the ‘crazy’ girl that changed her last name to match her boyfriend’s before they were engaged or married or anything! lol. Poor thing. I think she gets that a lot. They both helped with advice for traveling to Manuel Antonio and to Bocas del Toro, Panama (which turned out to be the best vacation EVER). It’s too bad we didn’t get to hang out with them a little bit more before they went back to the States, but I have a really good time getting to know them while they were here!

After Betsy left, a new third grade teacher came, and I felt like I should pay it forward and offer any help to this new teacher as was possible. As it turned out, is a super awesome person and her name is Megan! We connected first on where we are both from….TEXAS! Then I asked her where she was living and she said Santa Ana, which is where we live! It just felt right from day one. She is just so sweet and she introduced us to her boyfriend, Jorge, who is Tico and just as sweet as can be. We have spent many weekends hanging out together, they have celebrated both of our birthdays with us, and really just been there for us for anything we’ve needed. They are such a great couple and just really great people all around. Our experience here would NOT have been the same without them. Thank you, Megan and Jorge!

Birthday fun with Megan and Jorge!

My 26th birthday fun with Megan and Jorge!

Last, we have met some really cool friends through the wonderful world of poker! I’ll start with Clint. He invited us white water rafting with him and another poker player and we had a blast!! White water rafting is probably the most fun thing I have ever done, and I have Clint to thank for that! He also has a really sweet girlfriend he lives with in California near LA. They are an adorable couple and just send off good vibes all around. Hoping we get to see more of them in the future, for sure.

From Left to Right it's Clint, Peter, random guy on the raft traveling alone, Ryan (another poker player), and me!

From Left to Right it’s Clint, Peter, random guy on the raft traveling alone, Ryan (another poker player), and me!

The other really great ‘poker’ couple we have met is Emily and Josh. They are newlyweds from South Dakota who are just perfect together and boy do they know how to have a good time! We have spent many nights (sometimes into the morning…lol) just having great conversation, occasionally watching Youtube videos, and just having an overall great time. They are such an upbeat couple with similar views as us on traveling styles, which led us to go on a completely FANTASTIC vacation to Bocas del Toro, Panama with them. You never know what it’s going to be like traveling with others, and seeing as we had only known them a short time, we were a juuust a little bit nervous at first. As it turns out, there was no need to be nervous at all! We loved being around them so much that we tagged along with them to Manuel Antonio for a couple nights not too long ago. They may never get rid of us now! So thanks Josh and Emily for making traveling around this country with friends such a great experience. We are looking forward to more once we are all State side. 🙂

This picture cracks me up, but snorkeling in Panama was so much fun!

This picture cracks me up, but snorkeling in Panama was so much fun!

Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio

Finding good friends while you are traveling is really important in my opinion. It has a great effect on your experience in one place. I feel so grateful for all of the friends we have made over the past year. Our time spent here couldn’t have been spent much better!

~Thanks for reading~

Pura vida!

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 11: Beautiful Weather

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It seems a little bit silly to me to be posting about the weather. I mean, that’s what you talk about when there is nothing else to talk about, right?

Well, it may sound silly, but it turned out to be a really big deal to me and Peter. It really is truly amazing waking up every morning and opening up the sliding glass door on our porch to bright sunshine and a temperature around 70-75 F. No matter how bad of a morning I was having or how stressed out I was before heading to school at 7 A.M., once I stepped outside, took a breath of fresh air and felt the warm sun on my skin and a cool breeze through my hair, it’s like all of the bad disappeared.

This was taken in January 2012, not long after arriving to CR for the first time! This is our apartment patio :-)

This was taken in January 2012, not long after arriving to CR for the first time! This is our apartment patio 🙂

We live in a part of Costa Rica known as The Valley. It’s near San Jose is, and it is MUCH cooler weather than the beach. It is actually really amazing how much the weather changes between here and the hour and half drive to the Pacific coast. The coasts are all hot and humid with salt in the air. I love visiting places like that for a few days, but I am so glad that we chose to live in the Valley rather than the beach.

We almost never had to turn on our air conditioning. We just leave a few windows and the patio door open!

Mid December-March is what is called the ‘dry’ season here. I am not exaggerating when I say it did not rain ONCE during those months! I think I even got a little spoiled, because those were my first few months experiencing CR and I remember thinking, “Wow! This is awesome!” and also, “Man, I kind of miss clouds and rain…” There were hardly ever any clouds, either!

I think the highest the temperature got during those months was a few days it hit lower 90’s, and everyone was complaining about how hot it was?!?! lol. Moving from Las Vegas to here…Costa Ricans don’t know what ‘hot’ is!  🙂 Those were some of the days we chose to close the door and turn on the a/c for a few minutes. A ‘too hot’ poker player in the house is NO fun to be around…trust me.

The rainy season hits around April and lasts through November/early December. The worst month of the rainy season is October. During April-September it would be bright and sunny in the mornings, and anywhere between 1-4 p.m. it would get cloudy and eventually rain. I mean, we are talking like clockwork here. You could never judge the weather for the day based on the morning sky outside your window because there was a 98% chance it would rain. Then again, the nice part of that is that it was always predictable. It would almost always rain that afternoon! October was different. You would wake up in the morning and there would be clouds. Even rain some mornings! It was just so different than what I was use to for so long. It also gets really chilly in the evenings on rainy days, like in the 50’s!

I brought a rain jacket with me, but one of my student’s parents ended up giving me and Peter a huge umbrella! It was so nice of them, and came in handy for me many times walking to and from school.

This is an example of a rainy afternoon Taken from our patio in October 2012

This is an example of a rainy afternoon Taken from our patio in October 2012

Another benefit to good weather is mood. Bright and sunny days tend to coincide with better moods and better overall emotions.

As long as I’ve known this sweet and loving man of mine (which is around seven years now) he has dealt with an ongoing battle of depression. It doesn’t occur all the time, but we call them ‘sad days’. In the past, he would be fine and happy for a while, and then for no apparent reason, no trigger that we could think of, he would become really depressed. There was no predictor an episode was about to occur, and I really don’t know that there was anything we could do to bring him out of the depression. I just had to be there for him and we would wait it out together, until he felt better.

Overtime, we did notice that the episodes were occurring less and less (I like to think that was a result of me being in his life… lol, just kidding!), but they were still more often than we liked. We looked into different medications, but neither of us really like the idea of being medicated for emotions, so we moved on to a more natural solution: Vitamins!

Currently, Peter takes vitamins such as Niacin and 5-HTP, which are mood enhancers and help control serotonin levels. We have also both noticed that since moving here, to Costa Rica, having the sun shining almost everyday has affected Peter’s mood in a really positive way. I think in the last year he has only had one, maybe two, episodes. I think they call it Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) when the weather affects your mood.

The difficult thing for us now is to leave here knowing how good things have been for him. I know he is worried that more episodes will flare up when we return home, but I’m confident that he is on a good path. Plus, luckily for us, Las Vegas is a pretty sunny city most of the year! The challenge will be to get him out of the Casino and into the sun.

We have spent a lot of time over the last couple of weeks just standing outside, trying to soak in the beautiful weather, and not take it for granted while we have it so nice! I love to go outside in the evenings once the moon is out and just look up and the bright stars and the moon and just be in the moment. We never took much time to do that back home. We were always too busy with other things.

Make sure you take the time to be present and aware in the moment, wherever you are and in whatever you do. Life will really amaze you.

**Sidenote: Always wear sunscreen! We wear spf 70 on our faces daily, and at least spf 30 if we are going to be out in the sun. No skin cancer for us!** 🙂

~Thanks for reading~

Pura vida!

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Day 9: Cell Phones

Check out the days you’ve missed HERE!

So, it looks like I took the word “challenge” seriously, because I am so behind with my posts! My mom came to visit for five days and wore me out! I’m hoping to do at least two posts a day to catch up though. Sorry about that!

When we first decided to move down here, one of the first things we did was check to see what the cell phone situation would be like. In the States, we have a plan with three other family members through Verizon. We also have smart phones….back in the states.

It turns out that Verizon does not have the capability to carry service to Costa Rica, and we couldn’t break our contract without paying an arm and a leg, and screwing over the other people on our contract with us.

What we ended up doing was suspending our phone service (we still have to pay $10/month for that) and just buying a $30 cell phone in the airport in CR. This little guy is pictured below!

Lit up!

side view

It’s a pay as you go service. There are two main phone services here. One is Kolbi (that’s the one we use) and the other is Claro (they tend to cater to the nicer phones, like Iphones and what not)

This little phone only costs us about $2 per month! We don’t make a lot of phone calls…lol, and we have a land line we try and use too, since it’s included in the rent. It’s definitely a big change from the $90 per month we were paying back in the states. And that was for EACH of our phones!!!

It’s things like this that make it so affordable to live in two places at once. We have our mortgage in Vegas, and our rent here. Although, I think when we calculated what we are spending per month this year (mortgage AND rent) compared with last year (only the mortgage payment), we are spending quite a bit less this year.

I know it’s a bit of a bunny trail saying this, but it really did blow our minds that we were spending so much back home. And we considered ourselves to be frugal! Right now we are able to live between two places at any given time on only one salary (I don’t count the money I made teaching, because it is such a small contribution, and I am paying on my student loans with that and putting most of the rest into an IRA when we get back to the states). This is the sort of thing that people think would be too expensive. In my opinion, it’s totally do-able. It just depends on how bad you want to make it work and figure it out.

Ok, enough of my bunny trail. Back to cell phones.

The last thing I was going to mention was the great technology we have available. And for FREE! Skype is seriously my new best friend. I am able to talk to and SEE my loved ones back home! I even loved utilizing this in the states, because we were living in Las Vegas, but our families are in Texas and Missouri.

It can be tough living without my smartphone attached to me all the time. Most of the time, I just wish I had it for the camera. They take such high quality pictures these days and are so compact! Also, I want to take “sneaky” pictures sometimes, and you can’t really do that with a Canon EOS Rebel

Other than that, it’s really nice not to feel compelled to check FB every second throughout the day, and goof off on the next free app.

I have more time for things like, I don’t know, blog! Or just taking in the experience of being in another country.

~Thanks for reading~ (Even if it’s on your smart phone) 😉

Pura vida!

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Day 8: Costa Rica Sites and Scenery

Welcome to Ticavida!

Click HERE to see what else I’ve loved and learned about Costa Rica, and what I’ve had to adjust to. 🙂

To start with, I am a day late on this post. I had a bit of a stressful morning yesterday and it kind of put me in a foul mood the rest of the day. I was also a bit tired, so after moping around most of the day and a short nap I felt much better.

My mom and I scheduled a tour through Costa Rican Trails  to go to Poas Volcano and La Paz Waterfall Gardens. Long story short, CRT told me to be at a meeting spot to get picked up at 7:30 a.m. Apparently the van came at 6:30 a.m. so we missed it and the lady on the phone tried to tell me they were probably not going to be able to refund our $200…yea, I was a little upset. We ended up rescheduling for two days later (which will be tomorrow) so let’s hope it all works out! I’ll let you know.

Enough of the bad mood nonsense, I want to get on to one of the most amazing things I have learned about Costa Rica and that is that there is SOOO much to do here! I don’t know how a person is able to pick where they go and what they do when visiting, because I would just want to do it ALL!

It really makes me appreciate that we have had an entire year here to experience almost everything this country has to offer.

Below are pictures of the places we have been and the things we have done over the past year. I will try and put them in order and give stats on each photo.

 

 

Christmas at Jaco Beach

1) Jaco Beach

Location: Pacific coast

Hostel: Hotel Kangaroo, $35 /night

Thoughts: It was pretty underwhelming. It was the first place I went after arriving in CR and I guess I expected beautiful white beaches. What I got was a brown beach with not a lot going on. Plus, there is a pretty high crime rate for this beach. I would not recommend it as a stop on your Costa Rican adventure.

 

Arenal Volcano 

2) Arenal Volcano

Location: Near an area called Guanacaste, north of San Jose

Hotel: Arenal Springs Resort, $165 / night

Activities: La Fortuna Waterfall, Ziplining, waterfall repelling (we did not do this, but our friends did and said it was amazing)

Thoughts: Arenal was amazing. It was the perfect romantic get-a-way. The resort has natural hot springs within the resort with a swim-up bar and is landscaped beautifully! Zip lining was a blast, and you can swim in a beautiful stream at the base of La Fortuna Waterfall. If you decide not to go to the beach, this is the place to go in Costa Rica!

La Fortuna Waterfall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

White Water Rafting on El Rio Paquare 🙂            (First time going)

3) White Water Rafting

Location: Paquare River, near Limon (Caribbean coast)

Hotel: None, we took the day trip through Rios Tropicales, but there is an overnight option. Day trip is $100 / person and includes breakfast, lunch, transportation, and all your gear! Basically all-inclusive.

Activities: White water rafting. There is also zip lining if you choose the overnight trip.

Thoughts: This was my first time white water rafting, and I LOOOOVED it! We both actually love it so much that we did it twice! It probably helped that this river is one of the top 5 rafting rivers in the world! Worth every penny. I would suggest doing this to anyone who is out to have a great time and a grand adventure!

2nd time rafting through Rios Tropicales. Such a blast!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cahuita Beach

4) Cahuita

Location: Limon, Caribbean coast, North of Puerto Viejo

Hotel: Casa del Mango (a house we rented) $225 / night for 6 people, 4 rooms with their own bathroom

Activities: Snorkeling, beach time

Thoughts: Not a lot of great options to eat, but some great drink specials! We loved the place we stayed at, but one drawback was that it was a little over a mile from town which made it difficult to just “run into town” if you needed something. There weren’t cabs around to take us into town either due to the rural feel of the town. Also, the beaches were not the greatest, but it was still fun plating in the waves! The house we rented made up for a lot of the downfalls, though.

Snorkeling near Cahuita National Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the canals to Tortuguero

5) Tortuguero

Location: Limon, Caribbean coast

Hotel: Miss Junie’s , included in the tour price through Fran and Modesto’s riverboat tours. The tour was great and we LOVED Modesto and Fran! Great people.

Activities: If you head to Tortuguero during nesting season (July-October) you can go on to the beach at night and watch them lay their eggs! By far one of the coolest experiences of my life!! Also, a boat ride through Tortuguero National Park where you can see wildlife like birds and monkeys.

 

Jesus Christ Lizard

Thoughts: The ride out to Tortuguero can be quite a tough one. From San Jose, it’s a 2 1/2 hour drive, then you get on a boat for 3 more hours. It is all water canals, no streets, so the only way around is via boats! Your butt is pretty sore by the end of the trip. Also, if you come here, make sure you eat at Wild Ginger! Overall it was a great trip. Totally worth it if you are into a more “wildlife”, non-fancy trip to Costa Rica.

 

 

 

 

We saw so many HUGE crocs on the boat ride through the canals!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Volcan Poas

6) Poas Volcano

Location: Alajuela, just north of San Jose

Hotel:None! You can take a day tour to here and La Paz Waterfall Gardens (day trip for both places plus meals and entrance fees from San Jose is around $100 / person)

Activities: Volcano and Lagoon

Thoughts: Excellent day trip. It is absolutely breathtaking here. Great if you have an extra day to ‘waste’ in San Jose.

 

My babe and I near the Lagoon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beautiful views

7) Manuel Antonio

Location: Pacific coast, past Jaco

Hotel: Hotel Flor Blanca (not to be confused with Flor Blanca Resort), $40 / night for both of us! It’s more like a hostel

Activities: Manuel Antonio National Park, great restaurants

Thoughts: $8 / person each way for the bus ride from San Jose to Manuel Antonio is totally worth it. There is also a great local bus system once you get there that will take you to the beach and entrance to the park for cheap! Going to the park is a must. Pack a lunch and bring some water because you will want to spend all day on these beautiful beaches!

white sand beaches

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

monkeys!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Titi Monkey! Peter took this pic.

 

All of our trips have been amazing. Like I said, I am just so thankful to be able to do all of the fun things we do!

We are going to Monte Verde Cloud Forest in about a week, and after that the only place we will have not gone is the Nicoya Peninsula (which I have heard is absolutely gorgeous!)

 

Hope there was some helpful advice in here! There is so much we are going to miss about this country, and these are just some of the reasons why. I never know there was so much to do in such a tiny country.

If you chose to visit Costa Rica make sure you do your research and know what kind of trip you want to have. Manuel Antonio vacations are geared more toward luxury and relaxation vacations, while more of an adventure vacation would include white water rafting and zip lining, and an eco-friendly vacation can be found in Tortuguero.

So many options, which one would you choose?

~Thanks for reading~

Pura Vida!

 

 

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Day 7: Pool with a view and a hot tub to boot!

Welcome to Ticavida!

Click HERE to see the rest of my 30 Day Challenge.

Oh man. One of the things I KNOW we will miss is the beautiful pool/hot tub/restaurant area with a view.

It’s at the top of the hill in our apartment complex and has a great view of the valley. We went up here to watch the TONS of firework displays that went off throughout the valley on New Years eve. Apparently, fireworks are not illegal here in certain areas like they are in the U.S.

Peter has even said that the next house we live in he wants to have a pool. We decided that it would be too much to take on in the first house we bought. But now we are experienced home owners, and we have experienced having a pool around over the past year, so I think the next house maaayy have to have a pool. 🙂

Imagine getting to experience this everyday. We are so going to miss it.

Pool area. That’s my mama on the right 🙂

 

Other side of the pool.

Fountain, with the restaurant in the background.

The view.

 

More of the view.

 

The edge of the pool allows the water to wash up a little. Nice if you want to “test” the water temperature.

Beautiful blue water! I was so relaxing with the sunshine and breeze.

 

Covered area by the pool. For those who don’t want skin cancer. It’s also great for get-togethers with friends or family!

HOT TUB! YEAH! This is our go to spot after 2 for 1 margarita night.

 

One of the tables in the restaurant area. Such a great place to eat dinner in the evenings!

More of the restaurant area. There are even more tables to the left.

 

And here’s mom again, enjoying her own margarita poolside! She definitely knows how to vacation. 🙂

I think we are going to have to find a new normal when we get back to Vegas…lol.

~thanks for reading~

Pura vida!

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Day 6: Holidays

Check out the days you’ve missed HERE!

Today is Thanksgiving, and boy is my cup overflowing with thanks to give!

I have spent the past (almost) year living a tropical life with the man I love, and last night my mom flew in from Dallas, Texas to spend Thanksgiving with us!!!

I kind of feel bad, though, because my mom has only been to three countries outside of the U.S. which includes Mexico (and, let’s be honest, if you live in Texas that’s like almost living in Mexico anyway), Canada and, that’ right folks, COSTA RICA! So instead of going somewhere new, she came back to this tiny country in Central America to see me. What a great mom, right?

Aqui es mi mamacita bonita!
Here is my beautiful mama!

When moving to Costa Rica, I flew in December 23, 2011. Christmas Eve, eve! We were off to Jaco Beach the next day to spend Christmas somewhere special, and not in our un-festive apartment.

It felt strange, though. We usually try and go to Missouri for Christmas, where Peter’s family is from, and it gets COLD there! We do fun traditions like watching the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, eating homemade pizza, riding four wheelers, and even cutting down a Charlie Brown-esqu Christmas tree from the yard and decorating it on Christmas Eve!

His family has so many great traditions that I love (and I KNOW Peter loves) that it was difficult being in a warm climate for the holidays. December is actually the first month of “summer” for Costa Ricans. The skies are blue every day without a drop of rain all month. Much different than the December we are use to.

Most Costa Ricans also take almost  the whole month off of work. Christmas is a big deal in this strong, Catholic country. Everyone heads to the beach for a week or two to enjoy the beautiful weather!

We stayed at a little hostel called Hotel Kangaroo. They even left a stocking on our doorstep Christmas morning filled with coffee and chocolates! How sweet!

I know, I look terrible, but how sweet of the hostel?!

Below are two pictures

of one store in Santa Ana to give you an idea of what Christmas is like around here now. These decorations have been up since the first of November…lol.

Christmas decor around town.

Truck full of Christmas trees!

Mom and I walked around downtown Santa Ana today. We stopped in the old Church in the center of town and said a few thankful prayers.

They had really cool doors!

Say a little prayer. My mom is Catholic, so this is about right.

At the church entrance.

Right now, we are just sitting here watching some football, about to start cooking our own version of Thanksgiving meal. It’s really starting to feel like home. 😀

We had breaded, baked chicken from what we picked up at the butcher that morning, fresh cut raw veggies, and instant mashed potatoes.

Cheers! Happy Thanksgiving!

Peter was nice enough to take this pic of us. 🙂 And the weather was so nice. Maybe 75 F.

Now, time to relax and finish up watching the Cowboys play! They’re home this year, in the town of Arlington, TX where I was born!!

I hope everyone out there had a restful and full Thanksgiving. This is the time of year that we should all feel appreciative of who we have around.

It has been a tough year for my family. Two members passed away, but that will all be in another post.

~Thanks for reading~

Pura Vida!

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