Posts Tagged With: travel

Day 28: Being Surrounded by Spanish

Click HERE to check out the days you’ve missed!

Learning another language is tough. I mean, a lot tougher than you might think. Heading to the Spanish-speaking, Central American country of Costa Rica, I thought to myself, “This will be a GREAT opportunity to practice my Spanish that I learned in high school and college!” Which it was. We both downloaded the Latin America version of Rosetta Stone before we moved and worked on it a little before moving. Peter only took a little French in college, so Spanish was a whole new language for him. I definitely think he was nervous that he would be totally lost and confused for the whole year when it came to communicating with others. However, Peter is a super-smarty guy and he picked it up relatively quickly, and now we are both on a pretty similar level of fluency (or lack there of…lol).

Peter is better at recalling vocabulary and forming sentences in a given situation while I am better at hearing and understanding Spanish, but have a hard time recalling the word I need to form a proper sentence. Or any sentence for that matter. I’m bad. Anyway, the two of us combined are a powerful, almost fluent in basic Spanish, machine! Separate, we can be pretty hopeless at times :-/

Most people have asked me, or assumed, that because we spent a year being surrounded by people speaking Spanish that we would have picked it up and be fluent by now. I would have asked me the same question or assumed the same if I were them. I mean, it’s been YEAR! Haven’t we learned anything?!

The short answer is, yes.

The not-so-short answer is that I had a reality check. I thought that I had this really great Spanish base to work off of once we arrived to CR. I was excited to practice the Spanish I already knew, and show off a little in front of Peter and impress him with my mad Spanish-speaking skills. I was wrong. I knew a few lines, like: Hola. Como esta? Muy bien, y tu? Como se llama? (which I actually said “Como te llama?” at first, until I was corrected, lol), Buenos dias. and, of course, Como se dice? which is usually the most important phrase to know if you are trying to learn the Spanish language. These were most of the main phrases I was familiar with, in addition to quite a bit of vocabulary. I was so confident! That is, until I get there and heard someone talk to me in Spanish and I. was. LOST.

People just spoke so fast, and I found myself getting frustrated because I recognized a lot of the words, but I couldn’t remember what the translation was. It was quite heartbreaking to realize I was not as far along as I thought…a bit of a rude awakening, actually.

Over the next few months Peter and I practiced Rosetta Stone as much as possible, and over time found improvement. We could get through simple and short interactions with locals. Our favorite was when a taxi driver (or any local) would realize that we spoke a little Spanish and continue to speak with us only in Spanish, but very clearly and slowly. We actually could have a decent, light conversation with someone by the end if they spoke like that. I’m sure we still messed up a few things here and there in our sentence forming and tenses and what not, but they got the just of what we were saying. That can be a problem too, though, because if you are saying something small wrong, and the person gets what you are saying and doesn’t correct you, then you just continue to say things wrong.

It was great having billboards and things to read as well on the way to school every day. I would see how much of it I could translate and watch my vocabulary expand. Also, eavesdropping on other people’s conversations on the bus was a fun way to test what I could and couldn’t understand 🙂

All in all, I miss being surrounded by Spanish. It really gets my mind in motion because I am constantly trying to recall words and phrases I recognize, or make note of the parts I don’t recognize to look up for later.

We were not surrounded by Spanish the whole time. Peter worked from home, so he didn’t interact as much with others and relied more on Rosetta Stone to teach him, and he would practice when we went out. I was out and about most days, so I picked up more Spanish from my surroundings and the culture. Now that I think about it, maybe that’s why I was better at understanding Spanish, and Peter was better at forming actual sentences, because I was around it more daily!

I think if we were living individually (where we didn’t have someone to speak English with) and lived with a Spanish-speaking only family, then we would be fluent by now. We picked up so much while there and not having very much Spanish interaction on a daily basis.

This is a side note, but I actually think I learned the most Spanish from the Kindergarten kids I taught. I was more on their level of Spanish.

Being home now, I know we both still try and translate other people’s Spanish conversation if we hear it. Sometimes it’s successful, and sometimes it’s not. I’ll admit, I want to continue with my Rosetta Stone learning, but I haven’t been as on top of it as I should be. Whoops!

I love that Peter and I have had the joy of learning another language together. We learned about team work in stressful situations. That’s pretty important in a relationship. It’s also just something we have formed a bond over. We still love to practice small sentences here and there now that we’re home, and I love that. It’s like our own love language 🙂

I also feel more self-confident. I know I still have a ways to go in learning Spanish fluently, but I also feel like I know so much more than I use to! It’s a great feeling.

~Thanks for reading~

Pura vida!

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

Day 27: Litter

Alright, alright. I know it’s been a while since I have posted, but you can all understand the craziness of the holidays, right? And that I flew 6 flight legs in 14 days between CR, Denver, Vegas, Kansas City, and Dallas….whew. We got home on the December 18th, unpacked, and then a few short days later threw some things in a bag and flew out last minute to MO (Peter’s home)! Yea, that’s pretty much the story of our life. It used to drive me crazy that Peter would always wait and make plans last minute, which he did because he could fly stand-by, but I’ve now come over to the dark side and find myself being a last-minute, on a whim traveler! I’m sure this annoys my family and I am really sorry about that!!! Love you guys!

Ok, now that I have done some explaining, on to covering today’s topic: Litter.

Nobody likes litter. It’s dirty, ugly and just rude in my opinion. Apparently Costa Ricans feel differently. There are many things I love and a few things I don’t about the people here, and littering falls under the latter category. 

I wanted SO bad to take a picture of some, but there were always people walking along the sidewalk and roads, or just hanging out outside of their house and I didn’t want them to look at me funny for taking pictures of trash on the side of the road with my fancy camera….

I should really get over the fear of judgment, though, if I want to take better photos while traveling. I may feel silly in the moment, but very rarely do I regret capturing the moment, no matter how silly I felt at the time.

Sorry, back to the litter. I just don’t understand it because it is such a beautiful country with abounding forests and greenery, but get near just about any city or busy town and there is just trash lining the sides of the highways, streets, and sidewalks. You would think they would want to keep Costa Rica beautiful. I mean, they are the ones that have to live there year-round. 

Once, while walking to the bus stop to go home after school, I watched a lady who was walking toward me dump out the contents of her plastic water bottle and then just toss the bottle over the guard rail. It landed near other bottles and paper-like trash. It made me so mad, though! I almost caught myself reacting. Grrr.

I will say, even though there are designated trash areas, they are sort of like elevated cages instead of trash cans, so I think the trash falls through the holes a lot of the time and then the wind blows it around. However, the lady mentioned above was near stores and things where she could have thrown her bottle away. 

I know it’s something small, but it is something I noticed and thought was really strange while living in CR 🙂

Three more posts until my 30-day challenge is complete!

To check out the days you missed, click HERE!

~Thanks for reading~

Pura vida!

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

Day 26: Walking Distance to Food and other Necessities

Click HERE to see the days you’ve missed!

Something that we’ve been spoiled by here is being so close to a fruit/veggie stand and a convenient store that has EVERYTHING. I don’t even know where they put it all because it’s a small store and they seriously have so many things in there.

The fruit/veggie stand guy runs his business off of his patio! I’m pretty sure his bedroom is where he hangs out when it’s slow and he can see through this hallway from the bedroom to the patio when someone enters his ‘store’ and he goes to the patio to help them. Peter and I regularly get bananas from him throughout the week and spend around 20 cents for three bananas!

The street we walk down to get to the store.

The street we walk down to get to the store.

The name of his store is La Amistad 🙂

La Amistad

La Amistad

The corner store near us, which is just past La Amistad, is called Super Rio Oro. I don’t even know where to start in naming off all of the things you can buy in this store. We have bought coke, beer, cream cheese, cottage cheese, toothbrushes, a notebook, ‘feminine products’, rice, fresh veggies, eggs, laundry soap, matches, soup, bouillon cubes, mashed potatoes, coffee filters, and tupper ware. There are many other things you can find there but these are just a few.

I should also probably mention that one time, while we were in the pasta isle, Peter told me to look at a certain item and about scared the crap out of me! When I looked, there were two little eyes staring back at me! There was this small black kitten that was prowling around through the items on the shelf! It was so cute. Definitely a big difference from the U.S.

Now that I have written it all out, I suppose these are all things that you can find in a convenient store in the U.S., but I think what is so shocking to us is that all of these things are either the same price or sometimes CHEAPER than the grocery store! That is definitely not the case with convenient stores in the U.S.

Super Rio Oro

Super Rio Oro

The bus stop out of town is right in front of this store, too, so it’s a pretty popular spot around this part.

It’s been so nice having these two stores so close, but before I am caught complaining too much, I should mention that we are a little less than a mile from a Smith’s (Kroger) and an Albertson’s back in Vegas. I hope that living here without a car will have helped us realize that it’s a feasible option to walk or bike to the store more often. Especially when the weather is nice. Vegas has a really nice and long Spring, so we should be taking advantage this year!

Do you walk or bike to get groceries, ever? Could it be an option for you that you just haven’t considered? Something to think about…

~Thanks for reading~

Pura vida!

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

Day 25: Some Expensive Food

Click HERE to check out the days you’ve missed!

I’ve noticed a lot of my posts are about food. Have I told you how much Peter and love food?? lol.

There are really cheap foods here in Costa Rica, like fruits, vegetables, and local name-brand items. The things that get expensive are pretty much anything American name branded….and cheese.

They put these tags on their shredded cheese to prevent theft!!!

They put these tags on their shredded cheese to prevent theft!!! It ranges between $5-$8 per bag.

Other costly items include:

grapes (can’t remember how much they are, but we saw the price on week one here and haven’t bought them since..lol)

Velveeta Mac n Cheese (It’s my favorite food!! and about $5/box)

wine (Menage a Trois=$24/bottle, Yellow Tail=$17/bottle, and Beringer…? I can’t remember how much Beringer was, but Yellow Tail was the cheapest out of the three!!) and last..

liquor is cheap, especially if you get it at the airport in the duty free store! We got so much last time that they GAVE us a suitcase for free to carry it away in!! (Sorry if you’re reading this, Lee and Kathy) 🙂

These are just a few things that stuck out the most to us. Pretty much anything with a U.S. brand is expensive. Most cereals (U.S., like Special K and what not) are around $5-$6 for a normal, small box!

You know though, I’m sure that this may be the reason I have lost so much weight while here. Fruits and veggies are low in price and American foods are higher in price…..interesting. If only the U.S. could get on this bandwaggon!!! It’s going to be tough going home, and more expensive…not looking forward to that.

Where are the cheapest places you find fresh fruits and veggies? Remember, we live in the desert of Las Vegas. I’m sure there are fresh foods available, just gotta find ’em!

~Thanks for reading~

Pura Vida!

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

Day 24: Work Work Work

Click HERE to see the days you’ve missed!

Jobs, we all gotta have one, right?

When Peter was first presented with the option to move to CR for work, I was in the middle of applying and interviewing for a job on the strip. I’ll admit, it was not a job in my career choice, but it paid good and Peter and I would be working the same night hours! Now, before you get too ahead of yourselves, it was just a hostessing position at a restaurant/nightclub in Mandalay Bay. What kind of girl do you think I am? 😉

We talked about me staying in Vegas and working and him coming to CR and working and just making it a long distance relationship for a year. We knew it would be tough, but we’ve done the long distance thing before in 2007 when he was graduated from college and I was still in my Senior year. He was in Vegas and I was in Arkansas. The difference is that we were lucky enough to have family who worked for Southwest and were extremely helpful with our flights back and forth. We don’t have that luxury for international flights… :-/

I decided to turn down the job (rather last minute, I felt sort of bad about it) and head to CR with Peter! I had always wanted to live in another country and learn a new language! Plus, we would be together.

I spent about three weeks in the States getting some things in order before following him down here, and it was about two weeks after my arrival that I found a job teaching on Craigslist! So random, right? Who knew Craigslist could be so helpful over international lines..?

I got a job teaching (mainly) 4th grade math, science, English, and social studies (U.S., and probably the most pointless class EVER for the kids). I also taught some other grades like 3rd math, 5th English, 6th English and even a few Kinder classes. They were all good grade levels to have. I really loved my 5th and 6th graders my last semester. They were a good group of kiddos!

Image

Image

 

Aren’t they adorable?!?

I learned a lot about myself from teaching these kids. I always considered myself a patient person….until now. It may sound bad, but there were so many times I thought I would loose my mind, or wanted to yell at them and unfortunately, there was a time or two I gave in and did. I felt so bad. I went home and just felt like the worst person on the planet. I would dwell on it for days and try and make it up to the kids. It was just such a terrible feeling. However, it was those days that raised my respect for teachers to such a high level there is no way to measure it. I am so impressed by a good teacher. They are able to have control of their classroom in a positive manor, and keep the kids’ attention and interest in learning.

I also learned that I love talking to children about what they are learning or have learned in the past, and I love the challenge of trying to think up fun ways to teach them something new! I think what would cause such frustration for me would be lack of materials to carry out most of the great ideas I would come up with (or see on Pinterest…lol)

There are no computers in our classroom and there is no printer available to teachers at the school. There was a copier, though. So, I would hand make my tests at home (thank goodness for white out!) and make copies in the morning before school or during the kids’ recess break. All our grades were kept on a hand written sheet as well and I would have to calculate them all at the end of every semester. I’m not sure how it’s done now, but there is no program to do the calculating for the teachers here, just the good ‘ole calculator between your ears!

I have already been taking continuing education credits for my Social Work license, so I can get a job as quickly as possible when we return home. My dilemma is that I don’t know what area of Social Work I want to apply for. There are older adults, mental health, troubled teens, young children (Actually, I don’t think I like working with young children. Normally the problem is their parents, not them), medical/hospital social work. There are so many, I’m not sure. I quess I just eed to start with one and see how I like it!

Just thinking about all of the little things we are going to need to pay for when we get back is daunting! Updating our cars and licenses to NV, finishing my Social Work CEUs( I need 30 and I have 6…yikes!), getting health insurance, looking for a job, and travelling to see our families for the holidays! Whew, I’m tired just from typing it!

I am so glad that for $750-$850/month I had a chance to come here and teach these little rug rats…

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

It goes further here anyway. And I got paid in USD!!

Oh, and this is what happens to the kids who don’t listen:

Image

 

Juuuuuuuuuuuuusssst kidding. This was just an accident. What? You believe me, don’t you? He tripped. Kids are clumsy like that…..

🙂

~Thanks for reading~

Pura vida!

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

Day 23: ~Fun Currency~

Click HERE to check out the days you’ve missed!

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 22: Costa Rican Foods We Will Miss

Click HERE to check out the days you’ve missed!

Today is 12/12/12!! Crazy! Just had to make a note. I’m just glad we will be home on the 18th, before the world ends on 12/21/12. That is, according to the Mayans… 🙂

Like I have mentioned before, Peter and I love food. Actually, we love good tasting foods and trying new foods! Once, we even tried cow tongue here! And it was actually good!!

Some of the natural foods we will miss include pineapple (it’s SOOO sweet and delicious here!), mamon fruit, pejivalle, fresh honey and Chicken.

Pejivalle. Food of the ancient people, boiled in salt water, dipped in mayo. Yum!

Pejivalle. Food of the ancient people, boiled in salt water, dipped in mayo. Yum!

Some of the cooked foods we love here include gallo pinto, plantain maduro, plantain chips, chicharrones, $5 sea bass platters and margaritas at our pool restaurant (they are delicious!!).

$5 sea bass platter at our favorite local dive

$5 sea bass platter at our favorite local dive 🙂

This platter includes the plantains and chicharrones!

This platter includes the plantains and chicharrones! OH! And I almost forgot Yuca! I love the fried yuca here.

Products we have grown to love here and we will most likely go to extreme lengths to seek out in the states include Tona (a Nicaraguan beer that’s light and crisp and delicious), Coca-Cola (it tastes way different and WAY better here. Peter and I rarely drink soda back home, but we did get down on some coke here. Also, the Coke Light is way better than Diet Coke, too), Lizano Salsa, and this Jalepeno sauce that we put on our eggs at breakfast!

Here they are! If you've seen any of these in the U.S. (minus the Coke) tell me where!

Here they are! If you’ve seen any of these in the U.S. (minus the Coke) tell me where!

We are going to have to hit up the Fiesta grocery store in Texas while we’re visiting over the holidays…

~Thanks for reading~

Pura vida!

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Day 21: Our Apartment

Click HERE to see the days you’ve missed!

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

IMG_5117

and a restaurant attached with delicious food and drinks!

IMG_5128

IMG_5166

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

IMG_5095

Even tennis courts!

IMG_5096

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 17: Close to Other Countries

Click HERE to check out the days you’ve missed!

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

Nicaragua 096

Nicaragua 045

Nicaragua 060

Nicaragua 085

 

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

Monteverde, Costa Rica

Hello friends!

Peter and I just got back last night from Monteverde, Costa Rica and we had a BLAST!

I must admit though, it did not start off that way. See, we bought a voucher off of Travelzoo.com for both of us to spend 2 nights at the Ficus Sunset Suites in Monteverde plus a canopy tour (zip-lining) for around $300.

We stayed on the bottom floor, and this was our awesome view!

We stayed on the bottom floor, and this was our awesome view!

Unfortunately, this was the only sunset shot I got before the clouds moved in. The hotel claims it has "the best sunset in town" so it was a shame we didn't get to see a good one. You can, however, see the gulf from the Pacific Ocean from here. It's the bright orange sliver.

Unfortunately, this was the only sunset shot I got before the clouds moved in. The hotel claims it has “the best sunset in town” so it was a shame we didn’t get to see a good one. You can, however, see the gulf from the Pacific Ocean from here. It’s the bright orange sliver.

We bought the voucher in September and decided not to use it until December so that we could have one last trip before returning to the states on the 18th. Plus, the voucher expired by December 15. We didn’t call to make the reservations through TravelbyJen (they were the ones offering the voucher on Travelzoo.com) until about two weeks before we left. We are sort of last minute planners. But it didn’t say anywhere on the voucher that we needed to make them within a certain time frame or anything. It actually said something like, “Buy the voucher now, and choose when you want to go later!” which is what we did.

When we did call to make the reservations, TravelbyJen’s super rude reservation/customer service guy told us that the voucher had expired. He said we had to reserve within 30 days of buying the voucher. Long story short, we argued with him for awhile, got attitudes back and forth, he seemed to think it was Travelzoo’s fault that it didn’t say that….anyway, it all worked out after about a week of going back and forth via e-mail with ‘Matt’ from TravelbyJen (never use them if you have the choice!).

We were just glad we got our reservations, the hotel was super nice and included a hot breakfast both mornings. Oh! And a yummy, complimentary pinacolada upon arrival!! I should also mention that to get there, we took the public bus (they are like coach buses) for $5 per person each way. It took about 5 hours to get there, and the last 2 hours was on a bumpy dirt road climbing uphill that was uncomfortably close to the edge of a pretty steep drop off… Our bus home was super nice though with air conditioning and a cup holder! What?!

Fancy drink holder.

Fancy drink holder.

Ready for take off!

Ready for take off!

Alright, on to the fun times.

We took the 2:30 p.m. bus from San Jose (the only other option was the 6:30 a.m. bus. Need I say more?) so we didn’t get in to Monteverde until 7:30 and we walked up this SUPER steep hill to get to our hotel that was close by. Let me just say that we walked a lot on this trip, and most of it was up and down hills. Actually, pretty much all of it was 🙂 Yay for natural exercise!

We drank our pinacoladas, settled in to our room for a bit and then headed off to eat dinner at a yummy restaurant called Morpho’s. Our food was delicious and we got a coffee ice cream ting for desert! We never get desert when we go out, so this was special.

Morpho's Restaurant

Morpho’s Restaurant

The next day we woke up, ate breakfast, and were off for our canopy zip-line tour  that was included in our package through Selvatura company. Peter and I had been zip-lining when we were in Arenal in January 2012 and were not really impressed by it, so we weren’t expecting much. We were wrong. Zip-lining here was amazing! The scenery was beautiful and they even have a zip-line that is 1km long! Peter and I had to go together because they said if one person goes alone then they will not make it to the end because they are too light! It was also actually fun riding down with Peter. On all the other zip-lines we rode individually. Great experience to share!

Peter!

Peter!

Me!

Me!

I should have mentioned that it was about a 20 minute, uphill, rocky ride up to Selvatura Park where they offer a lot of different activities, and once you are up there the shuttles only return during certain times to give you a ride back down the mountainside to your hotel. After zip-lining we still had a little less than 2 hours until the next shuttles came back, and we were wanting to go walk on the hanging bridges through the cloud forest anyway, so we decided to go for it.

One of the only pictures of us together. One of the drawbacks of traveling by ourselves.

One of the only pictures of us together. One of the drawbacks of traveling by ourselves.

This is what most of the walkways in between bridges looked like.

This is what most of the walkways in between bridges looked like.

The longest bridge!

The longest bridge!

SO much dense forest!

SO much dense forest!

Me, out on Bridge 4, the longest one!

Me, out on Bridge 4, the longest one!

Peter, just hangin' out! lol

Peter, just hangin’ out! lol

Can you see the person on the zip-line? This was the same one we did!

Can you see the person on the zip-line? This was the same one we did!

FYI, Peter and I both decided by the end of this trip that Monteverde is basically a tourist trap. If you go, it’s so far out of the way that you have no other options other than what’s available to you, and they know that, so they jack up the prices. Zip-lining was included in our package, so I don’t remember how much they posted it was to do that, but the walking bridges was an extra $25 per person! And that was with a $5 discount each! Don’t get me wrong. It was all absolutely beautiful, but if you visit just be prepared to spend a few bucks 🙂

After our zip-lining and walking the hanging bridges we were starving! So after the shuttle dropped us off at the hotel we headed off on foot in search of food. We came across this Tree House Restaurant that was very unique and the food was actually really good, too! I feel like normally when you find a restaurant that’s really unique, they are trying to compensate to terribly food. This was not the case here. Another win in the food category for our trip!

So much food! But sooo good!

So much food! But sooo good!

This is the same tree spilling over off of the patio.

This is the same tree spilling over off of the patio.

He was posing with the tree in the restaurant.

He was posing with the tree in the restaurant.

Peter gave the food two thumbs up!

Peter gave the food two thumbs up!

On our stroll back to the hotel for a little food coma nap, we passed by this place called Extremo that offered different activities, one happenning to be bungee jumping. We talked about it with each other because Peter has been trying to get me to do this for years, but I’ve always been too scared.  Peter mentioned how high it was and that it would probably be really expensive because it seemed like such a good jump. When we went in to get more information on it, they said it was only $60 per person!

Peter’s thinking: “That’s a steal!”  (because it cost him twice that much to do a similar height jump in New Zealand)

I’m thinking: “Do I really want my first time bungee jumping to be a bargain buy?” I mean, you get what you pay for, right?

We walked away, talked about it some more. I have actually been thinking about trying ti lately, I just never thought I would actually get the guts up to do it! I think the last-minuteness of it was what helped us to decide……………..to do it!!! That was our special surprise to all of my fb friends visiting. Sorry for the suspense 🙂  !!

I was freaked. They were picking us up at 7:30 the next morning and my hands were already getting clammy! They actually still are just thinking about the anticipation. lol

I tried not to think too much about it. I knew I was going to do it. I’m not the type to back out once I’ve paid for something. 🙂 So Peter and I didn’t talk much more about it until we were up on the mountain and getting our gear on!

I also have to admit that we rode up the mountain in a car with about 6 or 7 other people, to which I thought, “Great! I can watch some of these other people go first and feel more at ease!”  It turned out that Extremo also offers canopy zip-lining tours and ALL of the people in our van did that. So it was just Peter and I for the bungee….back in to the nervous state I went…

Us getting our harnesses on! Also, our 'guide', Danny, was trying to get this hummingbird to fly again that just flew into the window and looked a little loopy. that's what's in his hands! Poor thing!

Us getting our harnesses on! Also, our ‘guide’, Danny, was trying to get this hummingbird to fly again that just flew into the window and looked a little loopy. that’s what’s in his hands! Poor thing!

Next, Danny and Andres got all of our necessary ropes and carabiners and we set off on the suspended cable car. Oh man, was this part freaky. It was really windy that day, so the car would sway a little. Also, if the two guide were on one side of the car, then there was a really bad tilt. I think it freaked Peter out more than me, though, because he is SUPER afraid of heights!!! Lol, go figure. I should also mention this was his FIFTH time bungee jumping!

Definitely do NOT look down before you jump....look out at the beautiful mountains instead!

Definitely do NOT look down before you jump….look out at the beautiful mountains instead! This is the ledge we jumped off….

Another taken after we had bungeed.

Another taken after we had bungeed.

These are actually pictures taken after we had bungeed. Don't we look so happy?! lol

These are actually pictures taken after we had bungeed. Don’t we look so happy?! lol

This jump is the highest in Latin America, and the 4th highest in the world at 143 meters!

Below we have video from our helmet cameras for you to enjoy our fear 🙂

Peter’s jump!

My bungee jump!

I like Peter’s video more because you get a better view. Mine, you just get to see my terrified face the entire time. Sorry!

Also, another thought I wanted to add: I couldn’t help but think about something my friend, Veronica, mentioned to me once, and that is that once you have kids you don’t feel right about doing things like bungee jumping or sky diving. It seems so selfish. I want to thank her for that, because I’m not sure if Peter and I will ever have kids, but I do think she is right, and I was definitely thinking about that during the whole ‘getting ready’ process. We get more conservative the older we get and a lot of that is due to things like having children. It would seem very tragic if you happen to leave them alone in this world because of a leisure activity…

I’m really glad we did it, but I can’t say if I’ll ever do it again. Once was enough for me! It also helps that it was such a beautiful place, and such a high jump! No need to go again anywhere. lol.

Here is a youtube video of an Extremo Bungee jump.

~Thanks for reading~

Pura vida!!

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.