Costa Rica Roundup – Part Three

Christmas Day in Costa Rica turned out to be very quiet and relaxed. Unfortunately both Richard and Olive had upset stomachs. Olive had discovered the maracuya, a larger and slightly more sour type of passion fruit, and I suspect her tummy was telling her “enough with the maracuya!” Being the highbrow family that we are, we couldn’t get through the day without numerous references to maracuya and poohya…I always thought girls were meant to be immune to all that toilet humor!!

Oliva and Edie posing with one of the many and varied Nativity scenes we encountered during our trip.
Olive and Edie posing with one of the many and varied Nativity scenes we encountered during our trip.
Despite the dodgy tummies we did manage to make it down to Dominicalito Beach for a couple of hours...just like a real Kiwi Christmas day.
Despite the dodgy tummies we did manage to make it down to Dominicalito Beach for a couple of hours…just like a real Kiwi Christmas day.
Watching the hundreds of hermit crabs on the go was fun.
Watching the hundreds of hermit crabs on the go was fun.
Olive and her sloth. Our non stuffed animal lover instantly fell in love with this one...of course we left it behind :(
Olive and her sloth. Our non stuffed animal lover instantly fell in love with this one…of course we forgot to pack it!
Watching the sun set at Dominical beach on Christmas night. Magic.
Watching the sun set at Dominical beach on Christmas night. Magic.

On Boxing Day we went back to Ballena National Park to take a walk on the whale’s tail. It literally has the shape of a whale’s tail and is a place where humpback whales come twice a year. You can only walk on the tail when the tide is out so you have to time it right or you could get stranded.

The whale's tail from above.
The whale’s tail from above.
Our more down to earth view.
Our more down to earth view.
Once again Edie spent every possible moment in the water.
Once again Edie spent every possible moment in the water.
Our last adventure in Costa Rica was a trip to the Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary.
Our last adventure in Costa Rica was a trip to the Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary.
We got to meet all sorts of wildlife who had been rescued from various situations.
We got to meet all sorts of wildlife who had been rescued from various situations.
It's illegal to keep Costa Rican wildlife as pets, but many people do. When the animal is discovered it often ends up at Alturas. They also take in animals who have been injured or mistreated.
It’s illegal to keep Costa Rican wildlife as pets, but many people do. When the animal is discovered it often ends up at Alturas. They also take in animals who have been injured or mistreated.
The goal is to rehabilitat the animals and, if possible, get them back into the wild. Once released, many of the animals keep very close to the sanctuary and have been known to pop back for a visit.
The goal is to rehabilitate the animals and, if possible, get them back into the wild. Once released, many of the animals keep very close to the sanctuary and have been known to pop back for a visit.
I never thought I would describe a porcupine as cute but this wee girl was so adorable.
I never thought I would describe a porcupine as cute but this wee girl was so adorable.
Apparently these wee critters taste amazing - ugh - but as a result are very endangered.
Apparently these wee critters taste amazing – ugh – but as a result are very endangered.
Olive and Edie loved getting up close and personal with all the animals.
Olive and Edie loved getting up close and personal with all the animals.

And so the sun set on our Costa Rican adventure. Pura Vida is a phrase used a great deal in Costa Rica. Loosely translated it means the good life, living well, things are going great…perhaps even…no worries…it’s a sentiment we tried desperately to keep in mind when we arrived home late on the 29th to discover…

"Oh ?@*$!"....breathe...Pura Vida, Pura Vida, Pura Vida!
“Oh $#@*!”….breathe…Pura Vida, Pura Vida, Pura Vida!

 

Costa Rica Roundup – Part Two

We spent a quiet Tuesday morning, breakfasting at a great cafe (so good we ended up eating there three times), taking in the beautiful views and watching a few locals get their downward dog on in a beachfront yoga class.

Good food, stunning view...happy, happy :)
Good food, stunning view…happy, happy 🙂

Our adventure for the day was a zip lining tour, high up in the hills near the Osa mountain village. After a very bumpy and very steep ride on the back of a truck we arrived at the start of the course…a rather high zip line stretching off into the distance. “We’ll take the kids for the first one and then they can do the rest themselves”, I was cheerily told by our instructors. Um…I don’t think so!

Getting ready to fly.
Getting ready to fly.
I had to eat my words. Olive was immediately zipping away all by herself...
I had to eat my words. Olive was immediately zipping away all by herself…
and Edie was not far behind her. They even had to control a brake and slow themselves down before reaching the platform at the end of each line. Once again, very impressed with my girls!
and Edie was not far behind her. They even had to control a brake and slow themselves down before reaching the platform at the end of each line. Once again, very impressed with my girls!
It was so much fun...even I loved it.
It was so much fun…even I loved it.
Edie making her way down to the ground.
Edie making her way down to the ground.
Enjoying the rope swing at the end of the course.
Enjoying the rope swing at the end of the course.
And just in case you thought our wonderful pool wasn't getting any use...this is how every spare moment was spent. Edie would dash from the car, strip and jump straight in!
And just in case you thought our wonderful pool wasn’t getting any use…this is how every spare moment was spent. Edie would dash from the car, strip and jump straight in!

We spent Christmas Eve on a horse trek to the beautiful Nauyaca Waterfalls. I have to admit to being somewhat nervous as it had been a very long time since I’d been on the back of a horse and I wasn’t sure how the girls would get on. Once I’d reconciled myself to the fact that my horse had to be at the front of the pack, regardless of who she had to push out the way, or how fast she had to move to get there, I managed to relax and enjoy myself. Edie didn’t like it at all to begin with but after we’d had our first rest stop, she announced that everything was ok as she could now “communicate with horses”. Whatever she said to herself or to the horse, clearly worked because she loved every minute of the rest of the trip. Olive took to it like a duck to water and Richard, mounted on the dubiously titled “Tequila”, declared it one of the more boring activities he’d taken part in! What the…?

Saddled up and ready to hit the trail.
Saddled up and ready to hit the trail.
We made two stops for a traditional breakfast and lunch and were treated to some spectacular wildlife.
We made two stops for a traditional breakfast and lunch and were treated to some spectacular wildlife.
In the words of Dora the Explorer, "Senor Toucan!"
In the words of Dora the Explorer, “Senor Toucan!”
Me and my Speedy Gonzales!
Me and my Speedy Gonzales!
Oooo...this would be good for a Christmas card...one year I'll get around to sending some!
Oooo…this would be good for a Christmas card…one year I’ll get around to sending some!
Beautiful.
Beautiful.
One of our guides climbing the waterfall to set up the jumping station...you can guess who was suddenly not so bored any more...
One of our guides climbing the waterfall to set up the jumping station…you can guess who was suddenly not so bored any more…
hope his expensive teeth are still in there!
hope his expensive teeth are still in there!
During the lunch break it was time for some entertainment monkey style.
During the lunch break it was time for some entertainment monkey style.

Another exhilarating and exhausting day. Time for a very quiet Christmas 🙂

Costa Rica Roundup – Part One

In my previous post I did promise to write about every day of our Costa Rican adventure but in all honesty I was too whacked at the end of each fun filled day to attempt anything more than drinking a glass of wine and documenting the range of visitors that turned up in the grounds of the house after dark. I told myself I would write when we got home but, as many of you know, we arrived home to discover some pretty serious water damage…as a result my focus was somewhat diverted!

So this is my cheat’s version. I’ve been through the hundreds – I kid you not – of photos that we took, and picked what I think are the best. I won’t hit you with all fifty odd of them at once. Some today, some tomorrow and maybe some the next day. Hopefully they capture what was a wonderful holiday.

Our nest adventure after surfing was a snorkeling trip. We met the boat crew at the Ballena National Park, where the entrance was surrounded by lots of colorful buildings.
Our next adventure after surfing was a snorkeling trip. We met the boat crew at the Ballena National Park, where the entrance was surrounded by lots of colorful buildings.
It was beautiful - lush greens and palm trees galore.
It was beautiful – lush greens and palm trees galore.
You get the picture?!
You get the picture?!
Loading up the boat.
Loading up the boat.
Highlight of the whole day - seeing dolphins galore. Amazing!
Highlight of the whole day – seeing dolphins galore. Amazing!
En route to Cano Island National Park.
En route to Cano Island National Park.
The girls had lots of fun finding interestingly shaped coral on the island.
The girls had lots of fun finding interestingly shaped coral on the island.
And doing their best to promote Billabong!
And doing their best to promote Billabong!
As Cano Island is a National Park we weren't allowed to take anything with us. If we could ave, these two would have been in my pocket.
As Cano Island is a National Park we weren’t allowed to take anything with us. If we could have, these two would have been in my pocket.
With Eric, our very cool snorkeling guide.
With Eric, our very cool snorkeling guide.

I didn’t get any photos whilst we snorkeled – Edie absolutely loved it, Olive not so much. I made the mistake of screaming out “shark!” excitedly, as a small one swam below us…and that was it…couldn’t get her back in the water. I was very impressed with both of them though. We weren’t snorkeling in the shallows near the island – they had to jump off the boat into deep water, not something I would have done at their age.

It was a great day. By the end we were all exhausted and, sad to say, somewhat sun burnt! I’m sure all our dreams that night were full of the dolphins, sea turtles, exotic fish and even the sharks we had seen…in Olive’s case, nightmare might be the more appropriate word 😦

Surfin’ Costa Rica

I am somewhat ashamed to admit that it has been over six months since I posted. That has the dubious honour of being a record for me since I started blogging over four years ago. I’ve been away from this space for many reasons – which I won’t go into here!! Suffice to say that as our Costa Rican adventure drew near, I knew it was now or never. If a dream holiday in a stunning destination couldn’t spur me into action then I think all would have been lost for onthecroadagain. The messages I also received, politely asking just what in the hell had happened to the Croad family, were also a much needed kick in the pants. So here we are – surfin’ Costa Rica!

Just in case you'd forgotten what I looked like...here is the obligatory "I'm on a beach in Costa Rica" selfie :)
Just in case you’d forgotten what I looked like…here is the obligatory “I’m on a beach in Costa Rica” selfie 🙂

We are here in Costa Rica for Christmas largely because of a set of teeth – Richard’s to be precise. He was in great need of some pretty major dental work but the quote given to him by a dental group in Winchester was…to put it politely…somewhat on the high side. Richard was not impressed when the dentist quipped, “hey, it’s only a new car right?”.

And this is the kind of new car the dentist was referring to...new set of teeth or Audi...new set of teeth or Audi...Audi??!!
And this is the kind of new car the dentist was referring to…new set of teeth or Audi…new set of teeth or Audi…Audi??!!

Being the resourceful chap he is, Richard was soon furiously researching other options and lo and behold, it transpires that Costa Rica is a great place to go if one is in the mood for a spot of dental tourism. I have to admit to experiencing some trepidation at the thought of a) Richard heading off to a tiny central American nation to have his mouth transformed and b) a significant change in the way he looked. My only experience of anyone having major dental changes was when my Dad (and I’m sure he won’t mind me mentioning this – right JBG??) had a new top plate thingy put in and it took everyone months to get used to the dazzling white teeth that emerged every time he opened his mouth.

Ok...I'll admit...this is not JBG...but the pearly whites are pretty spot on!
Ok…I’ll admit…this is not JBG…but the pearly whites are pretty spot on!

When the Costa Rican quote came in at a significantly cheaper rate – second hand Ford focus anyone? – the deal was sealed. In late June, Richard made his first trip down here, and it was anything but a tropical vacation with a bit of time in the dentist’s office on the side. The phone calls home were miserable, chronicling nine hour stints in the dentist’s chair, needles, crowns, implants….ugh. But by the end of the week, Richard had endured all the prep work and had made a firm friend in Guillermo – a taxi driver who helped endear him to the seemingly haphazard Tico lifestyle in the mixed bag metropolis that is San Jose.

Richard needed about six months before his return trip to complete all the work, and as that coincided with late December, we decided to take advantage of the opportunity and make his return to Costa Rica a bit of a family adventure. Richard went on ahead of us to get the final work done on his chompers and on Friday the girls and I flew down to join him. (And just in case you are wondering he looks just like the same…ahem…old Richard…and he’s been thrilled with the overall result.)

Ok...not Richard...Ed Harris and his smashing smile. On our first trip to Paris ten years ago, an American couple approached Richard and asked him "are you that famous actor?". We stupidly never asked which actor they were referring too, but we are pretty sure it was Ed.
Ok…not Richard…Ed Harris and his smashing smile. On our first trip to Paris ten years ago, an American couple approached Richard and asked him “are you that famous actor?”. We stupidly never asked which actor they were referring too, but we are pretty sure it was Ed.

We stepped out into the gloriously warm city of San Jose late on Friday afternoon and rendezvoused with Richard in the early evening, after he got the sign off from the head honcho at the dentist. Saturday morning was spent hunting down a few necessities – flip flops and sunscreen – then we hopped in our car and began the drive to Dominical. On our way there we had our first encounter with some of the abundant Costa Rican wildlife. We made a stop at a bridge which crosses over the Tarcoles river. There were souvenir stalls set up and lines of people making there way to the middle of the bridge, cameras in hand. As we passed one of the stalls we got an inkling of what we were in for…

bet they have good looking teeth.
bet they have good looking teeth.

We followed the lines of people and once at the middle of the bridge, leaned carefully over. We were met with this sight…

yes, it's a river full of crocodiles! Welcome to Costa Rica!
yes, it’s a river full of crocodiles! Welcome to Costa Rica!

On our arrival in Dominical we met up with Neil, originally from London but an avid surfer, hence his relocation to Costa Rica. We followed his car to the start of a very rough and steep looking dirt track, at which Neil let out a cry of “yee hah!” and we began our ascent to Gorde Vista, our home for the next week.

I think we are in for a pretty great week!
I think we are in for a pretty great week!
Mmmm...suspect we will have difficulty getting the girls out of the house to explore Costa Rica.
Mmmm…suspect we will have difficulty getting the girls out of the house to explore Costa Rica.
Looking up at the house from the garden. Just beautiful.
Looking up at the house from the garden. Just beautiful.

After much admiring of the house and garden, swimming, unpacking, swimming, grabbing a few groceries, swimming, popping out for a quick bite at a local seafood restaurant and more…you guessed it…swimming…it was time to hit the hay. We had to be up bright and early for the first of our adventures – surfing lessons for the girls at Dominical beach.

Monday morning was a scorcher. We met up with Steven – authentic Californian surfer dude – and the girls began learning the key steps to hanging ten…

first it's paddle, paddle, paddle...then pull yourself up into cobra pose...
first it’s paddle, paddle, paddle…then pull yourself up into cobra pose…
then pop up and adopt cool surfer stance...after that it's time to grab your board and head into the ocean.
then pop up and adopt cool surfer stance…after that it’s time to grab your board and head into the ocean.
Edie surprised us all by instantly getting the hang of it.
Edie surprised us all by instantly getting the hang of it.
My favourite picture of the day - love that concentration and determination.
My favourite picture of the day – love that concentration and determination.
Surfin' Safari!
Surfin’ Safari!
Olive in action.
Olive in action.

After all that excitement and action we spent the afternoon at home watching the monkeys playing in the trees next to our house…

I feel the need for a David Attenborough voice over as we encounter all this wild life!
I feel the need for a David Attenborough voice over as we encounter all this wild life!

and getting acquainted with some of our other neighbours…

Perhaps it will transform into Ed Harris if I kiss it!!
Perhaps it will transform into Ed Harris if I kiss it!!

Right – my word count tells me I have written over one thousand words which means this is in danger of resembling a university essay. We have had another action packed and animal filled day today…about which I will attempt to write after tomorrow’s action packed day. I suspect I will need another vacation to recover from this one!