Tuesday, July 29, 2008

La Semana Playa

So there I was again in Punta Leona, the same beach I went to last month with my friend Maria. This time the trip was with my office. It was the Communications Conference; nine people from other offices in Latin America came for the week. I must admit, I did more relaxing than conference-ing, some may have even thought I was an "intruder" (shut up Marco) ...but then again, I was paying myself and I shared a room with my friend/co-worker Diana. The good thing was that I was able to meet/mingle with everyone, which was my goal. It's all about NETWORKING! Since Punta Leona is an all inclusive resort, we didn't have to leave. All meals were buffet and at night everyone came to the bar on the beach and hung out. They had music playing at the outdoor disco one night....of course I danced. After that about 7 of us went into the ocean. It was awesome! Steve is the director of my department and a very cool guy...I really got to know him on this trip....he brought his bike with him, so one afternoon, I rode 10 miles.....10 very hilly miles. Im so glad I went! Friday, the confernece wrapped up with lunch on the beach and we took a group photo.
Here I am with Diana ... she is so funny...and beautiful! (that is her in the bikini above) We had a good time being roomies.
Steve and I left Punta Leona and arrived to the ferry dock at 330p and the next one wasn't leaving til 7p. We got a good space in line though....Steves car is the last one in the pic.Luckily he was prepared, he broke out the beach chairs and his guitar, I got ice cream from the Dos Pinos guyand we bought a 6 pack cuz we were thir-sty ....then we chilled......

It wasn't so bad....Kate and Ernesto took a bus from San Jose to meet us at the ferry, normally a 2 hour trip....it took them 6, due to an accident. There are some horrible drivers here! It seems all of the wrecks are from people driving on the shoulder, mostly motos and scooters, but in this one, a huge semi tried to get around 2 other semis and GOT STUCK! Yes the 2 lane pista was totally blocked with 3 semis in a row. Their bus unloaded and they had to just hang out until it was cleared. The ferry left at 7p and they arrived at 645p. whew! Once on, we moved to the front.....
before being kicked out of this area (with an anncouncement over a loud speaker) I had a TITANIC moment......Steve suggested we stay at
Los Mangos, he had stayed there several times and really liked it. It had a balcony overlooking the water, a nice pool and 3 beds.....perfect! Very basic rooms, but color makes all the difference, look how cute with the orange walls and blue trim.....
Montezuma, somtimes called Montefuma, (fumar means to smoke) is so cute. Very small and no proper hotels...I love that! There is a laid back hippie feel....hence, the FUMA reputation. Here is Kate on the main drag, we were heading to breakfast....El Sano Banano. Even though we were to go hiking that day, Ernesto thought it necessary to do a cross fit after breakfast. He is obesessed I tell you! Its good though, he is really motivating me. I joined him out by the pool and we did 25 sqauts followed by 25 burpees, then two more sets each of 15 then 9... UGH!
Cabo Blanco is a nature reserve right on the tip of the Nicoya Peninsula and the oldest of Costa Rica's protected wilderness. My Lonely Planet book said the trails were really nice. They were. Since we had Steve's car, the 11k drive was easy, yet adventurous! The 4wheel drive was necessary! I was the official camera woman.....Steve has this great little camera shaped like a pistol. I got some action footage.....my audition for a new career???It was 4.5K one way to a secluded beach. It was a darn intense hike too. The LP book says plan for 2 hours, but since we had a late start and the park closed at 4p, we made in an hour- 15min. We all looked like we just stepped out of the shower....drenched in sweat. Im not going to point any fingers, but let's just say, bringing a bottle of rum WAS NOT my idea. This was the ONLY sip I took before realizing....hmm, that's not refreshing! Besides the great trail being a great workout, we saw some cool stuff. We saw monkeys and I got this great shot of one tearing apart a HUGE grasshopper. This lizard was such a bright green....The other thing I thought picture worthy were these mushrooms.....have you ever seen such pretty mushrooms....I bet they were MAGIC MUSHROOMS! (although we did not test)We even saw Tarzan.......................Nester actually went on this hike with flip flops? Not sure what he was thinking ..half way through he took them off and went bare foot. His "beach towel" taken from the hotel, completed the "just got out of the shower" look.Finally on the home stretch....we could see the ocean.....We only had about 45 minutes before we had to get back on the trail, it gets dark pretty early in a thick jungle. We broke out our snacks....plantano chips, with sal y limon. I really love these and Ill eat a whole bag. I tell myself they are ok because they are bananas.We took the necessary pics on a gorgeous almost deserted beach, then started to hike back.We were dead tired after our day hiking, but made it over to Cocolores, a great French inspired restaurant on the water...full of people and the fish was FRESH! Steve and Kate tried the fish curry which was amazing! We passed out pretty early that night, so the next morning we were up at 7am. We crossed the street for breakfast at Amor de Mar....a place I read about in a magazine which had the most beautiful setting on the beach and had a girl playing acoustic guitar and singing to us. It was perfect! We all did our own thing after eating the buffet of eggs, gallo pinto and fresh fruit (with granola y yogurt on top, my favorite!) Steve was the only ambitious one. He went on a bike ride (which he filmed) while the rest of us relaxed in hammacks on the beach reading....and stuff. In the afternoon though we did want to do something active and you must make it to the waterfalls. So after a beer and ceviche for lunch we made it to the trail. It was an easy 30 minute hike starting really close to our hotel.
The trail had really big rocks and we had to get in the water at a few points. ...although it was nothing like the hike in Cabo Blanco, we were sweating when we reached and jumped in immediately. Here is just a quick little blip of the falls in motion. It was really hard to swim up close, it was like one of those lap pools...and once you did get there, you couldn't see in front of you. Here I am standing behind the waterfall, ready to dive in......After the falls, the plan was to get some drinks and snacks and head to the beach for the sunset. Not until we totally set up camp did we realize that we were on the EAST side of the peninsula. Ah? Hello? DAMN IT! Oh well......Bavaria y beach....still a great combo
The 3 girl/boyscouts got a fire started (I helped ...I did collect some sticks)This next pic is not to show how excited we look, but that we did have a good fire going! Our last night we headed out to Mono de Luz for dinner, it was a shame that we were the only ones in the restaurant because it was a really cool space. So yes, the ambiance was lacking, but the food was pretty good.Ernesto ordered a whole grilled fish.
Monday was a feriado for us, so we didn't have to work! woo-hoo! We got on the road by 9 am though to get in line for the ferry back to Puntarenas. The drive was so pretty...this is why they call is "green season"We weren’t sure of the ferry times, but we were sure there would be a line. Of course we arrived 45 minutes after the ferry left …..so we had to wait 3 hours, but at least were first in line. So just like before, Steve broke out the beach chairs, and we relaxed. It was really nice actually, we were sitting on the water, I was in my bathing suit getting more sun (with sunscreen) listening to my ipod and eating mango with lime and salt. The 3 hours went by in a flash....how could you be bothered by waiting when the view is like this? ... and then we were boarding
Once on the boat, it was entertaining. Since our car was first in line Steve snagged a sweet table ...right where the karaoke was going on.....it was a party! Another two hours in the car and we were home at 530pm. A very tiring but fun trip! It felt so good when I walked into our clean apt, it felt like i was gone a long time......... only 3 days to work this week.....then another feriado on Friday! I think it is to celebrate la Virgin Maria. Did I mention that I love it here?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Fiesta de Caipiguaros

Eduardo is back in town for two days from his trip through central america...he is leaving Monday returning to Brazil. In the 6 months he has ben here he made a huge group of international friends. He wanted to have one last party before he goes and Kate offered her place. Instead of the Brazilian favorite Caipirinias, which uses cachaça, we used the costa rican liquor, Guaro. Hence the name Caipiguaros. Ernesto Kate and I went to the market in the morning and bought fruit for the drinks. Lime, strawberries and my personal favorite ..........maracuyá (passion fruit) The seeds were just left in the drink and they were so good.
Eduardo was the official bartender, but after ordering my third drink, he taught me how to make it myself:) Which was great because this is how I started talking to Gillian (in pic below). I made her a caipiguaro. She's Americana, lives in San Jose and works for the Tico Times newspaper! We are going to get together soon....and speak spanish of course!Kate and I really like this next picture because it reminds us of a 1970's ad for....some kind of alcohol. Don't you think? looking through the arch into the kitchen? The lighting is horrible, but I like the way it turned out.I met Maxime through Eduardo. He is a Frenchie and will be in Costa Rica only a few more weeks. Que triste! I have to post this picture of me with him because it is the only one I have where his eyes are actually open! Muy fotogenico Max!We took a group shot with everyone using the timer.
The plan was to go to Castros for dancing....YES! salsa dancing! (thanks for listening to my request Edu!) Some of us couldn't wait to dance...I did make an awesome playlist on my ipod for the party so it was hard to NOT dance. A mix of reggaeton, salsa, hip-hop, reggae...let me know if you want a copy:) We rolled into Barrio Mexico at about 1130pm. Castros is a cool club. There is a great mix of people and that means great people watching! Las chicas con Eduardo and his brother. The dance floor was packed! Too crowded! There is one dance that I just sit and stare, it is Cumbia....and I MUST learn it. Here I watch and learn ......must.........learn......cumbia.........Check out this short video. You may want to learn it too. They dance it very differently here..it is like swing dancing and it looks like such a workout! ...and to answer your question T.J.....NO, it was not raining in there! I was sweating my a%$ off. Thank you very much! (he commented on this picture in Facebook) This was actually after I danced the best 15 minutes of salsa in my life! It was one of Eduardo's friends Chalo. During my 15 minutes of fame, the heel of my shoe got caught on someone and I fell....gracefully!! Then got up and carried on dancing! I usually love crowds, but on the dance floor you need some space!! Lots of great action shots taken that night! Oh, these guys could break your back if your not careful!
"apple bottom jeans (skirt), boots with (no) fur, the whole club was lookin' at her, she hit the floor, next thing you know, shorty got low low low low low low low low low"
....As long as we GO HOME together at the end of the night, right?
As you can imagine, we were dead tired on Sunday. Coming home at 4am is....somethin' different. Kate and I laid out in the sun for a couple hours and Ernesto slept until 230p. He said..."Man, I just can't do that anymore" Im tempted to post the picture I took of him when he laid down in bed that night.....Kate and I stood in the doorway laughing. Crazy Nester! Ill save him the ridicule.....this time! Our co-worker and neighbor had some people over to celebrate Colombias Independence Day Sunday night. More dancing and great food! and just a one minute walk. Thats about all we could handle.


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