Friday, December 30, 2005

Manuel Antonio for my Birthday

Yeah buddy it was my birthday, just turned 31 on Dec. 27. I can't think of a better way to spend my birthday, besides the usual snowboarding in the cold countries. Kearstin, a friend from grad. school came down and we headed out to Manuel Antonio. I gave her a good lesson on beach bum etiquette. Drink lots of water and use a sarong to lounge on not a regular towel, which becomes a sand sponge.

The beaches in Manuel Antonio are extremely beautiful. Nice big spaces with trees for shades. The waves were small enough for kids, but occasionally big enough to twirl you around for a spin while body surfing.

But mostly we just sat under a beach umbrella napping and reading. I'm getting over a sinus infection so I had to forgo the alcohol and smoke for my birthday. Oh well, kind of getting over all of that as I get older.

One piece of advice: The week after Christmas is the busiest time for beaches in Costa Rica. There were huge lines to get into the national park. Some people didn't get in. We got in, but we promptly left because it was totally crowded. This may have jaded my opinion of the area, but I still prefer Puerto Viejo over Manuel Antonio.

It was a lot harder getting around Manuel Antonio. All of the cab drivers refused to use the meter, so you were getting jacked if you needed to take a cab. Riding the bus was difficult because the bus only stops at designated stops. I'm not sure who designates the spots because half of them weren't marked. You had to be a local to know where to get on. We were literally 20 meters away from the stop and the bus driver just kept driving. This hardly ever happens in CR, if you are close and flag the bus they usually stop. This was a little irksome when coupled with non-metered taxis and curvy, dangerous for pedestrian roads.

But we still had a blast. Who doesn't on the beach?? Also big thanks to Jacqueline for referring us to Cabinas Piscis. This place was super cheap, $20 dollars a night for a room, the hostess was nice and spoke easy to understand spanish, great breakfasts, and they were a short trail walk to the beach.

On the way home we were at the bus stop in Quepos. There was a very small earthquake. I felt it, but dammit, I wasn't going to lose my place in line at the ticket booth, but I was going to dart out if the roof was collapsing. There were no walls. Kearstin was wandering around, she didn't feel the quake. But, that didn't stop some random guy trying to drag her out to the rode. She thought he was crazy and no she isn't going out to the rode with him, she's not a stupid gringa. He's thinking she's crazy for staying under the bus shelter! The earthquake's epicenter was in Escazu and Adam, in the central valley, said it felt like somebody punched him. No damage to our building or the nearby roads.

Tomorrow we are heading to Zancudo with the possy from Portland. Kurt & Rachel, Kirsten & Darren, Dan & Julene, Kearstin, and Monty. We've been planning this trip for a long time and are really excited. It's nice having your old friends around.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Panama City, Chitre, David, Gorgona Beach, Casco Viejo

Well it was time to renew my visa. One can only be in Costa Rica for up to 90 days and then you have to leave for three days. I went by myself and enjoyed travelling alone, but I missed Adam!!

Day 1: Board bus in San Jose to David. This was not air conditioned first class bus. Luckily I got to sit next to Brice from Orphan Art. He travels around with art supplies to developing countries, gets the kids to draw stuff, he then sells the art and donates the money back to the original village. The day ended in David Panama, with little fanfare, not much happening in David.

Day 2 Hop on luxury bus with AC to Chitre to visit my friend Don who is opening a restaurant. There isn' really much happening there, but apparently there are a lot of nationwide fesitvals that occur in this town. Don's new restaurant is across the street from a bar that shows porno TV. Kind of funny.

Day 3 I hopped the short bus for Panama City. Made it to my hotel and took a short walk.

Day 4 Walked around Casco Viejo and then headed over to the Panama Canal. Check out our photo site were there are a lot of photos of old Panama city and good descriptions of the Panama Canal.

Day 5 I hired a driver to take me around the city. First we went out to Gorgona Beach. By this time I was really questioning my driver. I think there was an exhaust leak in that car. Everytime I got in I fell fast asleep to smells of exhaust. So much for a scenic trip. Next we went back into town, stopped at an artisan market where I bought a bunch of Christmas presents. Next we went to a hill top park and took a bunch of pictures.

Next we went to a large urban nature park, took a 45 minute hike and then went out to some islands on the bay one of which had an aquarium park and a good view of the passing boats.

Don't forget to check out the rest of the photos, cause they took me forever to load.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Newcomer's Club of Costa Rica

Monday I went to the Newcomer's Club Christmas party where we donated a bunch of gifts to a local orphanage and watched the Country Day School's children's choir. Sounds nice and tame, but it was hilarious. The Newcomer's club is not necessarily for newcomers, there are women that have been apart of the club for 15+ years. It is basically a social club for english speaking women. These women are quite hilarious. The women were so loud talking up a storm, it took about 10 minutes to get people quite and attentive. You could have sworn they were drinking something else besides coffee.

I hooked up with a bunch of ladies the next day to go poinsetta shopping, yes I am turning into a lady of leisure...

Before heading out for poinsettas we had lunch somewhere. Quote of the day "All a girl needs is a shotgun, you don't have to aim". These are women who have been living in Latin America for decades, before tourists, before fast food places showed up.

Funniest story:

My husband had to leave for the evening so I slept with my machete. In those days having a machete was a part of your outfit, everybody had one and we kept them sharp. Well that night I heard something so I snuck down beneath the window with my machete. Well this was the days of bell bottoms, and I saw a leg coming through the window and I wacked it with my machete. I missed the leg but I got the bell bottom. I couldn't get the machete out and so the man was stuck there for a while. Needless to say nobody every broke in again, "the crazy gringa woman lives there."

I have a lot to learn from these ladies. This lady was from Eugene Oregon and wants to go rafting soon. Although she says nothing in Costa Rica compares with the McKenzie River.

After lunch we headed out to vivero row. This road was lined with viveros and all of them went back from the road with acreas of plants. I just got done reading Botany of Desire so I was pretty interested in the plants. This is unusual because the only thing I look for in a houseplant is that it is green and bushy. The garden is usually Adam's domain. So if you come to Costa Rica and want to go plant shopping I know where to go.

We also found the bird zoon Ave Zoo, but didn't go in. Looks pretty nice. We also drove by the Ojo de Agua, a swimming area for locals.