Surf Lessons

Today I (Joe) and another couple from Canada took an intro surfing lesson here on Playa Hermosa from Brian, who runs Hermosa Surf Vacations. The surf was unusually small today for Playa Hermosa, so there were no ‘real’ surfers in the water but it was perfect for someone with almost no surf experience like myself.

We started out in the white water close to shore, feeling how the wave surges the board forward ahead of the wave, and then catches up with it and steadily pushes for the remainder of the wave. Then we moved on to try to find some of the smaller waves to ride, which gave better speed and stability than the white water, but also meant that you had to wait out the larger waves (large waves for an unusually small day).

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When The Power Goes Out…

We have only been subjected to two power outages while here in Costa Rica. According to our neighbours, who are from Orange County, CA and have lived here for several years, power outages are quite common and occur frequently. The first one lasted only an hour; however yesterday, we were without power for about 6 hours. Because of this, we were ‘forced’ to spend the late afternoon at the pool as the house was far too hot to spend any length of time in. We then had to eat our dinner out on our deck while watching the sunset. Seeing as we had no means of cooking dinner, we ordered in. Pizza and empanadas; both of which were delicious! The sun sets at precisely 5:30 every night and all is dark by 6. We were all willing to retire for the night except Gabriel kept yelling “party” and insisted that we light the candles.

Only half of our village’s power was out so we headed to the pool’s cabana. The cabana provided us with hammocks, light and fans. Unfortunately, it also provided us with mosquitoes so after a quick stay (5 minutes) we returned home. Soon after our return to our HOT bungalow, the power company arrived with a new transformer and a cherry-picker truck. Ward applauded and Gabriel watched excitedly as the men, whom he all called “Bob” did their work. He enjoyed himself so much that after about half an hour of viewing, he fell asleep in his Zaida’s arms.

Being forced to play at the pool, have a sunset dinner and lounge under the stars. Just another day in paradise.

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Another Lovely Day

Having returned the vehicle on Saturday, we’ve spent the last couple of days at home relaxing. This has been a pleasant change from the three days that we had the vehicle and felt we needed to make the most of it, which made for long, busy days.

Attached are a few random photos from today. The sunset is amazing here every night, so you get a bit used to it.

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Vista Los Suenos Canopy Tour

Yesterday we headed out to the Vista Los Suenos Canopy Tour, a zip line down a mountain near Jaco Costa Rica. Because of the two little ones who couldn’t go on the tour, Brittany and Joe went in the morning, and then Ward and Hetty went in the afternoon. Brittany and Joe were the only ones on the tour during their session where as when Hetty and Ward went there were 28 other people in sequence before and after them, making things a little more exciting.

The adventure starts on a 15 minute ride aboard our specially designed 40 passenger tractor. Once we arrive to the top of the mountain we then descend to the bottom via a series of zip lines, including 15 platforms and 14 cables with a total cable distance of 3.5 kilometers…..including the longest cable in the area of 2400 ft!

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Crocodile Man Tour

Today we went to visit the Crocodile Man Tour, which involves a boat tour along the Tarcoles River and along some of the mangroves near the ocean.   We met several of the ‘local’ crocs; all given silly names that best describe their temperament.  Barack Obama was a large black croc, Shakira was feisty, George Bush wouldn’t come for the chicken, Angelina Jolie wouldn’t come out from under the water.  Strangely enough we couldn’t find Osama BinLaden, the supposedly largest croc of them all.  We learned a lot of neat information.  Here are a few tidbits of information our tour guide told us:

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Manual Antonio National Park

We drove to the Manual Antonio National Park (Google Maps Link / Wikipedia Article). According to wikipedia, established in 1972 with an area enumerating 4,014 acres (16.24 km2) (the smallest of any Costa Rican national park), it is the destination of as many as 150,000 visitors annually and well-known for its beautiful beaches and hiking trails. In 2011, Manuel Antonio was listed by Forbes among the world’s 12 most beautiful national parks.

Before we even got to the park, a group of men, with outfits that were made to look like they worked for the park guided us to our parking spot, way before the actual park entrance. Eventually we figured this out (or rather, eventually we acted on what our gut was telling us) and we got back in the car and drove to the entrance, where there is absolutely no official parking for the park, just a very narrow street with locals selling spots in empty building lots and along the street. Happy with our spot we loaded up the Chariot with all our gear and headed down the path.

We stayed on the main trail, which looks like it was once paved but mother nature has had it’s way with the road. During the hike we didn’t see that much wildlife until we arrived near the end of the main trail at the beach where we saw some fearless raccoons, a lovely sloth and several types of monkeys. We were all very hot during the late morning walk so when we arrived at the lovely beach we were all very happy to go for a dip. Even Oliver who went in the Ocean for the first time.

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A Day in Our Life in Costa Rica…

In only a week’s time, we have settled into a relaxing and enjoyable routine. A fellow traveller we met at poolside was amazed that we had decided to spend two months here. “What will you do for two months?” he inquired. “As little as possible,” we replied and so far we have been successful in this goal.

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Beach Walks

Today and Yesterday were lovely lazy days. We spent time walking on the beach and also swimming in the pool. We visited the Backyard Bar, where we had $1.75 USD local beers and a huge plate of chips and vegs (sort of nacho’s with more vegetables) which was $8.00.

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Our Nanny has a Nanny

Today was the first full day here in Hermosa Beach Costa Rica and everything went really well.

We cooked our own light breakfast, consisting of coffee, eggs, toast, papaya, watermelon and bananas. Gabriel had a great appetite, likely from all the energy he used on the previous day travelling and playing in the afternoon sun.

Today was also our first day with our Nanny, Johanna. She bicycled to our bungalow this morning and spent the full day with us. She, Brittany and Hetty all went to the grocery store and Johanna was a great help in picking out local foods, good beers and the ingredients for our first home cooked meal, gallo pinto. We used google translate for many of the questions that even Brittany couldn’t figure out how to ask.

We learned that Johanna has a little girl at home, also two years old, and she has a Nanny taking care of her. We’re not sure if our Nanny’s nanny has a nanny, as google translate had issues with the logic.

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We Have Landed!

Our day of travel started early. We rose at 3 am to catch a 6:20 flight to Newark. From there we flew to San Jose where we landed at about 1:30 pm. All in all, the travel was smooth and uneventful. We were met by a driver at the airport for the 1.5 hour trip to Playa Hermosa. Now, after a few hours, we already feel at home. Twinka and her daughter are wonderful hosts and made sure we had groceries for our first meal.

The highlight of the day was watching Gabriel, after a very long and tiring day, frolicking in the surf and sand. He ran free and wild and had more energy than all of us together. It will take a day or so to get acclimatized and start to get a sense of what we will want to see and do during our time here. We are all quite exhausted and it will be early to bed for all of us.

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Creating a Chariot Infant Sling

I purchased a Chariot Cavalier from Kijiji some time ago, while I was on a jogging kick (something I hope to revive in the warm weather and ample spare time of Costa Rica). Leading up to our trip it has been a struggle to figure out what to bring. With the Chariot being a two child aluminum stroller with large wheels, it made a lot of sense to bring it. The one problem was that it isn’t really configured for an infant. The newer Chariots (the ones that are not strictly jogging strollers but a trailer that can be used in a variety of configurations) have accessory infant slings, but they do not make one for the Cavalier, so we built one.

With some webbing from MEC and some fabric that Dad bought, we made two supports and then stretched the fabric between the two supports. With cutouts for the shoulder straps everything came together nicely. During the trial fitting it didn’t offer as much protection (from Gabriel’s arms and legs) as I had hoped, but perhaps with some distracting scenery, or during a sleepy afternoon nap it will work out.
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Preparing to Fly to Costa Rica

Next week, the first of 2012, six of us will be flying to Costa Rica for two months of child rearing, relaxation, exploration and hopefully a heaping pile of memories. The past few weeks have been very busy, with a visit from John and Deborah from Ontario during the Christmas break. A lot of late nights at work trying to get things done that I thought I would help, though I probably should have taken it a bit easier as your inbox is never empty.

Ward and Hetty are ready to travel light. Brittany and I a little less so, always adding more kids ‘gear’ that we think we need to bring. The large items are the stroller, the hiking backpack and a large amount of toiletries. To get to the airport we’re going to all get in the Sequoia, and then pull the trailer with our luggage!

This post has a sales video highlighting the location we will be based out of as well as some maps of our flight to Costa Rica.

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Christmas Lights

This is our house, which is being lit by some LED lights I purchased off eBay.

One annoying thing about the LED lights I purchased is that they by default switch into the rapid colour changing mode when you turn them on, which is a shame because I have my outdoor sockets on inside light switches, but I still need to go outside to get the lights configured the way I want them.

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