Tuesday, March 21, 2017


This is a preamble to what lies ahead for Marilyn and I. The weather in Costa Rica tomorrow is expected to be a sultry 35 Celsius with a mix of sun and cloud. Stay tuned to this page for daily updates. This is your ticket to travel with us and experience our holiday in the rain forests of Costa Rica.


We rose in the blackness of night, too early for the living. Marilyn’s cats were confused by the early morning disturbance. They were no longer prowling the room where the stranger slept in THEIR bed. The limo arrived right on time and it was clear sailing to the airport traveling on deserted highways.

We checked in at the counter and retrieved our boarding passes. We breezed through security and into the secure area where we waited the next couple of hours for our flight. This time I didn’t have to remove my shoes since we were not traveling into the U.S.A. In retrospect, I could have worn the air cast on my foot. I’m grateful to avoid U.S. travel and the hordes of people and long security lines and seemingly endless searches. Difficult times in an uncertain world. Still this was so welcoming to only go through one screening process.  After finding a Timmy’s, we settled into a pair of handicap seats and waited.

We boarded our flight and was more than ready for the ride on big bird. Once in the air, Marilyn scored a full 3 seats to herself. She liberally sprawled out her tired body with her neck pillow in place, snoozing the hours away. I on the other hand started to peck away on today’s travel blog.

Shortly after takeoff we were handed our homework. Government paperwork for the Costa Rican government. Everything was printed in minuscule print requiring a magnifying glass to read it. The form was in Spanish! Luckily the questions were printed in English below. My next door neighbours on the plane offered to try to read the tiny print with their younger eyes for me. Even for them it was difficult. Eventually all three of us worked our way through the forms hopefully answering all the questions correctly.  I really do need to get those cataracts done. I see the doc again in September.

It took around 90 minutes to reach our destination once we landed in the steamy mountainous terrain at Liberia. The roads were paved but hilly and only a two lane road. At some point our driver was well exceeding the posted speed limit as the trees flashed by.  At long last we arrived and were the first to be checked in.  We were anxious to find our rooms and rest after being up since 3 am. After what seemed ions, we finally were given the key passes to our room. We graciously accepted a lift in the golf cart by our bell hop. We opened the door to a spacious room. But there was one major problem. There was only one bed! We were not unpacking or staying. After numerous calls to the front desk, we ended up going back with our driver to have a talk with the concierge about finding us another room. Two hours later we were lead to an even better room with our own private hot tub.

It is a huge luxury resort with an army of staff to cater to guests. We kept getting lost. By the time we were finally settled into our room, not one of the five restaurants were open. We were famished after travelling all day with very little substance to keep our engines going. By 10 pm (our time) we had finally finished a delicious meal. When we were leaving to retire to our rooms, we ran into the couple I had met on the plane. They had experienced the same problem (1 bed instead of 2) but they were not as lucky. They have to wait 2 more days before a 2 bedroom is available. For now, one of them has to sleep on a cot.

Despite the disorganization, the staff were extremely polite and helpful. One member noticed our Canadian flag on our luggage and thanked us (Canadians) for being so patient. Well I’m not sure if politeness and patience comes into it, but we were stubborn to get the room we paid for being tactful but still unwavering in our request. I guess respect for old ladies still holds water in some parts of the world. And now I’m flirting with the idea of learning Spanish. Such a flavourful language from a smiling and welcoming people as the Costa Ricans.

As the black sky and warm breeze off the ocean washed over us while we sipped a glass of wine, we watched the beautiful people in a wedding group enjoying the night. The bongo drums are beating outside our room and the party atmosphere rising. Tomorrow I meet with the resort’s techie guy. Their Wi Fi is not secure and they have no password for guests. I couldn’t believe they have a conference center and not secure connection. For now, I am on and off the internet quickly. I’m doing my posts in “Word” and copying to my blog for posting.


We rose this morning after a somewhat restful night. Apparently, we both snore. At least it is only a low grunt so easy enough to ignore. After a refreshing shower, I stepped out onto the balcony to take a few pictures from our room of the landscape before us. We do have a large tree that blocks 80% of our view of the resort below but the other 20% looks out onto the bay. Trying to get a good vantage point for a shot, I stood on the hot tube to get more elevation above the tree line. Marilyn was having a fit. I explained to her I would just blend in with the monkeys here climbing up on the tub. No sooner did I say that and a little monkey indeed decided to join us from his vantage point in the tree. Marilyn was too excited as I tried to calm her as not to scare it off. She ran to get her camera. The little monkey showed himself again and she got to record some video. She admitted she was acting like a kid in a candy store and has to curb her excited impulses.

After a buffet breakfast with just about anything you can imagine on a very full plate, we would not be in need of lunch as our bellies were more than adequately filled. Afterwards we decided to go to the tour information session and so we booked a couple of more trips. Tomorrow we are off to Nicaragua so we must carry our passports and travel documents.

This morning when I logged in briefly for my internet, all of a sudden, a secure network popped up for two locations at the resort requiring a password. I went to the concierge desk and told them I needed a password. The new guy on the desk dictated the same message as the woman the night before. There is no password to use the internet connection. I begged to differ and explained to them I had a message showing me two secure connects from the resort one specifically saying “Guests.” I asked to meet with the technology person before day’s end so I can have access to a secure connection. We will see. They must really think I’m a PITA. I did find a guess using his laptop at one of the restaurants and casually asked him if he had a secure line. He said yes. The resort had supplied him with a password. I knew it! Well PITA will continue to harp to get a secure line.
We cancelled our sales pitch meeting set for this morning. They were reassessing our financial status being retirees and felt we were not suitable candidates to invest. We had no intention of being shareholders but they signed us up for some discounts if we spent 90 minutes listening to them do their spiel. I was not comfortable divulging financial status with them at any rate. There is a big sales push here at this resort and we are learning most staff are very new to the area and country. Most have only been here a month or so brought in from other resorts from Mexico and elsewhere. Again…. Growing pains for a new facility.
By noon we decided to try out one of the many pools. But first we had to change into our swimsuits. Marilyn modeled her new suit while struggled to adjust mine. It fit perfectly fine a year ago. For some reason I was having a wardrobe malfunction. The rushing was fitting back to front making the whole suit one sided. Try as I might to straighten it, I failed miserable. No amount of wiggling, pulling, pushing was going to make this thing fit properly. Marilyn looked it over and thought maybe a pin would hold things in place. I wasn’t going to chance a reveal. I decided to start all over and discovered that part of the suit was twisted making it impossible to lay properly on the human form. Once it was flipped and pulled on, the bathing suit I remembered that fit decently, was back! Marilyn and I laughed and laughed so had it was like a scene out of “I Love Lucy” - me of course being Lucy and Marilyn, Ethel.   Off we went poolside.
Marilyn enjoyed the lagoon-like pools while I posted on my laptop. Eventually I gradually entered the water letting my body acclimatize to the coolness of it. This is my type of pool. Just over 4’ in depth so I can stand up whenever I want. Of course, they have deeper pools throughout the resort, but I kind of like this lagoon pool that winds and twists its way throughout the resort. There is even a section in the resort where you can have a swim up room as well as a swim up bar.
Everything of course is free (Well I should clarify – “all inclusive.”) There is so much selection and fabulous food you feel almost guilty not indulging in a little bit of everything.
After a brief afternoon snooze, we explored more of the resort and found our way to the ocean. The swimming pools ebb and flow through into each other through infinity pools leading all the way to the beach. We ran into the couple on the plane sunning themselves as they laid out on long lounge chairs. Then it was off to the spa.
We had pre-booked our massages earlier in the day and arrived for the relaxing Swedish massage. Marilyn originally was to have a guy work on her but when we arrive, it was female. We changed for the treatment and headed off to secret rooms. I had filled out the medical information and noted my broken foot. As the therapist and I walked to our room, I made sure she was aware of my foot issue just in case the information had not been relayed.
As I disrobed and laid on the table the massage attendant came in and began to work on me. Suddenly the images of Marilyn being pushed and pulled by some guy flashed into my head. I started giggling. My therapist must have thought she was hurting me as I tried to control the impulse to laugh. I pulled myself together and tried to banish the thought from my head. It felt like she was almost laying on top of me to release those tight banjos strung muscles in my shoulders, calves and back. You would think a Mack truck had ran over me by the force she was inflicting-+. When she got to my lower leg, I was a little skeptical about her massaging my foot. I should have listened to my instincts. Either the translation didn’t happen and/or my medical information did not come to her attention, but she pulled on my toes and dug her thumb into my foot. I yanked my foot back in protest! She left it alone after that. For the next 30 minutes of so, my poor foot suffered from the unintentional yank and prod. As we left to change back into our tourist clothes, the therapist handed us a recommendation card. Marilyn should have a session of reflexology while mine said a pedicure. I can only imagine her surprise when she got to my feet that have been cracked and dry from a winter wearing of work boots. However, I was not enthused to book a pedicure with the fish who clean your feet. They would have been stuffed by all the dead skin they could pull off of my heels. Somehow, I would find that totally gross and very unappealing.
We went for dinner tonight in the “elegant” dress code dining room.  Afterwards we strolled into one of the many bars and ordered a drink to take back to our rooms. While there we ran into our plane companions again. They too have booked the trip to Nicaragua tomorrow so we will see them bright and early.
Just one of the infinity falls and pools that wind their way through the resort.


We rose early to catch the 6:30 bus to Nicaragua. We are about 30 miles from the border but with 2 lane winding roads it takes twice as long to drive the distance as it would on our highways. I was impressed with our driver’s skill. I can’t imagine taking a small 2 lane road and being able to squeeze 3 large vehicles by at speed. Somehow these drivers manage the impossible.
I have never seen so many horses tethered and grazing on the shoulder of a busy road. At one point we jockeyed by a rider on a mule ponying a mare with her foal running along side. The big bus rolled by them with just a kiss of space to spare. I was having heart failure.

As the kilometers slowly rolled by we finally reached the border crossing. That was an interesting crossing. On we went pushing by the endless transports waiting their turn to clear the border into Costa Rica. Our guide told us it was not uncommon for the trucks to be parked there for 24 hours or more. Kilometer after kilometer the trucks sat idle in the hot sun.
Our first destination was to a lake where we took a 40 minute boat ride. These waters are home to bull sharks and other salt water fish which is unusual in itself. This tectonic origin lake is fresh water and these creatures have adapted over time. As we putted about the waters passing several luxury island homes, we arrived at the postage stamp size island that is a refuge for a small group of monkeys. The story goes that one dedicated veterinarian purchased the island as a home for unwanted pet monkeys. It is amazing how so many people do not respect boundaries when it comes to animals. People still want to feed the monkeys which disrupts their normal diet and can result in unwanted and sometimes aggressive behaviour since they are more or less feral now. Their benefactor comes weekly to ensure their needs are met and to assess their health.

Next stop was the city of Granada which was set aside for the tacky sovereign hunters in our group. (There were only a couple of people who actually purchased anything.) Then it was on to see an active volcano.

The bus took us right up to the top. Our visit was to be brief. Gases rising from the volcano can play havoc with the respiratory system. You could lean right over and look into the mouth of hell. Way, way down molten lava was glowing red ambers in the throat of the devil. The crater was immense and awe inspiring. As we drove back down the mountain, it was eerie to think that the belly of the earth was still smoldering beneath us and will one day erupt in a horrific display of Mother Nature’s power.

We headed off to lunch. The restaurant overlooked another volcanic lake. A group of trail horses stood in the hot afternoon sun tacked with reins tied to the saddle below us. I was not one to do the T-shirt, keychain shopping. Instead I wandered down to the horses and took some pictures.
Although the horses stood patiently in the equator’s burning sun, they appeared in good flesh and were shod. Still I anguished over their heads being drawn in so tight to their chest with no release for their necks. You see they were not halted tied to anything. They were loose but held by the tight rein of the bridle. At one point a plastic bag blew into the holding area causing one horse to dance in panic. I called out to the handlers to pick up the bag. One attendant ran over and claimed the tumbling bag of nothingness. The horse settled back to its semi conscious state.

Soon it was time to climb into the bus and start the long travel back. While on route the bus slowed as a procession of mourners claimed the highway briefly, raising a casket up and carrying it on their shoulders while a band played the funeral march.  Although a sombre sad event, traffic continued to flow around the mourners as life continued as usual. Not even a pause other than the slower speed of vehicles seemed to respect the occasion.
Our border crossing back into Costa Rica was more or less a non-event. Passports stamped, bags x-rayed; wait and wait some more as the street vendors pushed their trinkets on you to buy. We arrive back at the resort around 6 pm. The bus had been silent for the remainder of the journey. Everyone was exhausted and taking to their head nods and naps.  

This evening we dined on an assortment of Mexican food. I tried things I have never had before. Marilyn and I were just too tired to stay out longer so were returned to our room and here I lay typing this day’s post.
horses in the hot sun - Nicaragua


We rose and went down to our favourite restaurant for breakfast. Marilyn had risen a lot earlier than I. She was hoping to catch the garden tour walk at 8:30 this morning. After posting last night’s blog, my brain wouldn’t shut off as usual despite taking my prescription sleep aid. I turned the television on and lowered the volume until it was barely audible. Meanwhile Marilyn was sawing logs in the next bed. An hour past and still I felt no urge to find my pillow. My foot was throbbing after the long day of travel so I decided to pop a couple of Tylenol and then … oh hell… why not take another sleep aid. It still took another half hour before I felt somewhat groggy. I tip toed around trying not to wake my friend. She was enjoying a good few heaves as wisps of air rushed through her quiet mouth told me she was resting well. Can’t say I’ve really watched other people sleep. I have enough trouble understanding what slumber is myself. I turned the TV off but there was still a light shinning from the long shelf above the beds. Sort of a nightlight I would guess. I stumbled around in the room trying to figure out which switch I needed to shut the damn thing off. There is a large curtain that separates the bedroom room area from the washing station and shower. I quietly crept into that area looking for any switch that might kill that overhead light. Nope… no switch there. I went back to my bed and groped around the night stand looking for a switch. There were 3! Eeny, meeny, miny, mo, which one do I flick?  I clenched my teeth and prayed I chose the right switch, otherwise Marilyn would have woken in a fright I held my breath and pushed the switch plate. BLACKNESS!!!!

By 9 am I finally got up and we went for breakfast. Then it was off to the shooting range. Marilyn had never handled a gun before so call it beginners luck, but she was an Annie Oakley. A young boy originally from Richmond Hill now living in Tennessee was curious to join us. He had done this the day before. Our instructor and guide let him tag along with us. He was most helpful, especially with the gusting winds that kept knocking our target over and sending balloons flying off into the ponds. He walked in, clothes and all, to get those flying balloons. I told the instructor she should hire him on. He can be useful. Luca managed to hit one of the balloons. Now to be fair, one of the riffles did not have any sights so it was pure guess as to aim and fire. I complained that was an unfair advantage so I finally got to use the riffle with sights. I nailed several dead on but you had to be patient and wait for the wind to die down. I think Marilyn did so well because of her steady hands being a nurse. She can be a crack shot so between her and I, nobody better not mess with these grannies. I gave her a few handling tips of shoulder placement and the fact you point the riffle to the ground and never up at someone. They were just air riffles with small pellets, but still the essence of danger should always be kept in mind when handling any firearm.

After the shooting gallery experience, we spend the remainder of the day poolside. I did venture out on to the beach and walked in barefoot with my sandals in my hands. The waves washed over my ankles and calves, pulling the sand from beneath my feet with each withdrawal back to the sea. That is the bravest you will ever find me in an ocean.

Marilyn and I swam/walked our way to the swim up bar and had a Shanty. Since neither of us really wanted cocktails or beer, a Shanty was a good compromise. We got our exercise going up the lagoons, under the bridge and back. I swam a tiny bit and was comfortable being able to just stand up when I was tired.

We also tried out the hot tub on one of the islands. Now that was heavenly. We compared our arthritic hands and joints letting the bubbling force of the hot tub soothe away our aches.

We decided to try out a new restaurant in the complex. It was a surf or turf place. They didn’t mix the two because of seafood allergies. You either ate in the steak section of the seafood. Since I can’t have seafood, Marilyn had to settle for steak tonight instead of her love for seafood. I think she could easily be a fish with her desire to eat so much of it. But then I could be a chicken because my desire to choose it as my favourite meal. I could sprout feathers and Marilyn could grow fins.

We just got a call to inform us that our tours have been switched. Now it is an even earlier rise as we head off and ride the rainforest on horseback and by zipline. We are reorganizing our apparel as I type. Boots, helmet, jeans etc. etc.
“She flies through the air with the greatest of ease….” This is Marilyn’s input for today’s post. And fly we did.
Our room service arrived right on time if not a little early as we prepared for the long day of excursion to the rain forest. Our wake-up call also made the announcement as scheduled and we were on way to Buena Vista. It was almost a private tour as there we just four us in total. Our driver picked up another couple who were from South Carolina. He was into cutting horses and his wife rode recreational. It was a good tour for experienced equestrians.
Our first adventure of the day was zip lining. Neither Marilyn or I have ever done this. I knew the hanging part would be OK for me. It was the stopping at the other end I was worried about. Marilyn was uncertain about pushing off into thin air.
We were given a crash course in how to hang on and brake. We were suited up in some heavy duty harness including a helmet. Burdened with a load of hefty clamps and rigging we started the arduous climb up through the canopy of the forest. I’m not sure if it was the heat or elevation, but everyone was feeling the burn and shortness of breath. Eventually we made it to the first of ten zip line stations. It would be the only climb we would have to do at this location. Thank heavens we got to see a few others be guinea pigs before it was our turn. Good Lord… It looked rather intimidating for a bunch of seniors to fly through the forest on a steel cable. With our feet crossed and our hands gripping the harness and line, off we went. Marilyn really got into the swing of it (pardon the pun) by the second run. She overcame her fear of being so high up but I think she really liked traveling at mach speed the truth be known. I could just see her colliding with one of the Toucans that were flying about. We never saw any, but our guide did. I think we were going way too fast to notice anything in our blur. Soon it would be my turn.
I still had reservations about stopping myself in time. The first run was OK. It was somewhere within the first few runs after that, that I came within inches of a big stout tree. Despite triggering the breaker which makes a large crack sound when you hit it a couple of meters from the platform, I heard someone gasp as pulled down hard on the line to stop. I probably stopped 6” from the massive tree. I can just see the headlines: “Canadian senior smashes into giant tree while zip lining in Costa Rica and dies.”  I continued on the runs until we found our way back down. Several times I ended up going sideways as I twisted through the air. The guy from South Carolina went upside down for one of his trips. We were never going to be that daring. I’m still not convinced that I wouldn’t be splattered all over the tree. Well you can check zip lining off my list of adventures.
After zip lining we went to a local eatery to sample some local sweets and cheese. Marilyn and I skipped the water slide through the forest and we are so glad we did. The two Americans had a look of horror on their faces when they finally dumped out of the slide in to the pool. They later told us it was way too fast and hard on the body. He almost went right out of the channel. It left one young man with scrapes on his arms. Despite having an inner tube to sort of protect you from the concrete walls, apparently, you could bottom out and slam your tail bone into the concrete as well. They had leather pads you could wear like a diaper to save your butt. I shutter at the thought of my back and old bones smashing into the concrete. No thanks..
We had a very enjoyable lunch before heading off for our trail rider.
After more twists and turns with the road, we arrived at the stable. There were at least 20 horses wearing tack. Four horses were produced for us to ride. One by one, a horse was led out of the herd as the groom pointed to us individually. Marilyn received a little paint mare. She climbed the large concrete mounting block and stretched her sore leg wide trying to avoid the high cantle in the back. Her stirrups needed to be raised, but otherwise she was good to go. I was the last one to mount up. They pulled a nice grey gelding out for me. I eased down into the hard leather seat that was lacking of any padding. I found my stirrups. No adjustment needed. I picked up the rope reins and off we went following a wide rock strewn path.
We traveled from bridle path to road meeting up with the occasional tractor and vehicle. I gave my little gelding his head and let him pick the path of lesser stone. I figured he’s done this route a thousand times and knows best. The hills were steep and the declines just as nerve wracking. The surface was like cement mixed with loose boulders and rocks making it rather slick. These little horses were handy and surefooted. To our relief, the terrain didn’t lend itself to any gallops. Just a stead walk was all that was required and we were thankful of that. It allowed us time to enjoy the quiet of a jungle forest. Thirty minutes later and one last steep decline that Marilyn was uneasy to do, we arrived at our destination. I dismounted before the groom could come to assist me. I gave my little guy a soft pat before releasing the rein. It seemed really odd that these horses just stood in a group before turning back and finding their own way home. All of the horses were well behaved but in saying that, seemed devoid of any real character or spirit. It was just another day in the hot sun taking tourists along a well beaten path. Hopefully today they felt a difference with the riders on their backs. We were kind to them in the 98 degree weather.
We hopped into a vehicle for a short ride to the hot springs where we enjoyed a much-needed rest. Marilyn and I changed into our bathing suits and walked into the soothing warm waters. Awe, that felt so good. Then it was on to the mud bath. It was a sulfur clay slop you rubbed over yourself. We walked the short distance to the ‘fresh water’ shower which meant cold water. There we washed the grey mud off. Personally, I didn’t find it therapeutic. I’ve experienced a similar thing when a horse splashes me when running through a puddle. To me it felt like the same.
We began the long journey back to the resort, dropping off the South Carolinians on route. This evening we dined at the buffet. We stopped at the coffee shop where we met a couple from Newfoundland. They had just come in after a 10 hour flight today glad to be rid of the snow and sleet they left behind in Bonneville.
Marilyn and I have another early rise tomorrow as we head out to Blue River and a nature walk in the rain forest. We decided to shower tonight. It’s a good thing I did. I missed some of the mud that collected in my bathing suit earlier. Glad to wash away the last traces of that mud bath.