Thursday, March 31, 2016

Monteverde - Part II

On day 2 at Monteverde we visited a part of the cloud forest with Sky Adventure, one of several tour operators in the area providing guided access to the forest. Our guide was most helpful in identifying several species of birds, huge millipedes, various trees and plants. Close to the end we started to hear howler monkeys close to us. Freaky sounding monkey, the guide took us on a quick jog through the forest trails trying to catch a glimpse of the them. Unfortunately all we manage to find was their poop, much to the amusement of the girls. Still, a thrilling chase!

One of the bridges on the tour, very high and spanning deep valleys. the views on them where amazing.

Our new official family photo! Thanks to our French friends for the day for taking the picture.

The density of the foliage is pretty intense, plants just grow one on top of the other.

We managed to spot a Quetzal up in the trees. With the help of the tour guide i managed to get a photo using the binoculars. Hidden by the leaf bellow is it's long tail feathers.

But the Quetzal is no match for the dazzling beauty of this gorgeous bird :-)

Amazing view from one of the bridges.

After the walk in the forest we took the tram to the top of the mountain. Here we see our handsome son in a good mood :-)

One of the platform at the top, i liked the tree and the setting, it felt ancient and foreboding.

From the mountain top we could see Arenal Volcano, only 20 km away by air, but 3 hours of winding roads by car... we'll go on another trip when Willem is older, too much road for him.

That night we got to help out on the farm with the feeding of the calves. The girls had a blast and the farm hands had their hands full managing the dozen or so calves with only 2 milk bottles to work with. That morning we got to see a calf that was just born, it was still wet and trailing his umbilical cord.

Next post, day 3 in Monteverde.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


Yesterday we arrived in Monteverde, an ecological reserve about 2.5 hours from our house in La Garita. The last 15km was on a diabolical dirt road... i will never complain about Quebec roads again... at least the view made up for the bouncing around and dust.

I love the way the clouds are just rolling over the mountains.

We stopped a few times along the way to take pictures, 

We are staying at Terra Viva Farm, a very nice organic farm inside of the Monteverde reserve. We rented a house  on the farm for 2 nights, but we might extend our stay, it is such a gorgeous place with allot of interesting thing to do and see!

The pasture next to our house. Looks even better in person.

The cows up close, heading into the barn to get milked. Everyday at 5am and 5pm.

This is on the road that takes you to the farm. We did a little walk to stretch our legs after the long ride.

I've got too many photos for one post. Come back soon for part two in Monteverde... :-)

Friday, March 25, 2016

Birthday ups and downs

My birthday activity yesterday didn't turn out like we planned but we had a fun day anyway. We had started on our way to Jaco Beach using the new highway 27 but half way through we got stuck in bumper to bumper traffic... for almost 2 hours... good thing Willem slept for most of it. We inched our way to an exit and headed off north of Jaco to a different part of the coast. In no time we found a beach that seemed promising. It was not great but it had sand and surf, all you really need for a beach :-)

The sand was a dark gray, reminded me a bit of the beaches in Iceland, but way hotter! The kids had a blast playing in the waves and building castles as usual!

On the way back we took another road, route 3, which winds it's way up and down and around the mountain range, back to the house. Fortunately Willem took a nap again and even Evalie took a rare nap. The roads we have used so far are surprisingly good, if a bit narrow.

After cleaning up at the house and dressing up a bit we headed off to a local restaurant, Restaurante Tipico La Casana del maiz, for supper. We ordered a platter for 4 that was covered in meats, plantains, some kind of potato mash, corn on the cob, bean dip, salsa and pita bread to make empanadas. The bread and corn where bland as can be, but the rest was very good. There where also 4 kinds of soups as entrees. Everyone loved the food, even Julie who is fussy about going out to eat wants to go back. I'll take pictures next time, the place has a nice decor and the servers wear traditional costumes.

Wednesday we had gone out to a local Orchid garden. With the drought going on they where a bit low on flowers so we manage to get a lower admission price (a lot of places charge double for non-locals). 

There where also a few birds (in cages of course, always makes me sad to see that), but at least we get to see them up close.

Monkey want a banana?

The kids having fun in the playground, there is also a lake with white ducks in it. We meet a nice Tico couple with their two kids. The girls had fun feeding the ducks with them.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Week 2

Last weekend was a time to do some shopping. We stated with the farmers market saturday in Alajuela. A big covered outdoor affair. Mostly fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers, some meats and cheese and some clothes and trinkets. We filled up our fridge with tasty supplies.

Sunday we went to the Walmart and the Mall in Alajuela for harder to find items and to get myself a SIM card for my phone, very useful when you are outside of Canada for a while... roaming charges are outrages for cell phones! With a SIM card you get to use your phone as you would at home. I payed $36 CAN for 2GB of data for a month. Not huge but the best i could get from that company (Claro). You need to have your phone unlocked before you do that.

We even got treated to some fireworks, twice! Saturday night was a bit late and the kids where already asleep. The explosion didn't even wake them.  But Sunday they did them early so we all got to see them. Here is the best shot i managed to get. It's not the Benson and Hedges fireworks competition but it was nice and the girls first time seeing fireworks :-)

Monday saw us on a day trip to Poas Valcano, about an hour drive from the house. It's a constantly rising and twisting narrow road... not ideal for our little ones with motion sickness but they made it without to much trouble. In the image bellow you can see some giant leaves of a plant that the locals call "poor man's umbrella". It's about 1 Evalie in diameter (more than a meter).

After a little walk and getting a wiff of sulfur we made it to the edge of the volcano to see... clouds... apparently this happens fairly often, since the mountain top is literally at cloud height... oh well. See the link above for a view of what we should of seen.

Tree hugging Julie in a typical pose, this time with her favorite plant in giant form.

Next update in a few days after a trip to Jaco Beach for my birthday thursday :-)

Friday, March 18, 2016


I almost died the other night in the bathroom... but i'm feeling much better now!

We survive the deadly scourge of gastro. Most likely a little something we caught just before we left from Quebec and in our weakened state (new food to digest and hot weather to adjust too) it kicked our butts. Willem was the first to recover and guide us back to health, our hero!

Today was a return to action. We started of with a drive to the local zoo this morning in our newly rented SUV we got yesterday. We got it from Tout Costa Rica, a site that helps out francophones to find inexpensive cars to rent, hotels to stay at and places to go. We got the car for $500 USD less than the quote we got directly from the rental company :-)

The zoo is close to our house in La Garita. It's called Zoo Ave and has mostly birds but also monkeys, sloths, iguanas and turtles.

Way to many turtles in that little pond... at least 50 and it smelled of turtle poo... maybe that's the way they like to hang together but i kinda doubt it...

One of several kinds of toucans. 

Show off!

This monkey was so cute, we sneaked her out with us and kept her :-)

This fellah was at least 1 Evalie in length (in metric about 120 cm).

Julie was amazed at the contrast between the local palm trees on one side and the pine trees we are more familiar with up north on the other.

The afternoon was spent in the pool back at the house, afternoons are generally a bit hot to move about, so we do like the reptiles at the zoo... we lounge in the cool water.

I want my margarita... NOW!

Check out our super diving champ Marianne.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Still relaxing at the house, sorta

Well it's been a rough start to our vacation, Willem got the dreaded Tourista monday night, that was not a fun way to get woken up in the middle of the night... he's much better now, should be back in top shape tomorrow. Unfortunately Evalie is sick now and my stomach is churning but it could just be the hot sauce i had for supper... i hope... i vaguely remember we came here to relax!

We still manage to have fun in the swimming pools and enjoy the warm weather. It's weird to have the sun directly above us, never been this close to the equator before! Lots of stars here too, as we are far enough from San Jose that the sky is pitch black at night.

As for plant life, we are surrounded by dozens of mango trees, a couple of banana trees and one cashew tree. Bellow we see a tree full of unripened mangoes. There are two kinds here, the regular one we have up north and a smaller type. Interesting fact, when you pick the fruit the stem drips a white sap that burns skin. The owner showed us a nasty burn mark on her arm... handle with caution!

Here is the cashew tree. The small darker part that looks like a stem is actually a fruit that get's bigger and round. The part at the end is where the single cashew nut is in... it has to be burned and then cracked with a hammer to get the nut out. Not allot of nuts in one tree, no wonder they are so expensive!

Our always photogenic Marianne posing in front of the convenience store that has been our grocery store for the last 3 days. Tomorrow i pick up the SUV we rented and we will start our exploration of the country... as soon as everyone is over the Tourista of course...

Let's end this post with a sunset you don't get in Canada :-)

Monday, March 14, 2016

We made it!

After a fairly long flight including a transfer in Panama City, we made it to Costa Rica! Willem was a real champ, hardly any fussiness, and the girls where very happy to finally fly on a plane.

The parents on the other hand where exhausted from the late night preparations and early rise to get to the airport. Big thanks to Gilles for getting us there with plenty of time to spare... pro tip: if you want to do the baggage check-in and the security screening really fast, bring a small child with you, you get to use the express lane! :-)

Happy fliers.

More happy fliers

Nice puffy clouds, reminded Marianne of coton balls :-)

Made it to the house, despite a grumpy cab driver how could not figure out our printout of the map to get there.... you see there are no street addresses outside of big cities in Costa Rica, so the official addresses are something like: "300 meters from the football field, 4 streets after the first exit from highway 3 in La Garita". Took 4 cab drivers and a friendly guy how spoke english to figure out how to get us there... i think we got scammed for tips! Live and learn i say...

The view from the living room, nice clean place if a little low on essentials and internet connection speeds. As a bonus they have mango trees all over the property, can't wait to taste them!

The walk to the convenience store for some much needed supplies.