Saturday, April 27, 2013

Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Our move out date in Samara was April 15.  But it was cheaper to fly out of Liberia the 16th.  So we used the extra day to see Tamarindo!  And boy are we glad we did!  You would think 2 beach towns on the same peninsula would be mostly the same.  Well Playa Samara and Tamarindo are very different!  Tamarindo was a hoppin surfer town!  Big beach with tons of restaurants and just a much busier feel than Samara.  It was kind of refreshing to be somewhere that had things going on.  We loved the slow pace in Samara, but it was kind of fun to be in a higher energy place.

I booked our hotel online a week before, and I did a GREAT job if I do say so myself!  The Hotel Pasatiempo.  We got a room right by the pool so we took T swimming for maybe 10 minutes and then put her down for a nap and stayed out for a few more hours before hitting the beach.  It was a low key, but clean, nice hotel in a great location with good food.  Win.



T's latest trick is Hi-Fives!  She is so fun!


We ended the night at "Wok n' Roll" a tasty restaurant where we ordered Vietnamese spring rolls and a whole red snapper in tamarind sauce.  We have a really great track record with red snapper (our best meal in all of Asia was a red snapper on the beach in Bali, Indonesia!) and went for it again!  It was a great choice, but pretty difficult to de-bone the fish while wrestling a tired baby.  Not our classiest meal.

We caved and bought T a souvenir on our last day.  She loves the shakers, and it is reminiscent of our Samara house where we had a tree that grew these hollow  (once dried) fruit. 

We had a great time in Tamarindo and won't be surprised if we find ourselves there again.
xo!
Stefanie

p.s.  T-9 days until our departure to PERU!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Samara Trails

Our last hurrah with the Hiltons was a "nature walk" with Alvero!  By the amount of sweat on our shirts, you can see it was much more of a hike than a walk :)  Alvero is the Hilton's neighbor and we had such a fun time and learned SO MUCH about the land and history of Costa Rica this afternoon.  The mountainside was/is his grandpa's property, and Alvero has become a master of all the plants, animals and history of the land.

The hike culminated at the peak of this mountain where we got a perfect view of Playa Samara!

Scott climbed this tree at one of our waterbreaks... then he kind of got stuck up there.  I'm surprised this photo actually does capture how steep it was coming down.  Thank goodness for Chacos and Angelo's help!





Alvero calls this the monkey brush because it is pokey enough to comb hair but soft enough not to scratch you.


And we ate termites.  No big deal.  They were crunchy and had a sort of woody flavor.

These long roots are hollow and have running water through them.  Depending on the size, you could get 15-45 seconds worth of water if you chop one down.

Here is a pokey tree that grows these spikes to protect itself from the animals that would destroy it.
We learned that the Nicoya peninsula in Costa Rica is famous for hosting people with long life spans.  Alvero said it is not uncommon at all to meet abuelas in town who are 100-105 years old.  They attribute this longevity to:
1.  Waking up early (4am) to work hard hard HARD until 11am.  Lots of physical exercise!
2.  Then, they relax and visit with friends and family the rest of the day.  This is a stress free life.
3.  The water has a lot of calcium in it which makes their bones strong.


This large tree is surrounded by all these little roots which eventually choke the bigger tree and kill it.  

Alvero showed us this gummy root which can be used as a sweetener for coffee or tea.  I am always impressed by how much the land has to offer and how anything you REALLY need can be derived from a plant 
Scott was a "translator" for 2 french women in our group.  By translate, I mean he would restate what Alvero taught in slower English with hand motions :)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Ceviche!

Ceviche (Also spelled cebiche, or seviche)[is a seafood dish popular in the coastal regions of the Americas, especially Central and South America. The dish is typically made from fresh raw fish marinated in citrus juices, such as lemon or lime, and spiced with aj√≠ or chili peppers. Additional seasonings, such as chopped onions, salt, and coriander, may also be added. Ceviche is usually accompanied by side dishes that complement its flavors, such as sweet potato, lettuce, corn, avocado or plantain.As the dish is not cooked with heat, it must be prepared 
This is ceviche and I love it!
fresh to minimize the risk of food poisoning.




T loves it when we bring her chair to restaurants. She is a happy camper!
Scott is the one who initially ordered ceviche and got me going on it.  I'd had it once before in Mexico, where I did NOT love it.  Maybe the fish in Costa Rica was better and surely the marinade was better in CR too!




Lovin the little lady.
I loved T as an infant, but I love her even MORE as a walker/player.  She is super fun and has developed quite the personality!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Bagaces Weekend Part 2

Okay, so I have ROYALLY messed up the photo organization for these Part 1 and Part 2 posts. Forget I ever said anything like that, and just enjoy the pics and stories.
MUD MASKS!
I have really gotten into mud masks this year.  I try out new recipes at home, look at products in the store, invite/force my friends and Scott to do them with me.... I just love them. Anyway, when I Scott saw mud from the Miravalles Volcano on sale at the hotel, he was a stud of a husband and bought them for us to do together that evening.
Combined with the kids leftover cucumbers, we were set!  
Cassie is the perfect pirate!
THERMOMANIA!

The hike even had a few river crossings!
They are such good dads!
And we met some monkeys.  They were pretty involved with us... a ranger later told us that we are lucky they didn't pee on us!

The Hathaway/Hilton Clan:
This girl eats almost an adult portion.  We usually order her a side of rice and beans, or she will eat a quesadilla with fruit and a veggie.
This last waterfall was the highlight of the weekend for me.  Hands down!  It was only a few dollar donation to a local school to get in, then a quick walk down to this gorgeous waterfall.  

T was in HEAVEN!
Just splashing and playing away.  She drank her juice box and just had a marvelous time.  She is never afraid of the water and just swims and splashes and has the best time!   
Look at that!  So impressive!  

Such a beautiful day in Costa Rica!

Bagaces Weekend Away Part 1

We had such a fun time with the Hiltons on a little weekend away!
Due to Cassie's good research, we found Bagaces, a small town with almost zero tourism. There were some other Costa Rican tourists around town, but we are pretty sure we never saw any other ethnicities in/around Bagaces.  A hidden treasure!
We found this (literal) hole in the wall soda where they scrambled to find seats for all of us.  It was good food and a memorable meal! Casados all around!  
After checking out a few hotels, we decided on THERMOMANIA which had hot springs on the premises.  Big surprise that Scott voted to stay there... :)  It was a little cheesy (the name, the large animals) but the water was hot and everything was on site-- very convenient for 2 families with 3 kids!
Our little lizard!
We went swimming in the afternoon and then did a babysitting swap at night so each couple had a chance to soak by moonlight.  So nice.

They even had a little zoo on site!  I tried to convince Scott not to pet the bull while holding our child... but he couldn't resist.  They had a variety of regular zoo animals and some others like parrots, ostrich, and wild turkeys.
The Hiltons car is awesome!  It is a 5 seat Montero with a bench in the back.  The babies were quite comfortable in the middle row, 2 adults in the front, and then we had 3 adults in the back since we picked up another friend passing through Costa Rica!  Plus, we had a dog and a cat!  It's a good thing we all pack light because 8 people and 2 pets was a full ride!  And we wouldn't have it any other way!
Girls in the back!  Me, Cassie and Janna on the right!  Oh, and there's Meesy, the kitty!
We took a hike through the Costa Rican jungle to this beautiful hot spring!
Unfortunately, there were loads of gnats/mosquitos at the start of this hike.  When we stepped out of the car, we knew we were in trouble.  Janna saved the day with Deet bug spray, which we used generously on our bodies and even on the babies.  We all got bitten, but it turns out I got 122 bites which I had an allergic reaction to.  We found the Farmacia in the morning and I was able to see a Doctor there.  She gave me some antihistamine pills and a creme for my arms and legs.  It sort of relieved the itch, but not totally and only for a few hours.  I know this post is titled "Part 1" but obviously my photos got jumbled, so this portion should be in "Part 2."  Anyway, when we got home to Samara later that day and I was itching like CRAZY and swelling so much I had difficulty walking, we decided to go to the doctor in town.  Thank goodness for travel insurance (Remind me to do another post later on World Nomads insurance-- we like them!).  
Anyway. This photo was early in the morning the day after the bites.  They got much worse, but you can get the gist of it from this pic.  See how lumpy my legs are?  Creepy.
We drove around looking for some natural mud baths... eventually found them but didn't go in them... but we found ourselves at these amazing vistas along the way.
I don't think a day went by when we didn't think how glad we were to be exploring and adventuring and loving life while in Costa Rica.  You don't have to be in a far off land to explore and adventure and love your life, but being intentional about changing your pace and priorities is sure a good idea. 
Thanks Hiltons for a great weekend.  We love the memories we have of this trip together!!