I have a little downtime before my plane leaves this afternoon.
I’ve actually had a lot of downtime, but didn’t feel much like writing. This time in Costa Rica has been really great, a completely different experience than when I was here two years ago with Bamboo for two weeks working for turtle conservation. I have to admit, spending time in the cold and rainy cloudforest was a bit challenging. But here is a picture of me from yesterday morning when it cleared a little:
After this picture was taken, we started out on a guided walk, but it quickly became uncomfortable, and our young guide, pleasant as he was, stopped too many times along the way. It concluded with the Hummingbird Garden, and I left the group at that time, glad that I had found my way there the previous day, when I captured this picture of a hummingbird just sitting for a minute!
It took about twice as long as usual to get back to our homey casa in San Jose. Traffic was at a standstill due to construction and just – people! I was glad to be able to just chill in the back of our small bus, and leave the driving to the driver! I actually dozed off for a bit!
We ate so late in the afternoon that we decided to just stay home and eat snacks.
Accompanied by wine, we enjoyed a long last sobramesa!
I am in San Jose, Costa Rica, a last minute opportunity to be here with a small group of women, on retreat so to speak. I visited CR in 2019 for 2 weeks, fell in love then, and continue to feel the draw to this beautiful country, full of beautiful people.
And I love my room here at Casa Alma. It lets the sunrise in so I wake with it. It is 6 am. I actually woke over an hour ago, but drifted in and out for a while. Now enjoying my coffee in the large front room that is probably the living room but has only a couch, a couple of tables, and some yoga mats. Great place for yoga, too.
Yesterday we started the morning at the enormous farmers market, shopping for our cooking class scheduled for the evening. Local farmers come from miles around, every week, and the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables is amazing. We were looking for chayote for our dinner tonight, a new vegetable to me.
After that, we went to the coffee plantation La Chimba Hacienda. Let me mention here that our driver, Roberto, is amazing. I just have to not pay attention to the driving, it is very different here!
First we took a hike on the Mantra Trail to the Buddha. The coffee plants grow everywhere! Then lunch at the restaurant there – casadas, the typical lunch of rice/beans/salad/vegetables/plantains. And meat, but I had fried eggs, not so great. Next time I will get scrambled, or ask for extra beans.
Then we did the coffee experience tour, and I learned a few more things about coffee, and got to taste the difference in the five different ways of preparation. As a result, I bought two bags of the premium beans – so good that I could drink it black!
We stopped at the supermercado on the way home and bought some wine to go with dinner. Then Elsa came to do a cooking class. She is around my age, and speaks no English. I loved the whole experience. Not just the cooking, but the communicating with gestures and some interpretation, with my attempts at Spanish. And the food was delicioso! I can’t remember the name of the vegetable dish, but it is all cut up in tiny cubes, very savory. We made tortillas, and a passion fruit dessert. Que dicho! We drank wine during the cooking, and dinner, which I think we ate around 7:30, and sat at the table and talked until almost 10. They call it sobramesa – enjoying the table.
It was all so very lovely.
Today, we go to a volcano and hot springs, and won’t be home until super late.
I traveled 4400 miles in 15 days, and crossed state lines 21 times. Only two of those states were new to me – New Jersey and West Virginia. I think I’ve been in 44 of the lower 48 states now.
My time on the road, driving, was about 80 hours. I slept on 2 couches and a day bed for free, 3 hotels, and 9 airbnb’s. I spent $2200, about half of that for lodging, around $400 for gas, the rest for food and miscellaneous. Not bad, really, I had budgeted $3000.
I feel overstuffed with travel, kind of like that overstuffed feeling you get after a Thanksgiving feast. You look forward to the meal, enjoy it immensely, and afterwards think you might not ever want to eat again. That’s kind of how I feel about travel right now. Stuffed. Not only did I take this trip, I spent two months in Chattanooga and two months in Carson City (for work) this year. I looked forward to it, enjoyed it, but right now, I don’t want to make any more travel plans!
The best food I ate was that prepared by my kids. The rest of the time I struggled to find anything that was really good. I ate in the car on the road for lunch quite a bit – leftover pizza, cookies, and apples. The apples I picked in Massachusetts saved my life, I think. I got a really bad pizza in Niagara Falls. I’ve learned to really dislike eating out. Yesterday at home was lovely. Oatmeal for breakfast, omelette with the eggs and veggies I was given in New York for lunch, and a delicious butternut squash soup made by my husband for dinner.
I’ve always wondered what it would be like to live other places, and staying in airbnb’s gives a tiny taste of that. They were mostly great, but a couple of the beds were like marshmallows. My favorite, I think, was the one near Goshen, NY with the fabulous patio.
Most places have keurig coffee makers.I really dislike that kind of coffee. I did bring my French Press and supplies, but water heated in the microwave for coffee just isn’t the same. I was glad for coffee shops.
In this not quite post pandemic world, masks are still a thing. In some places, all the signs were down, in others, masks are required. I pretty much wore my mask when I went inside anywhere. Why not? Even though I’ve been vaccinated, it certainly doesn’t hurt me or anyone else to wear a mask, and it could make a difference for someone.
I didn’t do anything “touristy”. Even when I went to Niagara Falls, I only paid for parking, and spent time in the public areas. I didn’t go to museums or other attractions, although I sometimes enjoy doing so. Sleeping in a different place every night and having those experiences was really what I wanted out of this trip, after seeing my kids of course!
So now, I will nest at home. I will enjoy cooking, crocheting, playing with the grandkids, embracing the uncertainty of life as it unfolds. I will start working full time again, after the first of the year. I plan to keep writing here, just not as often.
And, no doubt, at some point, I will be on the road again.
I didn’t plan to drive nearly 800 miles in a day, but that is what I did. I write this from home, where I slept last night. I have been writing this blog in the evenings, but last night I was pretty exhausted. This morning, I am sitting in my happy place, drinking coffee.
I didn’t leave the Secret Lodge Bed and Breakfast until 9:30 am, because I wanted to have breakfast! and it was satisfying, as was my stay there. The view is unbelievable.
The previous couple of days I had been looking around for a place to stop on my last night – I was thinking Baton Rouge area. But I had nothing, so decided to just drive until I got tired, and get a hotel. I set the google map to home, and headed south.
The weather was clear, the road was primarily straight, and with minimal stops for gas and bathroom, (I ate my leftover Mellow Mushroom pizza in the car as I drove) I found myself crossing the Mississippi in Baton Rouge at 5:30. I had two more hours of daylight, I felt good, and I kept going. By then, I was sure I would drive all the way. There were no sights I wanted to see except home and husband.
I drove straight towards a beautiful sunset, made even more so with the reflections off the water in the Atchafalaya Basin. No pictures except the images in my mind. I broke my rule about driving after dark, knowing that the rest of the way home was familiar territory on Interstate 10 to Houston. I entered Texas around 8 pm, and it was only 2 1/2 hours til home. I was sustained by apples from Massachusetts and cookies from Chattanooga.
I broke all records, mine anyway, on this drive. I hardly stopped except for necessities. The only other time I had driven a long way without stopping for a real sleep was when I drove my oldest daughter to Chicago to go to college, circa 2005. That distance is 1100 miles, and on the way back, I drove all night, stopping at rest areas for short naps. My youngest daughter was with me in the back seat, but way too young to drive. That was really just stupid. This time, I knew I would be home by 10:30, or I would have stopped.
The worse part of the drive was through the city. Had it been daytime, I would have taken more northern roads to avoid it, but it felt safer to be on the interstate after dark.
It was wonderful to be greeted by my loving husband, and sleep in my own bed. I have no pictures from the road yesterday, so here are some flowers blooming in my yard.
I enjoyed the loft in Elizabethton, but the bed was like sleeping in a marshmallow. I packed and left early, found a coffee shop down the street, and hit the road. The mountains of Tennessee are really beautiful, but I didn’t stop to take pictures because I wanted to get to Chattanooga by lunchtime.
I did take a short detour and went to an antique store in Sweetwater. I bought a little figurine, but it is in my car and I didn’t take a picture of it. I liked these two displays:
I spent two months in Chattanooga earlier this year, for a contract job, and really enjoyed the old part of the city, the restaurants, and the parks. I would love to return for an extended period. It’s not the same, just passing through, but I went to my favorite haunt, Niedlov’s Bakery, and got some cookies. Being a Monday, and a holiday to boot, the place I wanted to get Italian food was closed, so I got a Mellow Mushroom pizza, knowing that it would be good, and I would have leftovers.
Then I got here. I am at a bed and breakfast called The Secret Lodge.It was built in 1965 and was considered a mansion at the time, with a rooftop pool. It is perched on top of a mountain in northern Alabama, and has the most gorgeous views. I’m just gonna put a bunch of pictures here.
I’ve got my pizza, a complementary glass of wine, and a gorgeous view. Perfect!
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