Costa Rica Day 12 – tired of the beach, but the monkeys were cute

If you are a beach lover, you won’t understand this post.

img_20190403_1010575710792546088286007.jpgDon’t get me wrong. The beach here at the Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio is beautiful. And I got in the turquoise waters for 10 minutes. The water is clear and clean, the sand white.  But one thing I’ve really realized  is that I don’t want to spend a long time at the beach, getting salty, sandy, and sun-tanned.

I guess I missed something when I was considering making this trip. I knew there would be time at the beach, but I thought it would all be spent doing something to help preserve the turtle habitat and conservation in general. I just didn’t get it that half of the days would include hours playing and “relaxing” on the beach.

I didn’t even bring a swimsuit, or “swimming costume” as my British cohorts call them. They all brought large suitcases containing clothes for every occasion, and I think most of them brought two, three, or more swimming outfits – the bikini, tankini,  swimsuit – not too mention a variety of beach footwear. But I didn’t see swimming gear on the list of must-haves and I didn’t see relaxing on the beach in the itinerary.

In my youth I would lie in the sun and work on my tan. A few years ago, after my second divorce, I spent a summer revisiting all that. But I have discovered that I absolutely don’t want to do that any more. It just isn’t my idea of enjoyment.

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The highlight of my day was getting to take a walk alone along the paths in the park, surrounded by tall trees with the sound of the ocean in the distance, or, at one point, the sound of only the forest. I love walking in nature and it was just lovely. I would have stayed there longer but returned at the designated time to meetup with the others only to find that the general consensus was to stay on the beach longer. Sigh.

But I had purposed to go with the flow, not to try to manage things according to how I think they should be based on personal likes and dislikes or how I think life ought to work. I am working on letting things be what they are, not trying to control all my circumstances. I had time to ponder, and really, I am glad to have had this opportunity for this particular experience with these particular people. After all, I want to embrace the uncertainty of the day and let life unfold!

mvimg_20190403_095204167489922657660443.jpgI also got to have some interactions with white-faced, or capuchin, monkeys. When we entered the park, our bags were searched for contraband – anything that would be bad for monkeys to consume was not allowed. The only food one can bring in is fruit and sandwiches. One of my companions had her cigarettes confiscated. After spending time on the beach, we fully understood the reason for these rules. The monkeys, cute as they are, aggressively go after anything that looks or smells like food, and I witnessed one stealing a water bottle!

I had gotten a wrap at lunchtime, and put the paper it cameimg_20190403_1315076763165041934303690.jpg in back in my bag. The bag was close beside me, but when I turned my attention elsewhere for just a minute, a monkey snatched the paper right out of my bag!  Kind of cute, but several other times I had to shoo them away!

I am ready to be home. I have learned that although this has been an unforgettable experience, one I am glad to have had, I prefer traveling on my own terms either alone or with someone I know and get along with well.

After a shower, some air-conditioning, and a glass of wine, I felt so much happier. It’s interesting to watch my changing emotions in different situations, especially when I’m not happy about something but just let the situation resolve itself.  THAT is something to take home!

We went out to a restaurant with this lovely view:

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One more day of this trip – the morning will be spent on a catamaran, the afternoon traveling back to San Jose. The next morning -home! I didn’t get to write as I journeyed as much as I’d hoped, due to the lack of reliable wifi at times. I plan to write about some of the highlights I left out, after I get home. It has been a life-changing experience!

Here’s me at the restaurant. It has been so humid that I gave up straightening my hair.

Pura Vida!

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From the mountains to the rain forest

I thought being in the mountains was my favorite – until we took a boat ride towards the Arenal Volcano and La Fortuna. The sight of this active volcano with it’s ever changing cloud cap is simply breathtaking.

On the way our guide spotted a monkey in a a tree and a cayman in the mud. It is amazing to me that they can be seen, their camouflage is so good.

Before arriving at our hotel, tucked into the rain forest, with a view of the volcano from its fabulous veranda, we spent a little time in town. I ate a “tipical” vegetarian lunch, consisting of white rice, black beans, a little salad, plantain, and vegetables. I’ve had this meal in various forms since I’ve been here, interesting to experience the different interpretations.

My new friend and roommate, Mandy, and I then walked across the beautiful park and found an amazing chocolate shop where I splurged on an iced coffee. I can’t seem to resist the Costa Rican coffee – which may explain why I’m writing this at 2 in the morning.

img_20190331_164630_12100005406616165741.jpgThen we went to the sloth park. It was disappointing to learn that we wouldn’t see a sloth up close and personal as they spend the majority of their time up in trees. They are much safer from predators there. However, we had an excellent guide with a good telescope and i did get a couple of pictures and a video. We also saw some birds, a blue-jean frog, and leaf-cutter ants.

I was super tired by then and ready for the hotel. A short ride took us to La Princesa Ecolodge, tucked away in the forest. The view of the volcano is fabulous, and the sound of the whistling cicadas accompanied us as we ate our evening meal on the lower veranda dining area. I think it was the best meal so far! One of my traveling companions shared a glass of white wine with me, and as we sat discussing the events of the day and the expectations for tomorrow, we all agreed that the trip was just getting better and better.

(the above was written at 2 am. now it is 6:30)

When I got up, the stickiness was gone from the air. I sit on the wide veranda, after having done a few yoga stretches, listening to the morning sounds – the birds, the insects, and the people in the kitchen. I am hoping for coffee soon. We are taking a short walk in the forest to a waterfall, then a chocolate tour a little later.

Wifi is on and off, all the time. Uploading pictures is uncertain. Videos are even more unlikely. I have loads more pictures I’d like to share, but they are stuck on my phone for now. But here is my first look at Arenal Volcano this morning.

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From the beach to the Mountains

I’m writing from Hotel Los Jardines in Monteverde, Costa Rica. I am SO glad to be in the mountains, where it is cool – only 77 degrees and not humid, rather than in the 90’s and sticky humid all the time like it was at the very beautiful beach in the Bejuco District.

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This trip with Bamboo has involved much less work than I expected. It’s been more of an education about what is being done to slow the destruction of the environment and what is being done to try to reclaim it.  I’m being reminded that I can make changes that can have an impact, such as not buying anything that comes in a one use plastic container or wrapper. Difficult but possible.

We’ve spent the last five nights sleeping at the beach house. The mornings were spent in: going on a trek to gather seeds for reforestation, visiting a fishing village, working in and around a greenhouse that is nurturing tree seedlings, and sorting plastic waste for recycling. Afternoons were free. I spent mine taking short dips in the water followed by a cool shower, nap, and lolling around on the veranda enjoying the view but getting very sticky again.

I was very happy to pack my bags and get on the bus to come to the mountains. When we stopped to admire the view, it was wonderful to feel the coolness and the drops of cloud moisture pricking our skin. pano_20190329_1344342814212484938510982.jpg

We visited a small family owned organic coffee farm, which was very lovely,  then had some time to rest and rejuvenate at the hotel, including enjoying a cocktail at happy hour.

 

 

Then it was off to dinner at The Treehouse, a restaurant which has been built around a huge tree.

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It is late and tomorrow morning we go zip lining “through the rainforest canopy”. I’m super excited about it. I’ve done it twice before – once in Mexico, above the canyons, and again near Austin, which was pretty tame. I expect this time to be very thrilling!

Off to Costa Rica!

Wow, I can’t believe the day has finally arrived! I write from the airplane, high over the IMG_20190323_111614.jpgGulf of Mexico. I’ve got my computer, my audible book, and my crochet project.  The flight isn’t full, so I’ve got the whole row to myself. I sit by the window, glancing out periodically looking for interesting sights, but right now it is just clouds, sky, and water. Flying on an airplane is an amazing adventure in itself!

I’ve been planning this trip since July of 2017. I think it was a facebook ad. Kind of scary how well facebook knows me. Maybe because I’ve done a blog called Looking for the next adventure! Anyway, I’m traveling solo from Houston to San Jose, Costa Rica, to join a group of adventurers with Bamboo, a global volunteer organization. I almost went to Costa Rica a few years ago, and when I saw this opportunity it didn’t take long for me to sign up. The price was right, and it required no planning on my part other than getting a flight!

Robert and I had just moved to the Woodlands, then gone on a meditation retreat to Garrison, New York. We were planning our wedding, and a honeymoon to Florida and Bimini. But I saw this opportunity, put my deposit down, and put it on the back burner. I was working part time from home, and on the verge of beginning another Ayurvedic course of study. Back then, I thought I would be starting my own business in another year.

But as life unfolded, uncertainties evolved into ideas and plans that eventually became certainties. Robert and I did get married in a beautiful ceremony at home surrounded by the love of family and friends. After a 10 day honeymoon, then Christmas, you’d think we’d chill for a bit. Well, that doesn’t really seem to be in my nature.

Much time was and is still dedicated to taking care of Hazel on weekends, and at that time I still had a weekly date with Sebastian and Hudson. But I went on another Heart-Based Meditation retreat in March – to Sedona Mago Retreat Center. Wonderful place, wonderful being with “my peeps” and connecting with a greater consciousness and my higher self.

I was realizing by that time that I didn’t think I really wanted to do what it would take to start a business. I had a website by then, and had even registered a business with the state of Texas, but I just wasn’t “feeling it”, so to speak. I love Ayurveda, but didn’t want to struggle to make it my bread and butter. So I began to look around to see what case management jobs were available, and sent out some applications. As I weighed the possibilities, I decided that if I got an offer I liked, I would take it.

In June, that is exactly what happened. There wasn’t any hesitation about accepting a good paying job with good benefits in a location that was only a 15 minute drive away and I didn’t have to get on the freeway! I started working for Memorial Hermann Hospital System in August (after taking a road trip with Robert to Iowa in July), and 7 months into the job it still feels like the right move.

When I quit my full-time job in 2016, I had some ideas and dreams and pursued a lot of different angles, but I always know that uncertainty reigns until something actually happens.

Like being on this airplane right now. I started making plans and saving money and eventually bought the ticket. The last month I’ve had fun figuring out how to travel light, ordering some helpful items from Amazon, and getting more and more excited about the whole idea. But really, until I got on the airplane, it was an uncertainty. A life circumstance could have popped up that would cause me to turn my steps away from all this to deal with something that in that moment was more important. Fortunately, that didn’t happen!

IMG_20190323_062805-1.jpgI have gotten away from writing here, although I think about it often. I used it to chronicle my solo travels to Iowa and Montana back in 2015, so I’m gonna give it a go. I have no idea what the wifi will be like or how much time I will have to write – an uncertainty that comes with having someone else plan! But I will definitely write, take lots of pictures, and keep dreaming. I will post as I can, although much of my time the next week will be invested in helping preserve the sea turtle habitat. And hopefully making a few new friends along the way!

 

 

Moving!

In two days, some men with a moving truck will load up all our worldly possessions, drive the 60 miles across Houston, and unload them all in a new space.

The last month has been stressful, to say the least. Talk about uncertainty! We found a place we loved, but for a number of reasons walked away from the deal as the red flags were waving all over the place. Quickly found another wonderful place that seemed to be calling to us, and it seemed to take an eternity to get the YES we needed and to get all the paperwork squared away. It felt like those fight scenes in movies where they suddenly go slo-mo and then everything speeds back up. Totally out of control.

20170623_184003And now, as we sit among the boxes, sorting and packing, feeling the tension build and taking steps to release it ( like going out for pizza, having pillow fights, watching movies), we are so ready to be there and find the new adventures waiting.

This move, as most are, is a leap of faith. We never really know what we are getting into until we get there, right? We may love the house or apartment, but we don’t know it’s quirks. We may love the location, but we don’t really know the neighborhood, or, more importantly, the neighbors.

We take our familiar possessions with us into the great unknown, and work to make them fit into unfamiliar surroundings. And we do that with ourselves, making shifts and changes to fit into the new subculture we find ourselves in.

What people will we meet? What experiences will we have? Where will this road lead?

I am in the unfolding.