Today I sit in the little nook next to the kitchen with my cafe con leche y azucar
Yesterday was not so fun – it was sunny in the morning but we drove up into the clouds to Parque National Volcan Irazu and it was cold! then it started to rain. Couldn’t see any volcanic craters.
Then we went to Hacienda Oriso where there are hot springs, but the rain kept coming, ceasing periodically but offering no sunshine. The warmth of the springs was nice, but overall, I don’t think I would want to do it again. I don’t really like getting into pools or springs or even the ocean, except to cool off when its hot, then only for a short time. It was very beautiful, though, and there is a large covered open air restaurant where we partook of food and a little wine. On the way back, in the dark and rain, I put a book in my ears and kept my eyes closed. Much more relaxing than worrying about the driving.
Words and phrases I have learned:
casadas – typical meal of rice, beans, picadillo, salad, plantains, protein
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 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!
The rain that I drove through most of the day was a delicious, misty, soaking-the-earth type of rain. I relished it, remembering the monotony of the dry climate when I was in Carson City in the summer. I love rain (but not if it is torrrential while I’m driving!)
I slept soundly in the wonderful airbnb bed, and really wouldn’t have minded staying there longer!
But, I still have people to see! So I packed up my stuff, and got a delicious coffee and a fig scone at Rising Star Coffee roasters. I tried to eat it outside, but had competition from bees so had to make a run for it.
I then got my first glimpse of Lake Erie at the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve – a really nice place to walk and reflect.
After that I drove east on Lakefront Road for a while, enjoying periodic views of the lake, and found a small park, perfect for a picnic lunch by the water.
Feeling satisfied, I got on Interstate 90, thinking I would make better time. That was horrible! So many 18 wheelers, and tons of traffic. So, when I got to Erie, PA, I got off that road and took Hwy 5 most of the way to Buffalo. My google map later told me I was very smart, because I was avoiding crashes on 90!
I was surprised to see acre after acre of lush vineyards between Lake Erie and the well-maintained two lane road I travelled on. Sometimes there were cornfields on the other side. I loved driving through the small towns, and looked enviously at the interesting homes with the Great Lake in their backyard. I wondered what it was like, waking every morning to that sight! I also wondered what it was like in the winter!
The rain got a little heavier, traffic in Buffalo was a mess, but I arrived in Niagara, happy to have another place to lay my head.