Sunday, January 20, 2013

Costa Rica, Part 2

A big priority for us on vacation is scuba diving and we were extremely disappointed to put it mildly when Jon started calling around to find out that it was going to be way too expensive or other companies just weren't going out on the days we had available. (We couldn't book ahead of time since we had to do the timeshare presentation and didn't know when we'd have to do it). We were overjoyed the next day when one of the dive shops called us to say they had enough people to go out. We went out to a place called the Catalina Islands (we didn't have our nice camera with us). I snapped these next two pictures out of a book from the airport to show you what we saw. There were tons of these flying devil rays leaping out of the water! It was unbelievable. They were so many of them and they'd get 5 - 10 feet in the air. I imagine it was a fraction of the excitement you'd feel whale watching. 

It was a fantastic dive. The coral wasn't much to look at since there wasn't a reef there, just the volcanic rock. But there were tons of moray eels and spotted eels. We saw our first wild lobster. The fish were beautiful. There were so many puffer fish around, some were about 1 1/2 feet long! We even saw our first legit shark! (we've gotten up close to a nurse shark before but they don't even have sharp teeth)We saw one white tipped reef shark down in a crevice that swam away. Then we came upon a mom and baby a while later. They swam away before we could get too close. But as we were looking for them, the baby came and swam back and sat right in front of us! It was awesome. I was about two arm lengths away from it. This little guy was probably about 4 feet long. I know the mom was nearly twice it's size when we saw it in the distance!! It was a very very cool experience. 
This area is known for the manta rays--a sting ray that grows up to 18 feet wide. On our first dive, Jon ran out of air first so we went back up with one of the dive masters. The other two people who stayed down a little longer got to see two swimming all around, right over their heads. On the second dive, I got to see one swim over our heads that was somewhere around 10-15 feet wide. It was spectacular. But Jon was further back in the group and didn't get to see it since the visibility wasn't great down there.
It was a fantastic diving experience. They cut open a fresh pineapple and watermelon when we got back on the boat that was so perfectly sweet and juicy. When we got back to the resort, I said, "I just love diving days". If I could choose anything in the world to spend a day doing, I would choose to be in a boat on the water. I love seeing new things. There's something so amazing and indescribable about sharing that otherworldly experience together. Frankly, there's not a whole lot that Jon and I get to do together when we're at home. I hate sports and he hates books :) So its just so fun to share something like this, something we both love.
These Carara birds were the little thieves around the resort. There were always a few around the pool and the open dining room. On the last morning, Jon and I fed one out of our hands! They were big- nearly the size of a parrot:
 View from our resort:
On our last day, we drove about an hour to the Rincon de la Vieja National Park, where one of the large volcanoes is. This was the road into the park. (You actually cross through someone's land and pay him a toll on the way there!) 
We read about one waterfall that wasn't in the actual park (again, we paid who-knows-who to go see it). We went on a beautiful walk through a sunny field and then entered the woods (jungle?) and hiked down into a gorge. When the trees opened up to this river it took our breath away. These pictures don't do this spot justice in the least. Again...the trees....just spectacular:

The river itself was spectacular enough to hike around but then we get to this breathtaking waterfall. The best part was we were the only ones around. It looked like a little slice of paradise.
I can't even describe the beauty--bright lime green moss, those shiny smooth rocks and the turquoise crystal clear water with the sun pouring through the trees intermittently, lighting the whole canyon up. It just didn't even look real:

 And of course we had to jump in. (Don't worry Mom, Jon looked under the water with his mask first to make sure it was deep enough). I actually wasn't planning on going in the water since it was freezing, but Jon convinced me to. Didn't take much.

 Next we headed into the actual National Park. Did I mention the trees were amazing?? These trees were as spectacular to look at as the giant Sequoias in California.
We saw two of these little rodents- they looked like a giant squirrel without a tail. About the size of a large rabbit:
 Look how the tree in front is being swallowed up by the other tree. Just amazing:

We also came across two little white-faced Capuchin monkeys way up in the trees but it was too hard to get a picture. We heard the howler monkeys going crazy at one point, so loud. But we never did see them. This area of the park is called "Little Yellowstone" because of all the bubbling mud volcanoes. Not much to look at in a picture but pretty cool to see in person.
Next we went to the natural hot springs. Not something we would have paid for on it's own but the first guy at the waterfall threw it in with our admission. So...why not? Jon realized the whole mud bath thing is overrated. (I realized that with my best friend at a spa in California about 8 years ago :) Fun to do once:
This was actually really nice to sit and relax after all the hiking we'd done that morning. It was wonderful in the hot water with rain lightly sprinkling down on us, having conversations with one family from Italy and the lady in the white bikini who was local and couldn't speak much English but was quite good at communicating with us despite the language barrier. Looking down on it from a suspended bridge:
So that was it! We both agreed it was our favorite trip we'd ever done. There was just so much cool stuff to do! We would totally go back and stay in a completely different part of the country. We didn't get to hike up the volcano because we didn't have time and we didn't even see the biggest waterfall in the country because it was several hours away from where we stayed. I think the thing I miss most is the huge buffet three times a day. We've never been to an all-inclusive besides our honeymoon cruise and always eat as cheaply as possible on vacation, choosing to spend our money on activities and excursions instead. I'm always hungry and I love to eat. Since we've been home, it seems I'm always starving and wish I could just walk down to the dining room and load my plate :) The food was actually not at all catered to Americans. It was almost all typical Costa Rican food (which is similar to Mexican so I loved it). Thank goodness we're not picky eaters, because it would have been difficult, otherwise! It was fun to try new things risk free that I'd never order off of a menu. The only disappointing thing all week were the desserts. The best part of the meal and they were all totally weird cakes and gelatin or mousses in strange flavors. I think there were literally only two all week that I said, "Yum, this is good". Jon was dying all week for some homemade cookies and I just wanted some dang chocolate.
I'm so grateful we had that week together. I'm so passionate about traveling and love to see more of this world and experience new cultures. Not to mention with three kids, Jon and I don't get to have much fun together these days. Its so refreshing to remember how much we laugh together when it's just the two of us. I think it's the most important thing you can do for your marriage. It immediately brings the spark back and helps you remember what life was like before the stress of raising children. We both look forward to the day it's just us again. Does that sound harsh? Probably. I love raising my boys and it's definitely my life's calling. But quoting what our pediatrician told my mom when we were really little, in reference to how important early bedtimes are, "you got married to be with each other. Not to have kids." True dat.

1 comment:

  1. Those devil rays look crazy! How fun to see that! I've been whale watching...but whales are big and kind of slow and you don't see very many of them at the same time come out of the water. I think those devil rays would be SO fun to see! (whales are too...don't get me wrong) I wish I could get Michael into scuba diving. It looks like it would open a whole new world. Amazing!


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