February 12th, 2009

wedding couple

McDougall Adventure in Costa Rica, Day 6

On Monday boyziggy went off on the treetop canopy zipline tour while I stayed at the resort. I went jogging on the beach, another short 20-minute run. I saw a snake and stopped to take a closer look, then remembered one of the guides mentioning the several dozen varieties of poisonous snakes, one of which was a sea snake with a neurotoxin for which they have no antivenom. I moved on.

I then spent several hours processing and uploading photos, mostly camped out in the dining room where I could (usually) get WiFi. I was pleased that I managed to speak a complete and hopefully correct Spanish sentence to ask one of the waiters where we were on the map, for Flickr geotagging purposes. (Nearly everyone at the resort we've met speaks English, but I wanted to at least make the effort.) Ziggy returned around 12:30 and we lunched, relaxed, went to the beach and pool. I enjoyed going to the swim-up bar and sipping a strawberry daiquiri. We also went to the infinity pool at the top of the hill with the great view, and briefly into the hot tub, but it proved to be too uncomfortable for our sunburns.

Monday night's McDougall lecture was on vitamins, and included a lot of great information on why supplementation, other than vitamin B12 for strict vegans, is unnecessary and often actually harmful. While walking to dinner we saw a large fire in the hills, which was alarming, but we inquired and found the fire department was already on it. It wasn't near us, but in the dry season I worried that the flames could spread quickly. At dinner afterward the McDougalls sat at our table, and we had some good conversation. We talked with Mary McD about cookware and cooking.

Edit: Forgot to mention that the musical entertainment that night was a very good local jazz band, Santa Esperanza. I wished I had brought my camera to take photos, though of course that wouldn't capture the great sound of the music. We chatted with the bass player afterward, and I added the band as a friend on MySpace.

After dinner we relaxed in our room, I processed more photos, and we watched the movie Twisted which was not great other than all the San Francisco location shots. The cable TV here seems to have two of many of the channels, one in Spanish (dubbed, in this case) and one in English. I like watching the English shows that have Spanish subtitles, to help learn new words.
wedding couple

McDougall Adventure in Costa Rica, Day 7

On the final full day of our McDougall Adventure trip, we arose early to bus to Buena Vista lodge. I had stayed up late processing photos and still not finished, so brought the laptop along and kept going until the battery ran out. I was tired from little sleep, but wanted to get the photos to Dr. McD that evening as he was taking everyone's photos to make a CD.

We arrived at the lodge and mounted horses for a 45 minute or so ride to the hot springs. I think I had ridden a horse before once in my life, on a friend's farm when I was maybe 12. I was reluctant to do it but figured if I wasn't going to do the zipline or river rafting I would at least go outside of my comfort zone for this. My horse was gentle but I felt like I had to pay attention constantly to steer - though they knew the way, I was trying to stay away from the steep sides of the road - and couldn't enjoy the scenery as much as I would have liked. It was not a comfortable ride, but I am glad that I did it.

Upon arrival at the hot springs we were rewarded with a sauna, mud bath, and soak. The mud was not really a bath, but a pot which we dipped our hands into and spread the mud over our bodies. We had brought along the camcorder for the ride, so got some low-quality photos; I took some better ones with my real camera later. Showering in cold water to get the mud off was not pleasant, but they had no electricity. The guy hosing me off with a garden hose when he said I didn't get all the mud off was not too fun either. After that, the hot springs felt very good, though only one of the several pools was really warm.

I didn't want to ride the horse back to the lodge, so along with several others in our group opted for the tractor-pulled wagon. I told boyziggy I didn't mind if he took the horse back, but he wanted to stay with me. He really, really hated the wagon ride, but I didn't think it was nearly that bad. When we arrived back at the lodge we had a good lunch. The food was supposedly all lowfat vegan, but the mashed potatoes and plantain chips sure tasted like they had some oil in them. We also had very tasty sweet juice - tamarind I think - which was better than anything we'd gotten at the resort.

I dozed a little on the bus going back to the resort, then frantically tried to finish processing the photos before the McDougall lecture. I copied about 270 of the over 600 photos I'd taken to a compact flash card. I arrived halfway through the final lecture, which was about fish. I gave Dr. McD my CF card - we'll see which if any of my photos end up on the CD and/or web site. I was going to separate the better ones to put on my pro site but I just didn't have the energy; I'd want to work on them more at home with Photoshop first anyway, as I only have Lightroom on my laptop right now.
wedding couple

McDougall Adventure in Costa Rica, Day 8

Wednesday we finally had a good night's sleep, as our bus for San José wasn't leaving till 9 a.m. The bus leaving for the Liberia airport departed at 5 a.m., so we were grateful. For my final breakfast at the resort I chose French toast, sweet rolls, fruit, and tea. We packed along food to go: rice and beans, plantains in syrup, rolls, and fruit. We said goodbye to Tiffany, our great tour director, and boarded the van with Carlos, my favorite of the guides, and about half a dozen guests for a five-hour trip to San José.

Since I had slept well, I stayed awake for most of the trip and enjoyed viewing the countryside. Some of the driving was a bit scary, and we got stuck in traffic at several points; original Carlos said the trip should take about three hours, but with the traffic and a half-hour rest stop it was just about five total. We were dropped off directly at our hotel, the DoubleTree Cariari, a couple of miles from the San José airport.

The DoubleTree is a beautiful hotel - I took some photos (at the end of the set) - definitely a upgrade from our room at the Ocotal. boyziggy got the night here free with award points from our Visa card. We relaxed in the room for awhile, I uploaded photos and we watched TV, then walked around to view the grounds. We had a soak in the hot tub, then dinner at a restaurant across the street. (We decided to be lazy and stay here rather than venturing into San José at night.) I managed to speak enough Spanish to ensure we didn't get meat or cheese on our dishes - gnocchi with tomato sauce for me, and eggplant penne for Ziggy. With fruit juice, tax, and tip, the total came to about $24 US (we paid in colones) - a lot cheaper than if we'd eaten at the hotel. We returned to the hotel and had drinks at the bar, which were quite strong. Mine was a strawberry mojito, and Ziggy's was some local fruity drink. Ziggy wanted to get more since they were relatively inexpensive, but they were so strong we figured we'd better not.

We returned to the room and I uploaded the rest of the photos, we watched some TV and went to bed. I had a good night's sleep on our comfortable bed. We're taking a van to the airport at 11. We will miss Costa Rica, but it will be good to be home.
wedding couple

We're home

We're back home in San Francisco. Customs at the San José airport went fine, as did the flight to Houston. Unfortunately we were stuck on the taxiway for over 20 minutes, so after U.S. customs (which was slower but still not a problem) got to our connecting flight gate just as the plane was boarding. We actually landed a few minutes early, and got a cab home. Long travel day.

I haven't read anyone's blog entries while we've been away, and am unlikely to catch up soon. I've also pretty much given up on Twitter. I am still checking Facebook occasionally for friend requests and event invitations, though I continue to ignore most application requests and don't keep up with status updates. All reading habits are subject to change as usual...