Costa Rica Grand Adventure 2019

A dream come true…

And the perfect time to live the dream…

With all the resources saved up…

And we’re off πŸ™‚

2019 will be a banner year for Team Sklar.

20 years of marriage + 1 grade twelve graduate + 1 grade eight graduate = major milestones to celebrate!

We’ve been saving our Aeroplan miles and our extra dollars earned for just such an occasion.

The timing worked for all of us, so we narrowed down the search for a place that could be fun for us to enjoy different activities, experience a new culture, gaze on beautiful scenery, and hopefully have some pretty good weather!

Surprising to us – Costa Rica is in its milder season during our Canadian summer, and the rains often let up just slightly (at least during the day).

The sun was up every morning at 5:30am and set at 6:00pm. There was some rain, and it wasΒ intense and fun to watch, especially the tropical thunderstorms!

We made the most of each day, tried our best to live in whatever moment was in front of us, and brought home some life-long memories to share.

So I thought I’d share the trip with you…

No resorts, no all-inclusive, no guided tours – just us and Costa Rica.

Buckle up ’cause it’s a 10-night trip…

Ready? πŸ™‚

We arrived in San Jose after our free flight (except taxes)! It was raining but we weren’t discouraged. We bought cheap local phones because adding international text/call/data to a Canadian phone is crazy-expensive. We picked up our rental car, input the address of the 1st place we were staying into the GPS, and away we went.

The first cool things we saw were the trees, the mountains, the Uber Eats bicyclists (sometimes with passengers too – holding the Uber bag!), and the vibrant colours of Costa Rican buildings.

We stayed at Suites Merlyn for 3 nights, in Alejuela, just outside of San Jose…

We noticed the huge quantities of mangoes as pulled up…

The unit we reserved was out of hot water and air conditioning (we are SO spoiled) so they upgraded us to a 2-unit suite right beside the pool. With a dining room, kitchen, huge bathrooms and bedrooms. All for the same price – so affordable. Ya, nice πŸ™‚

The first night we saw this rainbow, full across the sky, a promise of amazing things to come after the rain…

We enjoyed the provided breakfasts that included local fare like rice, beans, and fried plantains. We played on the basketball net, tried the outdoor gym, rested in our rooms, soaked in the hot tub (not me, hot tubs aren’t my thing!), and played in the pool…

Josiah couldn’t help but start climbing the mango trees shortly after arriving, so the staff helped him out by equipping him with a mango-picker he could use during our stay…

He picked many mangoes but only one was ripe enough to eat straight of the tree – Josiah said it was the best mango he ever had…

Our 3rd day in Costa Rica we had our 1st big outing – to Poas Volcano and La Paz Waterfall Gardens.

Gosh, I think this was my 2nd favourite day (there’s still another doozy of a day to tell you about later!).

Driving an hour up the winding mountain roads, the air getting cooler, cleaner, fresher. Josiah and I were blown about by the wind – we couldn’t help but have the car windows open – what an amazing feeling being in that air!

Visitors to Poas are only allowed to stay for 20 minutes at the crater lookout – there are many people who want to take in this sight every day!

Hard-hat on and I’m ready to go…

Boys start to run to see how much harder it is at the high altitude. They realize it’s much harder πŸ™‚

People in our group yell at them to slow down! They don’t want to waste any of the 20 minutes that starts upon the arrival of the 1st visitor in our pack walking to the crater.

We arrive at the lookout…

On top of a mountain…

Above the clouds…

 

We enjoy the view we were blessed with on this clear, sunny day. It is majestic. Steam rises from this active volcano which only 2 years ago spewed molten rocks at the lookout where I currently stand. You can still see the damage on the railings. But I don’t focus on that, I just focus on where I am, in the moment, on top of the world.

Soon enough our 20 minutes is up and we walk the few minutes back down to the parking lot. I notice the beautiful mountain trees all around us. And I notice my youngest son, always larger-than-life in his 6’3″ frame – a mountain of a man himself. Yet I still call him my “gentle giant”.

Next is a half hour drive along the mountain roads to La Paz Waterfall Gardens.

We see many different mountain views on our time in Costa Rica – here are a few…

At La Paz there was an animal sanctuary, a hummingbird feeding area, and 5 waterfalls to visit on a hike through the jungle. Yes please πŸ™‚

First some of the birds and animals…

Can I start with the hummingbird shots Josiah got? Wow! Sorry I couldn’t narrow it down any further…

And the birds and butterflies and SLOTHS

Okay… now the Waterfalls…

 

It was an awesome day. So much to see and do in the beautiful Costa Rican mountain rainforest.

We headed back to the hotel for a rest from the heat and sunshine, and to find a place to grab some dinner.

Day 3 allowed us a time of rest and a chance to give a little back to this country we were visiting… the hope is always to leave places at least a little better than we found them.

Pack for a Purpose is an organization that allows tourists to pack items needed by outreach groups in different countries – we were able to deliver about half a hockey bag of school supplies specifically listed on their site to be used for education programs in the area πŸ™‚

On Day 4 of our trip we headed over to the Pacific Coast – to a beach town called Jaco. We stayed here for 3 nights in a condominium. Jaco brought us black-sand beaches, iguanas, parades, and thunderstorms!

I made a local version of my traditional breakfast cookies – from ingredients I scrounged up at the grocery store and cooking tools on hand – not bad actually! They were quickly gobbled up every day…

Waiting for the heat and the rain to break…

One last thing Jaco brought us was my favourite experience of the whole trip, but one that could not be captured on film except for this short video before Josiah’s camera ran out of battery… you can see one of the safety guides really enjoys his job!

Oh ya, ziplining through the rainforest canopy. A life-long dream come true for me, who has always wanted to visit the rainforest and glide through its trees. To do that with my guys was… there are no words really. But so cool will have to suffice!

Here is a glimpse of the view from the canopy – before putting phones away securely and enjoying the float through the trees…

The next day we headed to the small town of Quepos in the Manuel Antonio region of Costa Rica. Quepos brought us “soda“s (local food at a traditional restaurant for very affordable prices), our favourite place we stayed on the whole trip… a cozy apartment by the pool with patio, 2 bedrooms, and 2 bathrooms – again, all at a very affordable rate!

One of our outings in Quepos was Manuel Antonio National Park – famous for its wild monkeys, sloths, and beaches… we also saw colourful crabs in the forest and hermit crabs on the beach…

One of Josiah’s favourite memories was the wild monkey he fed just outside the park…

We noticed he was a special little guy… with only one hand… yet it didn’t seem to slow him down at all!

One night we drove out to see if any souvenir shops were open… we couldn’t find any deals but came across a group of tourists standing outside a restaurant in an old airplane hanger. They were photographing something in the trees… a wild sloth! Poor thing was hanging off a electrical wire, confused as to what to do next! On our way back through we noticed the tourists were gone and instead there was a fire truck there to help the little guy out – sort of like a cat up a tree in North America!

Another outing for the guys during our stay in Quepos was learning to Scuba Dive at a local marina…

Here are 3 short videos Josiah took on their dive (I stayed back because I’ve tried breathing through those tanks many times and just can’t seem to do it without totally freaking out!)… The last video holds a special viewing treat from Josh…

After Quepos we had one more night in Costa Rica. We decided to make the 3 hour drive back towards the airport so we’d have plenty of time to enjoy dinner together, pack up, relax, and head out in the morning. We still had to return our trusty 4×4 manual transmission vehicle that got us up and down many a winding mountain road, over large potholes, even on beach sand and flooded roads! This was the perfect vehicle for our family in Costa Rica.

We stopped for souvenirs (but couldn’t find many at reasonable prices!) at a place that boasted crocodile viewings in the river nearby – we went to check it out – yep! Lots of crocodiles hanging out there – yikes!

On our last night we went all-out on AirBnB and rented aΒ largeΒ house (I did search for a treehouse but there were none available on our route)! This place was not my thing, but we were certainly comfortable!

We wrapped up the trip knowing we’d done exactly what we came to do – make some great family memories, mark some major life milestones, experience a new culture, meet some amazing people, and push ourselves out of our comfort zones.

By the last day we were ready to come home, eat some “normal” Canadian food, and see our house again.

We all stayed healthy and we all stayed happy for the whole trip…

Yes!

Thus ends our Costa Rica Grand Adventure 2019 – what a blast!

Now to start saving the Aeroplan miles again πŸ™‚

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3 comments

  1. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

    On Sat, Aug 10, 2019 at 4:50 PM Living in the Moments wrote:

    > annasklar posted: “A dream come true… And the perfect time to live the > dream… With all the resources saved up… And we’re off πŸ™‚ 2019 will be a > banner year for Team Sklar. 20 years of marriage + 1 grade twelve graduate > + 1 grade eight graduate = major mi” >

    Like

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