The first day consisted of arising at 3 a.m. (well, I was up on and off the whole night, too excited to sleep.) Saint Jenny drove us to the airport, and we had no trouble dropping off the luggage, clearing security, and heading to our gate to wait until we left. Buds was thrilled to see that a Five Guys was directly across from our gate, so he was able to enjoy a 5 a.m. burger, and the girls had 5 a.m. fries, and everyone was happy.
Both flights were smooth. The only wrinkle was that rather than an hour between flights, we had about 20 minutes, and as we were rushing to our second flight’s gate, they were announcing “Boarding all rows and seats for Flight xxx to San Jose, Costa Rica.” Chris, with Noa on his shoulder’s, zoomed ahead of the rest of us, getting to the gate to be sure they would wait for us. We got all settled in for the flight, and everyone did great. Noa and Zachary had slept on the first flight, so everyone stayed awake the whole second flight. The children unwrapped the 2 surprises they each had hidden in their carry-on bags.
Once we arrived, we quickly realized at baggage claim that though we had made our flight, our luggage had not. After arranging for it to be delivered to our guest house, we changed some money (got totally screwed, by the airport exchange office: 504 colones to the dollar. At the bank that night we got 564 to 1.) Picked up the rental car, met Alex and Roberto, the brothers’ of Ginny, our landlady, rented a GPS to help with navigating the country, and headed off behind Alex and Roberta to be led to Villa Rica Guest House, our home for the next 4 days.
We arrived on a Saturday. Ginny and Dave weren’t flying down from Texas until Sunday night, so Alex and Lorrena got us all set up and paid for with the 15 keys and alarm key fob for protecting ourselves in our little fortress.
Buds, Noa, and I walked to the grocery store: Pali, which is only 1 1/2 blocks away. Noa fell asleep in the cart, and once we realized the store carried everything we could need, we walked back home to get the car to be able to haul heavy things home. Noa slept on Chris’ shoulders on the walk home, bouncing slightly with each of his steps.
It was about this time that I checked my email and received an urgent email from our neighbor and friend, Julie. They are watching Chip for us while we are gone, but it had nothing to do with Chip. A tree fell on your van. No one is hurt. I’m calling Chris’ brother. Call one of us asap. And thanks to the wonder of the internet, within a few hours, we had pictures, and the whole story, as well as skyping with various neighbors to learn the horrible news. Our beloved Funny Van is no more.
As you can see, our van took a direct hit, though the neighbors on each side suffered damage, too. And we were reminded once again what a fantastic neighborhood we live in. We are relaxing in 80 degree weather while neighbors called to get the tree removed, cleaned out the van, figured out how to disconnect the horn that had been blowing for an hour, and covered the van with a tarp, which is fitting since I think it is truly “dead.” Once Andrea received the call, she swung into action and has taken care of everything for us: getting the van towing taken care of, dealing with our insurance company, helping Jenny figure out how we are going to get home on Saturday, etc. Really, really wonderful. And most important of all, no one was hurt, and for that I am completely eternally grateful. I love that van, but I love the people who could have/would have been involved a heck of a lot more.
But, in Costa Rica, we continued with our vacation.
We drove back for a grocery stock-up, then soon after the luggage and car seats arrived. After that, Robert and Sienna drove with us to a local bank so we could exchange more money, for a much better rate. The bank was open until 8 on Saturday night, and also open on Sunday, so exchanging money should not be a problem.
Sunday morning we were up and out of the door by 8 o’clock to drive up to Poas Volcano. We did not get to see the volcano, even though we arrived early, because the fog had already rolled in for the day. We cut our losses there, and drove to La Paz Waterfall Gardens to enjoy the beauty there. The road to La Paz was devestated by the earthquake in January, and one of the two roads remains closed. The one we drove on was being heavily worked on, but we took it slow, and 4 WD wasn’t truly necessary, but I used it for the drive up and back home, just for my own peace of mind.
In addition, trails to three of the five waterfalls were damaged, and cannot be used yet, which worked out fine for us. We loved the butterfly garden, the hummingbird courtyard, the frogs, and two of the waterfalls. It was quite a hike back up and out, and since Noa needed to be carried for much of the way out, I was okay with only doing one of the waterfalls. Buds and the Buster hiked down to the other, and took video for the rest of us.
We looked all over the guest shop, then headed back home. We had hoped to stop and tour the Doka Coffee Plantation on the way home, but couldn’t seem to find it, though Buds and I both felt like we drove right past it on the way home. We’ll try to do that another day.
The evening was quiet and pleasant. Buds made a great meal. The kids played in the shower–which is huge–and then Zachary and Noa were sacked out by 7:30, totally exhausted. We were just getting ready to take Zoe to bed when I heard Buds open the front door, leading out to the garage.
This would normally not be a big deal, but I had set the house alarm, and neglected to tell Buds. We both watched and listened helplessly as the alarm ticked down the 30 seconds you have to enter the code, and then it went off. If you have ever heard a house alarm, you know how stunningly loud it is. Zoe ran to hide her ears in Grandma’s bedroom while Buds ran to the big house to get someone to come turn it off. And, amazingly, Zachary and Noa stirred not a bit.
After the alarm was turned off, I reset it, then we settled everyone into bed.
Buds was trying to figure out how to get hot water to the showers, and in the process of flipping all the fuses, managed to come across one that was bad, leaving us with no live outlets in any of the bedrooms. To keep the children’s room, which has no windows, cool and comfortable for sleeping, we turned on the air conditioning and ceiling fan in the living room, right outside their room. This meant that at some point during the night, Buds had to get up and turn down the a.c. to keep from freezing the children.
Then, Zachary woke up during the night, and in the midst of looking for me, in his confusion in a new house, tried to open one of the outside doors. This caused the alarm to start beeping, though, gratefully, it did not descend into full-blown blaring again. So, another opportunity for Buds to interact with the alarm. Needless to say, the alarm scares us a little.
Today, Monday, we have had a completely relaxing day at home. This little house is very pleasant for hanging out and napping. Dave, the owner, brought over an electrician to take care of all the problems, and Buds and I had a very enjoyable hour listening to Dave tell stories about his time in the military, as well as the plot line from the book he is writing. Truly fascinating. Noa and I had a nap, and the kids got in lots of swinging and playing.
Tomorrow we head out for Arenal Volcano, which we hope to actually see.
Here are the children’s thoughts so far:
Zachary’s thoughts from our first two days. “I’ve been loving it half-way, but I don’t quite love it. We already went on an adventure, and I got two toys, but in the house we can’t do anything else. There’s not an upstairs, there’s not a downstairs, so…that’s my life here.”
Zachary’s favorite part of the first day was flying on the plane. He liked the “side remotes that were on the side.” My other favorite part was getting was getting here because I felt a little sick on the plane, too. (Last part added after Zoe’s comments below.)
Zoe’s thoughts: The worst part was the flight. And the best part was probably getting ice cream at the store. My other favorite part was getting here. I felt a little sick on the plane.
Noa’s first day:
Zachary’s Second Day: I had a lot of fun, but I was really bored when we first got here, but now I’m okay, but I still just have two toys, and I have lost one. I bought a truck that converts into a monster truck, and a snake. I have been having a lot of fun, except at the nights we don’t do any adventures, but I’m okay, and that’s all I have to say, but just one more thing: Well, I got ice cream like my sister, Zoe.
Zoe’s Second Day: Well, I had a lot of fun, but it gets a little boring to only have four toys because I brought three, and bought one souvenir, and I’m getting really bored sometimes. Getting ice cream and swinging and buying my new toy, which is a doll wearing a pink and blue dress, white shirt, and blue trim, she doesn’t wear shoes, but she has blue roses in her hair, and long black braids with blue bows. She has blue eyes, and she’s just the cutest little thing. I’m having a lot of fun. I like to play with my Brownie Bunny and last week I got Brownie Bear to take home and do something “brownieish” her. Brownie Bear has pink fur, and I brought Kenya my black poodle. That is all I have to say for this first and second day.