Hello everyone. I know, it's been way too long and I should've updated a month ago, but I didn't. And I'm here now, so there you have it. :-)
Where did I leave off? Colter went home on January 15th, and then my parents came down January 25th-Feb 1st. It was wonderful to see my mom and dad, and to share Costa Rica with them! Aside from a Cancun vacation several years ago, this was their first trip to Central America, and they enjoyed it very much. Mom was gracious enough to bring some hearty, American germs with her (she was sick when they got here) and she shared them around with both Logan and I. That part wasn't fun. But the rest of the time was. We took a day trip to the Caribbean coast, which meant getting up and leaving my house at 3:30am, driving for about 5.5 hours, snorkeling and swimming in the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean Sea for about 6 hours and enjoying a fabulous seafood lunch, and then driving another 6 hours or so to get home, finally ending up in bed around 10pm. It was a LONG day, but very enjoyable, and we were so thankful to Cornelio for being our chauffeur so we didn't have to take the bus!! Oh, and we saw a couple cute lil' monkeys in some trees at the beach too. Love it! My parents and I also spent an afternoon shopping at Mercado Central in San Jose, which is a huge market with everything from restaurants to souvenirs to raw meat and veggies and clothing. They picked up some good stuff to take home, and got a taste of the city as well (not that it's that different from any other city).
My friend, Jessica, was supposed to arrive on January 30th, but her flight got delayed by AN ENTIRE DAY!!! She flew in without incident on the 31st, and we loaded up in the car the next morning to get my parents to the airport to go home, and us to the bus station for a lil' jaunt to Nicaragua. Logan and I have to leave the country every 90 days on our tourist visas, so I'd very precisely counted our days here and established that we need to be out of the country from Feb 1st through Feb 6th to have exactly 90 days in country on either side of that trip. We decided to go to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua solely because it is the closest place to get to. Logan isn't fond of bus rides (not that he's every really taken them before this) and 7 hours sounded like an eternity to him, but it was our best option. So we loaded up the car with Cornelio driving, Logan up front, me, Jessica, and my dad in the back seat, and my mom in the trunk, with our bags tied to the roof. (Thanks, Mom, for riding in the trunk!!!) Beverly Hillbillies, anyone? Of course, when we got to the bus station in San Jose, we found out that the bus to Nicaragua was sold out!!! For lack of other options, we booked tickets for Monday, Feb 3rd, prayed that no one would notice that we'd been in the country a couple of days too long, and headed to the airport to drop off my parents. They got all checked in uneventfully, and we headed back to Palmichal.
Logan, who was still trying to get over Mom's friendly sickness, was thrilled to not have to spend the day on a bus, but the real treat was getting to watch the Superbowl from the comfort of Cailene's couch instead of at a restaurant or bar in Nicaragua! Yes, we watched the whole game, though it wasn't much of a game, was it? In case you're wondering, the commentary was all in Spanish, and no, we didn't get any of the good commercials. We just got the usual Costa Rican commercials, and yes, it was slightly disappointing. :-) And we loved having traditional football food - chips and guacamole, homemade caramel corn, and homemade pizza. Yum!!
Monday, Feb 3rd, began our jaunt to Nicaragua. We took the bus from Palmichal to San Jose, walked a few blocks to the Tica Bus station, sat around for a couple hours, then got comfy on the bus for our 7 hour ride to San Juan del Sur. It took 5 hours to get to the border, a solid hour and a half there, then another 30-45 min to Rivas, where we got off Tica Bus. It was about 630pm at this point, and we ended up taking a taxi for $23 to San Juan del Sur, which was about 30 minutes away. Nicaragua uses both the Dollar and the Cordoba for currency, but since we hadn't changed any money at the border (bad exchange rates) all we had was the $23 in Jessica's wallet. We settled in at Hostal Amelia, and headed to an ATM to get some cash. Of course, even though I told my bank I was going to be in Nicaragua, due to the massive fraud stuff with Target and all recently, they blocked my card. Luckily, Jessica was able to pull out enough money to get us through until I could talk to the bank and get it all fixed, so we didn't have any problems. San Juan del Sur is a little beach town that in the last few years has gotten very touristy. It's nestled on a cute little bay and has some amazing seafood ($6 lobster dinner = YUM!!!), but you have to take a shuttle to any of the beaches. We spent most of one day at Playa Maderas (playa means beach), which was absolutely beautiful. We played in the water, enjoyed fish tacos for lunch, walked on the beach, and found a cozy lil' spot under some trees where we could keep Jessica's tender, western-Washington skin out of the brutally intense sun. :-) After a few minutes under the trees, we realized the ground was, well, moving. It was covered with tiny hermit crabs!!! So we entertained ourselves by building corrals for them and watching them climb out, having races, and trying to find the biggest/prettiest ones. The next day we went on a zip-line canopy tour. It was really fun, and I saw 3 monkeys from one of the lines (of course, neither Jessica nor Logan saw them). We did some souvenir shopping, and I purchased a hammock chair and a big, lovely painting from a street vendor. Jessica also got a painting, which will be a great memory/souvenir. We left San Juan del Sur at 6:30am, sat in Rivas for a couple hours, then started the 7 hour bus ride back to San Jose. Then we got to the border. We sat in line for Costa Rican immigration for what felt like forever, and then when we got to the front, the guy said he needed our itinerary. Of course, I didn't have a copy of our itinerary showing when we were leaving the country. He wouldn't let us in the country without it. So I ran all over the border area begging people for a computer and praying that I'd be able to access my email and print the needed info. Thankfully, I found a place and the guy graciously let me use his computer and printer for free with minimal begging. I ran back past our bus (which was full of everyone waiting just for us) and into the customs area, where I shoved my way back to the front of the line and gave the man the desired info. It only took about 30 seconds for him to realize who I was and what I was talking about. He finally stamped our passports and Logan and I hurried to the bus. Poor Jessica sat on the bus watching the driver come back and count people as the seats filled up until ours were the only empty ones. When he looked at her and pointed at the seats, she said, "Mis amigos?" and hoped they wouldn't leave without us. :-) Luckily they didn't, and off we went. We took the slow route back to San Jose, meaning we didn't get there until about 6:00pm! We got on the bus at 9am. Ugh. Luckily, we walked to the other bus station and were able to get straight on a bus for Palmichal, getting home here about 8:30pm. Long day, but a fun trip and it was GREAT to be home.
Jessica and I also took a trip to Tortuguero, which is the Costa Rican version of Stehekin. We took 3 different buses, then an hour boat ride and arrived on a narrow, little island in the northeast corner of the country. We could see the roiling ocean surf from our bedroom door at the hostel. Definitely not a good swimming beach, but it's famous as a place where sea turtles lay their eggs. Of course, we were there when there were no turtles at all (not the right season) but between taking a canoe tour of the surrounding waterways and walking through the national park, we saw two different kinds of monkeys, lots of nasty spiders and bugs, beautiful butterflies, several different lizards (including iguanas and the 'Jesus Christ' lizards - google it if that means nothing to you), some very colorful frogs and caterpillars (mostly poisonous), a toucan, a snake, and a crocodile. On our way home from Tortuguero, we headed for the Irazu Volcano. After getting all the way to Cartago, we missed the bus by 4 minutes. Of all times for something here to be on time, that way what it had to be. Sigh. So we decided to just get some lunch and then come home a day earlier than planned. It was still a fun trip despite the failed volcano visit attempt.
We spent Jessica's last few days here sharing the germs we'd all enjoyed from my mom (yes, we sent Jess home sick) and seeing some of the local cool sights: a couple of waterfalls, Cerro Pinto (which is a nearby mountain top from which you can see both the San Jose valley as well as the area where we live and more), and swimming with the dogs at a nearby swimming hole. So we sent Jessica home with some great memories, some awesome souvenirs, and a love respiratory infection. :-)
Construction has been plugging right along, and we are happy to report that the porch is back and more beautiful than ever!!! The new tile floor on the deck is beautiful, and Logan and Cornelio have been welding the framing/bracing for the roof over the last couple of days. We should have it on by the end of the week if all goes well. The apartment below the porch has it's last wall framed, and we have most of the supplies to finish it (tile, toilet, sink, etc). It's a slow process but it's coming along.
School started on Feb 1st, and we're happy to report that the school has a nice crop of new students, in addition to lots of returning students. Bonnie and I are substituting as needed so that Cornelio can keep working on the porch and the apartment with Logan, and we're getting back into a nice routine.
Cailene and I have started going to the local gym instead of the pool for this month, and it's great to be running, biking, and lifting weights more regularly.
Please be in prayer for us regarding the road by which Cailene and Cornelio's house is accessed. One neighbor is trying to close the road because he thinks it is his property and doesn't like the traffic. It's a messy situation and looks like it will take some serious time and money to resolve, so be in prayer that everyone stays calm and that things progress quickly to get it resolved. Also, Cailene's knee, which she hurt a good month ago or so, is improving, but pray that it continues to get better quickly and she can keep doing the things we want to do. Logan and I have just under 10 weeks left in Costa Rica. I can't believe time is going so quickly, even though I knew it would fly by. Pray that we enjoy the rest of our time here and use it well.
Sorry I don't have any pictures…I know that what most of you want anyway. I didn't take any in Nicaragua or Tortuguero cuz' Jessica had her nice camera. Hopefully I'll be able to get some from her in the next couple weeks and can post them next time!!!