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Archive for June, 2008

Day 4: Thursday, June 5, 2008

We embarked on our first adventure of the trip, a day that would forever change our lives. We would laugh, we would cry, we would sweat & bleed, but it was all for the glory…

But seriously…

We got up EARLY and took our 7:20am shuttle out to the Swiss Travel Service headquarters in Liberia. Side note: Swiss Travel is the company through which we booked our hotel & all of our excursions. They serve many of the hotels/resorts in Costa Rica.

We hopped onto a much larger bus and joined about 40 other people to head into the rainforest for a day of ziplines, waterslides, horseback riding, mud baths, hot springs and general monkey business. No pun intended.

At one point in the trip into the rainforest – which was nothing but a rocky, curvy path through the mountains – the bus driver had to cross a short bridge that was just about as wide as the bus itself. Kelly nearly ripped my arm off as she was holding on for dear life crossing the bridge. We arrived at the ‘base of operations’ and everyone quickly donned their zipline gear; helmets, gloves and all – with the help of the tour guides, of course.

Thus began the 1/2 mile hike up to the top platform, where we recieved simple instructions on how to use the zipline. Then it was “go-time.” Being the gentleman I am, I allowed Kelly to go first! She was gung-ho and didn’t mind one bit…and off she went. I followed directly behind and…well, there’s no words to describe what kind of feeling comes over a person as they’re flying above the trees, looking at mountains, rainforest and the beautiful horizon.

The pictures in the slideshow at the end will hopefully illustrate for all readers what it was like…however it can’t possibly give it justice. Let’s just say if you have the opportunity to ride ziplines anywhere in the world, do it. Without hesitation.

After we completed 11 platforms (we could have easily done 3x as many if given the option) we changed into swimsuits. Well, Kelly, like most other girls in the group, was wearing a bikini, and thus was required to wear a pleather “diaper” loin-cloth-type garment so as to avoid butt-burn on the waterslide. She wasn’t entirely ‘keen’ on the idea, but luck would have it that Andrew was carrying a pair of basketball shorts. Problem solved. No diaper necessary!

The group marched back up the hill and everyone eagerly (most everyone) waited their turn to go sliding down the 1/2 mile waterslide. I opted to go first this time and foolishly told the tour guide (at Kelly’s suggestion) that I wanted the “fast” option.

Basically, there’s a small tank at the top of the slide that is shut off by a gate. The mountain stream fills up the tank and when you’re ready, the guide pulls the lever, raising the gate and unleashing the fury upon the poor soul sitting at the top of the slide. The fast option basically consisted of the full tank of water blasting my pasty self down the twisting, turning, high velocity chute of sweetness.

I seriously thought the force of the water was going to jettison my body right out of the slide and into the trees. But it didn’t. Kelly also chose the fast option, but didn’t feel as much trepidation as I did of becoming a permanent part of Costa Rican nature. The picture explains it all.

After the whole group took their turns, we all dried off, changed, and proceeded to the lunch spot for a break in the action. We enjoyed a nice lunch of rice & beans, chicken, pork, potatoes, salad, fresh squeezed lemonade and the company of some Canadians who only wanted to talk about hockey.

Bellies full, we then hopped onto horses to prepare for the descent to the hot springs. Side note: all of the horses & cows we saw in Costa Rica were extremely emaciated. We felt a little guilty riding them, because it was apparent that they’re not in any shape to be bearing any loads.

At any rate – we began the second half of the day’s adventure and headed to the hot springs, all the while enjoying some great scenery of the rainforest and volcanoes on the way down. Once we reached our destination, we once again changed into our swimsuits and proceeded to the volcano-steam-heated sauna. Wow. HHHH–OOO–TTTTT!

After about 45 seconds in the sauna, we walked over to the mud basins for a mudbath. The mud was also heated by the volcano. Following our instructions offered to us by a saggy old man, we covered ourselves in mud, head to toe. We then stood and let it dry in the cool rainforest air. Next up was a cold shower to rinse off the mud, which then spurred us to sprint our behinds over to the hot springs. There were six pools in all, two of which weren’t very hot at all. We opted for the hottest pool and enjoyed a few minutes relaxing in the 106-degree water. Felt nice on Andrew’s sunburns.

Once we hopped out, we changed and headed up to the pub for a Corona. Our “cool-down” time was interrputed by a howler monkey sighting. There were several swinging around the trees above the hot springs. Very cool.

Once the group was finished, we all piled back on the bus, headed back to the travel headquarters in Liberia and switched shuttles again. After a sleepy ride back to the resort, we ordered room service for dinner and proceeded to crash immediately. It ended up being a 13-hour day with all of the adventures & travel included.

We were exhausted, but it was well worth it. An amazing day! Pictures below…

http://s296.photobucket.com/albums/mm181/zenderpuravida/?action=view&current=57ac4882.pbw

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Day 2: Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Hot. Before 10am. Broiling. It’s awesome.

We ordered room service for breakfast and then took the shuttle up to the lobby to confirm our excursions for the week and sign up for a couples massage in the hotel spa. Then it was off to the beach for a little swim, followed by some relaxing by the pool. Ordered a “Miami Vice” at the swim-up bar. We had to drink something with an umbrella in it…

Poolside lunch – sailfish from the buffet. Delicious.

There was a brief rain by the pool – intense downpour for about 20 minutes – and then it was gone. Such is the way of things in the rainforest. (“You had an extra umbrella this whole time?” “Yeah, it’s the rainforest!”)

After a few more hours at the pool, the rain returned, and it was back to the hotel room for reading, crossword puzzles and a nap. We went to dinner at Mitra, the restaurant by the salsa club for some more “international buffet.” Decent.

That evening’s show at the Paradisus Theater was the “Romantic Show,” although both of us would agree that it wasn’t ‘romantic’ by any means. It consisted of several quick dance sketches strewn together, highlighting the “key” periods through which love has passed: cavemen, Ancient Egypt, Baroque Period, Roaring 20’s, 1950’s sockhops, 1970’s discos, and in the future through strange metallic robots & humanoids.

It was one of those “you had to be there” moments. The only romantic part of the show was the dude dressed as the Phantom of the Opera walking around before the show, handing roses to all of the ladies in the place.

Day 3: Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Couples massage in the morning. Andrew’s first. Great experience – extremely relaxing, to say the least. More pool time, drinks with umbrellas, listening to music, reading and just enjoying each other’s company. Snacked by the pool. Swam a bit.

Napped in the afternoon before dinner. We made reservations at Agave Azul, the mexican restaurant. Dinner was red & green enchiladas, cheese fondue dip, shrimp tacos, and a variety of fresh salsas, pico de gallo and guacamole – all outstanding!

Afterwards we returned to Bar Candil (where the band is) for a few drinks and conversation with Pablo, the multi-lingual bartender from San Jose. We really enjoyed talking with him and learning about the multitude of folks he encounters each week working at Paradisus…Americans, Brits, Costa Ricans, Spaniards, Germans and more.

We returned home to rest up for our first excursion in the rainforest the next day. Plus Andrew needed a little aloe for his sunburns…it was inevitable.

Click the link below for pictures…

http://s296.photobucket.com/albums/mm181/zenderpuravida/?action=view&current=73bfb06b.pbw

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We landed in Liberia (in the Guanacaste region, one of 11 provinces in Costa Rica) around 12:00pm, stepped off the plane onto the runway and were met with the brute force of steamy Costa Rican winds & heat. Ahh, paradise at last.

After an hour long shuttle ride from the airport to our resort, in which Andrew began smoothing out the wrinkles in his Spanish converational skills, we finally tossed our bags down (in our free upgraded room, thanks to Kelly batting her eyes at the hot Latin bellboy) and headed out to check out Paradisus Playa Conchal. We had lunch by the pool – “intercontinental buffet” – went for a long walk – and ended up napping the rest of the afternoon.

In the evening, we went out for tapas & a few beers, followed by a traditional Costa Rican show in the (outdoor) Paradisus Theater, where they produce a variety of shows…more on that later.

We were delighted to find out on our first night that there is a live house band that plays at the bar nightly, churning out some of the finest hip-shakin’ salsa & merengue music out there. Plus they threw in a couple of choice covers of classic songs, including “How Deep is Your Love?” by the Bee Gees and “Hello” by Lionel Richie. And what salsa show wouldn’t be complete without a rousing rendition of “Yesterday” by The Beatles? Sweet.

After some time we called it a night and headed home…click link below for a photo slideshow. Nothing too interesting, mostly pictures of our room and a few of us…

http://s296.photobucket.com/albums/mm181/zenderpuravida/?action=view&current=25ac8371.pbw

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Pura Vida

Hey everyone! Pura Vida!

This is a phrase we learned in Costa Rica – it’s their national ‘slogan’ or ‘motto’ and it is translated as “The Pure Life.” This is the first of more posts to come. We’ll be putting up a new post for each day of the honeymoon – look for updates in the coming week(s)!
-Andrew & Kelly

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