I think that I had better start this post with a disclaimer: It will be REALLY long, and it will contain 63 pictures! But we don't want to forget any part of our wonderful trip to Costa Rica, and let's be honest, this blog is mostly for me and the grandparents anyway, so there you have it!
We have been looking forward to our trip to Costa Rica to visit my parents for a long time! We had been saving up frequent flyer miles and vacation days for quite some time and finally the day arrived. The girls were SO excited to finally get on the airplane!
We arrived pretty late in the evening and were still adjusting to the time difference (which actually never fully happened because it gets light in Costa Rica around 4:45 in the morning), so we spent our first morning just lounging around my parents' house and walking to their little neighborhood park.
The next morning we spent going to the outdoor produce market. We loved seeing all the colors and eating such wonderful fruits and vegetables all week long!
The view from the other side of the street at the market.
On Sunday morning (Mom and Dad's wonderful and growing church plant meets on Sunday nights!), Dad took us on a little sightseeing historical tour. We saw the ruins of the catholic parochial church in Cartago, a building begun in 1870, but that was never finished, due to a major earthquake. It is now dedicated to the Apostle James and is used as a kind of town gathering place/park. It was quite an impressive sight.
This sign stands at the front of the church (where the altar would have been) and recounts a legend about the headless priest that supposedly haunts the ruins. If you enlarge the picture you should be able to read it in Spanish and English. The last line on the English side (blocked by the tree) should read "having profaned this sacred place."
I also thought that this church was neat and it is pretty indicative of the architecture we saw around San Jose.
Poor baby Caroline ran a fever for the next 24 hours or so, so we stayed in and played lots of games!
Tuesday (the 8th) was Mom's birthday and we are so glad we could be there to celebrate it with her! Living so far apart, it is a special treat to be able to be together on an actual birthday. I made a Caroline-safe cake (no eggs or raw dairy) and it even passed the Dad taste test!
On Wednesday, we headed to the Caribbean coast (about a 4 hour drive through the mountains from my parents house in San Jose) to a little town called Cahuita. The town had a very Caribbean feel to it as many of the locals are actually of Jamaican descent. The town, and the neighboring city, are major producers of bananas to the US, so we saw a lot of cargo ships filled with crates that said "Dole" or "Chiquita" on them.
We stayed in an absolutely perfect little resort with just three cabins and one 5-room guesthouse. This was our little cabin.
One of the neatest parts about the cabin is that all the living areas are outside. The weather is nice enough year-round that you can always eat and relax outside!
The pool was also fantastic and we spent a lot of our time in it! We almost always had it to ourselves, too. The girls really became a lot more confident in their swimming and jumping than they ever have been before. It helped that it was a very kid-friendly pool with a large wading area.
One morning we went through a hike through a national park which was basically a jungle on the beach. It really was amazing how you could just step out of the tree cover and be right on the beach...like 30 feet from the ocean. Hard to describe, but absolutely beautiful. Although you can just walk through the park on your own, we hired a guide to point out all the various animals to us, and we certainly got our money's worth!
Caroline slept for a little bit of the hike!
Right at the entrance to the park there is a little hotel and a parrot who apparently resides there. Our guide told us that he was a talking parrot, so the girls wasted no time in practicing their Spanish with him. He eagerly responded, "Hola!" when we said "Hola!" to him. However, when we tried to tell him, "Adios," he just responded, "Goodbye!" Anna Kate thought it was absolutely hilarious and still tells everyone we see about the bilingual parrot that we met in Costa Rica!
Here are some pictures of the other wildlife that we saw:
Spider monkeys (who were too busy swinging to pose for pictures)
And, Caroline's favorite, the ants. Now, to be fair, these weren't just regular ants. They were very impressive ants who walked in a straight line a very long ways carrying bits of leaves that were many times larger than they were, and built very impressive anthills. In any case, Caroline LOVED them, and kept saying, "More ants, more ants!"
(If you enlarge the picture, you should see little dots of green near the bottom - those are the leaves being carried by the ants)
Anna Kate did pretty well hiking on her own...
But then she needed a nap on the way back.
As you can see, the Ergo carrier was a lifesaver! And Luke was quite a trouper carrying both of them for a ways so that I didn't have to!
One afternoon Mom and Dad kept the girls so that Luke and I could go out to lunch. We went to a fantastic little restaurant called "Sobre Las Olas" (trans. Over the Waves) and we both had the Caribbean shrimp and rice. Just writing about it makes me want some. I guess we'll have to go back someday!
Almost 7 years and almost 3 kids later, and we still love to take walks on the beach!
Speaking of the beach, this is how we spent a couple hours every morning and afternoon. It was so nice to have children who are old enough to entertain themselves and not eat sand! I know, I know, we're about to enter into that phase again, but I enjoyed it this trip!
We then headed back to Mom and Dad's house in San Jose for another day or two before it was time to make the trek back home. Here are a couple of pictures of the view of the sunset we had each evening from Mom and Dad's living room.
Thank you, Mom and Dad, for a wonderful time!
(And thank you, Dad, for taking a few of these pictures and sharing them!)