Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Costa Rica Recap: Day 1

I used my Kindle to take notes each day while we were traveling because I didn't want to forget the little details. I had plans for cleaning up the notes when we got home to make nice, coherent blog posts. But now I'm realizing that if I wait to have time to do that, I'll just never share any of it. So I'm just adding the notes with all the randomness and rambling... It's likely more detail than any of you care about, but feel free to skim through for something interesting. :)


We made the kiddos take a nap since we were starting off so late. We left the house at bedtime for our 1 am flight. The kids behaved really well going through check-in and security, but got super whiny during the wait for boarding. The gate attendant offered us priority boarding and we gladly took it. Got all the kids settled and seat-belted and they are excitedly awaiting take off.

As we're waiting in our seats on the plane a lady in a skimpy halter top is loading her bag into the overhead bin right above me... thrusting her barely concealed chest in my face. Rylen looks over and exclaims "Mommy! That lady only wearing a bra and her doesn't have a shirt!" Red-faced lady slinks away to her seat behind us as I try to hush Rylen and struggle not to laugh.

Flying with 4 young children is a mix of good and bad.

Bad, trying to entertain wiggly children in the airport waiting area. Brekken could NOT hold still. We were constantly trying to get him to settle down and pointing out that he was disturbing people in the row that backed up to ours. Then he lurched backwards yet again and bumped his chair back into the seat back of a woman behind him. Despite knowing he was in the wrong and in fact being in the middle of scolding him and telling him he'd lost the privilege of sitting in a chair while simultaneously apologizing to the woman he'd bumped, I was still furious when the woman dared to shoot a death look at a six year old and shout "Stop it!" at him.

The good... the excitement of the children during the first takeoff; and the second. Looking out the window as we flew over the ocean. Some clouds were enormous fluffy mounds in the sky, like massive mountains of whipped cream floating motionless above the endless blue of ocean and sky. Other cloud formations were massed bits of dark clouds, clinging together and moving quickly with the wind, flowing like rivers over and through the fluffy mountain.

Good... The Delta Skymiles lounges in Atlanta. We had a 4 hour layover on the way to Costa Rica and we spent it all in the lounge. They had free breakfast, lots of great seating, charging stations for all the electronic devices you might need to charge, very nice and clean bathrooms, and huge windows where the kids could sit and watch planes land and take off. Haley spent her time drawing pictures of the planes outside the window. The boys sat and watched movies on the Kindle (free wireless!), and Aaron and I may have dozed off a little. TOTALLY worth all the frequent flyer miles we traded in to get that SkyMiles membership!

Good... watching the scenery as we flew. I was amazed at the size of Cuba. If I'd thought of it at all in the past, I had always pictured it as a tiny, somewhat desolate island. Instead, it seemed enormous. We flew over it for several minutes and from the air, the land seemed lush and green, the coastlines inviting strips of sand with lines of breakers delineating the boundaries of land and sea.

Descending into Costa Rica, the clouds had become a dense blanket, hiding all view of the land below. When we started to sink through the clouds, the mists parted and we began to get glimspes of tall mountains and rolling hills dotted with red roofed clusters of houses, straight rows and squares of careful planting interspersed with lush green jungle growth. Everywhere we looked, green and gorgeous.

The good... efficient and friendly service as we went through immigration, customs and baggage claim. It was very helpful that Aaron speaks such fluent Spanish, but even non-Spanish speakers seemed to have little trouble.

The bad... trying to make sense of the chaotic crush of taxi drivers, shuttle drivers, and various others clustered around the airport exit - all of them shouting and hoping to convince you to come ride with them. We were to be met by a hotel rep with our name on a sign, but we could not find a sign. When a seemingly random/man asked what hotel shuttle we were looking for and began just trundling our baggage away to where he said we should wait,/ we didn't know if we could trust him. Happily, he was on the up and up, friends with people at the hotel. He got us to a good spot to wait, called the hotel to tell them where to send the driver and kept us company until he was able to help load us all into the shuttle. Sure, I could be cynical and point out that he was definitely angling for a tip - which he got - but hey, it actually was helpful and we got to our hotel without incident.

Good - Getting settled in our room just in time/for the afternoon downpour and getting to watch and hear the drama of the deluge and constant rolling thunder while cozy and dry.

Front entrance to the hotel
GORGEOUS pool... still disappointed we never had a chance to swim in it.

Beautiful flowers outside our room
Aaron says I have a dirty mind to find this decorative motif amusing (ALL over the hotel). But he saw it too. ;)

Bad... overtired and underfed children fighting and arguing until mom was ready to chuck them all in the pool without the benefit of swimsuits. Getting lost trying to find our way to a good place to eat and having to return to the hotel for directions. Finding ourselves on a toll road without the correct change to pay the toll.

Good... telling the attendant we dont have the change... insead of getting angry she seemed to think we were negotiating and we accidentally worked her down to less than half the expected toll - the amount we did have.

Bad... Costa Rican roads and drivers! OMG the roads are twisty, turny, up and down. They are narrow and pot-holed. Often really only room for 1 1/2 cars, so passing oncoming traffic is an exercise in adrenaline. The speed limits are low and claerly marked, and no one pays them a bit of attention. They drive ridiculously fast, pass on blind curves and other ridiculous spots with no warning or apparent regard for danger. You are constantly in danger of running into pedestrians and bicyclists who abruptly walk into the road at any point or walk the sides of the roads (which have no shoulder) after dark. The roads are marked badly or not at all, which means you might suddenly find yourslef driving the wrong way on a one way street with a giant bus bearing down on you (not that that happened to us... ;) )

Good... all children napping as we drove through charming towns of Sarchi and Grecia after figuring out which roads to take. Seeing some beautiful handcrafted furniture and gorgeous decoritive painting on various objects. Eating a delicious dinner in a slightly upscale Tico (Costa Rican) eatery... and having all children eat and enjoy their dinners too. A good meal did wonders to revive everyone's spirits. Watching the goldfish at the bar.
Tico nachos... the beef is like a spicy pot roast complete with gravy and there are plenty of veggies. So tasty.

Bad... using the nasty restrooms at the Tico eatery and having to rescue Preston from the men's room because he couldn't reach the towels - the dispenser was VERY high on the wall and with wet hands he couldn't open the bathroom door. And had to rescue Haley from the ladies' room because her stall door was stuck closed. The shop closed before I could do more than a quick browse before dinner; just enough to see so many things I wanted to look at some more.

Good... the shop was closed so i didnt have to restrain myself from purchasing too many beautiful and expensive things. There was a little plaza outside the restaurant where they had hand-painted oxcarts on display. These are a Costa Rican specialty. We explored the plaza and the little shops a bit after dinner.


It is fully dark by 6:30 pm; the kind of dark that doesn't hit until 9:00 or so at home. So it was easy to get the tired kids into bed at the unheard of time of 6:45 and everyone sound asleep by 7:30.

A long shower for me in a big, gorgeous shower. Time to myself to catch up on the day's journal, play a little candy crush and watch my favorite guilty pleasure "Dog With a Blog" (in Spanish) before getting to bed myself at 8:30.

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