Hi. It’s me!

Hello friends and followers. Thank you for being here. I am starting this because I like to write and share photos of the travels I do. I am leaving to do a portion of the Camino de Santiago next month and am very excited about this! I am not a techy person so this is a learn as I go type thing. Also, I am not a writer, so be kind. I just like sharing experiences and pictures with friends.

I have not really traveled a lot in my life, but 2 years ago my mom died suddenly and it was a big slap in the face that life can just reach up and grab you. After the first year of taking care of her estate (and being so very shocked and sad), I decided I was going to take a trip somewhere other than visiting family or friends once a year…..like a real trip! My mom is missed and thought of every day and I am grateful to family and friends I have visited and done sight seeing and spent time with. I don’t mean to poo poo that, there is just so much to see in our beautiful country! Grateful, grateful! My first trip, last fall, was to see the Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park. They were stunningly beautiful and wonderful, even at quick visits to each place. Looking forward to more!



5/5/19 – The Shit Show continues

So remember when I told you yesterday that the pilot called for maintenance? Yep, you can guess, at 1:10am they announce the plane has been taken out of service and they are looking for another same size plane (we have a full flight). And they will let us know when they find one and what gate it will be at. Here we go again. 1:15 announcement that the flight has been canceled. Now I’m standing in line again to see about rebooking. 😫😒

So I was automatically rebooked for MONDAY evening at 6:50pm while I’m standing in line to talk to gate agent. While in line I start talking to this couple, Melissa and Brian, also going to Raleigh that had called their daughter to come get them. They were airport angels that said I could ride with them. I had little options at 1:30 in the morning, so was glad for it. So at this point they say my bag will go on to Raleigh. Who knows when. The gate agent was no help, said there were no hotels because of other flights being canceled and no other earlier flights. You should have seen all the people sitting and laying around the airport. It wasn’t only American Airlines, many flights were affected they said because of storms in the area. The American help desk near the beginning of concourse B, the line for help went all the way down the concourse to gate 15. When we went to baggage claim to wait for their daughter I saw some luggage coming off the carousel. I asked a lady where they had been that they were getting their luggage and she said, no where, we were supposed to go to Rome. We sat on the tarmac for 3+ hours and then they canceled the flight. They also canceled Dublin. So we stood in line to try to get our luggage. That was 2 and a half hours ago and it’s finally coming off. Needless to say, there were a lot of unhappy people. But what can you do, it is what it is.

Update, 6:30 am. Their daughter arrived at 2:45 and then we headed to Jamestown to return her to her boyfriend’s place. It is pouring rain hard and Brian needs to stop and put air in a tire and I hear the daughter say, mom your tires are bald. After she said earlier that her windshield wipers aren’t good. Needless to say, I was not sleepy at that point worrying about the conditions getting to Raleigh. Finally we drop daughter off about 4:45, get 5 min down the road and she’s locked out so we turn around and go back and get her. (You can’t make this stuff up) I start texting Paul about 6 am. We had decided they would drop me off at a Sheets gas station near the airport. I did not want them to take me all the way to Paul’s. It had been too long a night for everyone. He picked me up about 6:45 and we get to their house about 7:15. I’ve been up all night. I played with the kids a little bit, then take a nap for about an hour and 45 min when they go to church. Then we go to lunch to celebrate my birthday πŸ°πŸŽˆπŸŽ‰. The kids made me some artwork and a birthday cake and Paul washed my car. Perfect! I checked on my luggage and luckily it had arrived at the Raleigh airport. Glad they didn’t wait for that flight on Monday. So after lunch I head to the airport and then home, just arrived at 4:45. Home sweet home. This was the worse flight experience I’ve ever had but it can always be worse. Not sure I want to get on an airplane anytime soon though. πŸ€ͺ

Pura Vida!

5/4/19 Traveling home – Welcome to the Charlotte shit show!

Before I start on my travel home story let me start with a couple of nice pictures from before I left.

The beautiful pool area of the Hotel Intercontinental

The seesters, Liz and Susan, nice ladies from Wichita and Seattle.

I know most people won’t want to read about this travel unpleasantness but I’m documenting it for myself (so I can tell the airline-American). The last shuttle from Caravan left for the airport at 10am. We arrived at 10:30 with plenty of time for my 2:42 flight to Charlotte, which was changed to 3:11 on my way there. I was already worried about going through customs and making my connection with only an hour and 20 min layover. Leaving late, they made up some time and we landed close to the time we were supposed to, about 9:20pm. My departing flight 10:35pm. But there was no gate available for us. We sat waiting for at least 30 minutes. Finally get to gate and there is no jetway there. We wait at least another 20 min for that. Finally get off and rush to customs only to find huge lines of people. I was hoping it wouldn’t be too busy this time of night. It was like the lines we went through at Disney World when I was young with all the switchbacks. Meanwhile luckily my flight has been delayed. Finally get through customs, get my bag and head into the mad house of people to see where to drop it next. There are so many people! Then we head up to go through security again. Again a line a mile long. This process takes over an hour. Rush to my gate, B6, wading through more people than what it seems like I’ve ever seen in the Charlotte airport. Get to the gate and it says Kansas City is departing there, not Raleigh. Someone there tells me that flight is waiting on a crew person to take off and our Raleigh flight is sitting on the tarmac waiting for the gate to be available. After a little bit we are told our gate is changed to D2. There is a large wave of people now heading to D2. Our flight by this time is delayed until 12:50 am. We all get to D2 and maybe 5 minutes later we are notified the gate is back to B concourse, B10. So here we sit. It’s 12:53 and says it’s leaving at 1:07 but no boarding has started. Gate agent announces that pilot has called for maintenance to check something. We are supposed to arrive at 2am and I need to try using Uber for the first time to get to Paul’s house. Who knows buy the time I get there maybe they’ll be waking up in the morning. To be continued..

Day 8 – 5/3/19 Manuel Antonio National Park and back to San Jose

Up early today, breakfast at 6 am and enter the park at 7 am. We saw several sloths, also white faced monkeys up close! My sloth pictures aren’t that great. They are very good at blending in the branches. The beach was beautiful and we’re told one of the top beaches in the world. Then Dianne and I did the million step (not really but it felt that way) Cathedral Point trail. I did have 14,000 steps by 11 am so it was a workout!

Can you see his little sloth face?

There are 2 here. Next picture is closer up of the easier one to see.
Sloth from his left side.

This is a termite nest in a tree. We saw lots of these.

Many many stairs!

After our very hard walk.

The hotel iguana

After lunch we headed for San Jose and arrived at our beautiful Hotel Intercontinental for the night.

Beautiful hotel!

We enjoyed a farewell dinner and then some dancing entertainment.

Our group

The lovely ladies from Florida.

I very much enjoyed my visit to this beautiful country with its lovely people. I highly recommend the trip. I enjoyed this tour better because there were a few less couples and more ladies traveling together which made them more open and easier to talk to. Also, I can honestly say I’m tired of buffets with similar food from meal to meal. They served their purpose though.

Long travel day tomorrow with a bit of a tight connection in Charlotte with having to go through customs. Wish me luck! This is the turn around flight from the one I was on (with the 3 delays) on the way down.

Day 7 – 5/2/19 Soaking boat ride and arrive at Manuel Antonio National Park

There was a good amount of riding the bus today. We left at 7:30 am. After lunch we went for a boat ride on the Tarcoles River to do some bird watching and look for crocodiles. It started out good with spotting a big croc named Osama, as in Bin Laden.

Shortly after that it began to rain, then rain harder with thunder and lightning. People are saying “go back!” No, we continue on with Fausto continuing to point out different birds, of which no one is really interested at this point. I have a few pics of birds but not really good enough to bother posting. We had a roof over us but this rain was coming sideways. Here is Fausto talking to a soaked group during a let up.

I think most would agree this outing was pretty much a bust and people were not really happy that the ride continued in the storm.

Some sights we saw on our way to our hotel.

Ox pulling a cart.
This C 132 plane has more of a story to it. It was bought by an ex CIA agent and moved to a location that he turned into a restaurant
Monkey on a wire. Look closely and you can see a baby clinging to her back.

Then we continued on another couple of hours to our hotel, San Bada Hotel, which is right next to the Manuel Antonio National Park. We visit the park in the morning. We enjoyed a little happy hour after arriving and enjoyed beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean and sunset.

The hotel is beautiful, probably more so from outside than inside but still nice.

Sunset and some beautiful views!

Nature’s beauty! Night all.

Day 6 – 5/1/19 A day at the JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort!

What a fabulous place this is! I haven’t stayed at many upscale resorts in my life but this one is great! I was happy to have a day of not getting on the bus. The grounds are fantastic, rooms are beautiful and people are great. I walked on the beach this morning, picked up some shells 🐚, caught up on the blog, laid in a hammock, sat on my porch, walked on the beach again, swam in the pool, and took pictures to show you.

A little bit about our group – there are 43 people in it, was supposed to be 44 and one lady’s friend had to cancel the day before. Only me and one other woman are solo, and now the one I just mentioned. There are quite a few ladies traveling together, a few younger people, only 11 men and all I’ve talked to are quite nice and pleasant. Everyone is from the states except one lady from Britain, but she lives in the states part time so I’d say she’s pretty much from the states 😊 πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§. She’s traveling with 3 other ladies from Florida. The 4 of them are quite enjoyable and have looked to include me for most meals which is nice of them. ❀️

Our guide is ok, pleasant enough, but doesn’t go out of his way to do anything extra. I asked him about getting a map of Costa Rica to better see where we have traveled and he said no. There are 2 Caravan groups doing the same tour, we just stagger leaving time. The other tour guide has given her group maps marking their route. She’s done some other little things for them too like giving everyone candy, cookie and chocolate from Costa Rica. I’ve met a few people in her group because they were on the same plane as me coming in. They say she is great and always doing something special and talking a lot about the local areas and all. You see, that is what makes a difference in a guide, making the effort to do a little more for your group. I really liked the first lady guide I had for the Grand Canyon. Didn’t at all like the man we had for Yellowstone. And now Fausto. That’s my experience anyway, hoping to not get a man guide again. Ok, I’ve gone on enough about that.

The food – I’m not a big experiment food person, but I have tried new things. There is a lot of rice and beans, called gallo pinto at pretty much every meal. If it’s not gallo pinto, it’s beans and rice or rice and beans πŸ˜‚. There are always other choices, though they may be similar meal to meal. We’ve always had fruit, mostly watermelon, pineapple, cantaloupe, and papaya. There are lots of plantains, cassava, tamales, and other local things. All the meals are buffet style without a lot of variety but enough choices to fill you. I’d say the food is not really the focus of the trip.

Now for pictures of this beautiful place……

And some of the beautiful flowers

Sunset time

Some shell treasures. You can take the girl out of Florida but you can’t take the Florida out of the girl.

It’s been great here but we are on the road again early tomorrow. Bags out at 6 am.

Day 5 – 4/30/19 Hanging Bridges and the Pacific Coast

The Mistico Hanging Bridges were only about 30 min from our hotel. I loved this place! My favorite so far! We did end up getting pretty wet but we were in a rain forest and it was worth it 😊. We saw so much lush vegetation, trees full of bromeliads, spider monkeys, frogs, snake, lots of birds, bats, a wild hog, carimundi (probably not spelling that right). Beautiful, beautiful! We divided into 3 groups – not too much of a walk, medium, and hard. I went with the hard group, which wasn’t that hard, and it was a steep down to the waterfall and back up. I think that was the only difference. We walked for 2 hours. We went across 10 hard (like metal or stone) and 6 hanging bridges.

Carimundi or something like that. About the size of a cat but more like a rat. Pointy nose to get into holes. Long tail.

Red froggy

They call this tree the broccoli tree because of how it looks.
Another shot or the broccoli tree. Beautiful canopy.

Venomous eyelash viper.

Mid picture you are looking down on another of the hanging bridges with people walking across.

That teensy red thing is a frog.

It started raining pretty hard after this and had to put the camera away.

Of course then it stopped raining and I got these last few shots. Such a beautiful area. When we were done our guide said it was like being in a hyperbaric chamber. 100% oxygen. Described it as the ‘lungs of the country’.

We the drove around Lake Arenal, the largest lake in Central America. It provides 60% of the hydroelectricity for the country. It was about a 2 hour drive to our lunch destination.

At the north end of the lake it is very windy and they harness wind power also. I know a lot of people don’t like the look of these wind machines, but I do.

Our chariot….

After lunch it was a 2.5 hour drive to out hotel. You could see the scenery drastically change from rainforest to ‘tropical dry forest’. Never heard of that term before.

Umbrella looking tree is a ficus tree.
You even see cactus out here.

The we arrive at the beautiful J W Marriot Resort Guanacaste.

Day 4 – 4/29/19 Cano Negro Cruise and Baldi Hot Springs

It was a 2 hour drive from our hotel to the town of los Chile’s and the Cano Negro wildlife refuge. We passed through sugar cane, teak, pineapple, banana, and orange plantations. Costa Rica is the largest grower of pineapples.

Our boat ride was on the Rio Frio river and we saw lots of wildlife – crocodiles, howler monkeys, many types of birds, iguanas, and ‘Jesus’ lizards. The scenery was beautiful.

He called this β€˜the tree of life’, even though it looks dead. Not sure why. Also know as Kapok tree.
This fella is called the Jesus lizard apparently because he can walk on water.
Iguanas are everywhere in this country. Scary looking.

Here we are close to the border of Nicaragua. Guide said there is a military base about a half a mile further.

Our boat for the ride

After lunch we headed back to Fortuna and the Baldi hot springs. Oh my goodness, this was a beautiful place! The pools are of varying temps It is the largest hot springs in the world. When my friends said it looked like Disney World I couldn’t imagine, but they were right. They are planned out beautifully, surrounded by lush vegetation with bars set up in the pools and restaurants and a gift shop. It is also a hotel and spa.

Loved this place!

We leave our hotel in the am early and head to hanging bridges and then the pacific coast! We hardly spent any time here and it was raining when we were here but here are a few shots of the beautiful surroundings.

Day 3 – 4/28/19 Quick tour of San Jose, wildlife rescue center, Zarcero, then onto Fortuna

It was a beautiful morning in San Jose.

Touring San Jose was interesting, unfortunately I was sitting on the wrong side of the bus for pictures or the sun was shining in the window. I forgot to say yesterday that Fausto said the theme of this trip is Pura Vida, meaning ‘pure life’ or simply, life is good. Turns out they use that theme a lot around here. Not a bad theme to have in life 😊.

Costa Rica is a heavily taxed country, 13% on most things and imported items getting taxed at 41%. Yikes. He says he gets around it by making a trip to the states every year or so and buying items there and bringing back.

Education is a priority in their country, with 98% of it’s people knowing how to read a write. All students wear uniforms, can not wear makeup or color their hair through high school years. Uniformity is important. Interesting.

Half of the country’s 5 million people live in the Central Valley surrounding San Jose. That’s about 5% of the land area of the country.

The wildlife rescue center was very interesting. So many different animals there that they try to rehab and reintroduce back into the wild. If they can’t be, they are cared for there for the rest of their life. My pictures did not turn out that good. I thought it was from shady to sun in the background but later in the day found out it was a dirty lens πŸ™. There was so much natural vegetation in the area, it is so beautiful. We saw a lot of different animals I can’t even remember all their names.

So much bamboo around


Monkey – in case you can’t see it.
There were so many iguanas there. This fella got in a fight with another in a tree and fell out onto the path. Kids were screaming and crying. I would have been too.

Thank you for humoring me with the terrible pictures. The setting of this place was so beautiful. Sometimes we get focused on the specific animal and don’t pay attention to the surroundings.

After another bit of a drive we stopped in Zarcero, at a park with fun topiaries and a beautiful church. Being Sunday today, it was filled with visitors and families.

This church looks like it is made with bricks. But it is faux painted and made of metal.

Beautiful inside of the church.

Continuing on our way to Fortuna we drove through some rainforest and ‘cloud forest’. It was a very beautiful area, with their green rolling hills, mountains, and forests. Dairy farming is big in the area.

Lots of fruit stands around and individuals selling fruit.

These are called ‘living fences’. You plant certain varieties of trees and after it gets so big you chop off the top part, strip the leaves and stick it in the ground to make the next ‘fence post’. Pretty cool idea. We saw a lot of them.

Then we arrived at our hotel in Fortuna, the Magic Mountain Hotel. Fortuna is right near the Arenal Volcano. Our rooms look out towards it, but it was cloudy when we arrived so we couldn’t see it. It was a rainy evening and much more humid here.

River ride and hot springs tomorrow. Hopefully only a day late posting that too 😊.

Costa Rica day 2. Sarchi, Coffee plantation and butterfly garden 4/27/19

The view from my room.

This morning we headed out of San Jose and thru a couple of small towns and to higher elevations. It’s funny that towns have certain things they are know for. In Grecia it’s cars for sale. You pass one after another home with cars in the front to sell. In Sarchi it’s furniture and ox carts and handicrafts.

Church in Grecia. It’s made out of metal.
Largest ox cart

Above is some of the beautiful ox carts and the hand painting that is done. Also some of the other beautiful artwork.

Church in Sarchi. 85% of Costa Rican’s are Catholic.

The coffee plantation was interesting. They are very proud of the coffee beans they grow there.

This the guide we had for the coffee tour next to a coffee plant. She’s wearing the basket the workers wear to put the coffee beans they pick in. Coffee bean harvesting time goes for 5 months starting in October. Most of the workers are from Nicaragua (she said Costa Rican’s don’t want to do the job because it’s such hard work) and come up seasonally. They get paid $2 for a 28 lb basket. Not to much! But their living expenses are free, except food, and their money goes much further in Nicaragua than Costa Rica.

Butterfly Garden – They were so pretty but hard to catch good pictures of in action. Especially the beautiful blue ones. You know I love some butterflies 😊.

This is what the blue ones look like when they are not flying. They can blend right in.

Now some pictures of the beautiful flowers I’ve seen today.

Julu chilling in the hydrangeas ( I’m thinking of changing her name).

As you can see, they are very beautiful! Costa Rica exports many flowers. We saw covered greenhouses to protect them from too much rain, sun and bugs.

These couple of pictures were taken from inside the bus. Overlooking San Jose and a couple of green parrots (even though the color didn’t show up).

There is beautiful landscaping around here and a beautiful pool area. Our hotel is Barcelo San Jose.

Gotta love the hammocks

So tomorrow we leave San Jose and head towards Fortuna. Stay tuned and thank you for following.

P.S. The hammock was lovely