Malpais> San Jose> Manzanillo, 5-2-13 > 8-2-13.
We finished our stay in Malpais with more time in our favourite rock pool- Zoe now moving onto "swimming" as she calls it. She is practicing doggy paddle arms and leg kicks and feels very proud to be able to move about half a meter towards me before I have to grab her to prevent her sinking like a stone. She practices this over and over. We did it for an hour the other day! She also is now confident enough to jump into the water without holding onto us... not sure if this is a good thing though! We stayed a few nights at the rock pool till the tide came in and it was great fun have the waves flood in and turn it into a bubbly spa. Zac caught his first tiny little fish too - although he had the advantage as it was already dead (urgg!).
Had a lovely farewell dinner at the beachfront restaurant (Caracolas) with Franz (accomodation owner), his girlfriend (Marta) and our Austrian friends (Domenic, Julia and baby Nino). Enjoyed our last sunset and watching the pelicans fly in formation. We'll really miss the sunsets once we head to the Caribbean side- although Zac has us up before dawn so I guess that will be beautiful too. Enjoyed the wonderful food- cooked by someone else- and so nice to have a change from our simple egg, pasta or rice meals. There aren't many ingredients (and we are too lazy) to be too creative with the cooking. Had a typical Costa Rican casado which is rice, beans, flavour-filled BBQed meat and fried plantains. Yum!
We arrived back in San Jose after a 7 hour bus and ferry trip with our little water babies jumping straight into the pool for the afternoon. The water felt freezing after being spolit with the warmth of those 29 degree seas on the Pacific Coast. One of the guests lent us a blow up ring for Zoe to use in the pool and she was in 7th heaven to be independently swimming about.
Had 1 full day in San Jose. We went on a fascinating and very lively coffee tour (Cafe Britt) where we got to see the plantation, sample the different coffees (and chocolate covered coffee beans- Yum!!) and learn all about the processes via a comedy/skit routine. Given I don't really drink coffee (unless it is half milk and with lots of sugar), I was pleasantly surprised to really enjoy a black cup (only their "begginners strength though!!). I still have a long way to go to get to the strongest level- espresso- before I get to Italy.The kids had fun and Zoe got to try a cacao seed too. She was just supposed to suck it then spit it out but before we knew it, it was swallowed. Thankfully she didn't choke as it was quite large. Could have literally been "Death by Chocolate"! Worse ways to go I guess!
We finished our 1 day in San Jose with a visit to the Toucan Rescue Ranch where they rescue and rehabilitate toucans, sloths, and other injured/orphaned native birds and animals. The owner is an Ocupational Therapist!! Bizarre! Very sad to hear of the conditions some of the wildlife were living in prior to being rescued. People often keep them illigally as pets but in awful conditions. Others are there from injuries. I think our visit may have added to their trauma though as Zoe and Zac were so excited and noisy that I think they scared the poor things to bits. The ranch aims to rehabilitate the animals to return them to the wild wherever possible. We all got to pat a sleepy little baby sloth which was a real highlight and saw tiny baby toucans and fluffy owl chicks. Felt sad to see all the animals caged up though. Looking forward to seeing the free ones in the rainforest soon!
We are travelling so differently with children. In our backpacking days we used to get excited to get any towels at all- now we get towel and toilet paper sculptures in our accomodation. Had a towel shaped into a swan and a prize for who can guess what the toilet paper was supposed to be!
We headed to the Caribbean side of the country today. This side of the country gets a lot more rain and it was a gorgeous 5 hour drive through mountainous, lush rainforest, full of bright bouganvillias and other tropical flowers. Hit the coast and could immediately feel the Afro/Caribbean influence. Lots of bright boats, bicycles, colourful fruit stalls and a very laid back feel. Up till now, we have felt like we were in a bit of a tourist bubble- only mixing with other tourists and not really feeling like we were getting to experience the true culture of Costa Rica. Hoping this will be a chance to get into it more.
Our "home" for the next 2 weeks is called "Congo Bongo"- what else! It's a beautiful wooden house almost entirely open to the surrounding rainforest except for the bedrooms. There is a 1 km board walk that weaves its way down through the rainforest to a very pretty sandy beach, between 2 towns. Zac had a green and black spider crawI across his face in the first 5 mins whilst the owner's 7 year old child calmly brushed it off and let it crawl all over her arm- OMG!! The chickens gave us a tour up the stairs - much to the kids's excitement and I am sitting here tonight with the insects humming. Apparently, there are toucans, monkeys, and sloth all in the area. Bring it on!