Sunday, August 25, 2013

Turrialba, Costa Rica Rental

As always, we try to rent houses everywhere we travel. Being able to do laundry, have home cooked meals, and room to spread out is well worth it, and it is far more cost effective if you travel in a small group like the four of us.

We have been to Costa Rica before and stayed up in the mountains near Arenal and also spent a week on the Pacific coast. This time around, we wanted to check out the central and Caribbean side to see what it had to offer. We decided on Turrialba as our central hub for our stay due to its proximity to several volcanoes, historical sites, and canyoneering (our fave thing to do)!

There were several rental options, primarily owned by Americans which were all large and beautiful, and one owned by locals. After reading the reviews, several of surrounding rentals guests said the most memorable part of their trip was spending time with the local family who owned the rental place down the street. SOLD. For us traveling is about the experience, being immersed in a new culture, and making new friends abroad. We are always trying to seek out authentic restaurants and hangouts that the locals go to and try to pass over the more touristy trap places. What better way to do that than stay with locals?

This is the house we rented is called Natural Paradise, and is owned by the Rivera family, and their son Jose, is your personal guide for your stay. Natural paradise sits on the family's farm where they grow coffee, sugar cane and a variety of fruits and vegetables. The view from the deck is absolutely breathtaking, a sea of green trees, with birds everywhere. I mean everywhere, from hummingbirds whizzing by your head to toucans flying in the distance, this place is a bird lovers dream.

There was an option to pay a tiny bit extra and have all of our meals prepared for us by the matriarch of the family which we jumped on...home cooked meals by mom? Yes, please!! Every meal was amazing, and used fruits and veggies fresh from the farm. Every morning and evening Jose and his family would bring over fresh and delicious meal. We enjoyed sharing stories with Jose and his wife Darlene over the course of the week while we ate. We very much enjoyed the time spent with Jose and his family, and the guys event went and played soccer with Jose and several other locals in the community field (a highlight of the guys trip, btw).

We had several excursions planned for the week, including hikes on the volcanoes, visiting a historical site, canyoneering, and a special side trip to the sloth sanctuary. Jose not only helped us plan out our days, but he was also our personal tour guide for the week. He drove us to all the locations and was a wealth of information. I feel like we truly got a richer experience staying with the Rivera family than we would have otherwise. It felt like home away from home, even down to getting to hang out and play with the family dogs, Kussie, and Pinto!

I will post more about the trip in the upcoming weeks as I get more photos processed!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

52 Weeks 2012- April

Backgammon Challenge-Week 13 2012

Happy Easter-Week 14 2012

Tree of Life-Week 15 2012 Hana, HI

Coconut Bras-Week 16 2012 Road to Hana

Sunday, December 30, 2012

52 Weeks 2012-March

Calatrava Bridge Opening Ceremony-Week 9 2012

Basked in Light-Week 10 2012 from Muir Woods

Cut Off-Week 11 2012 in celebration of St Pattys Day

Gentle Giant-Week 12 2012 from the Dallas Zoo

52 Weeks 2012 February

Sunset on the Platform-Week 5 2012

Will You...? Week 6 2012

Light Up My Life With Love- Week 7 2012

Happy Birthday! Week 8 2012

52 Weeks in a Nutshell-January

The first month of my 52 Weeks photo project of 2012

2012 started with the arrival of Danbo, who came all the way from Japan to be a part of my 52 week project.

Week 2 was a visit to a local park. I never knew that this little jem was so close to the house I grew up in!

Joining the Dallas Photography group on was quite helpful in getting out to new places and learning from several great photographers. This shot is from downtown Grapevine.

At the end of Jan, we welcomed in the Year of the Dragon.

Under Construction

Under the best way to describe the past year, and why I have been MIA to this blog. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Just about a year ago (Jan 14 to be exact) I posted this post about my new years resolutions. In a nutshell they were:
  • Regain control of my life
  • Travel more
  • Improve my photography skills
I happily report that I accomplished all of these things. New job=happier me, I have also seen several new places in this year including my first trip to Canada, and visiting the southern most tip of the US (in HI). I also vowed to complete a 52 week photo project as well which was a fun learning experience. I will start to post the images of the project in an attempt to get caught up to my new 2013 project that starts this week!

So, on this eve of New Years Eve, as I reflect back on this year, I can honestly say that I am a much happier and healthier person than I was 366 days ago. and my goal for 2013 is to be able to say that same thing again at the end of next year. I hope the same for you :)

When All Else Fails, Follow a Dog

While in Capri, we decided to stroll through Anacapri and do a quick hike to some roman ruins. I had bought a great book with hikes for all over Italy,and felt that it had fairly detailed info of each hike. This hike/walk started at the center of town and would wind through the streets of Anacapri taking us out of town and to the ruins. Easy peasy. It was a nice hike and somewhere along the way we came across a friendly dog, who after a few pats on the head, he continued on his way up the path. One thing we didn't plan on was that many streets would not be marked and that we would get lost. As the six of us tried to decipher where we were on the map, the friendly dog came back and started barking at us. As a joke I said that maybe the dog was trying to tell us something, and he probably knows the city better than we do. But we realized that this dog was always about 20 yards ahead of us and he seemed like he knew where he was going.

So, we decided that we would just follow the dog instead, and see where he would take us. Patches, as we named him led us left and right down cobblestone streets, and past old homes with grapevines and wisteria growing in the yards. Then we turned out of the city and onto a path lined with tall pines. As we continued through the piney trail, low and behold, Patches actually led us to the ruins we were looking for, Villa Damecuta! We think he is a stray that lives on the grounds since there is running water there (and he appeared to be quite the mouser). After checking out the place, Patches followed us to the closest bus stop and waited with us. I felt bad because I think he felt the proper payment for his tour services was a forever home, but unfortunately, we couldn't take him with us back to the US. As the bus pulled up, as if on que, he went on his way, perhaps to look for the next group of lost touristas.

Our tour guide Patches taking in the view of the Gulf of Naples