Over the past 6 Summers we worked to get the kids to all 50 states in the US before Tommy went off to college. We managed to complete that goal about a week before he reported into West Point for Beast Barracks. We had thought about trying to go to England this Summer, but the cost of airfare just put England into the “too hard” box for this year. To work around Sam’s Summer School and Tom’s military training, we decided to have two smaller vacations rather than one long one. The first vacation of the year is a week in Costa Rica.
Normally Candy has spent months planning each of our family vacations, using TripAdvisor, Yelp, and other Internet sites as well as travel books from the library. This year she did some basic research, but then we hired Orlando Vargas, a Costa Rica guide, to work out the details. This was both liberating and stressful to Candy the Microplanner. Orlando picked us up in the airport and began the four-hour drive over largely unimproved roads to La Fortuna. Along the way we stopped at a small “Soda” for lunch.
Most traditional Costa Rican meals include black beans and rice. All of the food has been superb. The drinks were fruit juices of different types. Tom and I hand pineapple, Sam and Candy had something red. Tom and I also tried the home-made hot chillies in large yellow-topped jar.
We arrived at the Los Lagos resort just as the afternoon rain began to fall. We checked in then went to the pool-side snack bar to get a light dinner to take to our rooms. We weren’t very hungry after the huge lunch we ate.
This first day was largely a travel day, but the second day was full of high adventure. We began with a wonderful breakfast buffet at Los Lagos and then Orlando took us to Pure Trek, where we had scheduled an excursion in which we conducted four rappels down canyon walls and waterfalls.
After signing a bunch of waivers, we boarded the PureTrek van to take us to the adventure area. Most of the drive was along unimproved roads past houses and agricultural fields.
I haven’t been rappelling in many years, and I was really looking forward to it. Sam and Tom had both rappelled with scouts. Tom had just finished air assault school, during which he rappelled from a helicopter. Candy had never rappelled. So we were a mixed bag.
I volunteered to go first for the day. I wanted to check the safety of the apparatus before Candy and the kids came down. We all lived. One of the things I liked about these PureTrek guys is that they were safe, but they let you bound down the cliff instead of just walking. It was an awesome experience.
From this shot, you get a sense of scale. The cliff for the first rappel was 145 feet.
The guide at the bottom of the cliff, pulled the rope to stop our descent and then dragged us under the falling water to make sure that everyone gets wet.
Our next stop for the day was to see the La Fortuna falls. Getting there meant going down hundreds of stairs to the base of the falls and then back up again.
After leaving the La Fortuna falls area, Orlando took us to a local watering hole on the La Fortuna river. Tom and Sam both had a chance to swing out and drop 30 feet into the pool.
After all the adventure and hiking, we went back Los Lagos to relax a little before dinner.
The resort had several pools, some “cold” and some fed by the volcanic hot springs. They both had the fastest water slides I have ever experienced. You could really shock yourself going from the cold pool to the hot pool and back.
The Los Lagos also had a butterfly enclosure, some alligators, a frog enclosure, and an enclosure for leaf cutter ants. We spent a few minutes walking through these areas before getting ready for dinner an at upscale steakhouse / soda.
The next morning, after another hearty breakfast, we took a hike up a trail to an observation area for a better view of Arenal.
After this hike we began a three hour drive over unimproved roads to Monte Verde.
Upon arriving at Monte Verde we went to lunch at the Tree House restaurant. A tree grows up through the middle of the restaurant. It is a living tree and home to birds.
After a terrific Italian dinner at a local restaurant in Monte Verde, we hit the sack early and got ready for the next day’s adventure. Stay tuned!