Now that is has been a month since I spent a lovely 10 days in Costa Rica with Mr. Muse and ten other people, it’s high time that I write something about it for this blog, especially since I’ll be jetting off on another adventure in another few weeks. I think that one of the hardest things to settle on were the photos I want to share without having a post turn into a vacation slideshow or photo sharing event from hell. I’m sure some of you know the kind; when my in-laws go on vacations eventually Mr. Muse and I are forced to politely sit and page through 1500+ photos of… “wasn’t that the same rock in the last ten photos?” Friends, I don’t want to do that to you.
But, I digress. I decided that if I were going to share photos, they had to be good photos and not a lot of them. And then, I looked through my photos again and I thought, “Hmm, maybe I’ll have to break this up into a few posts.” Regardless of which way I go on this, I think I should start off by saying that most of the photos I took were of the wildlife and scenery. Mr. Muse and I have always been really bad about taking photos of ourselves when we’re on vacation and it’s usually at some point during the last day or two at a location where we’ll say, “Well… I supposed we should get some photographic evidence that we were here. Together.” That happened, but since I don’t show Mr. Muse’s face on this blog – you won’t be seeing it today!
Now that I got that out of the way, let me begin at the beginning, which is always a good place to begin. The night before Mr. Muse and I were to fly out, I had the suitcases almost completely packed other than toiletries, clothing laid out and the alarms were set for 3 AM. When we got up with the alarms it was the usual mad scramble to get everything done – like feed the animals, eat something, load the vehicle and head to the airport to arrive with enough time to get through security. The weather was on our side, we had an early flight out of Dane County Regional Airport (MSN) and while we had an actual line at security (what the what? That never happens at Dane County!), we breezed through it and had plenty of time to get ourselves situated, to our gate and had a comfortable amount of time to wait before boarding.
The flights were fairly uneventful and I even had time at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport (ATL) to stop and get a fancy coffee which I had just enough time to enjoy (read: slug down and think “too much sugar… too much…”) before boarding out flight to Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport (LIR) in Liberia, Costa Rica. The flight was bumpy, but no worse than a bumpy road and the weather was beautiful as we flew over the Gulf of Mexico. Being a map geek, I was thrilled to fly over Lake Nicaragua in Nicaragua and see a smoking volcano in the distance just before we prepared for landing.
Liberia was hot and humid, a welcome respite from the dry, cold weather we had in Wisconsin. Even though we were into dry season, there were still flowers everywhere and the greenery was still green. Our launch point for the trip was the Hilton Garden Inn Liberia Airport immediately across the highway from the airport. The staff were friendly, the rooms comfortable and the geckos running along the baseboards in the hallway were utterly adorable. Their bar at The Garden Restaurant & Bar makes a fabulous caipirinha and I fell in love with the dish chifrijo (the ceviche was also very tasty).
The neighborhood immediately surrounding the hotel is an industrial-type area and there isn’t much for a tourist to walk to, but Mr. Muse and I did go for a walk after we’d settled into our hotel room and had some lunch. We also went for a walk the next morning. Note: bring sunscreen! In the ninety minutes we took a walk and lounged by the pool the first afternoon and the forty-five minutes that we took for a walk the next morning, the both of us were already sporting some serious tan lines and red shoulders on me – since I’m allergic to sunscreen and all that jazz. However, not to discourage anyone who wants to stay at this hotel, walking the neighborhood around it (there are plenty of sidewalks) was a little bit like taking a nature hike without the signs telling you about all the plants, insects and birds flying around. Seriously – go take a walk – it’ll be eye opening. Before we left we’d noticed that there was a slaughterhouse in a far corner of the industrial park and though we didn’t see (or hear… or smell) cattle, we did see thousands of hoof prints from shod horses on the sidewalks and roads as well as a lot of cow patties from the vaqueros driving their cattle to the facility.
Which brings me to the next thing that was obvious. Where we were in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica, cattle is king. Brahma cattle grazed everywhere you could see. After we were picked up at the hotel to join the rest of the group of travelers, we road for a bumpy 3 hours, the only paved road of which was the main highway that I never saw a sign for – only signs with names of towns and distances. After a stop in Nicoya for my drug buy (there is a story behind that… and I was buying for a friend), we soon after left the pavement for gravel roads…. if you could call them that. Mostly gravel roads? Gravel and… breaker rock? Gravel and breaker rock and boulders? With pot holes. And washouts. Lots of pot holes and washouts. And dust.
We arrived at Casa Banda road-weary and thrilled to be able to relax. Arne and Bibi are wonderful hosts who made our whole week incredibly pleasant. The views of the ocean (and the sunsets) are fabulous and waking up to howler monkeys every morning along with parrots flying overhead was surreal and lots of fun. At least, I thought it was fun.