The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

- Robert Frost

the 1 less traveled by

A move to Nicaragua

Browsing Tag:

Costa Rica

Fun at Monteverde

Trip to Monteverde, Costa Rica

Our friends had a vacation to Monteverde booked and their United States friends ended up not being able to go, so they invited us! We jumped at the chance to take a vacation to a part of Costa Rica we had heard was magical. Monteverde is in the cloud forests in the northwestern part of Costa Rica. It is known as the birth place of zip lining, or canopy tours as Costa Rica and Nicaragua call it. It seems like most places also have suspension bridges, Tarzan swings, and bird watching trails as well.

Crossing the Costa Rican boarder
                      Crossing the Costa Rican boarder

We hired a van to take us to the boarder and then rented a car through Alamo on the other side of the boarder in Costa Rica. We had a lot of stuff and were worried about carrying it all the way through, but luckily they had guys with carts waiting right at the entrance to the boarder so we didn’t have to carry much ourselves. We paid them about $8 since it ended up being two guys who had to pass our luggage cart once entering the next country.

We stopped at the Africa Safari Adventure Park on the way, which ended up being a great stop for everyone and since is was almost halfway through our travel day, a good break.

About an hour before Monteverde the roads got pretty bad. Very bumpy. We even pulled over once thinking we had a flat! It was getting dark and rainy so the last hour wasn’t a pleasant drive.

Stella's Bakery
          Playing in the tea cup outside Stella’s Bakery
Fun with animal statues
                                     Fun with animal statues

Our friends had rented a house and it ended up being in a great location. We could walk down to a coffee shop called Stella’s Bakery, a place called Whole Foods (no, not that Whole Foods), and there was a little park with statues the kids could climb on. It was only a 10 minute drive to the main town of Santa Elena and about 20 minutes to most of the zip lining places.

 

The first night we ate at a far too fancy Italian place called Tramonti. They had a lot of glass & knives pre-set on the table and did not give off a kid-friendly vibe. My mushroom pasta was delicious though! After dinner we stopped by a market for a couple items and then headed back to our house.

 

Even though it was quite windy and cold the first day, we decided to go to Sky Adventures and do the suspension bridges. We were worried that the conditions would be worse the next day. Kharron doesn’t own a jacket, so after eating breakfast at the house we went into town to find some rain coats and parkas.

Sky Adventures was really fun. We did a small loop on the suspension bridge before our reservation on the gondola/Sky Tram ride up to the top of the mountain. It was truly freezing up there, so while the ride was neat, the visibility was lacking and the weather made it barely enjoyable. We drove into town for a substantial lunch at Treehouse Restaurante & Cafe and then went back to Sky to do a larger loop on the suspension bridges.

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Waiting for dinner
 Waiting for to-go dinner

That night we thought it would be easier to pick up to-go food from Monteverde Beer House, but it took awhile to get our order and didn’t make for great to-go food as the name would suggest.

Orchid Cafe
             Daddy trying to work during breakfast

The next day ended up being beautiful and our friend Jason and their son Brooks wanted to go zip lining. We first went out to a delicious breakfast at Cafe Orchid Coffee Shop while Kharron tried to get some work done. Then went back to the house for some relaxation. After all of us ate large burritos at Taco Taco, we dropped Jason & Brooks off at Selvatura Park and went back to the house for naps for the little ones. When we picked them up they had had a blast. A couple of the zip lines were really long, the longest being 1000 meters!

Monteverde sunset
                              Monteverde sunset from our house

On our last night Kharron made us an amazing beef straganoff dinner. It was nice and cozy in the house and we all had fun playing around. After the kids went to bed the adults played a short game of Heads Up before calling it a night.

 

 

The next morning we ate a quick breakfast at home and were on the road by 7am. A hurricane was approaching the east coast of Costa Rica and Nicaragua and we wanted to make it back through the boarder before the heavy rains started. We all made pretty good time and drove straight through except for a quick lunch stop at a fried chicken restaurant that had a kids play area. Returning the car and getting through the boarder was quick. It helps to have kids because you get to cut the line.

We really like traveling with this family. They have a similar schedule and same pace of day. Sharing a home is family friendly and fun. The kids are close in ages so everyone has a friend. Azalea plays very well with Brooks (usually) and it is adorable watching them together. I’m sad to say that they have decided to move back to New Mexico earlier than planned. We are truly going to miss them.

Feeding a hungry zebra

Trip to the Africa Safari Adventure Park

On our way through Costa Rica to Monteverde we decided to stop by the Africa Safari Adventure Park located just off the freeway in Liberia. It could be that we’ve been living in Nicaragua too long, but we were extremely impressed by this place. For only $30 for adults (our kids were free) we got in a tractor pulled wagon and were lead to different areas where we could feed ostrich, zebras, giraffes, and a camel carrots from a bag we purchased for $2. We also saw gesbok, African cows, white tailed deer, and wildebeest.

The kids had a blast and it was a great break from our drive.

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Woo in Puerto Viejo

How to vacation in style and on the cheap

Living in Nicaragua – Vacation from Paradise

We just took our first real vacation since moving to Nicaragua over a year ago. We honestly thought we’d do more of this, but then life happens, and *poof* a year goes by. We are only on a tourist VISA in Nicaragua, which means every 90 days we need to exit the country and re-enter to renew our VISA. This time instead of leaving and entering turn-style, we made a vacation out of it It was well worth the wait, Puerto Viejo – Costa Rica was beautiful! A couple things we learned:

1. Bring your nanny

Nicaragua has strong labor laws, so we’d have to pay our house cleaner/nanny her salary while we were away. So, we decided why not bring her? Since we were going to another country we needed to either pay for an 8 day pass or get her a passport. We decided to go with the passport since this was in the best interest of our future vacations. It ended up costing $50 for the passport and $33 for 3 month VISA to Costa Rica. At the borders we also paid for her taxes ($9) and entrance ($2).

It was great having an extra hand to help with the kids. My husband, Kharron and I were able to have conversations over dinner, go swimming together, rent bikes for a self-directed pub crawl, and go to a movie. Kharron worked some while we were on vacation and having Juanita there meant I could enjoy some individual time with one of the kids while the other napped.

2. Pay for a cuiador

We have 2 dogs and a cat who are used to a certain degree of lifestyle which includes sleeping indoors and meals promptly served. Juanita’s husband is not only a trusted friend, but also cheap labor. It cost us $10 for the 5 days were were gone for him to make sure the cat’s bowl had food, that there was water in the bowl outside, feed the dogs breakfast and let them out for the day, then feed them dinner and lock them in the house for the night. One of our dogs needs to take an incontinence pill twice a day and he even administered that for us so we didn’t come back to a home smelling of urine. Our dogs spend most of the day outside anyway, following our community’s gardener around, so I’m sure they were happy with this routine.

3. Rent a car and make sure you print your credit card’s insurance coverage

This is a mistake we made, but we won’t let it happen again. In Costa Rica if you decline the rental company coverage, they need to validate that your credit card will cover, otherwise they will need to take a very large deposit and you have to pay for their coverage. It would have been very simple for us to print the policy out to give to the rental agency. Instead it cost us a lot more money than intended and a lot of fuss before our long drive.

4. Reserve early

If you’re going anywhere during high season, make sure you reserve your hotel early and compare prices at the various reservation websites. Our hotel in San Jose had a deal running on Expedia the week we were there. We ended up having to move hotels while in Puerto Viejo and our options were very limited.