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Musings About Family, Travel And Gardening With Allen Martinson.


Another Great Trip for the Books

We are certainly going through a bumpy August. I do expect it to get hot, but I never thought we would see these kinds of temperatures. We have had to think about our days working outside a little more than usual. I have been starting earlier and trying to get enough done so I can scoot out of there a little earlier than usual, so I don’t melt away like a snowman. Unfortunately, I am starting to see some plants flaring up and dying from the heat. Some plants were weak from the cold snap we had this past winter; the heat is finishing them off. Some plants that are getting plenty of irrigation are dying from the prolonged excessive temperatures. I think all we can do is make sure plants are getting everything they need and wait to see how they will be affected.

The last time I wrote about our Costa Rica trip, Javier and I were ready for Mimi and Mia and Max and their significant others to arrive. We traded in our smaller, speedier rental car for a 4-wheel-drive van that would hold everyone and their stuff and still get us to where we need to go. It was so good to see everyone at the airport and to see that there were no problems with luggage; we were on our way! The 2-hour ride from the airport to the place where we were staying is a great way to see the place for the first time. Everything seems so different from where they left that morning at 6 AM to where they are now at 1 PM. On that ride, we see all the fruit being sold along the roadside, scooters, and people walking to get here and there, oxen carrying big loads, and beautiful views of open fields that just don’t look anything like home. Javier pointed things out and answered questions from all directions like he had done this a thousand times before (he had).

The roads were narrow and windy for some of the journey; sometimes we had to slow way down to keep from blowing the tires right off the van. We stopped a time or two to investigate whatever someone was interested in seeing or to try something new to drink or eat. When we arrived at the place where the road ends and the beach starts, we could see the confused looks on the faces of everyone. We drove out on the beach and picked up our speed so we wouldn’t get the van stuck and kept going until we finally got in front of their family's compound. I could see the looks on Mimi and Max’s faces as they recollected everything from their trip here 10 years prior. Max was 14 when he was here before; a lot had happened for him in that time period, and here he was with his best gal that he had spent 5 of those years with. Everyone got settled in and went for walks down the beach, settled into hammocks, or went for swims in the ocean.

Javier and I planned for that night's dinner to be a special one with yellowfin Tuna, a great salad, rice and beans, and plantains. We watched a spectacular sunset together, then headed off in all directions to watch a really cool star show on the beach. We were so far away from any cities and lights, looking right out over the endless Pacific Ocean, that we could see what seemed like forever. The stars were so clear in the blackness that we could see the Milky Way streaming through the night sky. Someone brought a light to the beach that night so we could search the tide pools for sea urchins and baby octopuses or eels. When the tide would go out, it left pools deep enough for some sea creatures to be left there until the tide comes back in to whisk them back out to sea.

The next morning, some of us went fishing while others stayed back to do some exploring or just to chill out. This was going to be an extra exciting day for Mimi and me. This would be the night I would surprise Mimi with a romantic getaway at a really cool hotel/spa high up on the cliffs, not far from where we were all staying. Javier dropped us off there and told us not to come down until later the next day. He and the others would get Mia and Cody from the airport the next day.

We didn’t argue; staying at this beautiful place was going to be a real treat. I had set up a massage for each of us, and we had a lounging afternoon and a great meal that took us into midnight while sitting outside chatting away the night. The next day, we took a hike that this place offered down to some mangroves, and we saw and heard howler monkeys and all kinds of birds. I wish I knew my birds better, as I am sure that this would be a bird watcher's paradise. We saw macaws and canaries, a toucan, and what else I’m not sure. Mimi and I hung out by the pool, had some lunch, and wrapped up our stay around 3 PM. We found a Tuk-Tuk, a little motorized rickshaw taxi thing that gets people to and fro, to take us back to the beach house. After negotiating the price, we stopped at a grocery store to pick up more things to drink on the way. Again, the grocery store always slows me down as I try to figure out what all that crazy stuff in the produce aisle is.

It was unbelievable how close we were to getting to the beach house at the same time as the others. We were pulling in at the same time as the vanload of our folks arriving from the airport. Mia and Cody had arrived after coming in the same way from the airport. They took off on a pretty big hike up and over the point that I had been staring at and wondering about for the last few days. I think they might have gone fishing that afternoon; you really can’t tire those two out.

We had another great meal at our place that night. We had Mahi with all the fixings for them to experience. It was great to be able to prepare these meals, but it was also great to get out a few nights to restaurants. It is fun to see what’s being served for dinner at some local places and at some places that have arisen because of tourism. The food is great, but the service at the restaurants was so good and fun. They seem to love that tourists are there and willing to try new stuff. They understood how important it is for people to enjoy their time there. We were a pretty big gang of folks, and we are kind of loud and not afraid to ask what the heck something is. We had a blast trying our best to communicate with each other. We all got to see all kinds of flora and fauna every day, go on hikes, swim, fish, relax, and play dominoes every day.

I did knock one thing off my bucket list by taking surf lessons and getting comfortable enough to stand up and surf a morning away. I’m usually pretty uncoordinated when it comes to those kinds of things, but surfing turns out to be one of those things that I picked up pretty quickly. I wish I had time to get good enough to get into the big waves; it might be a whole other beast, but the waves that we learned in were fun enough. Max threw in a surprise for us all by getting engaged to Madeline on one of the days that they went for a walk down the beach, followed by a sunset with all of us together. He did great getting it done and somehow had Mia close enough to get some photos when he dropped to his knee to ask for her hand. I don’t know how we could have had any more fun together.

After we dropped everyone off at the airport 6 days later, Javier and I dropped off the van and got into a 4-wheel drive that we could take to the interior to hike up some volcanoes to see the hot, bubbling ground around us. We headed to a national park with lots of geothermal power plants from all the volcanic activity underground. These power plants produce enough electricity for huge swaths of communities in the area without disrupting the views much at all. I had no idea that they had success with producing electricity on that scale with the heat produced by the volcanoes. Maybe someday someone will figure this energy mess out; they have to keep trying.

We soaked in some pools of hot water on the side of a volcano, we videoed pools of hot, bubbling ground, and we watched some hot steam rising from pools out in the tropical rainforest. We climbed to the top of a volcano that is 11,000 feet above sea level. Up there, we caught a relatively clear day but very windy. Luckily, I had enough clothes to be warm when we reached the top. We whiled away the last day in the agricultural area up high in elevation where potatoes and broccoli and cauliflower grow. We dipped into a very nice garden center to get Javier's mother an orchid on our way back to get ready to depart the next morning. What a great trip and time off from the real world. It's always great to get home, and I was missing Mimi. I was ready to get back to 'normal.' Another great one for the books!"

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