Bolle Chasing A Stick
Our flight landed early on Monday morning where our hosts picked us up from the airport. After some shopping in the big city we made the 90-minute trek to their house in Parrita. The tiny village of Parrita sits just a mile or so off the Pacific Coast, far from the hustle and bustle of city life. Once inside we were greeted by our new furry friends Bolle and Luna. While Luna is a Tika dog that was left behind by someone who didn't want her she's a mix of bull dog who knows what. Bolle on the other hand is their beloved pure bred very expensive German Shepard of fine lineage that was imported from Switzerland. Although he's only a year old he's been trained well as a guard dog and shows no signs of puppy like behavior. Our hosts are a Swiss couple who retired early to Costa Rica for a better, easier way of life that includes opening a future hotel. Their lovely little house sits on two acres of lush land full of gardens, fruit trees and a large swimming pool.
Luna And Bolle
A River Off Of Playa Bandera
They Found A Crab
Our Wheels....She's Not Too Pretty But We're Happy To Have It
Up Into The Truck
They requested that we arrive a few days early so that they and the dogs could get to know us before they left for their trip. They showed us around and introduced us to many of their expat and Tika friends. (Tika is the term used for native Costa Ricans). Yesterday we drove them into San Jose for a flight out to the states and had planned to do some grocery shopping at Walmart before heading back to the house. Since we have use of their pick up truck I suggested a side trip to the city of Alajuela that sits nearby San Jose. From there our wanderlust set in and we headed into the mountains to find Parque National Volcan Poas (or the Poas Volcano).
Alajuala, Costa Rica Town Center
Inside A Church
The scenic drive took us past lush coffee plantations and strawberry farms before we made our way into the national park that sat high in the frigid mountains. Since this is a hot, tropical climate I was wearing a sun dress and flip flops while Clyde had on jeans an a short sleeves fishing shirt. The temperature outside felt like 20 degrees to us since we're so used to living in the heat. I really had no idea HOW I would survive hiking up into the hills with such cool temps. But like all good tourist traps the national park had a tourist shop that sold overpriced shirts, ponchos, umbrellas and much more. Clyde opted for a $6 plastic poncho since it was starting to sprinkle but I insisted on a sweat shirt. I settled on a hooded sweat shirt with "Costa Rica.....Pura Vida" printed on it for the horrible price of $45. Yes it was a rip off but it meant the difference between being warm and continuing our trek to see the volcano or going home.
Giant Leaves Of The Umbrella Tree
Paths Through National Park
We followed the nicely maintained path up to the rim of the volcano and were totally wowed by the spectacle before our eyes. Wow.....was all we could say! From there we continued on to a one hour hike through the rain forest. While the scenery was gorgeous the signs along the way were a bit unnerving. Signs that said, "In Case Of Eruption.....Don't Panic, Just Head Down The Mountain Quickly." Quickly?....ah yeah right. The lush green jungle turned to shades of black as we passed by plenty of burned trees as the warning signs faded out of sight.
A Chilly Photo At The Top
One Of The Many Warning Signs
A Lake Near The Volcano
Very Well Maintained Paths Through The Jungle
Tree Stump That Looked Like A Giant Animal Track
Found This Little Guy Near The Visitor Center
After leaving the national park we headed back down the mountain and stopped for a late lunch. We choose a typical Costa Rican meal of "casados" which literally translates to "married men." Here this is the cheapest meal offered in restaurants and consists of rice, beans, salad, and some type of meat. This one was done exceptionally well and pretty at a price of maybe $6. The business next to the restaurant was selling strawberries with a choice of toppings: chocolate, sweetened condensed milk, or caramel. We choose one cup to share and had them topped with a thin chocolate syrup. I wanted some strawberries to take back to the house and we picked up some cheap at another roadside stand.
Our Lunch......Rice, Potatoes, Salad, Beans, Chicken and Plantain
Strawberries And Chocolate
Scenery On Our Way Down The Mountain
Clyde Loved These Flowers
We made our way back to Alajuala to stop at Walmart before heading back to the house. Since it's typical when visiting someplace new we got a bit lost finding our way back to San Jose. Eventually we had to stop and ask someone the corny but necessary question, "do you know the way to San Jose?"
Back at the house we knew the dogs would NOT be happy to see us arrive without their beloved owners. Bolle jumped inside the truck to search it for a few seconds before running inside the house looking pissed. Luna was about as unhappy to see us and the two laid around the rest of the night like they had lost their best friends. But bright and early the next morning when I woke up Bolle came over to me for some lovin', rubbing up against me for a doggy style hug. Luna sleeps outside but when she came inside she too was looking for some hugs and now we're all good friends.
Each morning and afternoon the dogs hop into the pickup for a short ride to the beach. Both are allowed to walk unrestrained to enjoy all that the beach has to offer. Bolle loves to chase sticks or anything else we find to throw. He absolutely loves running into the surf cooling off in the warm tropical waves. Luna on the other hand is content to walk slowly and seems to disappear into the brush but always seems to reappear along the way. Yesterday on our second walk of the day Clyde opened up the truck door and Bolle jumped into inside of the truck. The owners want the dogs in the back of the truck and only allow them inside if they're sitting on a blanket. We managed to get Bolle out as I got inside and closed the doors. Clyde went looking for Luna who we thought had taken off into the jungle. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed something in the back seat only to find Luna lying on the seat all wet and covered in sand. Still today we really don't know how she managed to get inside so easily without us noticing. Perhaps she's a ghost dog who appears out of no where? Or perhaps we've been talking to dogs too long in the hot Costa Rican sun?
Rice Fields Near Our House Sit
Rice fields in front of Palm Nut Trees
Palm Trees Planted For Palm Oil
Costa Rica is a beautiful country with fields of palm trees everywhere. Here they are planted and harvested for the palm oils with production companies in every small town. While the main roads are in perfect condition the side roads all seem to be dirt or rock making for an interesting ride. Prices here are higher than those in Panama although we're still getting used to converting from dollars to colones, the money used here.
one dollar equals 527 Colonias
nothing to converting it!
We've met many US expats here and one family is even from Corpus Christi, Texas where we used to live. Tonight we've been invited to a little dinner party at a house that was formerly a brothel. It's owned by US expats who have a professional kitchen since the woman of the house loves to cook.
So for the next few weeks we'll be exploring more of this beautiful, tiny country and living "pura vida" a saying that Tika's live by. Translated it literally means "pure life" and is used as a way of saying.....life is good.....as it is for us house sitting here in Costa Rica.......along the gringo trail.