Pura Vida X Familia

Adam had adventured to Costa Rica ten years ago and contracted Dengue Fever from an evil mosquito on the last leg of his trip.  At the LA County Hospital they had no idea what to do with him, and he suffered thru 9 days of intense fever & shakes.  Nevertheless, he was very excited to return to her beautiful lands.
As soon as we crossed the border, the mid-afternoon sky poured down a hot, wet rain, making the black pavement steam up as the drops splashed the asphault.  It was the first real rain of our trip, and seemed appropriate as the border from Nicaragua to Costa Rica also meant a change in the jungle.

We excitedly drove to Bahia Salinas to vendezvous with Emily’s parents, her brother James & his girlfriend Alyson.  Hugs and kisses were traded in equal part with chattering and stories as the first of many beautiful meals was made.  At dinner Colette proclaimed “ Big Oma,  big Granpere, big James, big Alyson.”  She was SO excited they were here, in real life, not just the tiny pictures in her photo album that she leafs thru!

Bahia Salinas is famous for kite boarding because of the steady winds that blow 20+mph regularly; we enjoyed walking in the warm breeze and collecting shells in the morning rays.
Witches Rock, in Santa Rosa National Park, was unfortunately closed, so we shifted with the tide and took a hike to a beautiful swimming hole.  Tiny fish darted thru the fresh water, nipping our legs and toes as we laughed and splashed.  A respite from the afternoon heat was very welcome and to see family filled all three of our hearts with some much missed holiday cheer.  It was the perfect way to usher the end of 2012.

New Years Eve we enjoyed each others company, ate See’s candy & made pina coladas.  Adam’s heavy handed cocktails had the opposite desired effect, and he and Colette retired before the clock struck twelve.  Suzie & Warren made it a little later, but also retired early.   Alyson, James & Emily made it to midnight, and celebrated with a tradition Alyson shared… we wrote onto paper our regrets from the past and our hopes for the new year, we lit them on fire and the crumpled papers curled into the night breeze.  2013 was welcomed in peacefully and with family, what more could we ask.
By the time we would normally wake up on New Years Day, we arrived in Monte Verde .  The small town, nestled high in the cloud forest in central Costa Rica, was an early adopter of eco-tourism and the surrounding forest is pristine as the result.
Costa Rica boasts 4,000 + types of butterflies; at a butterfly museum we saw a lovely assortment of them in outdoor gardens each representing their different habitats.  Like light dancing on a breeze, the butterflies fluttered thru the humid air in the gardens resplendent with tropical flowers.  Most delightful was the sparkle in Colette’s eyes as she made memories with family.
Oma volunteered to stay back with Colette, who was not permitted on the night hike.  In waterproof jackets and headlamps with fresh batteries, the other 5 headed out for a guided night hike thru the jungle.  Guided tours are not typically our flavor, but without our guides’ expertise, we would have only seen 10% of what we did.
Ears open, eyes strained, the jungle came alive.  An insect orchestra thousands deep softly played as wind rustled the canopy above.  Swaying trees creaked and moaned, and tucked into the roots of a tree is an orange-kneed tarantula who cautiously peers at the invasive lights illuminating her nest.
From the high branches a grey and orange Wooly Opossum swings playfully, looking for his evening meal.  Utilizing her natural down blanket, a Turquoise-browed Motmot, the national bird of Nicaragua, fluffs her feathers up to keep warm thru the cool winter night.
A sleeping hummingbird glows electric like a miniature Disneyland float.
White Nosed Coatimundi forage the jungle floor for their evening meal in troops up to twenty deep.
At the crest of the mountain, at the crack of dawn, we arrived at Selvatura for a majestic canopy hike.  300+ days a year Monte Verde has rain; we were blessed to have the first blue skies in two weeks.
The surrounding hills are typically blanketed by the white shroud of the clouds, and we relished that our time in was bright and blue.  This dynamic forest was made amazingly accessable, by the extensive trails that wound in and out of the lush jungle.
All 7 of us traversed up and down the trails and across 8 magnificent suspension bridges.  Each bridge had its own personality and draped across a different level of the rainforest.  Some skimmed a river on the forest floor, wet from the near constant rain connecting trails covered in dense moss.  Others took us above the canopy that rambled up and down the hillsides, as hummingbirds buzzed by.  Still others led right thru the beating heart of the bromilead laden trees, where orchids draped lazily.

Our third location with the familia was a beachfront palace in Playa Hermosa (thanks Dad!) that was directly in front of the best wave on the stretch (thanks Warren!) that had a small private pool in the backyard (thanks Granpere!)  It was quite difficult to leave the lush comforts, but we did manage to venture out and explore the surrounding areas.

Adam made the top and bottom boards in this pic for the trip.   The materials were supplied by the good folks at FoamEz.
Manuel Antonio National Park was saturated with tourists and locals alike.  That said, it is a place of stunning beauty with bountiful wildlife.

Curious Crab-Eating raccoons scampered about, looking much more lithe than their regular raccoon cousins.  We spotted camouglaged two and three toed sloths, chattering Red-backed Squirrel monkeys, lazily sleeping howler monkeys, and white faced Capuchin monkeys!We all but dove into the crystalline water, which graciously accepted our sweaty, sandy selves and renewed us for the return hike.
Boats lay waiting for visitors wanting to avoid crocodiles and needing a ferry across the river.
Some locals throwing caution to the wind and spotting no crocs, cross the river quickly.

What we sweated out on the humid trail, we replenished with cocount water (which in Wolrd War II was used for intravenus hydration).
The next day at Carara National Park, we experienced our hottest, sweatiest day yet.  Sauna-like, sweltering heat leaving us all instantly dripping in sweat, paired with long pants + long shirts to ward off the abundant bugs = hot sweaty hikers.  
Misery was avoided because of the natural beauty of our surroundings.  Our guide, that spoke 6 languages, led us through first and second generation growth forest, pointing out camouflaged animals and locating them with his telescope.  We passed thru an ancient indigenous village, locating shards of pottery and viewing their cemetery.

A Slatey Tailed Trogon, a member of the elusive quetzel family,  got the bird-nerd in all of us quite excited.
Leafcutter ants gather foliage to feed the fungus which they then eat.  The queen can live 25 years, while the workers live just a few weeks.
“I would rather own little & see the world, than own the world & see little of it.” –  Alexander Sattler

At famous Tarcoles bridge, we peered over the edge to the magnificent reptiles below.  The American Crocodiles basked in the sun and the attention of our curious stares.
Departure day came far too fast for Oma, Granpere, Uncle James & Auntie Alyson.  With hearts full, we waved bon voyage and screamed adios, and once again it was us Harteau three.
The lush countryside of Costa Rica begs to be foraged.  Over 15 types of banana grow in Costa Rica, and we spotted an “easily” accessable tree.  Adam cut down the stem, which had several tiers of plantain hands.
For breakfast one morning Emily prepared fried green plantains, scrambled eggs with pasilla chile topped with salsa brava.  It was bomb, you should make it for breakfast too.

Salsa Brava
1 large tomato, quartered  (aprox 1.5 cups)
1 cup water
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chili flakes
2 tablespoons ground cayenne pepper
– in a small saucepan bring above ingredients to a boil, for ~5 minutes until tomato is soft .
3 cloves garlic
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon salt
½ tsp cumin
– pour hot mixture into blender, with above ingredients and mix well till smooth

He hurled fallen soldier coconuts knocking down some fresh ones, which we savored both the juice and flesh of.
In Playa Dominical Adam reminisced of his time there, and we found a beautiful garden.

The magnificent manzana de agua trees, also known as rose apple, is definitely going on the list for the dream orchard. Glistening on the black pavement, lay so many thousands of fallen flower petals. 

At the southern end of Costa Rica’s pacific coast is Pavones, famed to have the 2nd longest left-hand surf break in the world.

We boon-docked beachfront where the ground was carpeted in a nerf-like grass.  It stands out as one of our most favorite camp spots so far!
Gowestys sweet swing away system  doubles as a rest for bananas and boards.
Our sweet girl is happiest when digging in the sand.  Her wisdom radiates, and we gush to each other with just how lucky we are to have her in our lives.
Panama here we come!