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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Crazy Times in Costa Rica!

My amazing new orchid!
Boy, have I been crazy busy since we returned to Costa Rica one short month ago! When we arrived back from a two-month visit to the States, there were the inevitable reunions with friends like Marcial and Seidy, who brought me a gorgeous orchid as a welcoming gift when we resumed our regular Friday night dinners. Then there were health issues with our dog Winston -- non-contagious mange, which required weekly shots and time-consuming baths as well as daily cream applications, plus conjunctivitis in one eye, which meant applying drops 2 to 3 times a day. Fortunately, he is recovering nicely and requires less medical care now.

Lighted Bomberos' (firefighters) trucks in the parade
Within a week of our return, we found ourselves hosting Thanksgiving dinner for ten people, which was a wonderful celebration but a lot of work for Yours Truly. Almost as soon as the plates were cleared from that party, we were preparing for the visit of a very dear friend, Philisse, who had planned her trip to coincide with Layne's big 75th birthday week. To introduce her to a taste of our lives here, we took her into town the very first night for the Atenas Festival of Lights, where she enjoyed the parade and the colorful array of Ticos, children and vendors in the park.

That Sunday afternoon brought together some two dozen friends to celebrate Layne's birthday, a festive pool party at Bonnie & Stephen's place, complete with a yummy carrot cake baked by Jan & Tom of Buen Pan and lots of delicious food from everyone. Toward the end of the day, Layne offered up hilarious (if slightly inebriated) entertainment by singing a rollicking version of "Pecos Bill" to Daniel's guitar accompaniment. Philisse enjoyed meeting our friends and began to understand why we love our life here so much.
The gang at the pool
Philisse and Layne are all smiles!
Even Nelson, our taxista, and his family were there
Layne blows out his one big candle as Tom looks on
But the busy times were really just beginning. The very next day Layne, Philisse and I - plus Winston! - were off to Esterillos Oeste for a two-night stay at Rancho Coral, that cozy, pet-friendly beachfront hotel run by our friends Wilburth and Eva. There things slowed down just a bit as we laid out in beach chairs just yards from the surf, took strolls along the sand and watched Winston play with the other dogs. 
Winston, Layne and Philisse enjoy the beach
Winston, the Wonder Dog, enjoys dinner with friends
We even found a pet-friendly restaurant, Los Almendros, where we enjoyed some excellent Caribbean and Thai-style seafood while Winnie snoozed quietly beneath our table. The proprietress has promised to send me her recipe for Fish Cakes with Red Pepper Sauce. It was outstanding!
Layne and Philisse at Casa Inspiración

But with the dawning of the third day, we were heading back to Atenas just long enough to unpack, re-pack, drop Winston off with our long-suffering dog-sitter friends Chris and Sue and leave the next day for the cloud forests of Monteverde. There we stayed at our friends Veronica and Alex's charming vacation rental, Casa Inspiración, a rustic cabin perched on the side of the mountain with views across to the Gulf of Nicoya. Quite a stunning setting with quiet, peaceful gardens and a friendly dog Schnookie to keep us company.
Sunset at Casa Inspiración
Alex and his surprisingly mature young son Stuart greeted us with delicious bocas prepared by a Tica neighbor Gisell and her lovely daughter.

The next day Philisse and I were off to Sky Adventures for a bird's-eye view of the cloud forest on the Sky Tram. With blue skies as a backdrop and a strong wind whipping our hair, we savored the slow ride up to the top of Costa Rica's Continental Divide, to about 5800' elevation. Our guide Daniel said the winds were probably around 80 kph, or some 50 mph, and it felt like it! But the tram was stable and secure and we soon hopped out onto the observation platform to take a leisurely look at the dramatic scenery, including a glimpse of Arenal Volcano and distant Lake Arenal. After our return to the lower level, Daniel invited us to take a walk through their Hummingbird Trail, where many exotic species of the little aviators abound along with a number of stunning trees, plants and flowers, including some tiny orchid species that would have gone unnoticed but for Daniel's commentary.
Amazing views from the Sky Tram

Philisse on the observation platform
Such beautiful flowers!
Such vivid colors!
Philisse shoots a "Hot Lips" flower
Daniel poses with "Elephant Ears"
Philisse goes for just one more photo!
And yet again, it was soon time to leave Monteverde and return to Atenas for Philisse's final few days with us. We had such a great time showing off our beloved Costa Rica to our old friend. We can only hope that she had as good a time as we did, and that now she understands what we mean when we say: Pura Vida!

Check out Layne's novel "Moral Turpitude," Kindle edition now available for only $4.99 at Five star reviews! High adventure with corporate intrigue, danger and romance; from the exotic jungles of Borneo and Costa Rica to the erotic jungles of San Francisco. A great read! Pick up your copy here -


  1. I think it's safe to say that wherever your paths may take you and Layne, you two will never be at a loss for either friends or fun. Good for you!

  2. What fun to read of your adventures though filtered with jealous thoughts. How could Lane still be older than I? I remember his smile when he turned 30 while having coffee in the social work break room. Thanks for sharing. Dave Hopkins