Costa Rica

July 20 – 27, 2014

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Our big trip for the Summer was going to be a visit to a trip to Costa Rica.  That was before we got invited to go to Africa.  Our non-refundable airfare was already booked so we decided we had to still go.

We flew out mid-morning on Sunday.  We got to the airport early so we could go to the Centurion lounge.  We didn’t have time to get our free spa treatments but the breakfast was good.  We flew on American Airlines using miles.  AA has a direct flight to Liberia, Costa Rica, which takes about 4 hours.  When we arrived, we rented a car.  The car rental was only $110, but CR requires that you purchase some of the insurance so that almost tripled my rental cost.  The roads in CR are OK so driving to our resort was very easy.  The first 3 nights of our stay was at the Hilton Papagayo using points.  The resort was pretty nice, although showing some wear and tear, but the best part is that it was all-inclusive.  While at the Hilton, we spent lots of time in the pool, the beach or just camped in chairs under an umbrella.  We did some kayaking, snorkeling and even some volleyball.  We also got as many banana milk shakes has we could handle.  The food was good, but not great. We did eat in a couple of the fancy restaurants for dinner and I thought they were really good.  One morning while Natalie and I were snorkeling in front of the hotel, we saw lots of great fish.  We both felt something stinging us, next thing I know, Natalie is quickly swimming back to shore.  We, especially Natalie, had got eaten up by jelly fish, or as the locals called them, Jello fish.  The resort people sprayed us down with vinegar, and after about 30 minutes, our stings stopped hurting us.  On one of the days, we took the car out to explore some of Costa Rica.  Our first stop was at a beach that we don’t know the name of.  The waves were big and had lots of surfers.  This beach was loaded with really cool spiral shells.  We collected as many as we could and then we drove to a beach town called Tamarindo.  They had lots of great shops so we did some souvenir shopping.  The kids were really excited when we found a Subway for lunch.  After lunch we went to the beach.  The beach was great with lots of snorkelers and surfing lessons.  We stayed in the waves and body surfed for a few hours.  While in the water, we could see the big pelicans dive into the water to catch fish.

After Tamarindo, we drove back to towards our resort and stopped at a beach called Playa Conchal. It was one of the coolest beaches that we have ever seen because the beach was nothing by small, white shells. This made the water crystal clear and really fun to play in. It also had excellent snorkelling. On the way back, we stopped at a bakery on the outskirts of a small town that had really good fresh pastries, homemade popsicles and smoothies.

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The last four days of our trip were spent at the Hyatt Andaz Papagayo using points. The minute we drove onto the property, we could tell this was a much more luxurious place.  The property, service and room were all amazing.  Since I have diamond status with Hyatt, we were in a large suite, got free breakfast and free minibar in our room.  The downside was that the lunch and dinner food options were pretty expensive, so we tried to eat really cheap.  At the Andaz, we spent lots of time at the resort and in our room. Costa Rica had awesome movies on TV, but the problem was they were all in Spanish. We could usually find one in English and have movie night, every night. One night we all went to the gym to workout and then spent time in the spa, even the kids got to go in.  While here on the Papagayo Peninsula, we saw lots of Capuchin (white faced) and Howler monkeys. We also saw lots of little animals that looked like raccoons.  The beach here was not the greatest.  It was good for shell hunting and snorkeling.  We had access to another beach, along with the Four Seasons, called the Prieta Beach club.  This beach was better for lounging and boogie boarding.  Our big excursion was a zip line trip.  Since we had a car, we were able to get a really good deal at a place called Rio Perdido.  It included zip lining, tubing, hot springs and lunch and was only $240 for all 4 of us.  The zip lining was really fun.  We had to climb lots of ladders and even did a Tarzan swing at one point.  Tubing was an adventure.  To get in the river, we could either jump about 30 feet off of a cliff or walk a distance down a trail.  The kids jumped, so I had to jump too, Susan walked around.  The river was very rocky and Susan and I got pretty banged up.  She got scratched up and ended up breaking her tail bone.  I got dumped head first into a rock and got a nice scrape on my head.  Thank goodness for the helmet or I might not have made it back.

We really enjoyed our time in Costa Rica. The people are really happy and friendly.  The scenery is beautiful and there are lots of fun things to do.  It was certainly poorer than the US, but didn’t seem like poverty.  We also felt safe everywhere we went and had no problem driving around.  English is not real prevalent, but we we able to communicate when necessary.  Plus, they had a Burger King and Papa Johns in Liberia.

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