Tonight’s the Night…

“Meet a man named Gredy in this secluded bar at midnight.  Oh and where dark clothing!”

Words that are either going to get us witnessing turtles coming ashore and laying their eggs, or, being the next set of tourists that have been murdered in Central America.  I’m hoping for the first but if it does end up being the second, the headline will also include a British and Swiss couple.

As this is our last night in the Ostional area and the Arribada has not started yet, we had Rolf arrange for a guide to take us out to try and find some of the early arriving turtles, so that we can say that we saw it.  Normally, the turtles arrive in the dark a few hours before high tide and right now high tide is around 4 am, thus the midnight meeting. There was also a young British couple and an older Swiss couple that were interested in going so that’s how we will all end up in a shallow grave enjoying the adventure together.

We are meeting Gredy at the local bar in Ostional and he will take us to the beach and should be able to find us at least one turtle.  It could take 10 minutes or it could take a couple of hours, that we are not sure of.  One thing we are sure of though, I’ll be nervous as hell walking into that bar.

Update – I am writing this update from the comfort of our hotel so scenario two did not happen.  Gredy was waiting for us outside the bar and, unlike Doreen, Michele had no concerns with him carrying a knife before he hopped in the car.  He took us down to the beach where only red filtered light is allowed and no light is preferred.  So we started walking with absolutely no light on a clear but moonless night.  The sky was absolutely brilliant with more stars than I’ve ever seen but I couldn’t even see Michele whose hand I was holding! (pretty sure it was Michele’s hand)

On this beach there are volunteers that go out each night to look for turtles, measure, tag, and record information for future tracking.  So after walking for about 20 minutes we saw the gaggle of red headlamps of the volunteers, which meant they had found one.  We made our way over to the group and the turtle had just finished digging her hole and was now proceeding to lay her eggs.  About 100 of them all perfectly shaped looking like ping pong balls.  We watched her finish laying her eggs, camouflage her nest and followed her back out to sea over the next 45 minutes or so.  It wasn’t the Arribada, but it was a turtle.

We headed back towards our car, again in complete darkness and returned to our hotel just before 2 am.  Well worth getting up in the middle of the night for and I’m especially proud that I didn’t scream like a little girl once.  Even though I wanted to!

A Walk on the Beach- Me, Michele, and a Herd of Cattle!

I have been known to take certain liberties when I write my little blogs to spice them up a bit, but sometimes things happen that you really can’t make up.  Take this morning…

Ostional Beach is only a kilometer from the hotel but with its blackish sand, by mid to late morning it is so hot that it is very hard to walk on.  So we decide that we would go for a nice long walk on the beach before breakfast.  It was a beautiful morning out but already 25 degrees by 8 am.  We walked up to an outcropping of rocks to the north of us and explored those for and bit and then walked for quite a distance south, right along the water line.  It was so peaceful and hardly anyone else around as we would stop and take pictures and let the waves wash over our feet.

Then, we decide that we should turn around and head back towards the car.  As we make our turn, coming right towards us in a light jog, was a herd of cattle.   About 20 of them.  We moved to our right, they moved to their left, we moved to our left, they moved to their right.  So in other words, they coming directly for us.  Now I have been around Canadian cows before (although never on a beach) and not knowing spanish, I wasn’t sure if they would understand “git” even if I did say it with an accent, so I did what any cowboy would do in that situation. I led them into the water and they all drowned.  NO I DIDN’T!  But Michele and I did move into the surf a little bit and they stopped their slow charge towards us as they felt the water. Then they turned and continued their journey down the beach.

Of all of the things we would expect to find or hope to find on an early morning walk, on a beach in Costa Rica, a small herd of cattle was not even close to being on the list.  But, we have learned to not be surprised by anything down here!

Punta Islita, Beaches and Doreen!

Day 3 of our trip is coming to a close and we are sitting on the deck just before sunset enjoying the quiet!

Yesterday we spent pretty much the whole day lounging by the pool and most of the evening, in what now has become a vacation tradition, me listening to Michele tell me that if I would have listened to her and put sunscreen on, I wouldn’t be whining like a little baby about being sunburnt!  But my philosophy is no pain, no tan! (Yes I know all about the bad sun/skin scenarios)

As mentioned, we didn’t move much yesterday so today we had planned to drive to Punta Islita for lunch with the idea that we would check out the various beaches along the way.  The first beach we stopped at – Playa Guinones- is a very popular surfer beach.  There was probably close to 40 surfers in the water and some of the waves looked pretty gnarly, so we walked along the water for a bit and watched.

The rest of the drive to Punta Islita was very much the same, stop at a beach, drive, repeat.  There was one special part of the drive though. Just outside of Samara, there is a section of road that crosses about a 20 foot section of water.  Last year it was that section that stopped us in our little rental car and started our Finding Paradise adventure. This year with a full size SUV, we plowed right through the middle of it and awkwardly high fived each other like we had just conquered Everest!

We arrived in Punta Islita and had lunch right on the beach at the restaurant recommended to us and started our journey back home.  Just outside of Punta Islita, we came across a truck right smack in the middle of the road with its door open.  Now that isn’t really all that unusual for Costa Rica because people just stop and park wherever.  The unusual part was a young blonde woman flagging us down.  You guessed it – Doreen!  She was a Dutch girl backpacking through Costa Rica and needed a ride to Samara, which we were headed to.  So I asked Michele what she thought and she said that as long as she didn’t have a gun in her bag, it would be okay.  I didn’t ask Doreen about the gun, instead I helped her load her backpack in the car and told her to hop in.

Doreen was a very nice young lady who was travelling alone meeting up with friends at different stops, much like our Jordan has done so we were very happy that we stopped and helped her out and got her safely to her destination. I’m not sure that I would be brave enough to travel alone in alone strange country and hitchhike.  Good on her and if your reading this Doreen, we hope you had a great rest of your trip and figure out your career when you get home.

After dropping Doreen off in Samara, we continued onto Nosara to stop at a supermarket to buy our favorite coffee to bring home and arrived back at our hotel with enough time to have a relaxing swim in the pool and get ready for dinner.  Surfing, beaches, coffee, and Doreen!  Another day in Paradise!

Returning to Paradise!!

Last January, I wrote about our adventure in finding our paradise in Costa Rica.  One year later we are sitting in the lobby of the Hotel Luna Azul, and nothing has changed.  And yes, that’s a good thing.

I’m sure that I’m not the only one who has gone somewhere or done something, and thought it was awesome only to return and be slightly dissapointed because it wasnt quite what you remembered.  The thought had crossed my mind once or twice since we booked our return to Paradise so i was overjoyed when we arrived at our hotel. The same owners greeted us with the same enthusiasm that they showed last year, they made sure that we were comfortable and looked after while we waited for our room to be prepared, (That’s what happens when you take a red eye to Costa Rica that lands at 7 am), and overall, just made us feel like we had never left.

The privacy and beauty of the hotel makes for a very relaxing vacation and the willingness of Rolf and Andreas to basically be virtual tour guides and give us directions and tips on what to see and do and what not to see and do, makes this our favorite destination.

One of the amazing events that happen very close to Luna Azul every year is the sea turtle nesting.  Playa Ostional is mere kilometers from the hotel and around a new moon, sometimes up to 20, 000 turtles invade the beaches at night and lay their eggs.  We thought we would miss this event but Rolf told us today that they are expecting the turtles any day now.  This would truly be an awesome event to see so we have our fingers crossed it happens before Tuesday!

So yes, we are back at Paradise for the next 5 nights and then will move onto another spot for a few nights.  In the meantime all I can say is I’m glad that sometimes things never change!

A Man and His Dog – A Camping Tale Finale

On our last full day here, we were once again up early but were greeted with grey cloudy skies and a bit of a breeze.  The original forecast was for sunshine and warm so we skipped our early morning walk and made coffee and toast for breakfast.  Tucker decided to have kibble this morning!  We were lucky again this morning to talk with Michele and Jordan as they were winding down their day.  They are having an outstanding time and are staying in a luxury hotel that costs $76/night.  I’m paying $33/night and I have to bring my own bed. Crazy!  We are missing the heck out of them but we are now down to 1 week until they get home.

After we finished breakfast and relaxed we went for our mid morning walk around the campground loops and some of the other trails.  At one point we were sauntering along, Tucker a little ways in front chasing something in the bush when Ranger Rick happened upon us and politely reminded me of the “dogs must be on a leash” rule within the park.  So I told Tucker to “sic him” and he went nuts on the guy.  NO I DIDN’T!!  Tucker thinks “sic him” means come and get petted because that’s all he ever does when I tell him that.  Anyway, we continued on our little leashed journey and ended back at the trailer after an hour or so.

The rest of the morning and afternoon sucked as I worked the whole time as there were a couple of issues that needed taking care of.  I took my computer outside for awhile as it was getting a bit warmer and Tucker could continue to hang outside, unleashed!  20160531_125132

Finally I finished doing what I had to and made some supper – I had smokies and not surprisingly, Tucker had kibble.  Then I did up the dishes (yes Michele, you are reading that correctly, but I did cut myself on a knife so I can’t see this new found skill lasting long), packed away the bbq and Tucker and I headed down to the park hoping that there was no one around so we could play a little.  Lucky for us the park was pretty much deserted so we got the frisbee out and had a great time.  Tucker always goes so hard yet he won’t ever stop.  If you’re willing to throw it, he’s will to go all out and get it.

After about 20 minutes, Tucker was looking a little thirsty and as I forgot to bring his water bowl, we found a new skill that he has – drinking from a water tap.  We found a tap on the edge of the park and I turned it on and he drank like there was no tomorrow (at no time did any of his dog tongue or mouth come anywhere close to the actual tap, so nothing was contaminated.  He drank strictly from the stream of water pouring out!).  Then we took a walk over to the beach area and then over to the boat dock and sat and looked out over the lake for a bit.  On the way back to the truck we stopped and threw the frisbee for another 10 minutes of so, stopped at the water tap one last time, and headed back to the trailer, where I packed up the bbq and chairs and relaxed the rest of the evening.

Tomorrow morning we’ll pack up the rest of our stuff and head back to Camrose.  I have to admit that I was a little nervous bringing Tucker out for his first camping trip since he’s been with us, because I didn’t know if he would like it or not.  And it would have been a miserable 5 days if he sat here and whined the whole time.  But, as it turned out, he loved it.  He likes hanging out in the trailer, absolutely loves being outside, chasing everything, going for walks and he has been a very good dog the whole time.  He still goes bonkers every now and then (especially anyone on a bike – pedal or motor.  He does not like those people and goes insane) and drives me crazy cause he has to be beside me almost all the time, but I loved the time here with him and look forward to more trips!



A Man and His Dog – A Camping Tale Part 3

This morning we woke to clear blue skies and the chirping of birds.  I think Tucker is sleeping at night but I have no way of knowing as he stays in the main part of the trailer when I go to bed.  He seems to like laying in front of the fireplace, which seems strange cause I thought that would be too hot for him but apparently not.20160530_215245

He still starts stirring in the morning around 5:30 am like he always does but this morning I talked him into letting me sleep until around 7 am.  And by talked him into, I mean I rolled over and ignored him.

Once up, I put the coffee on and had a bagel and Tucker had his kibble and then I was fortunate enough to catch Michele and Jordan in their room in Vietnam so we talked over Skype.  The time difference is 13 hours so they were just getting ready for bed.  It was so good to be able to talk to my sweetheart as I’m used to hearing that voice everyday and it’s been almost 2 weeks since they left.  They are having an incredible experience over there but it sounds like it is insanely hot.  Both Tucker and I will be glad when they are home in another weeks time.

After breakfast and chatting with my travellers, I packed up my day bag and Tucker and I set off to hike around the lake.  As mentioned before, it was a gorgeous morning and I started off wearing a jacket but took that off about 1/2 an hour into the hike.  Tucker as usual was in his glory running ahead of me and chasing every thing that moved in the bushes.  The first 2-3 km of the hike was in the trees and there was really no view but then once we got around to the back side of the lake, the trail followed pretty close to the lake and there were lots of beautiful sites.

As you can see in the pictures, the day was perfect for this hike as the water was like glass and the temperature was around 15 degrees so it didn’t get too hot.  We had a nice leisurely stroll on the trail and we only saw 2 other people – a mother and daughter sitting on a bench – the whole 2 1/2 hours we were out there.  That is pretty much ideal for a walk if you just want to disconnect and enjoy the time.  We stopped at a few points to have some water and listen to nature and I even did a couple of video blogs.  Here’s one:

All in all the hike was about 10.5 km and Tucker was pretty pooped after it so being the kind person that I am, we decided to lay in the sun and rest for a couple of hours.  When we were both sufficiently rested we hopped in the truck and drove down to the park where we enjoyed some more frisbee (this dog has endless energy and it is wearing me out) and then drove farther down to the boat launch area and went and sat on the dock for about 1/2 an hour and soaked up the serene beauty.

Once we got back to the trailer, it was time to start cooking supper.  Tonights menu was steak and potatoe/carrot pack.  Tucker, typically chose kibble.  Both of us were licking our lips once we had finished.  We went out for a post supper walk around a couple of loops of the campground and finished the evening off by watching a movie.  All in all it was a pretty fantastic day.  Tomorrow is supposed to be super nice too and Tucker has said that he would like to go to the golf course just down the road, so I’m sure I can make that happen for him (good thing I thought to pack my clubs!!).



A Man and His Dog – A Camping Tale Part 2

Day 2 we awoke (someone with 4 legs woke up much earlier than the 2 legged one) to a calm but cloudy morning.  The rain had stopped so we headed out for a quick little walk around the campground and came back to the trailer to make coffee and have breakfast.  I had a bagel while Tucker had kibble, but this was the first time in a super long time that he didn’t clean his bowl.  He seems to be a little uptight still but loves being outside here so he’ll return to normal eating when he feels like it.

After we were done eating, I packed up my backpack with water, collapsible bowl, treats, and toys and we headed off down one of the trails.  There are quite a few different trails that intersect with one another with one long trail that circles the lake and is about 10 km in length.  We did not tackle that trail today as it was still very cool and partly cloudy.  Tuesday and Wednesday are supposed to be a little warmer and sunnier so we will give that trail a spin one of those days.  Today we did a combination of 3 different trails that ended up being about 4 km.  As no one was around, I let Tucker go off-leash and he had a huge smile on his face the whole time.  He is very, very good with not getting too far ahead and listens very well when I call him back.  I love watching him trot 30-40 yards ahead of me then stop and look back and wait for me to catch up and then take off again.  The best part is when he gets super playful and he’ll trot out 40 yards and then turn around and come running right at me full speed, then nudge me, turn around and take off at full speed.  When he’s like this, he’ll do that 4 or 5 times in a row and then return to exploring and prancing.  He’s a beautiful dog to have out on a walk.  And he is super protective too.  There wasn’t a single squirrel that even came close to ambushing me as he chased everyone of them back up there trees and gave them a good talking to!

After we got back to the trailer, I sat down and did a couple hours of work work, as even though I’m on holidays, I still have a few things that need to get done.  Tucker laid down in front of the fireplace (which I thought would be too warm for him) and slept.  I doubt that he slept very well last night and was so stressed out for most of yesterday that he has to be tired.  After I got done what I wanted to get done, I showered and we headed into Rocky Mountain House to fuel up the truck.  As I have only been to Rocky once before and didn’t really stop, I took a drive around town to check it out.  It is a nice little town.  Tucker was super agitated again on the drive into town and while we were cruising around.  Usually at home when we are just cruising around town, he is just chilling in the back seat but not here.  So I stopped at Canadian Tire and let him out of the truck thinking that he forgot to go before we left, but that wasn’t the case this time.  So I put him back in the truck and went into Canadian Tire to look around for about 20 minutes.  When I came back out, he was relaxing in the back seat and he seemed much calmer on the drive back to the campground.  I guess this is all new to him.

This afternoon we relaxed for a bit, went out and played for a bit and generally did nothing. After a very good supper of bbq ham steaks and potatoe salad (Tucker had kibble, again) I discovered that the one thing I forgot to pack was dish soap.  This is not surprising as the dishes usually just get done and I’ve never packed dish soap before.  However, this time I actually need some so Tucker and I walked down to the little store and arrived right at 6 pm which coincidentally is the time they close on Monday and Tuesday.  The young girls working there were just leaving and came up and fawned over Tucker so I couldn’t really be mad at them for not staying open for me.  We turned around and hiked back home and jumped in the truck, but instead of going to another store to buy dish soap, we went to the day use park down by the lake.  Since there was no one else around, I let Tucker off his leash and pulled out a brand new frisbee, which he went crazy for.  We played with that for about 1/2 an hour until it started to rain on us.

The rest of the evening was spent hanging out and doing nothing.  I forgot to bring along some dvd’s and I don’t want to use up all of my data by streaming a show, so it did get a little boring.  But once again, we survived and we went to sleep in our different sections of the trailer.

A Man and His Dog – A Camping Tale Part 1

When Michele and I acquired Tucker in December, one of the first things I thought of was that I sure hope he likes camping, cause if he doesn’t, that could spell trouble.  I love camping and Michele loves me, so by default she tolerates camping, so having our dog love camping is important so that no one gets left out.  So the first opportunity to test Tucker’s camping pedigree was supposed to be the May long weekend, but as those plans got changed by the Fort McMurray disaster, I decided to take this week off and me and Tucker headed to Crimson Lake, near Rocky Mountain House on Sunday afternoon for a few days.

Editor’s note: Now some of you may be saying, “what, you left Michele out of Tucker’s first camping trip”.  Well, yes, sort of!  Before we got Tucker, Michele and Jordan had already planned a 3 week trip to Cambodia and Vietnam right around this time, so technically, Michele left herself out.

So once we were all packed up, I loaded Tucker into the truck and we headed out.  Normally, I can not even look at my truck keys without him bolting for the door and demanding to be taken for a truck ride, so naturally I assumed he would be a great traveller.  I assumed wrong.  I’m not sure what was bothering him but he was super nervous and panting a million miles an hour.  I had windows open so it was not hot in the truck, then I tried windows up and air conditioning, that didn’t work.  About an hour into the trip, I figured I better pull over and give him some water based on the amount of dog spit he was dripping all over my truck from the hyper panting.  As soon as I let him out of the truck, he raced for the ditch, took a whiz and gulped down a bottle of water.  I figured maybe the problem was that he had to go this whole time and the last hour of the trip would be better.  Nope.  Same nervous dog the rest of the way.  Hopefully it was just because this was new to him and he didn’t know what was going on and the trip home will be better.  Or maybe he’s just a nervous rider??

Once we arrived at Crimson Lake, the first order of business was to pull into the dump station and fill my fresh water tank.  Up to this point, the sun was shining but there were some dark clouds on the horizon.  About half way through filling my tank (slow water pressure so it was taking awhile) rain started to fall lightly, so I grabbed my rain jacket and put Tucker back in the truck.  About three quarters of the way through filling my tank, it started to rain heavier so I joined Tucker in the truck.  When my tank was full and I had to roll up my hose and put it away, it was pouring rain.  Thanks to my trusty rain jacket, only the bottom half of me was wet and we headed to the campground office to register.  With registration in hand, we continued onto our site, praising the good fortune of our timing, as I hadn’t set up my trailer in a downpour before! (yes, that is sarcasm)  I managed to get the trailer set up and brought Tucker in from the truck where I was totally dry on top and uncomfortably wet on the bottom.  Tucker was still acting real jittery so I laid down on the floor with him and snuggled him until he calmed down.  It worked and lucky enough about 1/2 an hour later, the rain stopped and I took Tucker out for his first look at the campsite. He loved the exploring and was in his glory.

After supper, we went for a nice walk around the campground and took a drive down to the little store to get some paper towels and ice.  Then we came back to the trailer and hung out for the rest of the evening as it started to rain again.  Once it came time for bed, Tucker wouldn’t venture into the bedroom, again not sure what is up with that but hopefully it’s a temporary thing.  Tomorrow we plan on hiking some of the many trails around the lake and see what else this place has to offer.


I’m A Smoker Again! But It’s Not a Bad Thing!

Yes, almost exactly 8 years after I gave up the cigarettes, I am back to smoking…this time though it’s ribs, chicken, brisquet, etc so it’s all good.

In the past, I have never really had the urge to become one of the smoker people even though I very much love to eat, especially bbq.  But when I listened to people’s tales of smoking different meats, it always seemed like a lot of work and effort.  And if there is one thing I know about myself, a lot of work and effort just isn’t for me.  Until I stumbled across an add in mid-December for the Pit Barrel Cooker!  It was a simple design that was basically a 30 gal drum and the main difference that set it apart from other smoker/cookers was that you hang most of the meat you are cooking as opposed to setting it on a grate.  The more I researched it, the more intrigued I became.  The more intrigued I became, the more I wanted it.20160123_092634

So once I was on the verge of pulling the trigger on purchasing a Pit Barrel Cooker, I decided to send an information request through there website to get an idea of how much it would cost to ship a unit to me.  See, the cost of the cooker is only $299 US (which is like a million dollars Canadian, but I digress) so I needed to know all of the info before I could make a 100% informed decision.  I received the reply on how much shipping was, but it wasn’t the cost of the shipping that sealed my purchase, it was the customer experience that I received that sealed it.  I had sent the information request late on a Sunday afternoon and I received the reply to my e-mail that night from the VP of the company.  Now this is a company that puts the CEO’s cell phone number on each cooker so it shouldn’t surprise me that his wife replied to my e-mail so quickly.  But it was because of that service (there were a few e-mails back and forth and the response was always quick, no matter what time of day it was) that made my decision that I wanted a Pit Barrel Cooker!  I love great customer service experiences!

Well, now I have purchased a Pit Barrel Cooker (which only took 5 business days to arrive-again, great customer experience) and I have become a smoking machine.  The companies website has a whole host of video recipes so the first weekend I had it, I followed their recipe and cooked some baby back ribs!  Not only did they look incredible (home page) but they tasted awesome.  Then last weekend I cooked 2 whole chickens which once again looked and tasted awesome. 20160131_173522This weekend is the Super Bowl and I haven’t decided exactly what I’m going to do but it will be something done in my new cooker.  And the best part is, the more I use it, the better I’m going to get at this whole smoking thing and what tastes awesome now, will taste out of this world in time.

So sometimes becoming a smoker isn’t a bad thing!

Finding Paradise!


First off, I want to say that Costa Rica has been amazing! But it hasn’t been without its challenges. What started off as a great  holiday, has now turned in to an absolutely amazing, unforgettable experience.  Let me tell you how we got here.

Arenal Springs Resort

We left cold, snowy Alberta on New Year’s Eve and arrived in warm, beautiful Costa Rica shortly after 9pm. Once we got through customs/immigration and found our driver,  it was 9:30 pm. I knew before hand that the drive to our resort was about 2 1/2 hours, which Alberto our driver confirmed, and we had hoped to be at our resort for midnight to ring in the new year. Alberto knew this and said “it will be close but let me see what I can do!” Already the “tico” service was great. As it turned out, through the pouring rain, dense fog, and winding roads, Alberto had us to our resort by 11:45. Shortly thereafter we were checked in, luggage in room just in time for us to sit out on the veranda and watch the New Year’s firework show. This had to be a great sign that this would be the best vacation ever!

Arenal Springs Resort

And for the next 4 1/2 days it was exactly that. The resort was gorgeous, the weather was hot with periods of rain (we were in the rain forest at this point) and the people were friendly. Over the course of the next four days, we had one outing per day; Friday – Hanging Bridges tour where we walked deep into the rain forest and saw our first howler monkeys, snakes, and a 3 toed sloth; Saturday – a trip into La Fortuna to walk around the town, shop, and have a nice supper at Don Rufino; Sunday – Zip lining where we experienced 12 lines with the longest being 1km long (I had read that Costa Rica had the best zip lines in the America’s and judging by our experience, we agree. Sorry Mexico!); Monday – Safari River Float where we again saw multiple monkeys, crocodiles, and stopped for a snack at a small farm just off the river where we ate homemade bread, homemade cheese, and coffee. This was experiencing the true culture.

Also within those 4 days we ate and ate very well. No matter whether we ate at the restaurants on site at our resort or the restaraunts in town, the meals were all fantastic (though wildly overpriced at the resort). The times in between eating and our outings, we spent enjoying the resorts hot spring pools and bar. The first 4 days couldn’t have been any better and we were looking forward to moving to the Pacific Coast for sun and more fun.

Froy (our driver this time) picked us up at 10 am for the 4 hour trip to our rented condo in Playa Conchal. Froy was extremely nice and the 4 hours went by very quickly as he educated us on a lot of costa rican subjects. We had mentioned to him that we were going to rent a car for this part of our trip so he offered to take us to the rental place and then lead us to our condo. This turned out to be a very fortuitous decision.

The Condo

As we neared our accommodations for the next 6 nights, Michele didn’t have a good feeling about it. The area didn’t “feel like Costa Rica” and it was in the middle of nowhere, which we did not expect. Once checked in, this turned into one of those examples of the pictures don’t do it justice! We had booked through VRBO but the condo was old, not well maintained, and had a larger number of bugs than we were used to. We were also supposed to have a 3rd floor unit to take better advantage of the view, but we ended up with a ground floor unit. We were booked in here for 6 nights!! Our incredible holiday took a downturn.

Bula Bula Hotel

We decided that we needed to give it a chance, so we put on our happy faces and headed out to a nearby small town to a restaurant recommendation to have a nice meal. And that is what happened at Bula Bula hotel. The atmosphere was beautiful, the staff were friendly and fun, and the food was very good! But we couldn’t let go of the disappointment of our condo. We decided over supper that once we got back to the condo, we would go online and check out some options in the area.

As expected, our “not what we expected” condos WiFi also sucked so trying to get any information at all was futile so we had to make a decision based on feel. We knew that we couldn’t spend the next 5 days here but it was already paid for and we weren’t getting a refund. It was a difficult choice but we decided that we came to CR to have an unforgettable vacation and that was what we were going to do, to hell with our budget! We planned that the next morning we would drive into Tamarindo and solve our problems!

Blue River Resort

Before we went to Tamarindo, we decided to drive the short distance to Playa Flamingo to see if we could find a decent place. It was a beautiful spot and had a couple of nice places but unfortunately they only had rooms for 1 night and they were quite costly. So back to the original plan to head to Tamarindo. Tamarindo was a nice beach front town that had lots of shops and restaurants and was packed with tourists. We looked at a couple of places and even had a line on a condo in a gated resort that was reasonable so we stopped for lunch at a little cafe (with wifi) to hash it out. What transpired over that lunch was that we found what sounded like a beautiful place but it was 2 hours away and back toward the rainy part of CR. So naturally, we chose the 2 hours away place over the right here place and raced back to the condo to pack up and go. By noon we were on our way to Blue River Resort which turned out to be a beautiful oasis of hot springs in the middle of nowhere.

The road into Blue River, or the last 20 km to be more precise, was our first real experience with CR secondary roads. It was gravel/rocks with lots of tight turns and narrow sections. This last stretch took us about an hour to navigate and when we finally pulled into the entrance to the resort, all we saw was a large open building with a stable beside it. I believe the first words to come out of my mouth were “you have got to be shitting me”. The look on Michele’s face matched my words. But once we found the office and checked in and drove down to where the cabinas were, our expressions changed. It was a beautiful little resort that had multiple hot spring pools, a botanical garden, and an above average restaurant. We spent 2 nights enjoying this little gem and planned our next destination.

Blue River Resort

The Road To Paradise

Stepping WAY outside of our comfort zone, we had decided we were just going to head to a beach town on the Pacific Coast by the name of Samara and figure it out from there. The drive was about 3 hours from Blue River and a couple that we had met told us about a place south of Samara called San Miguel. As we passed through Liberia, we fueled up and bought a few snacks and headed to Samara. The road there was a good paved road that wound through some beautiful country. Samara itself was a small beach/fishing town that didn’t have a whole lot of choice in accommodations. We checked out this one place that was called the Treehouse, whose rooms were like little tree houses on the beach, which we thought would be kind of cool but they were fully booked. So we found a cute little homemade ice cream shop, had some tasty ice cream and searched the net for a place to stay. We had a choice to go south as previously mentioned to San miguel or north toward the Nosara area. For some reason, we both decided to go north as the accommodations looked more promising at Nosara.

As we started our 30km journey north, the road turned into my favorite dirt/rock/pothole type road and my spirit weakened a tiny bit. It weakened even more when about 5km in we faced a river crossing that was literally a river crossing. There were a couple of cars sitting on each side of the river, all seemingly reluctant to give the crossing a go. After about 10 minutes of contemplating, along with some encouragement from some locals who were confident we could make it, I put our rented Toyota compact car into gear and turned around and backtracked. All I had were visions of Michele and I sitting in the middle of a river with a wrecked rental car. We only had to go back about 2 km and there was a shortcut to another route. We were back under way for about 10 km when we came to a washed out section of road. The words that I used to express myself needed no translation for my wife or ticos to understand. This time there was no contemplating, I put in gear, found what looked like the shallowest part and gunned it. We were on the move once again. After about another 1/2 hour of driving we came upon Nosara, which turned out to have a total of 3 buildings and 1 road. We pulled over to the side and wondered in amazement how we possibly thought we had found decent lodging in the area. So far, this was not going well!

As we were in the middle of nowhere (I think there is a theme here) and had no idea what was around us, I turned the data on on my phone to search nearby places. One decent looking place came up around Playa Azul which was another 1/2 an hour further south and since I was in such a great mood at this point we just kept driving, in silence! After another washed out section of road, which I didn’t even slow down for at this point, I saw a sign for Hotel Luna Azul. I asked Michele if she wanted to check it out, she made a silent “whatever” face and we turned and pulled up to the closed gate. Michele got out and rang the buzzer and asked if they had any rooms. The voice on the other end said “one moment” and then we sat there for a lot more than one moment waiting for a reply. As we were just about to leave, a young gentleman came to the gate, opened it and invited us to come in and talk to the owner.

Paradise Found

From the other side of the steel entrance gate, it didn’t look like much but all I cared about was that it had a half clean room that we could stay in for the night and we could continue on our miserable happy trail tomorrow. As we walked into the combined lobby restaurant and met the owner – Rolf – it started to look better. Michele asked if they had a room and he said yes, exactly one. Michele then looked around and said “ok, it looks like you have a pool” pointing toward the pool and Rolf replied “yes it looks just like a pool!”. I found this very funny despite the mood I was in. Rolf asked if we would like to see the room and escorted us down a path through beautifully manicured grounds to a quaint cabina. Once he opened the door and showed us the room which included a huge private terrace that overlooked the forest, my spirits started to lift and we both had this feeling that we were home. We said that we would take it and asked if it was available for the next 2 nights as well, which luckily it was. We unpacked our car, with the help of Roberto, and because by this time it was close to 5 pm, it was hot, and it had been a long stressful day, I changed and headed straight for the infinity pool that faced west, overlooking the ocean, and watched the sun set, knowing we had found Paradise!

Hotel Luna Azul