Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Market of San José!

Another gorgeous day as we enjoyed a lazy morning...

prepping to depart Quepos and take a 25 minute puddle jumper to San José. Hard to believe we've logged 700 miles in this last run from Chiapas to Quepos. To date, we've covered 3000 miles which is the equivalent of Los Angeles to New York City. Overall, this trip will take us approx 20,000 miles across the deep blue sea. 
Today (today meaning last Wednesday- this is a delayed post) was our last day in Costa Rica as we flew home on Thanksgiving. 

So we walked to the airport lounge...such a crack-up. 
We didn't have to hassle with a pre-boarding security check...there wasn't any! 
I guess I could have brought a machete.
Upon arrival in Quepos, Brad and I planned for a private tour guide to take all of us around the city once we arrive to show us the local flavors. But first, our sardine can awaits...
A rather long runway...a good sign & it's even paved!

Yes, it's a tight fit. All us happy campers...

Brad had me cracking up at our minuscule accommodations. He did a great job taking my mind off of the flying "hotbox" we were sitting in and the stifling heat!

Shameless midair selfie alert!

Soon I'll be out of this humidity and free from dreaded "jungle hair!"

We landed and I'm still alive mom! No big deal to worry about. Haha!!

Once we arrived at the hotel, we met our guide for the afternoon and headed out to tour the city. We saw a couple of museums, the presidents home (turns out he lives in a condo so that he's "a man of the people") and then just as we were completely dog tired...the guide takes us to the most amazing market.
The central mercado of San José was a sight to behold! We were all fighting the need to nap due to our many adventures of the week and our lightening-quick tour of this cities' afternoon delights...but a "second wind" did prevail. We were instantly caught up in the hustle and bustle & every inch that the mercado offered. This was one of the most interesting foreign markets I had seen in years. I could have gotten lost in there for hours. "Pura Vida" is alive and well!

A colorful fruit stand.. I would have absolutely loved to taste everything!
And a fruit stand is not compete without the veggies...
Catholicism is always close to the hearts of the locals...and this statue in the center was a bold reminder. 
My new fishmonger buds... They were such fun and ready to bring on the crazy! Ever so proud to show off a fresh caught Mahi Mahi.
The pic below may gross some of you out, but I couldn't resist! Beef tongue anyone? Blech. Poor sweet cows...and these tongues were HUGE.
And if the tongue doesn't strike your fancy, how about some fresh turtle eggs? Nom nom. Baby turtles not included...
One thing Costa Rica is known for are their herbalists. They have a cure for whatever ails you. Make your purchase, take it home and steep in hot water. A tasty tea should prevail?
I'd probably break out in hives if I tried it. 
This is the "ailment menu" where you can locate your health woe and find your cure. 
Medical doctors not included...
This man was one happy guy. I bet he had the best tonics available behind his counter. I would have bought what he was sellin'.
Hats, wreaths, nativity mangers.. It's all here! The Christmas season starts early in Costa Rica as they don't celebrate Thanksgiving. 
Seriously, everyone had such a zest for life that we met! There were a slew of little restaurants inside the mercado. Such fun to gaze at & these friendly locals were happy to be muggin' for my camera.
Ok, maybe this señora wasn't feeling zesty today...You wanna piece of me mamí?
But look what she cooked up! This was a local favorite made with some kind of pancakes and banana leaves. A pancake burger perhaps. Mmmmm?
Dried flowers were everywhere hanging from the rafters. 
And right past the herbalist came the pet purveyors. Mini pinscher or parakeets anyone? 
Shake your moneymaker...

And below the dogs, were the fancy roosters and even some geese. I won't be checking the customs form where they ask if I've been near any farm animals. Sssh. Thank goodness for Global Entry and the pre-clearance it provides. If you're an international traveler, I suggest applying for it as you breeze through customs!
It would take hours to sift through all of these offerings.
I was about to snap a pic of all this color, but the trash man came around the corner, startled me and looked a bit menacing with his one good eye (his other eye was glass). I nicknamed him Thor. He was right out of Central Casting and all the more empowered with his blue whistle.
He gave new meaning to "whistle while you work!"

After a long day we headed back to our hotel to get ready for dinner. Our hotel was one of the best in town, but in a neighborhood where you were warned  not to venture out in at night. Furthermore, every single "barrio" (their word for "town") we saw in downtown San José had bars not just on the windows, but the entire perimeter of every house.. Topped off with razor sharp wire. Ouch. This would not be the place to don a black mask and play "crouching tiger, hidden dragon" after hours.

We asked our guide if it was a dangerous town, but she dodged the question and just said it was part of their culture. I think not. 
Exhausted, we went to bed early and departed our hotel at 6am for our flight home just in time for Turkey Day. 
"Pura Vida" was alive and well!
It was a glorious day out to give thanks and enjoy our families. 
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! 

Adiós Costa Rica...see you next week!

A Day of Adventure

We arrived home on Thanksgiving Day, but these are the latest posts that wouldn't load up on the Costa Rica Wifi...

It was an early rise for all, as we hopped in a taxi and departed the marina at 6:50am. Off we dashed to the mountains of Quepos for an ATV ride to the "Rainmaker!"
We had a 30 minute ride through various towns of Quepos as we headed toward the mountains and through rural farmland. We learned that here, there were 3 ingredients to a town... A school, a soccer field and a church. We saw many of these colorful edifices on our ride and how simply one can live away from it all. 

We were prepped on how all of the gears functioned on the ATV's, shellacked ourselves with sunscreen and bug spray. Now it was time to get this party started...

We reached the top of the rainmaker hike and the scenery was absolutely stunning. 
Note the rickety bridge beneath our feet...

Costa Rica is a eco conscious country and they take it very seriously. We noticed an abundant use of recycled goods...Especially the tire paths that were everywhere. I only hoped that we didn't come across the dreaded Ferdinand viper snake. 
Our trusty walking sticks would keep them and the boa constrictors at bay, but I know they're out there!

Brad ripping it up in the river!
So much fun...Soaked, dirty and I couldn't care less. Trailblazing was awesome!
And what's an adventure without a little jungle commentary...

Brad makes walking the slippery suspension bridge look like a cinch!

Welcome to hikers anonymous... Ha!
Picturesque views abounded! There's nothing like interacting with nature on an intimate level and connecting with it.

And what's a waterfall without a little romance?
And if all this fun wasn't enough, Gael made a fun video montage (below) of all the activities we've been enjoying... the zip lining day of suspense is in there too. Wait until you see Mike hanging upside down on the zip line.
I completely forgot to blog about the zip line adventure everyone had! 

Gael was a champ with the Go Pro attached to her helmut. Great footage she shot..which is what we'd expect as she's a talented professional photographer! Check out the dense jungle behind her & Super Kev (star of many commercials!) in the photo below. The locals make great use of this palm forest and when they harvest the fruit (what we call dates) they cut the palm fronds and let them pile up under the trees and act as a natural compost. (Aka snake den!) The oils of the fruits are used in cosmetics, cooking, and other daily essentials. 
When we finished the Rainmaker hike, we cruised downhill to a local tilapia farm. Before the ownership changed, they had ponds filled with tilapia that you would catch and have cooked up for din din. Now they just serve lunch, but a great lunch it was! (and the ponds are now mosquito breeding grounds. Luckily we sprayed ourselves silly!) We were beyond famished and had a wonderful chicken curry with rice and black beans.. Followed up with some mango juice and a nap in the hammock. All was decorated in its Christmas finery...even in the jungle!

The only thing that could make our day of adventure more fun was to head back to the boat and find our fave swimming we headed out. 
(you can click on boat video below)
drove the girls in our tender as we followed the boys in the boat...
                         We cruised close behind with the radio loud while getting our groove on.

                        Upon arrival, our sweet Marina neighbors from Panama were already anchored out...
And then it started to pour...and pour as we swam in the cove. It finally got chilly so we packed up and headed back to the marina. Worth every second!