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Day seventeen, Mick and I said goodbye to our friends at the Aussie Hut: John and Roxie, Ian and V, and Jake and Natalie.

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The Aussie couple who owned the place, Charlie and Paul, called us a taxi.

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I took one last moment in the hammock before we had to go.

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Mick had an appointment back in San Juan del Sur for a tattoo. We were late but time seems to be not a big deal down there.

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We stayed the night in San Juan del Sur and headed back to the border in the morning.

Day eighteen, we grabbed a cab at 6 a.m. and had to exchange some change at the border for the exit tax. Once on the bus, we went through several police passport checks at the bus stops.

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We knew we were in Costa Rica when the landscape changed back to blankets of green.

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We arrived in San Jose around 3 p.m., just in time for check in.

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It was raining, so we needed our raincoats to walk to the cafe where we had dinner. Mick had the best pinto he had tasted during our stay and I couldn’t help but order a chocolate milkshake even though I was cold from the rain.

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That night we slept well.

Day nineteen, I almost didn’t want to go to the airport. When our taxi driver asked us how was our trip, Mick and I responded in unison: “Amazing!”

I ordered one last delicious pastery even though my stomach felt a little jumpy.

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Once at the airport, we filled out one last customs form before going to our gate.

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Many thanks to John and Roxie, whose destination wedding made this incredible vacation so memorable!

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Marsella, Nicaragua

Day fifteen,
We hiked to the statue of Jesus that overlooks San Juan del Sur.

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The view from the top was worth the steep hike up the cobblestone road.

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Day sixteen, we decided to beach hop to the neighboring town, Marcella, to stay in a cool hostel and enjoy the white sand.

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At sunset, we heard they feed a 14 foot crocodile, but all I could see was the tip of his nose before he disappeared into the water.

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The ocean water felt amazing but so did the hammocks.

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It rained in the evening but I didn’t mind.

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When we ordered dinner, one of the orders got mixed up and an angry Nica stormed out of the kitchen and shot Spanish at Ian, who quickly told a joke and smoothed it over by buying the extra plate of fish. All was good again.

At the Feet of Jesus

Day fifteen, it was hot and humid in San Juan del Sur, and the power and internet were out for a rolling black out, so we spent the majority of the afternoon playing “get the card in the hat.”

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I received my first pedicure, and combined with the manicure, I only paid $27, not including the tip. The hot wax on my feet was a bit of a surprise because I didn’t quite understand what the woman was a asking, but she did a great job.

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By evening it was cool enough to hike to the statute of Jesus that overlooks San Juan del Sur.

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We climbed up a steep cobblestone road to what some in our group were affectionately calling Big Jesus. The heat was incredibly oppressive, even at five p.m. Thankfully I still made it to the top.

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The statute is over 30 meters high.

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From the pinnacle we could see the town below and could hear the waves breaking on the shore.

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The view was incredible.

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We grabbed dinner at a place with live guitar music, compliments of a traveling musician whom we recognized from Costa Rica.

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A great end to the day.

San Juan del Sur

Day fourteen, we woke up and headed out to grab a breakfast of eggs, rice and beans, plantains, and yogurt.

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I also ordered a tasty watermelon drink.

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There are great deals at the markets, so I bought a sun dress for $8 and a few items for my friends.

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Mick got a great haircut for $20.

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While we waited for the haircut, a guy selling puppies showed up. Tempting but no.

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I bought an inexpensive swimsuit and we hit the beach from there.

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There was a festival for John the Baptist going on in the streets.

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Apparently the festival goes on for the entire month of June.

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A beauty contest was also going on, and the announcer and the music made it hard to miss.

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It was Sunday so the church step was a good place to rest.

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Because of the festivities it was loud in the streets and I had some trouble falling asleep that night.

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San Juan del Sur is not as tranquil as Tambor, but it has its own appeal, particularly for surfers.

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And back in the day, Mark Twain was known to vacation there.

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Nicaragua

Day Twelve was our last day in Tambor. The newlyweds, Mick and I, and two other couples decided to take the bus to Nicaragua and stay there a few days.

My stomach was still upset from the previous day, so I took it easy most of the day. Although the water is safe to drink in Costa Rica, the taste of the water is different, and I had been brushing my teeth with the tap water. My stomach ache didn’t stop me from enjoying really good food at H&B.

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The coconut flan I had after lunch was the best I’ve tasted in my life. Yum!

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By nightfall we decided to go exploring.  The cemeteries are above ground and look spooky at night, but mostly because my camera doesn’t take good pictures in the dark.

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For dinner we enjoyed some spaghetti.

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The dessert was on the house because we had stayed so many nights.

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We almost returned to our room without paying for our five more nights because we thought the extra was charged to my credit card, and my Spanish isn’t very good, but Carlos, one of the owners of H&B politely explained the difference. We had five hours to sleep before we had to catch the 4 a.m. bus.

Day Thirteen
The bus ride the next morning took us to the ferry.

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From there we grabbed another bus and braved a sweltering ride to Nicaragua, the land of lobster and Volcanoes. We went through several passport checks before grabbing a cab to San Juan del Sur.

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We bought tacos for dinner.

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The hostels were full, so we rented a two bedroom house with a kitchen for the eight of us to stay.

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The exchange rate is 25 cordobas to a dollar, so Nicaragua is a good place to shop. I put in earplugs and went to bed early because I was exhausted after eight hours of travel. I slept like a baby though!

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Avoiding Crocodiles

Day eleven in Costa Rica, we had breakfast and decided to walk along the beach in Tambor. It had rained the night before, so the water was muddy.

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We walked back to the creek we had passed before. It was wider due to the rain, but looked a lot less intimidating in the daylight.

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We decided not to cross this time because apparently crocodiles like to hunt near the surf where the water is shallow.

Instead we went to Tambor Tropical, the wedding venue, and enjoyed some pina colatas.

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We chatted with some folks who used to live in Michigan but who had bought retirement homes in Costa Rica. They invited the Canadian couple next to us back to their house because the couple was researching buying property in the area. Perhaps future neighbors.

They also told us that the owners of H&B have a second puppy because the first one they owned wandered down to the river after a rain and got eaten by a crocodile!

For dinner we ate where the local Ticos like to eat. Mick enjoyed his meal.

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I had steak and salad.

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I also ate a clove of raw garlic to ward off the mosquitoes. Maybe not the best idea for my stomach.

Our friends who got married are planning to travel to Nicaragua on Saturday, and we have a week left of vacation, so we’ll tag along. We’ll miss H&B Lodge and Restaurant!

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Traveling and the Elderly

Day ten in Costa Rica, Mick and I caught the bus to spend some time with the newlyweds and their family. We accidentally overshot our bus stop while Mick was enjoying a good book.

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We were about to walk back, but a friendly Tico picked us up and allowed us to hitch hike. He dropped us off at his turn, but another car carried us the rest of the way. The kind people who picked us up worked at Barcelo, one of the resorts.

Once there, the security guards at the gate made us call John and Roxie to permit us to enter Los Delfines, the gated community.

John and Roxie were catching up with family members. I had a nice chat with Wilma, Roxie’s grandma, who braved the journey to Costa Rica, even though she was in her eighties.

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Another wedding guest, Don, came all the way from Australia, even though he was 88 years old.

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Pretty remarkable!

When we were finished with the family dinner, we scoped out the wildlife area on our way to the bus stop. A flock of white birds was gathered in a tree.

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By sunset, we could see Macaws traveling in pairs.

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Fireflies glinted as we waited for our bus, but it was getting late so John ended up giving us a ride. Once back at our hotel, we enjoyed a delicious desert of fried plantains and coconut ice cream.

Then it started to rain, so we put on our poncho and rain jacket to see what we could find. We came across this colorful frog.

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We found a few birds whose eyes reflected the light from our head lamps, but mostly the rest of the wildlife was sheltered from the rain, so we headed back for a relaxing evening and fell asleep to the sound of rain on the rooftops.

Rental Cars in Costa Rica

Day nine in Costa Rica, we were tired from a long day of snorkeling the day before, so we hung around the hotel till afternoon and then headed to Cabano for more souvenirs. We stopped at an amazing smelling bakery to buy strawberry pastries.

We filled the rental car with gas at one of the service stations. The gas is not self serve anywhere, so we paid the attendant to fill up the tank. We paid $36 for half a tank of gas by the liter.

We returned the rental car at Budget in Tambor and headed back to the hotel for a nap. At $65 per day, the rental car was by far our most expensive purchase, even more than the room.

On the way back, in the trees across the street we saw our first two monkies. They were about 50 feet up and looked about the size of cats but with longer tails.

Dinner was delicious as always. I ordered casado with fish, rice, beans, salad, corn, and fried plantains.

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You know you’re on vacation when eating and sleeping are on the top of the agenda.

Snorkeling at Tortuga Island

Day eight came, and the group of wedding guest stragglers decided to go snorkeling. There were almost 20 of us, so we loaded into two boats.

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The boat I was on was called the Isabella. The view from the boat of the aquamarine ocean was stunning. We passed some sea turtles making love. They spotted us and dove deeper until they were out of view.

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We anchored at our snorkeling spot and put on our snorkeling masks and flippers. I had never been snorkeling before and quickly found that glasses prevent the snorkeling mask from suctioning. I treaded water and attempted to put my face under water, but each time I got salt water in my eyes and up my nose. The more I bobbed, the more my goggles fogged up. I was able to get a few fleeting glances at the island sand from under water, but it was clear I wasn’t snorkeling right or my equipment was not working properly. I swam back to the boat with a few helpful pushes from Mick to get past the waves. Mick got to see lots of fish and apparently could swim as good as one.

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The group made our way back to the boat and we stopped at Tortuga Island for lunch. While we were waiting for our food, a wild boar walked under our picnic table and invited the girls in the group to pet her by alluding cuteness.

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There were pot belly pigs there too but were not such hams for attention.

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We were also introduced to two Macaws, who were also not as friendly and who were more interested in eating fruit.

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The locals served us fresh coconut, which we could eat with a thin layer of the shell, which tasted a little like a almond.

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The group was served a main meal, with our choice of chicken or fish.

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We took a short swim in the ocean before loading back up on the boats. We had another chance for snorkeling more, but I don’t really like putting my head under water and I couldn’t wear contacts or go without glasses, so I enjoyed watching some yellow fish come to the surface when we offered them pineapple and rice.

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Our boat was going too fast for us to see dolphins, but the passengers on the other boat reported seeing one or two.

That evening, after dinner and a nap we drove to Montezuma for another hangout session on the beach. Many of the guests were returning home the next day.

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What a great opportunity to spend time with friends in paradise.

Souvenirs

Day seven, we were tired so we stayed at the hotel till afternoon and then headed out to the nearest town, Cabano. There were bigger supermarkets there, where I bought my first souvenir, ironically made in India.

We found a restaurant where we could order a traditional meal.

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I also ordered a pineapple drink, which was huge.

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After lunch we headed down a winding road to Montezuma, a tourist draw. There we found souvenirs made actually in Costa Rica.

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For dinner we decided to try out the place across the street from our hotel.

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A satisfying end to a relaxing day.

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