Sorry it’s been so long since my last blog post! We’ve got really good internet right now, and that means that Victoria and Jason are like ALWAYS on the computer. When am I supposed to write while they’re hogging it all the time? Sheesh! Anyway, here’s what’s been happening…
We left Playa Gigante and headed towards the border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica. My Family always gets a little bit worked up when we have to get through a new border, but the whole thing is really pretty boring to me. Basically I sit in the car panting, then I lay by My Family’s feet panting even more, then I hunt around for a place to pee that’s not right in the burning sun. Eventually there’s a bunch of human papers passed around, stamps handed out, and I’m plunked back down in the Big Truck to pant some more until we’re finally through. This border crossing wouldn’t prove to be much different, but it took a lot longer. I mean, A LOT.
We were standing in like the longest line I’ve ever seen, with people all around us screaming “Fila! Fila!” over and over again, laughing and groaning. Maya wasn’t making things any easier either, basically dragging her feet and peeing where she shouldn’t. I mean, this puppy needs to learn! Jason was running around like a lost chihuaha, hunting down one border agent to stamp a piece of paper, a police officer to sign and stamp the stamp, and then another border agent to restamp the signed stamp and stamp. Sheesh! Victoria realized we probably made a big mistake by crossing a border on Semana Santa. That’s basically the biggest holiday in the world, and it seemed like everyone was trying to get either into Costa Rica or into Nicaragua. By the time we got through the Nicaraguan side we were all seriously sweaty and pretty grumpy. Luckily things went much smoother in Costa Rica. The border office was even air conditioned, and they let me inside! Swanky!
As we left our longest border crossing behind, I noticed the sun was already pretty low in the sky. That made Jason smell very antsy. It was late in the day, we were in a new country and we had to find our next campsite, and fast! By the time we reached Finca Cañas Castilla it was already dark, and we were all more than ready for bed. Luckily the nice people who take care of the farm were cooking dinner for their guests, so we had a chance to relax and take it all in. Jason broke a wine glass, and I didn’t get to taste anything. Some first impression of Costa Rica!
Things improved dramatically in the morning. Maya is finally starting to sleep through more of the night, which means I get more uninterrupted snuggle time with Jason. And first thing in the morning we enjoyed our first up close and personal monkey visit. ‘Finca’ means ‘farm’, and Finca Canas Castillo had everything. Beautiful trees, a pretty river, horses, chickens, roosters, sloths and a whole family of monkeys that spent the morning swinging around in the trees right above our camper. They smelled weird but they seemed pretty nice, and My Family took a ton of pictures of their playtime. The finca’s dogs didn’t seem to like them too much, however. They spent their morning chasing monkeys from tree to tree, barking and clawing at branches. It definitely raised my hair, but I wasn’t about to get involved in any of that. Maya agreed, and basically spent hours hunkered down underneath the Big Truck.
We only spent two days at the Finca, but we all agreed that was way too short. We cooked delicious food, My Family drank coffee sitting on a bench by the river, we went on hikes, ran around with the other dogs, ate a delicious dinner with the owners and their other guests (one of whom played guitar that was so beautiful I would have cried… If I had tear ducts…) and relaxed with the monkeys. One complaint? The ticks. They’re kinda gross, and they were EVERYWHERE. My Family spent what felt like forever picking ticks off of themselves, me and Maya. Seriously, not a fan.
Our next road trip was a short one, through the mountains, into a town called Liberia, and out a twisty turny road to a place called Casa Rural Aroma de Campo. This was a really beautiful, huge lawn and a pretty house just outside of one of Costa Rica’s national parks. The man who got us set up was very nice, and there was even a dog kinda like me there! It was very, VERY hot, but we had an entire field to wander all to ourselves. Me and Maya got a ton of time off leash, and I even enjoyed playing with her… When she wasn’t eating cow poo. Our first night there was so bright, with a giant full moon, tons of stars and no other humans or cars around. It was one of those nights when I stop to think about how lucky we are, and how amazing the Big Adventure really is. I mean, I get My Family all to myself (Well, sort of. Stupid puppy.), all day and night, with more time off leash in the grass and the dirt that I ever had before. Besides the fact that Jason gets a little frantic about internet from time to time, Victoria seems to always crave pizza when we’re in the middle of nowhere, and Maya won’t leave me alone for five minutes, life is good.
We spent several days at Casa Rural Aroma de Campo, and they were nice and relaxing. Jason worked, Victoria read and caught up with her online support of my blog, me and Maya laid out avoiding the heat, and we all watched the incredible sunsets and moon rises, listening to the bugs calling out to each other in waves. We were going to go into the national park to see the volcano and some waterfalls, but the volcano is apparently very angry right now and too dangerous to approach, the park doesn’t seem to take too kindly to dogs, and Jason hurt his leg when he was run off the road by banditos. Kidding! He was walking into town and slipped in his sandals. Life is so much easier with paws and four legs.
Since the day at the park was out, we packed up and headed off to our next destination, Lake Arenal. I know, another lake! Man, there’s gotta be more lakes than people in Central America! Anyway, the drive to Lake Arenal was super fun. We passed through really pretty jungle and ended up on a dirt road circling the long and winding lake. Our first stop here was an unexpected one. We were looking for a campsite, but the day was getting away from us. As with most of our driving experiences on my Big Adventure, things tend to take longer than expected. The trip to Lake Arenal wasn’t much different, and we soon found ourselves facing sunset with our final destination nowhere close by. Luckily, we saw a sign for a hotel connected to the Lake Arenal Brewing Company, and My Family decided to give it a shot.
Boy, were we all glad we did! This place had everything. A great place to camp, a beautiful view, plenty of space to run around, nice people, a super cute, super friendly dog, and really really good beer (Well, at least Maya liked it. Apparently, she’s a Boozehound). It was nice and cool by the lake too, which was a welcome change from all the heat we’d faced since El Salvador. I didn’t even mind so much when Victoria and Jason decided to have dinner in the restaurant and leave me and Maya in the car. Maya isn’t peeing in the camper anymore, so things between the two of us are much improved. We only spent one night here, but that was way too short. If I have any say in the matter we’ll be back very soon! Somehow I don’t think Jason will have any problem with that.
We left the Brewing Company early in the morning and drove further around the lake. We made a stop way way WAY up a mountain in the jungle. Jason wanted to see these things called hanging bridges. He said something about Indiana Jones, whoever that is. But this was yet ANOTHER place that didn’t want me and Maya there. Man, considering how many dogs there are around here they’ve certainly got a lot of rules! Well, we headed back down the mountain, continued around the lake and stopped off at some natural hot springs. I would have liked a little dip – rivers are way better than lakes or the ocean – but there were so many people there because of Semana Santa that we couldn’t even find anywhere to park. Off we went again, looking for a hospitable place. We found another working farm right outside of the national park entrance that happily accepted campers and dogs, so we settled in for the night.
We only spent one night there, and that was just fine with me. We were far outnumbered by the horses, weird duck-creatures, and the ATVs that were rolling in and out at all hours of the night. It was very pretty there, but it was also kind of rainy, and I don’t think I have to tell you how I feel about rain. We were safe under our awning, but everything outside was soaked, and I was very happy when My Family packed us up to head further down the road. The drive to our next destination was pretty uncomfortable, just a lot of bouncing around and going super slow. We stopped at a cool bakery, and I got to taste a delicious pretzel. Maya needs to work on her sad eyes; she missed out completely.
We crawled the Big Truck down a hill, and rolled to a stop right next to the lake. This is when I started to get worried. Lake Arenal is super pretty, and we were camping out at this spot with a great view of the volcano. I was pretty sure, however, that Victoria was going to make me swim. Not a fan of that. Luckily, the water was kind of cold, so no one was interested in taking a dip. Dodged that bullet.
What a fun night at that campsite! It was super quiet, with no one around but one other family enjoying the lake. We did get some rain, but when it cleared up the volcano was showered in colors. Jason says that’s a rainbow. It was really pretty. We all slept really well, and since Victoria and Jason spent the afternoon making new nets for our windows there were less bugs munching on us than usual. This might have been my favorite spot in Costa Rica yet. At a lake, no less!
We only enjoyed one night there, too. It was time to leave the lake and head up into the mountains. My Family says there’s something here in Costa Rica called a cloud forest. That’s a bunch of trees that’s so high up you’re actually inside a cloud. Sounds damp, but whatever. I don’t get a vote. Here’s hoping it’s just as much fun as the lake and the farms has been! Oh, and in case you’re wondering about the title of this post, ‘pura vida’ means ‘pure life’, and people say that everywhere in this country. Always with a smile. Costa Ricans are so nice!
PS: To see some of the photos that My Family took, check out Facebook. They love monkeys, just sayin’…