Tag Archives: Costa Rica

Time’s Up: Costa Rica Pt. V

Me, enjoying the grass during the last few days in the Big Jungle House.

Me, enjoying the grass during the last few days in the Big Jungle House.

Hey Adventurers! Lots going on since last I wrote. We’re back on the road, and the Big Jungle House is already fading into the far recesses of this little dog’s memory banks. It’s been such a full couple of weeks that I haven’t had a chance to write any of our adventures down. I’ve seen a lot of you asking questions, and Jason and Victoria told me it was time to get back to work. I’ll do my best to tell you all about what we’ve been up to, but before I bring you up to speed on the last couple of weeks on the road I’ve got to tell you about our last days at the Big Jungle House. It was a quick and unexpected end to our time there…

The Big Jungle House was still amazing, and if you asked me, I would have been pretty content staying there forever! I loved our long days full of playtime, late nights packed with laughter, and even a couple of unexpected twists. If I had known back when we first drove up that scary big hill to this house what the past two months would be like, I would have been much more excited! It’s probably better sometimes that I don’t get a vote. I don’t like change very much, but each change that comes seems to bring a whole lot of awesome along with it. I guess I’m learning that you shouldn’t be afraid of things changing. Sure, it’s always a little scary at first, but if you trust the humans who love you the most, you’ll know you’re always in good hands.

I'm not that into swimming but this was a pretty sweet place to practice!

I’m not that into swimming but this was a pretty sweet place to practice!

After we dropped Lydia off at the airport, I expected life at the BJH would go back to normal. You know, tug of war with Maya, barking at toads, scampering away from the pool, chasing lizards and oodles of snuggle time. For the most part, that’s how things started out. Maya basically always wants to play, so I’ve got no shortage of entertainment. We play so much I think I’ve even slimmed down a bit! Then, as is often the case on my Big Adventure, things changed. We drove down the huge hill and into the town of Uvita. I could smell the vet from miles away, but when we pulled into the driveway I wasn’t scared. He’s a very nice human, and I could tell he really liked me. I soon realized that we weren’t there for me, however. Victoria and Jason talked with the humans for a while, and then someone came out and picked Maya up and brought her inside. She looked so sad I almost chased after her. Almost. I mean, go willingly into the vet’s office? I like her and all, but I’m not crazy.

Worse yet, we left her there! Jason and Victoria both smelled pretty sad on the drive home. Apparently, it was Maya’s time to be spayed. I’m not entirely sure what this is. I mean, most dogs I know go through it, and I did too. The memories are a bit hazy, though. All I can remember from being spayed is being nervous, sitting up on a shiny metal table, and then falling asleep. It was a deep sleep, full of strange dreams and visions…

A field of long grass, and every inch of it smelled delicious. Like it had been newly mowed, coated in bacon and then sprinkled with cow poo. I rolled and rolled, until my fur was covered with puffy white balls that blew apart as I sneezed. Then I heard a great wind, whooshing and flapping, and the sky was filled with cracked open cans of tuna fish. The cans had wings, and they swooped and dove all around me. I chased after them for hours and hours, as the sun went down and a fat, cheesy moon rose, and they weren’t mad at all when I leapt up and took a bite.

After that I woke up, sore and grumpy, with stitches in my tummy. It wasn’t the most fun I’ve had in my life, that’s for sure, but I knew Maya would be fine. Jason and Victoria, however, were super nervous. People can be so weird and dramatic sometimes! We picked Maya up later that afternoon, and sure enough, she was totally fine. She had those stitches, and was pretty out of it. She kept talking to me about swimming chickens, a river of potato chips and a plate of hamburgers as big as a bus. She’s pretty goofy anyway, so I took it in stride. Suffice to say, there was no playtime for a couple of days. I was just fine with that. I’m a bit older now, and it’s nice to have a break sometimes. Maya felt better super quick, and didn’t want any part of taking it easy. My Family was insistent, however, so she skulked around and threw the ball for herself over and over again for a couple of days.

Sad face :(

Sad face :(

One night Victoria received a message on the computer and got really excited. Apparently another group of friends were close by and were coming for visit. Problem was, they were lost! Jason drove off in the big truck, and when he came back another HUGE truck followed him up the hill. I got to meet Erica and Sam, two other adventurers who had come to stay with us on their way south! They got to talking with My Family, and I realized that we had actully met once before, way back at Overland Expo! They were the very first Adventurers I ever met! Pretty cool that we got to see them again, especially now that I was an experienced Adventurer myself. Erica was super nice, but Sam was just DREAMY. He loved to play, and obviously liked me way more than Maya. He’s pretty smart. Erica and Sam stayed with us in the BJH for a couple of days. There were delicious dinners with my family (no tastes for us), and lots of time out by the pool. Sam even shot a video at the house, my movie debut! Hopefully I’ll be able to show it to you guys soon. I sure hope we get to see these humans again, although it sounds like it could be a while. They are driving all the way to Argentina in their Big XP Camper! Argentina is a country in South America, which is a whole different continent than where we are! Continents are like a bunch of countries put together, so yeah, it’s BIG. On a side note, they should really find a dog along the way. Things are just way better with us around.

You can tell Sam would rather be playing with just me, right? Right?!

You can tell Sam would rather be playing with just me, right? Right?!

Sam and Erica's Big XP Camper.  I tried to sneak in so I could go to Argentina with Sam (and Erica) but My Family made me stay behind...

Sam and Erica’s Big XP Camper. I tried to sneak in so I could go to Argentina with Sam (and Erica) but My Family made me stay behind…

After Sam and Erica left things got quiet up at the house again. My Family spent their time working, reading, writing, laying by the pool and chatting with Alvaro. Oh, hey! Did you know that my poo is useful? Alvaro told Victoria that it’s really good for the grass, helping it grow tall and strong. Jason was very happy to hear this, because it meant less clean up. And I have to say I felt a sense of pride every time I slipped off to do my business. My poo is saving the yard!

A couple days later we were lucky enough to have yet another visitor! Jason drove off one morning and came back with Karyn, one of our favorite people from back in Venice! Victoria was super excited to see her friend, and Karyn really liked me and Maya too. Her first day here was crazy long. The humans stayed up really late – eating, drinking and catching up – and Maya and I were practically asleep on our paws when everyone finally went off to bed. Humans get to do all sorts of fun things, but I don’t think they quite appreciate the finer points of an all-day nap.

Me and Karyn hanging out at the pool.

Me and Karyn hanging out at the pool.

The next morning Maya and I were seriously dragging. Victoria and Jason weren’t early risers either, but I think I spent the whole morning in bed. I just can’t hang with the humans and their schedules sometimes! I had a super lazy day, just hanging by the pool, watching the sun wander through the sky and snuggling up with Karyn when I had the chance. Basically perfect.

Karyn spent a bunch of time with us at the BJH, and we got to do all sorts of fun stuff. One day we drove down to Uvita so Karyn could watch something called ‘The Word Cup’. I don’t know, that sounds like an awfully big cup. How the heck would you pick that thing up, even with thumbs? Maya and I got to sit in a restaurant while the humans ate, drank, and talked about something called ‘soccer’. The highlight for me? I tooted, and the whole restaurant smelled it. I know, hilarious, right? Victoria and Jason were so embarrassed! Hilarious!

A couple of days later, we drove to a town called Dominical, to watch more of this World Cup thing on TV. When we got there, we met EVEN MORE friends. What is this, heaven?! Adventurers named Chloe and Toby met us at a restaurant with their dog, Tia. They were pretty nice, but Tia was super cool. She’s even older than me, and didn’t want much to do with Maya. Yep, right on my wavelength. Take it easy, snag some treats, look cute, your basic awesome dog existence. We spent most of the day in this restaurant, and everyone was super excited for the World Cup. People from all over came to watch the soccer, all wearing red and screaming every time something happened. Apparently, this is a big sports thing, and Costa Rica had a team. Best of all, the team won their game! Everyone there was so excited. One human in the bar was so happy he hugged Karyn and gave her his shirt. It smelled very sweaty, but Karyn was pretty excited.

Toby and Chloe came back to the BJH with us, and we had a full house for a couple of days. This was maybe the most fun time we had at the house. The humans cooked all sorts of delicious meals, swam in the pool, and gave all sorts of attention to us dogs. Tia and I had a lot of fun together, too. She wasn’t much for playing, but she loved to snuggle and nap, which are basically my two favorite things. We spent a lot of time together hanging on the couch, and Maya was even able to relax with Tia around. That was a really good thing, because after she healed from being spayed she managed to chew open a spot on her shoulder and give herself an infection. The humans put her in a jacket for a few days so she wouldn’t mess with it, and yet ANOTHER trip to the vet was needed to make her feel better. Gosh, this puppy is high maintenance.

Tia. She's pretty mellow but knows tons of tricks and totally put me and Maya to shame.  High Five, Tia!

Tia. She’s pretty mellow but knows tons of tricks and totally put me and Maya to shame. High Five, Tia!

Tia's big truck. It's called Moby and she has her own special dog bed in the back seat.

Tia’s big truck. It’s called Moby and she has her own special dog bed in the back seat.

Karyn eventually had to head back to Venice, but we got to have a couple more days with Toby and Chloe. They had a lot to do with their camper, as they are also going down to that South America place. The humans still got to spend a lot of time together, though. I could tell My Family was pretty sad when they finally packed up and left to continue their Adventure. I sure hope I get to see Tia again.

Oh, so I forgot to mention. When we were all out at the restaurant in Dominical watching that world-sized cup? That’s when My Family realized there might be a bit of a problem with our plan. See, Victoria and Jason liked the BJH so much that they had talked about staying for a couple more months. That suited me and Maya just fine. Sure, the Adventure was great and all, but more time at this amazing place? Yes please! The problem is, there’s some kind of rule about how long our Big Truck could stay in Costa Rica. Apparently, if we left for Panama, we wouldn’t be able to come back for a long, long time. I don’t really understand the details, and all of that political stuff is pretty boring to me anyway. I guess you should ask My Family if you want the inside info. Basically, what this discovery meant was that instead of staying in the BJH for several months more, we’d have to leave in like a week! I was NOT impressed with this change of strategy. Instead of lounging around the pool, chasing lizards, growing the grass with my poo and barking at Maya we had to pack up?! I know, I know, I didn’t have to do any of the packing. But watching my family pack and smelling their stress was no kind of fun.

Regrettably, it was inevitable. We were leaving the Big Jungle House. Not. Cool. Victoria and Jason scrambled through the preparations, repacking the camper and putting it back on the Big Truck, saying goodbye to our new friends and figuring out where we were going to go next. By the time Maya was fully healed we were ready to hit the road. Even though I wasn’t thrilled about the timeframe, I was pretty excited to get back on the road. The Big Adventure has always been super fun, and I knew that even this newest of changes would bring amazing things. Maya, on the other hand, was none too pleased.

We left Alvaro and the Big Jungle House behind with hugs and waves, and headed down the mountain. Victoria and Jason were both a bit freaked out, more due to the vast amount of work it took to get back on the road than any sort of fear for what was to come. We went right back to Dominical and spent our first night back in the camper in front of that restaurant where we watched the Big Cup. It was super fun to get my paws back on a sandy beach, but I could tell My Family was still stressed. It was hard going from a huge house to a tiny camper, even for a small dog like me. And Maya was WAY BIGGER now than she was the last time we were in a camper. She didn’t fit in any of the spots she used to fit in! It felt nice to be back in our own home, surrounded with all of our own stuff again, but it was going to take a bit of getting used to.

Tiny stone walls in Dominical where we spent our first night back in the camper.

Tiny stone walls in Dominical where we spent our first night back in the camper.

The next week was spent adapting to our adventurous life once again. We saw some incredibly beautiful places, driving onto the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica. I got to run on three different, incredible beaches, and we almost instantly started meeting new people. That’s one of the best parts of the Adventure, all the super nice humans we get to see. Jason seemed a bit grumpy, though. He was hitting his head on the camper door, stumbling around looking for things, and basically trying to get used to everything once again. Luckily we had great places to stay, nice weather, and not too much trouble as we started heading north again. It took me a little while to realize that we weren’t going to go to Panama, the country south of Costa Rica that had been our original end goal. It really didn’t matter to me, though. If there’s one thing I’ve learned during the Big Adventure, it’s that the journey is far more important than the destination.

Driving into the jungle on the Nicoya. It's full of bumpy, muddy roads and rivers.

Driving into the jungle on the Nicoya. It’s full of bumpy, muddy roads and rivers.

We camped just outside of Playa Manzanillo on a deserted (but rocky) beach.

We camped just outside of Playa Manzanillo on a deserted (but rocky) beach.

We spent about a week driving up the Nicoya Peninsula, and Maya and I were quickly back in the routine. I think she still remembered the camper, even though she had been very young when we were last inside it. After a few days My Family got over their frustrations with the small space, and we were happily adventuring once again.

Big waves and a tiny island in Playa Samara.

Big waves and a tiny island in Playa Samara.

I do love feeling the sand beneath my paws!

I do love feeling the sand beneath my paws!

Another day, another beach on the Nicoya.  This is just outside Playa Tamarindo.

Another day, another beach on the Nicoya. This is just outside Playa Tamarindo.

Sunset on Playa Tamarindo. Pretty, huh?

Sunset on Playa Tamarindo. Pretty, huh?

We even got to see yet another group of Adventurers! We stopped in a place called Playa Portrero, and met up with Sarah and Hani from Adventures in Skyhorse. They have two dogs named Shae and Olivia, who are both basically awesome. Sarah and Hani had rented a house on the beach, with a pool and a big yard perfect for running in. We stayed with them for a night, and had a ton of fun. Maya was a bit scared of their dogs at first, but I laid down the law and soon we were all the best of friends. My Family had a great time with Sarah and Hani, and they were all talking about us staying longer. But because of that stupid car rule, we had to leave Costa Rica the very next day. So even though we had a blast with these new friends, we had to pack up and head out in the morning. It seems like we might see these guys again, though, as they are also going to be headed back north pretty soon.

This is Olivia.  Maya loved running around with her!

This is Olivia. Maya loved running around with her!

Shae might look like a typical fluffy dog but she's really chill.  I loved hanging out with her on the couch in the air-conditioned house!

Shae might look like a typical fluffy dog but she’s really chill. I loved hanging out with her on the couch in the air-conditioned house!

What a whirlwind the past couple of weeks has been! My head was spinning as we drove away from Sarah and Hani’s place and headed for the border. We were on our way back to Nicaragua, a country we had seen a few months ago. We had gone from thinking we were going to spend the summer in Costa Rica and then head to Panama, to frantically packing and rushing back up towards Nicaragua. Quite the turn of events! It’s a good thing I’m such a seasoned traveler. Maya was a bit out of sorts, and Jason and Victoria both had their stressful moments. All in all, life is good. We’ve got a comfy bed, plenty of delicious food, and the open road in front of us. I wonder what the next few weeks will bring…

PS: To see some of the photos My Family took during our last few weeks in Costa Rica, head on over to Facebook and check out two different albums: here and here.

20
Jul 2014
POSTED BY Neli
POSTED IN

Costa Rica

DISCUSSION 8 Comments

You’re In the Jungle, Baby: Costa Rica Pt. IV

Victoria taking me to the edge to throw my into the jungle. KIDDING! She forced me to go swimming which is almost as bad.

Victoria taking me to the edge to throw me into the jungle. KIDDING! She forced me to go swimming which is almost as bad.

It only took about a week for me to feel nice and settled into our new temporary home, which I’ve started calling the Big Jungle House. Although it’s not as cozy as the Wee Blue House back in Venice, it’s sure got its perks! For one thing, I’m free to wander the BJH all day off leash. Here’s a peek at a day in the life of a jungle dog.

5:30 AM: Wake up to Maya wanting to go out to pee. Jason stumbles out the door to deal with the puppy, while I snuggle in closer to Victoria.

6:30 AM: I lose my snuggling companion when Victoria gets up, chase Maya around the house yelling at her for messing up my beauty sleep.

7:00 AM: Wander around the lawn, sniffing flowers and biting at the little flying bugs. Get lucky and chomp one down. Delicious.

7:15 – 10:15 AM: Find a sunny spot, lay in it. Find a different sunny spot. Lay in that one. When necessary, move to the couch. Growl at Maya for wanting to play so early.

10:30 AM: Eat from Maya’s giant doggie dish. She just sits there and watches. Sucker!

10:45 – 11:15 AM: Playtime. Maya may be bigger, but I’m smarter and quicker. Plus, her face is fun to chew on.

Puppy face! Nom nom nom!

Puppy face! Nom nom nom!

11:30 AM – 1:00 PM: Lay in the sun with Victoria. Try to lick her sunscreen off. Dart away from the pool when Jason tries to lure me in. I may be cute, but I’m not stupid.

1:05 PM: Jockey for treats. Hope for one of the homemade frozen yogurt/peanut butter/banana/honey things but willing to settle for a beggin’ strip. Just don’t leave us hanging!

1:15 – 2:00 PM: Playtime. Eventually tell Maya off because she just… Won’t… Stop!

2:00 PM: Lunch time. I graze between my bowl and Maya’s, taking the choicest morsels. Maya doesn’t seem to notice.

2:00 – 3:00 PM: Nap time. If I’m in a good mood, Maya gets to share the couch with me.

3:00 – 5:00 PM: Wandering the jungle. Maya and I try to see how far we can get away from the patio before Victoria and Jason start screaming. Eat bugs, chase birds, paw at lizards and roll around the yard. Basically the best part of the day.

5:00 – 6:30 PM: Lounge on the patio while My Family watches the sunset. Wonder when they’re going to make dinner.

6:30 – 8:00 PM: My Family makes dinner. Maya and I remain close at hand, to snag anything that gets dropped and make cute eyes to insure a taste.

8:00 – 10:00 PM: Couch time. Growl at Maya when she tries to steal my spot on Victoria’s lap. Jump off the couch to periodically put her in her place. Hope for more treats.

10:00 PM: Bed time. Often preceded by wrestling with Maya. Curl up under the covers to snuggle by Jason. Dream of a mad dash through the jungle.

One of the sunsets My Family loves so much.

One of the sunsets My Family loves so much.

Maya napping in my bed, she doesn't really fit but as long as she doesn't try to join me on the couch I'm okay with her using it.

Maya napping in my bed, she doesn’t really fit but as long as she doesn’t try to join me on the couch I’m okay with her using it.

As you can tell, I’m pretty much living the best dog’s life you could imagine. Every day is pretty similar right now, but I’ve got no complaints. There have been some unique moments over the past couple of weeks, however, both good and bad.

The front yard.  Perfect for having a Daft Half Hour.

The front yard. Perfect for having a Daft Half Hour.

Once I was dragged to the local doctor’s office just after Heather left. It’s amazing that no matter what country we might be in, THAT SMELL is always the same. I can sense the doctor’s office from like a mile away. But as always in these situations, I don’t get a vote. The man who took care of me was very nice, although he did some rather awkward things to my bum. He redeemed himself, however, by giving me the best pedicure ever! Not only did he cut my nails, but he buffed and shaped them too. I felt like I was back in Los Angeles!

Me and Maya love hiding from My Family here, around the corner from the bedroom. It takes them F O R E V E R to find us, ahaha!

Me and Maya love hiding from My Family here, around the corner from the bedroom. It takes them F O R E V E R to find us, ahaha!

One afternoon, Maya and I got to conspiring. She’s still only five months old, so even though she’s a lot of fun and getting much bigger, she’s not much of a conversationalist. I noticed that Jason was busy working and Victoria was inside cleaning the house, so I suggested we should go explore the jungle. Maya doesn’t know what explore means yet, but she was more than happy to bound after me as I tip-toed around the corner and off the patio. We sniffed our way down the driveway, and then stopped at the grassy edge. I looked back up the hill, but My Family was nowhere to be found. Success! We dashed off into the jungle.

All the really good stuff happens down the driveway.

All the really good stuff happens down the driveway.

Suddenly we were surrounded by an amazing amount of smells that we had only sniffed from afar. There were flowers, fruits, trees, plants and dozens of animal smells. The howler monkeys were shouting in the trees somewhere down the mountain, but we were far more excited by what was right in front of us. Yes, right there in the grass… Something had died. I needed to get a closer look. Oh, man, I think it was a bird! I heard My Family yelling for us, but there was no stopping me and Maya from rolling around in that deliciousness. The yelling up the hill got more frantic, so finally I pulled myself together and darted back out onto the driveway. Victoria and Jason were pretty upset. They stormed over, and Maya and I dashed back up the hill and into the house. They grabbed us up for a timeout, and that’s when Jason got a whiff of what we were rolling in. I don’t know why that was such a big deal, but suddenly they were even more angry. We both got baths immediately, a punishment that definitely did not fit the crime in my mind. I don’t like making My Family worry, though. I tried to explain what had happened to Maya, but she was too busy licking the water off her fur to try and understand. I guess I’ll have to set a better example for Maya next time.

A dead bird on one of the patios.  Not the same one we rolled around with in the jungle, but it smelled almost as interesting.

A dead bird on one of the patios. Not the same one we rolled around with in the jungle, but it smelled almost as interesting.

Maya really does follow my lead. Twice a week a nice man called Alvaro comes up to the Big Jungle House to play with the flowers. Even though I know his smell, I bark at him pretty much every time. Maya does too, although I don’t think she knows why she’s barking. Alvaro doesn’t seem to mind. Apparently he has seven dogs of his own! I would like to meet them someday. If they’re as nice as he is, I bet we’d have fun.

Turns out having a little sister is a lot of fun, even if she's twice the size of me! (NOTE: At the time of this blog post Maya is clocking in at 25 pounds while I remain a svelte 12 pounds!)

Turns out having a little sister is a lot of fun, even if she’s twice the size of me! (NOTE: At the time of this blog post Maya is clocking in at 25 pounds while I remain a svelte 12 pounds!)

There’s just so much to bark at up here! We get huge storms, and the thunder rolls through the hills for ever and ever. Also, all sorts of animals come into my territory. Every time a huge toad, a colorful lizard, a long snake, or even a flittery hummingbird get too close I end up having to go inside. Stop cramping my style! One time a huge toad even came into our house. I didn’t know what was going on at first. I just heard Victoria open the front door and start screaming. Jason ran over, and so did me and Maya. Jason saw the toad before I did, and scrambled to get us out into the kitchen. The toad jumped at Victoria again, and she started screaming! Before I knew it I was overcome with a barking fit, and ran around the house. Maya started crying and wailing, scrambling around behind me. She was so scared she peed all over the floor. C’mon, puppy, get it together! Jason and Victoria were able to encourage the toad to leave after a bit more screaming and a lot of laughter. But Maya cowered by my side the rest of the night.

The power also goes out sometimes. It’s usually after a big storm, with the rain pouring and lightning flashing over the ocean. I don’t really mind, though. We’re always comfy, dry and warm, and the flashlights and candles remind me of our time out in the Camper. Thankfully, Maya’s not afraid of thunder. Yet when Victoria uses the blender it sends her scampering across the room. Really? Puppies are so weird.

So much room for running around inside the house!

So much room for running around inside the house!

One day saw a real break from the fun routine, but it turned out to be super special. My Family packed us into the Big Truck and we drove down the hill, south through the town of Palmar Norte. We bounced around on dirt roads and long trails through jungles of palm trees for what seemed like hours. I could smell Jason was getting frustrated. We were looking for something, and having very little luck. Finally, after backtracking half a dozen times we rolled into a parking lot next to a long, open field. A friend was waving to us. It was Lydia, here to visit us all the way from New York City! I hadn’t seen Lydia in years, but I remembered she was super duper nice, and really likes dogs. That makes her a keeper in my book!

I really L O V E Lydia, even if she does like to go in the pool.

I really L O V E Lydia, even if she does like to go in the pool.

Lydia stayed with us for almost a week, and I had some of the best times yet in the Big Jungle House. Lydia spent so much time with me. She let me snuggle up on her lap, or lounge by her feet at the pool. I sat on her lap while they played a people game called Uno, and danced around with Maya while she fed us treats. I even got to spend the night snuggled up with her once! What a cool visit! One day, two more friends came up the mountain, and it turned into a full on pool party! I obviously wasn’t that enthusiastic when they made me go swimming, but it seems to be growing on Maya a bit. Look, her paws are like three times as big as mine so of course she’s a better swimmer. Anyway, it was nice to have the house filled with people laughter, and good meals that I got to taste for the rest of the week. I even got a bone all to myself when My Family made carnitas. Are you kidding me? Amazing!! I was pretty sad when we dropped Lydia off at the airport again. We had a long goodbye, and I might have cried if I had tear ducts.

Lydia said I was her Good Luck Charm so whenever she played UNO with My Family I made sure to get a good spot on her lap.

Lydia said I was her Good Luck Charm so whenever she played UNO with My Family I made sure to get a good spot on her lap.

Maya and her giant paws splashing in the pool.

Maya and her giant paws splashing in the pool.

We’re not seeing as many new places these days, but staying put definitely has its perks. We get to have visitors, I’m allowed to play with Maya all the time without worrying about roads, people or other dogs, and I’ve got all the room in the world to run around in. In fact, I think I’ve lost a bit of weight. I’m looking pretty cute these days, don’t you think? My Family tells me that at some point we’ll be getting back in the camper and continuing on The Big Adventure, but right now, the jungle life is adventure enough!

PS: If you want to see more pictures of the house and Lydia, check them out on Facebook!

08
Jun 2014
POSTED BY Neli
POSTED IN

Costa Rica

DISCUSSION 4 Comments

Our Paws Take A Pause: Costa Rica Pt. III

Me enjoying the view at our new home!

Me enjoying the view at our new home!

Victoria and Jason had promised me that some beach time was ahead, but first we had to finish crossing Cerro de la Muerte. They said the Pacific Ocean and the sandy goodness that I love so much was somewhere close by, but it sure didn’t seem that way. We spent our next morning on my Big Adventure driving down one of the curviest, scariest roads yet. Jason was happy that at least it was paved, but he still smelled a bit anxious. When we woke that morning and said goodbye to Doris and Torsten, it was bright and sunny. Yet as soon as we got back on the road and started our descent, rain and clouds settled in around us, as thick and white as the chunks of cheese Victoria sometimes puts in my food bowl.

It took a couple of hours to get out of that mess, most of which I spent perched on Victoria’s lap, scenting the heavy air. Maya tried to sleep through it, but she’s getting too big for her perch on the arm rest between Victoria and Jason. She kept twisting and turning, trying to find the perfect position. Soon she’s just going to have to go on the floor. She keeps eyeing Victoria’s lap, but that is NOT going to happen.

Our cozy camping spot near the beach, even though we didn't even SEE the beach...

Our cozy camping spot near the beach, even though we didn’t even SEE the beach…

We finally left the mountain behind and found ourselves back on the main highway, just north of a town called Uvita. We had crossed the whole country in two nights! I saw the wide ocean off to our right, and though the rain kept pummeling the Big Truck, we made it into Uvita without any problems. We did some shopping and headed towards the beach, finally pulling up at a campsite called Camping El Chaman. The man who ran the place was super nice, and showed Jason how to use a huge bamboo pole to pull fresh mangoes right out of the trees. We even had a covered spot to park our Big Truck, so when even more rain came we were nice and dry. The sand was super soft, and the camp dogs were all pretty nice. Maya was kind of scared of them, and stayed glued to Jason’s side pretty much the whole time. We only spent one night there, with the rain pelting the roof and the ocean waves breaking just down the dirt road, but I really loved it. I have to say, I’m just a beach dog at heart!

I thought this campsite was pretty perfect, so I didn’t understand why we got up so early and packed up to leave. After that crazy mountain, didn’t I deserve a day off? It wasn’t meant to be. We were gone with the sun, bouncing back up the dirt road and further south. We pulled up outside of a big restaurant with funny, frozen cows out front, but we didn’t go in. What’s the deal? Were they going to force me to sit outside smelling the delicious smells with no payoff? A few minutes later a man pulled up on a motorcycle with four huge wheels, and after he spoke with My Family for a few minutes we got back into the Big Truck and followed him across the highway and up a huge hill. What gives?

The road got worse as we drove, leaving town behind and heading deeper into the jungle. At one point we stopped beside a hut with no walls, and this new friend pointed out a house far up the mountain. He said that’s where we were going, and Jason and Victoria got really excited. It sure didn’t look like any campsite I’d seen on the Big Adventure. Another ten minutes of bumping and bouncing up crazy mountain roads and we pulled up outside an amazing house, with the biggest, best lawn I’d seen in as far back as I could remember. I thought we would get to run around the house and all over the lawn but for the next couple of nights we just camped in the driveway.

I have to say, I was a bit confused. Sure, Maya and I had playtime, and we got to sniff around on the side yard, but we mostly just sat around the camper. This didn’t seem particularly adventurous. It sure felt like a strange stop to me. Things got even stranger when the nice man came out of the house one day and handed us over the keys. Wait… What?!?

Yeah, apparently we were going to live here for a while. In. The. House! I couldn’t believe my luck. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of our travels. But the chance to lay on a couch all day? The house has tons of comfy, sunny spots, cool floors, and best of all, no more bumpy roads to drive! Well, that’s not exactly true. The house is way up in the mountains, and I don’t think Victoria and Jason trust me and Maya alone in the house. That means we’re constantly being packed up in the Big Truck and bounced up and down that terrible mountain. First Cerro de la Muerte and now this? It feels like we are back in Guatemala! Strangest yet, there’s a lot more room in the Big Truck now. My Family actually took the Camper off! That means when we drive places I get Victoria’s lap to myself, and Maya gets to stretch out on the back seat. She’s getting so big now that she needs the space.

Sometimes the clouds roll right up to the house and it looks like the world ends at the end of our pool.  YIKES!

Sometimes the clouds roll right up to the house and it looks like the world ends at the end of our pool. YIKES!

I spent a couple of days exploring the house, avoiding My Family’s efforts to make me swim in the pool and spending hour after hour playing with Maya. Okay, I’ll admit it, I love this puppy. We wrestle, we play tug of war, and she really seems to love me a lot. I don’t even mind sharing food with her. It’s pretty cool having a friend, especially one who loves to hang around me and looks to me for advice. She’s still goofy, and gets into all kinds of trouble, but Victoria said that will change as she gets older. Plus, I now have a partner, with eyes just as sad as mine. Very useful when you’re trying to get treats.

Maya keeps stealing my bed, even though she doesn't really fit in it.

Maya keeps stealing my bed, even though she doesn’t really fit in it.

Just as we were getting into a nice routine, something pretty special happened. We drove back to Uvita and waited around for a little bit. Then I smelled someone familiar. Our friend Heather from Venice was here! How cool! She was coming to stay with us and hang out at the house. It was so great to snuggle up with someone I already knew, and Heather liked Maya just as much as everyone else.

Me and Heather at the pool.  I really love her a lot!

Me and Heather at the pool. I really love her a lot!

The day after Heather arrived we finally got to go to the beach! The Pacific here is pretty special. The water is warm, and the jungle comes right up to the sand. Maya and I got to be off leash, and since there weren’t any other dogs around I was able to run to my heart’s content.

The beach! Finally!

The beach! Finally!

We did have a bit of an adventure that day. My Family was trying to find something called The Whale’s Tail. Apparently there’s a bit of sandy land that is shaped like a whale’s tail, and you can walk right out onto it. I’d much rather stay on shore, but I never get a vote. Unfortunately, it was high tide, and to get to the Whale’s Tail we had to cross a little river. Jason waded through first, and it seemed pretty deep. He wanted us to wait, but once Victoria and Heather waded in I couldn’t help but follow. Suddenly I was swimming, something I definitely DO NOT like to do. Even worse, big waves were coming. Before I knew what was happening I was washed away! I paddled my legs just as fast as I could, but the water was just too strong. Jason started screaming, and suddenly I bounced off of a tree! Heather ran to me and grabbed me out of the water, while Jason stood there holding our bags and a soaking wet Maya dog. I found out later that I was a few seconds away from being washed off into the jungle. You see? Why do humans ever go swimming! It’s just nuts.

Crisis averted, we finally made it to The Whale’s Tail. Of course, we didn’t actually know it at the time. Because the tide was in, the Tail was just totally covered up. Waves were breaking against themselves as Heather and My Family went swimming. Whatever. At that point I was more than content to bounce around on the shore, jumping at the small waves while Maya sat with our bags. That was definitely enough adventure to last me for a while.

I mean, how can you not love this silly face?

I mean, how can you not love this silly face?

A couple days later, our new home in the mountains got even busier. Kenny and Jenn, two friends we had met in Guatemala, came to stay with us too! They were traveling with their friend from home, a nice human named Mike, and all of a sudden our big house was filled with awesome people. Better yet, the house was also filled with amazing smells. Those three love to cook, so each day the humans got together and made incredible meals. Maya and I snagged all sorts of delicious tastes, and got to stay up late while all the friends told stories, swam in the pool, and did an awful lot of laughing.

We went hiking with all our friends to find a waterfall.  It was almost all uphill.  Not cool.

We went hiking with all our friends to find a waterfall. It was almost all uphill. Not cool.

We spent a couple of days together as a new, bigger family, before Kenny, Jenn and Mike had to leave. We said goodbye in the driveway, and Heather went with them, so she could have her own Adventure for a little while. I was sad to see our good friends leave, but it was time to catch up on my naps. We spent another couple of days relaxing in the house, and then jumped into the car to go pick up Heather. Problem was, we weren’t picking up Heather, but dropping off Victoria! I got no notice, and only a moment to say goodbye. What was happening? I stared out the window a bit worried as Jason drove away. I couldn’t remember the last time Victoria had gone away, and I was just hoping that it wouldn’t be for long.

Maya was just as confused as I was when Victoria and Heather left.

Maya was just as confused as I was when Victoria and Heather left.

Thankfully it was only one night. Don’t get me wrong, I love Jason a lot, but things just aren’t the same without Victoria. Jason packed Maya and I back into the Big Truck, and we rejoined Victoria and Heather in a town called Dominical. I guess the girls had been on a horse riding adventure. That’s fine, but why couldn’t I come along? Humans have strange rules sometimes.

I really miss snuggling with Heather :(

I really miss snuggling with Heather :(

We had a nice meal by the beach, and then everyone started saying goodbye to Heather. I was confused because it felt like she had just arrived, but I guess she had to go back home to Venice. I hope she’ll tell all of our friends how much I miss them. It was so great having her come to visit us, and I love sharing our Adventure with such great people, even though Maya gets half of the attention. After Heather went home we went back to the house, where I think we’re going to stay here for a while. I’m not exactly sure what’s happening, if the Big Adventure is over, or if we’ve just taken a pause. It sure is nice to relax and throw my paws up for a little while, though. I do love all of our travels, but for this homebody, laying in a comfy lap and looking out over the ocean, safe from the rain, is a pretty good alternative.

PS: My Family posted some photos about all our friends visiting and moving into the house here.

PPS:  Victoria said to mention that the house we are living in is for sale.  I guess that means we can’t stay forever? Anyway, if you would like more information email me or My Family.

29
May 2014
POSTED BY Neli
POSTED IN

Costa Rica

DISCUSSION 4 Comments

Mountains, Forests, Beaches & Besties: Costa Rica Part II

Sometimes a dog's just gotta relax, no matter how amazing it is outside, ya know?

Sometimes a dog’s just gotta relax, no matter how amazing it is outside, ya know?

Our next stop on the adventure through Costa Rica was a place called Monteverde. When Victoria and Jason were planning this stop I managed to take a peek at the map. I don’t know much about how humans get around – dogs don’t really think about what’s over the next hill that often – but it didn’t seem very far away. I should know by now that the line on the map doesn’t really mean much at all, especially when it’s showing you the way to a cloud forest.

The road to Monteverde.  Not cool.

The road to Monteverde. Not cool.

It took us like four hours to get there, and me and Maya were green pretty much the whole time. It felt like riding an earthquake! Nothing but bumpy, rocky, muddy roads, and most of them pointed straight up. My Family was loving the view out the window, but I basically spent the whole time curled up in Victoria’s lap, trying to find my happy place. There were some pretty cool moments. We crossed six rivers, saw a happy human riding a horse with three happy dogs running behind, and drove past a field of those cool wind turbine things, which are basically the biggest things I’ve ever seen. When we finally got to the mountain town of Santa Elena and our first stop, a hostel called Pension Santa Elena, I was hungry, tired and all shook up.

Camping almost on the street in Santa Elena. At least the tacos were good!

Camping almost on the street in Santa Elena. At least the tacos were good!

Santa Elena wasn’t really what I was expecting. It was a super busy town with restaurants, traffic and a ton of people. Where was this forest we were supposed to be visiting? We ended up spending a few nights parked in the lot outside of a hostel, and I wasn’t particularly impressed. We did meet some nice people, including a couple who had driven all the way from Canada in a tiny car. Victoria and Jason used this time to regroup a little bit, shopping for food in a big market, eating tacos from the delicious hostel restaurant, getting some work done and contemplating what comes next. They wanted to find somewhere to stay in the area that was actually part of the forest, and I couldn’t blame them. Me and Maya didn’t have anywhere great to run around, and there were so many street dogs wandering that we basically had to be on leash the whole time. I was more than ready when we packed up the camper and took a short trip further up the mountain.

First super bumpy roads and then shaky wooden bridges! Costa Rica is turning out to be more adventurous than any of us could have imagined!

First super bumpy roads and then shaky wooden bridges! Costa Rica is turning out to be more adventurous than any of us could have imagined!

Once leaving Santa Elena behind we quickly found ourselves on a dirt road surrounded by thick forest. This was more like it! I could smell all sorts of people smells, so I knew we weren’t really that far from civilization. Yet the animal and plant smells overwhelmed anything people tried to do out here. My Family was super excited when we rolled into La Colina Lodge, a hotel and campground that was surrounded by nothing but nature. The woman who worked there was super nice, and got us set up with a honest to goodness campsite, in a field right next to the main house. When we got there we saw there were other campers already set up, a nice couple that Victoria already knew from the internet. Yeah, that’s another human thing, knowing someone you’ve never actually seen and sniffed before. Strange, but it happens all the time. I guess how you guys know about me and Maya and the Big Adventure?

This creepy guy hung out by our campsite the whole time we were at La Colina Lodge.  He didn't move a muscle the entire time!

This creepy guy hung out by our campsite the whole time we were at La Colina Lodge. He didn’t move a muscle the entire time!

We spent a couple more days in Monteverde there at La Colina, and had so much fun. Me and Maya got to be off leash the whole time, hanging with the camp dog, chasing birds and laying in super comfy grassy spots in the sun. And for a cloud forest, it wasn’t that cloudy! We saw beautiful sunsets, hiked the dirt roads and trails, and My Family cooked delicious meals with fresh greens straight from the garden! This was a super nice stop, and I don’t think any of us were ready to leave when we packed up that final morning.

Maya may be bigger than me now but she STILL can't get up stairs.

Maya may be bigger than me now but she STILL can’t get up stairs.

Apparently we had to make an unscheduled stop, which meant leaving a bit earlier than expected. We packed quickly, waited while a nice man washed the big truck for us (Jason was very excited about this) and then left Monteverde behind. The drive out was even crazier than the drive in, with the sort of steep, winding roads we hadn’t really seen since Guatemala. Jason spent some quiet time gripping the wheel and staring straight ahead, but we made our way into the valley without a problem. I’m glad I’m never asked to take a turn at the wheel! I much prefer using driving days for napping.

Our road was closed for over an hour.  It wasn't terrible because My Family let me try Cool Ranch Doritos, yumma!

Our road was closed for over an hour. It wasn’t terrible because My Family let me try Cool Ranch Doritos, yumma!

This was a super long driving day, broken up with a stop at a place called Angel Valley B&B. I didn’t really understand this stopover at the time, though I do now. Angel Valley was a small hotel with a very pretty view, and when we rolled up I was ready to cut loose and run around the yard with Maya. I guess My Family was thinking about spending a few weeks looking after the hotel for the owner. Instead we basically wandered around, looked at stuff, stretched our legs and got right back in the big truck. Didn’t like this so much, especially because the detour took us right through San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica.

I know what you’re thinking – what’s wrong with that? Capital cities are pretty cool right? Maybe we’d see the Queen of Costa Rica, or the Captain or whoever it is that runs things down here? Nope. All we saw was traffic. Lots and lots of traffic. Jason cursed our timing, once he realized that we were crossing the city during something called ‘rush hour’. Well, that’s officially my least favorite human concept. First of all, it took way more than an hour, and secondly no one seemed to be rushing anywhere! It should be called ‘slow afternoon’. By the time we got to the other side of the city it was already getting dark. We don’t usually drive at night, so my hackles were up. My Family wasn’t concerned, except for the fact that we now had to find somewhere to stay in the dark.

My view from Victoria's lap as we drove into the clouds!

My view from Victoria’s lap as we drove into the clouds!

We navigated another mountain and down into a valley to find the town of Orosi. I liked this place right away. Even at night, with the clouds rolling in off the mountain it was pretty, with lit up streets and lots of people walking around. We pulled up in front of a hostel we had heard would accept campers, then stared at it for a while, as they had no driveway. Victoria and Jason spent about ten minutes debating whether it was safe to just park on the street, when finally a nice man waved us down from the field next door. Jason got out to speak to him, and discovered he was friends with the people who run the hostel, and was going to let us stay on his property! He drew back the fence and we rolled onto a cozy, quiet, grassy field to spend the night. Good thing too, because just then it started to rain. We were all pretty grumpy from the long drive and from dealing with traffic for the first time in like forever, so My Family quickly set up the camper and we hunkered down to stay dry and listen to the drops hitting the roof.

Sometimes we camp in actual campgrounds.  Other times we camp on a field owned by a kind stranger.  Life is certainly a Big Adventure!

Sometimes we camp in actual campgrounds. Other times we camp on a field owned by a kind stranger. Life is certainly a Big Adventure!

The next morning was just as wet, and super cloudy. I guess the cloud forest had followed us down into the valley towns! We said goodbye to our host and drove on. The roads evened out, and after a couple of twisty turny mountains we reached the highway. Jason pointed the big truck east, and a couple of hours later I caught a glimpse of something I hadn’t seen since Nicaragua: the ocean! Of course, this is a different ocean. It’s called the Caribbean Sea, and it’s on the opposite side of the country from the Pacific Ocean, which is where our home in Venice was. In fact, we hadn’t seen this particular ocean since our time in Belize! I don’t even really remember back that far.

The roads out at the beach weren't great but a lot less bumpy that when we were in the mountains!

The roads out at the beach weren’t great but a lot less bumpy than when we were in the mountains!

Jason said he was expecting light blue water and reggae music. Well, we got the second one. We spent almost a week in the tiny beach town of Cahuita, and it rained every day. The water was all churned up; it looked mean and cold. Since swimming was basically out of the question (phew!), My Family was very happy to find Camping Maria, which was a really great place to visit. Maria (the owner of Camping Maria, of course!) was super nice to me and My Family. She had a dog named Mancha who was pretty sweet, too. She got on my nerves a little bit, but Maya absolutely loved her. I think they would have played all day together if they could. Maria brought My Family coffee every morning, gave us a comfy covered spot to hang out in, shared fruit from all the fruit trees on the property and told us super funny stories in a unique mix of Spanish and English. I hate rain even more than I hate swimming, but with such a nice hostess, a cool town to wander around and another dog to distract Maya from bugging me all the time, I was pretty much good to go.

Mancha from Camping Maria.  She's the second Mancha we've met on our trip.

Mancha from Camping Maria. She’s the second Mancha we’ve met on our trip.

Me, after running on the beach.  I really L O V E the beach.

Me, after running on the beach. I really L O V E the beach.

The puppy likes to chew things, even in her sleep!

The puppy likes to chew things, even in her sleep!

I wasn’t all that impressed when Victoria and Jason said it was time to leave. I was even less enthusiastic when I overheard their plan: to drive across the entire country in one day. Yep, brilliant idea. Wake up on the Caribbean Ocean, fall asleep on the Pacific, in a small town called Uvita. As I’m now a seasoned adventurer, I knew this would mean a very, very long day in the big truck, battling for Victoria’s lap supremacy with the puppy. I was in quite a mood as we drove away from the ocean and through some pretty bleak towns. We were on a boring stretch of highway when Victoria called out “There’s another truck camper!” Jason was still trying to locate them when Victoria said, “It’s Doris and Torsten!”. This perked me right up. I knew those people! I was standing on Victoria’s lap with two feet up on the dash while Jason drove us around the block, across the highway and into a Walmart parking lot. My Family hadn’t even stopped the truck yet and I was already scrambling for the door. It was true, it was Doris and Torsten!

Reunited and it feels so good!

Reunited and it feels so good!

We hadn’t seen Doris and Torsten since Mexico, which is way too long, because they are two of my absolute favorite humans. Torsten is especially my favorite. He’s so nice, and he loves hugs and kisses as much as Victoria and Jason do. Victoria had tried to get us all back together a couple of times, but we were always a day or two off from crossing paths. And now there we were, in a Walmart in Costa Rica? This adventurous life is pretty strange. Anyway, after standing around chatting and hugging as much as four people and two dogs reasonably can in a Walmart parking lot, My Family decided to scrap the coast to coast plan and join Doris and Torsten for a night up in the mountains.

We split up to run some errands, and then set off to meet them at a place called Mirador de Quetzales. It was sunny and warm when we started driving up this next mountain, but that changed in a hurry. Up ahead we could see what looked like a white wall approaching. We passed through it, and found ourselves in the middle of the thickest cloud I’ve ever seen. Jason could barely see the car in front of us, and nothing beyond that. The rains started, the air cooled and the road pointed almost straight up. We later found out this place was called Cerro de la Muerte, or ‘The Mountain of Death’. Yeah, not very encouraging.

View from Victoria's lap as we headed up The Mountain of Death.

View from Victoria’s lap as we headed up The Mountain of Death.

Slowly but surely we made our way through the cloud and found the Mirador. ‘Mirador’ means ‘Viewpoint’ in Spanish, but there wasn’t much to see when we got there. The clouds were there to stay. Thankfully, our friends weren’t far behind! Along with another camping couple, Heidi and Tomas (who we had met once before back in Antigua, Guatemala), we enjoyed a great night at the campsite. The jungle was thick here, and smelled amazing. I got to spend hours on Torsten’s lap, and everyone was laughing and having such a great time. I didn’t even mind that Maya was getting attention, too. This was the kind of night when there was more than enough love to go around.

Unfortunately, we only had the one night with our friends. Doris and Torsten were headed for Panama, where they are going to ship their camper down to South America. That’s a whole other continent! A continent is a bunch of countries put together, by the way. Torsten joked that I could go with them, and although another big adventure like that was tempting, I would miss My Family too much. Even Maya. She may be an annoying puppy, but she’s kind of growing on me. We saw our friends off, and then packed up to leave as well. We had to make the Pacific Ocean today. Apparently, something different was happening in Uvita. This wasn’t a stop like other stops we’d made, when the timing isn’t really all that important. I didn’t know what was different this time, but anticipation was in the air. Before I’d get any answers, we had to finish crossing Cerro de la Muerte. That meant another two hours of climbing through the foggy dampness before a 12,000 foot descent, to the ocean far below.

Driving through the clouds on our way down the mountain.  Scary.

Driving through the clouds on our way down the mountain. Scary.

PS: Some of the photos My Family took are on our Facebook page.

19
May 2014
POSTED BY Neli
POSTED IN

Costa Rica

DISCUSSION No Comments

Pura Vida! Costa Rica Pt. 1

Me and The Puppy, we were supposed to be resting.

Me and The Puppy, we were supposed to be resting.

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!

Monkeys in the trees above our campsite.  They aren't that into playing but they sure liked checking us out!

Monkeys in the trees above our campsite. They aren’t that into playing but they sure liked checking us out!

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.

Hiking isn't as much fun as running on the beach, but I'll take it!

Hiking isn’t as much fun as running on the beach, but I’ll take it!

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.

It's pretty dry in Costa Rica, which makes me itchy, but Victoria says 'rainy season' is coming.  Great.

It’s pretty dry in Costa Rica, which makes me itchy, but Victoria says ‘rainy season’ is coming. Great.

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.

Cows coming to visit our campsite.  They poop A LOT.

Cows coming to visit our campsite. They poop A LOT.

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.

I have to give Maya credit, she had learnt how to sit for treats super fast. Here we are waiting for our T-bonz.  Yumma!

I have to give Maya credit, she had learnt how to sit for treats super fast. Here we are waiting for our T-bonz. Yumma!

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.

These strange creatures were all over the place at the brewery.  They don't move a muscle, no matter how much you bark at them!

These strange creatures were all over the place at the brewery. They don’t move a muscle, no matter how much you bark at them!

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.

My first view of the lake from way up high, too far away for Victoria to force me to go swimming!

My first view of the lake from way up high, too far away for Victoria to force me to go swimming!

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.

Pretty sure this is the ugliest bird like, ever.

Pretty sure this is the ugliest bird like, ever.

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.

Arenal, the lake and the volcano.

Arenal, the lake and the volcano.

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!

Big old tree stump near our campsite.  Perfect for peeing on!

Big old tree stump near our campsite. Perfect for peeing on!

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!

Arenal has serious clouds. Glad we got out of there before the rains came!

Arenal has serious clouds. Glad we got out of there before the rains came!

PS: To see some of the photos that My Family took, check out Facebook.  They love monkeys, just sayin’…

30
Apr 2014
POSTED BY Neli
POSTED IN

Costa Rica

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