rowanf: (fox ranger)

Hotel Domus Kahuna
Originally uploaded by rowanf.
So I said farewell to Samara and tried to find the road to Carillo and the wild animal park. After driving around for about 45 minutes of back and forthing I gave up. So no nice close-up pix of tropical animals. I got to Nicoya and could not find the road to Santa Cruz, or really how to get out of Nicoya. The second local I asked turned out to live in Santa Cruz and to be on his way to the bus station to head home. So this elderly gentleman, Fernando Cortez, hopped in the car and directed me to Santa Cruz. Otherwise I would be stuck in Nicoya forever. After I dropped him off, I was once again at the mercy of the nonexistent road signs. The car place had told me to go on to Belen and approach Tamarindo from the north. This was probably a fine idea. Except I couldn't figure out how to get to Belen. And I saw a turnoff to Tamarindo and even knowing I shouldn't probably take it without a 4x4, off I went. The first half was the best paved road I have been on in Costa Rica...then I got to the unpaved part. It was bad. Like driving on a giant's washboard. But I picked up a young woman hitch hiking to work in Tamarindo so at least I was useful to someone. She hadn't heard of my hotel. I dropped her off at the Copacabana beach restaurant and drove through town. No sign of my hotel.

I stopped at a parking area by the beach win lots of souvenir shops. And a restaurant where I had an amazing lunch. It was kind of like a pizza with the "crust" being fried plaintain topped with cheese and shredded meat. I plan to eat there every day. LOL A couple of the shopkeepers got involved in trying to find my hotel. But even with directions I drove around for another half hour before coming back. The nice person who had helped before let me call the on her phone and the guy drove over and led me to the hotel. Which was only like two blocks away but on a side street I had missed. Which brings me to the streets of Tamarindo. Everyone has sneered about how built up Tamarindo is. For some reason that had me envisioning paved streets. Evidently resort hotels and beachside condos do not imply paving. And it is Costa Rica, so of course no street signs or names. Samara had two blocks of paving. I am not sure this much bigger town has much more.

Anyway, I checked in, dropped off my car and wandered through a dozen or so shops and generally wandered. I had dinner at Copacabana since it looked nice. I finally got a green curry of seafood and zucchini. My hotel does not have great wifi. It comes and goes and isn't very strong my room. I got a bunch of mosquito bites sitting on the steps by the office trying to upload pix before giving up. Bah humbug. Unpaved streets is one thing...give me Internet!

Oh and prob still no snorkeling, they are having a red tide.
rowanf: (dragon heart)

Gaudy tree frog
Originally uploaded by rowanf.
Last day in Samara. This morning I checked at the tour place; no snorkeling. So I am back and googled frogs to find more pictures to work from. I found some great snaps and drew my gaudy tree frog. I like how it came out. I haven't seen one, but they are an icon of Costa Rica today (along with parrots and sloths and turtles).

The I went for a walk on the beach and went to my last lunch at the soda where I have been eating lunch most days. I decided to try the whole fish instead of my usual filet. Yep, whole fish, head and all. I sat looking at the beach from my shady restaurant table and missing it in anticipation. Then I walked around town, saying goodbye to things. But not people. Other than the folks at Il Vino I haven't learnt any names. That is kind of sad too.

Then I came back and read more _Corridors of Death_ by Ruth Dudley Edwards. Murder amongst the ministers of the British government. The sort of thing one would see on mystery.

And I packed up. However did I get everything in one suitcase! Oh well, I won't have to final pack for a few days. And I seem to have lost my friendship bracelet. I am kinda sorry about that despite its lameness. In another hour or so I will go have my final meal at Il Vino and say goodbye to folks there.

Tomorrow at 9am I pick up my car. I plan to head over to an animal roadside attraction in Carillo, the next surfing beach south of here. I want a chance to see some animals (and I don't feel up to hikes and zip lines). Then back to Samara and inland to work my way to Tamarindo. There isn't a real coast road which is kind of sad. With a 4x4 and a willingness to ford rivers going up the coast might be possible... not in a Yaris.

Oh another topic all together I am "out" as myself on Facebook. I was googling myself to see what a prospective employer would see and (a) I am a pretty transparently public weirdo and (b) librarians are supposed to be tech aware and not being on FB might well be a strike against me. So Rosmairta's Kilara is now also Rowan Fairgrove.

Edit: Wow,way to reinforce a melancholy mood. Il Vino is closing in 10 days. They were supposed to be moving down by the soccer field. But the guy with whom Christiano had a handshake agreement about the new place reneged today. Everyone is totally freaked out. This storefront is gone and now everyone who works at Il Vino is looking at an uncertain future. I cry for them.
rowanf: (fox artist)

Originally uploaded by rowanf.
Amazingly lazy day. Finished my ox cart wheel picture, though it doesn't look much like one and I rediscovered what a pain geometric designs are to paint. I also discovered that the Flickr app ignores any edits you do on the iPhone. So it is annoyingly uncropped. But I am too lazy to fuss with it.

I spent some time trying to draw a frog without success. So I finished reading _A Good and Useful Hurt_ by Aric Davis. It is a murder mystery set in a tattoo parlour with a bit of magic throw in. I liked it for the quirky characters but I often don't read modern mysteries because I really don't want to read about serial killers. This was over my 'mind of a killer' limit. But if that sort of thing doesn't bother you, it is a bit of fun.

I am reaching that stage of a vacation where the lure of my own bed, familiar food and my loved ones is overwhelming the joys of being away. Although I admit that the forecast of cold and rain at home for this weekend does not appeal! But I really want my own food, esp. greens. And I want it at the hours I want to eat. It is about 5pm and I plan to walk down the beach in an hour or so in search of the BBQ place, El Legarto whose YouTube video I was drooling over ages ago. They are evidently on the other side of the inlet so if the tide is very high it is quite a hike out to the bridge. Adventures.

Edit: found them, this side of the inlet but they hadn't turned their lights on yet so I walked on down to the end of the beach and came back as the lights came on. They were fine but Il Vino is better and across the street. But hey, I went there and fulfilled a wanna.

rowanf: (fox artist)

Flame ginger postcard
Originally uploaded by rowanf.
Yesterday I spent most of the morning painting the flame ginger bush outside my room. The I wandered over to the school supply place and bought orange paint for my ox cart wheel painting. (why does the spell checker keep wanting to turn ox to oz? Grumble)

I got to class and realized that when doing my homwork last night I had missed the culminating essay worth 30% of my final. So I was a bit distracted thinking about that. Also I think I was just kind of hitting a wall with studying. But we got thru the afternoon, I wrote my essay at break and I graduated from my week of classes.

At the graduation I fell chatting with an older fellow I had noticed. Turns out he is a travel writer who mostly concentrates on tennis vacations. He had won a week at Intercultura and was going to be in CR to review the courts at Hilton's Four Seasons so he took a class. We went to Il Vino for dinner and had a nice chat. Also fresh langoustino had arrived and I splurged. Yum!

No snorkeling this morning. Bah. Not sure what I want to do. Paint, I guess.

Note to self Villas Kalimbas if you come back to Samara with a friend.
rowanf: (fox ranger)

Originally uploaded by rowanf.
Yesterday was Juan Santamaria Day, so much of the town was closed. Even the restaurants on the beach. Next time I come I want self-catering!

But school went on, they are taking Friday off instead to give folks a 3 day holiday. My class went on much as before. One of the topics we discussed was music, which really showed my age (and/or lack of pop culture impulse anyway). The teacher and the Quebec guy both recommended a Calle 13 video on YouTube. I really loved the tight cuts and animation and imagery of Latin America.

So today will be my last day of classes. I am trying to get a snorkeling tour for Fri or Sat. But it is a minimum of two, so I have to wait to see if someone else signs up. I need a buddy.

Still not sleeping well. I had a nightmare that a friend somehow did something to the back of my hair that buzzed it off. I was going to have to get one of those short middle aged cuts that I abhor. Nooooo. I wonder what my subconscious was up to with that?

Okay, enough chatter. Think I will walk on the beach before breakfast.
rowanf: (balloon fiesta)

Playa Samara sunset
Originally uploaded by rowanf.
Yesterday was my first day at the Samara Language School aka Intercultura. I had to be here at 7:15am, long before there was food served anywhere. Most students stay with host families who feed them breakfast, so we few hotel dwellers do not have much thought given to our needs. I am about out of almonds, but I had almonds and an Atkins bar for breakfast. There are peanuts of every flavour available here but hardly anything else (I saw pistachios in Arenal but none here in Samara).

My fellow classmates are a German woman from Munich named Maeren and a Québécois fellow named Fred. Maeren speaks German, French and English. Fred has Fench and some English. We are not totally poorly matched but I feel a bit slow. I do fine when I can write things down to say and the grammar stuff is fine. But speaking makes me feel like the next word just won't come. And in general Costa Rica isn't great for total immersion because most people,at least that one runs into in the tourist industry, speak English.

I went back to the hotel after my morning classes and took a siesta. All that brain strain wore me out. I had a lovely meal at Il Vino and then headed back to school for a cooking class. We made potato and beans empanadas with lots of cilantro. You can see why I ate first! They fry their empanadas here, when I learnt to make them in Panama they were baked with a shorter crust than they use here.

The wifi was down for about an hour last night at my hotel but has been down for about 24 hours here at the school. The students staying with host families are getting restless about it. Funny how we are here in paradise but we want our connections. I know I bloody well do.

I spent some time this morning looking at hotels in Tamarindo. I want to see a more "Westerized" Costa Rica beach town for contrast. And I looked for tours this weekend. I do want a snorkel trip, probably Saturday. And I need to decide if I want to rent a car for my last three days or just take Interbus up to Tamarindo. Renting a car is crazy expensive though.

My afternoon class went pretty well. I am actually kind of I the middle. Maeren is still at the head of the class but Fred didn't do his homework and was really fighting with the irregular verbs. It is intense but I really like their teaching method. I wish I was here for more than one week.

After class I went to the artisanal activity which turned out to be making friendship bracelets (or so I think of them). The young German women who made up most of the class were obviously practiced at this art. I remember making reins with the weave I used when I was a kid. So I have a remarkably ugly blue and gold bracelet on my arm (I could not keep which side I did last in my head from moment to moment so it is crazy uneven). It was fun. Tomorrow salsa dancing for me though.

Now I am sitting in Il Vino again awaiting tonight's dinner. Beef tenderloin in a red Italian wine sauce with veg. This place I can stay on my diet best. My worst diet day was Easter Sunday when nothing was open but the pizzeria and I ate the topping off a ham & cheese pizza and threw the rest away. Burnt my mouth on that, I think. Either that or I have some horrible dietary deficiency that is making my teeth feel loose. I prefer the pizza explanation.

Dinner was amazing. I forgot to take its picture though. It was kinda dark and I got distracted by not recognizing half the vegetables. Settling down to do homework and the off to bed. Class at 8am tomorrow.
rowanf: (Foxy book lady)

Ox cart
Originally uploaded by rowanf.
I have had a lazy couple of days. Finished a couple of Vicky Delaney mysteries, read some 2011 short stories, walked on the beach, wandered in and out it souvenir shops and sat under trees by the pool enjoying the lovely weather. Oh, if you are a scifi fan, do look up "A Vector Alphabet of Interstellar Travel" by Yoon Ha Lee on Really delightful.

Tonight I headed over to the Samara Language School for a 6pm tour but found it cancelled due to rain. And they had just had a huge influx of young Germans they needed to get to their host families. I took a dramatic rainy beach picture but my Flickr app hasn't been uploading for the last 24 hours or so, so who knows when it (and other recent snaps) will show up online. So nothing new to which to link. *grumble*

So at 7:15am I shall show up and be tested and know my schedule for the week. I hope those who celebrate it had a lovely Easter.
rowanf: (fox ranger)

Samara beach
Originally uploaded by rowanf.
I am back in contact despite my fears. I set out from Fortuna and drove around the lake. Dang, that is a big lake. The road was varied and there a lot of wash outs and one lane bridges. I stopped to take a couple of snaps but there were soooo many vistas it could have been a project in itself. I stopped in Tilaran and had lunch (yes, it took over 2 hours just to circumnavigate the lake!).

Nicoya was totally closed and shuttered for Easter so I drove on down to Samara to see if I could find a vacancy and the room I am moving into Sunday was free... So I am set for the next nine days. The drive took about six hours but was waaaaay less bouncy as the driver. And the countryside was lovely.

When I hit Samara I had such a sense of hitting a slice of paradise. This town is like a stereotype of a happening beach town. Crowded, loud music, amazing blue skies, palm trees,etc. I rested and the wandered down to the beach. Lots of families were enjoying the afternoon at the beach. I wandered a bit and then had dinner. Still no alcohol, of course. Evidently maundy thurs through Easter is dry here. Not sure how I got that awesome Irish coffee on Thursday afternoon. My dinner restaurant told me about the no alcohol thing, so maybe it started at evening. I had steak in garlic and spinach sauce, but forgot to take a picture. They have really good beef here and default seems to be thick and rare. Actually I haven't had a bad meal here other than really small breakfasts because I don't eat rice, beans or bread. I need to find another way to supplement breakfasts when my almonds run out.

So after locking my sliding door on my hotel room last night, I realized the only towels were on a chair right outside... But I could not get the door to unlock. Really. I tried off and on for hours. If there was a fire I was wondering if I could break the glass with a desk chair. So this morning I made up a sign that said "Ayudame Por Favor. No puede abrir me puerta!" Some folks came by and had me hand out the keys by separating the middle of the sliding doors and opened the lock from the other side. I do not think I will be locking myself in!

I had coffee and a bit of egg and a slice of pineapple for breakfast and then went down and walked on the beach. The tide was going out and I couldn't decide whether to walk in the surf line or much higher up the beach at the high tide line where the shells and wrack were deposited. Since the shells and corals were mostly very fragmented and white I went for surf. The cool water on my feet and the warm sun on my back was perfect. I am loving the Croc wedges that I bought.

The I found a mini market and bought some shampoo and checked in vain for snacks I can eat. So far I have managed to keep the carbs down, though I have been eating fruit. I did not succumb to the dulce de leche cheesecake at the coffee shop the other day though I debated it with myself long and hard. lol

Tomorrow afternoon is orientation for my classes which start Monday. I am looking forward to having a bit of structure in my life.
rowanf: (fox ranger)

Rafting on Penas Biancas river
Originally uploaded by rowanf.
I really like being right across from the central park in La Fortuna rather than out in some resort... Except at 4am when the first delivery of the day comes to the super mercado next door. I am not genetically disposed to sleep in anyway but 4am is extreme.

Today after breakfast I stopped in to see if the night clerk had succeeded in booking me a raft tour. He had booked me with Canoas Adventure Tours and they would be here in 15 minutes. Eeeeeeeeep! I headed up and changed clothes and was ready to go with sunscreen, cutters and camera in hand. The van then picked up a family of nine German tourists and they drove to a launch site to go rafting on Penas Biancas river. Our guides were fun, Rudy, who was in my raft, went to two years of college to be a tour guide. They study all kinds of things about being a guide, plus English. They told us many facts about the history of the area and about the animals we saw -- emerald basilisk, iguana, howler monkey, crocodile, snakes and a variety of birds. I took lots of fuzzy pictures of lumps in trees or on distant sandbanks. It was fun but very hard on my back. So it felt slightly too long.

I got back, uploaded my pictures and headed off to the chocolateria, only to find they had run out of anything over 70%. So no chocolate for me. I wandered the tourist shops and bought a really good cup of coffee. I had lunch at a place called something like "Real Good Eats" which claimed Texas food. It probably had too much sugar in the sauce but I did enjoy the BBQ brisket with cole slaw and tomato.

Headed back to the hotel to find the Internet down. I read for awhile and then went across the street and had a wonderful Irish coffee and used their free wifi for awhile. Then to dinner and now sitting on the edge of our balcony stealing coffeeshop wifi. But after I post this I am going to sleep. Deliveries come early.
rowanf: (fox ranger)

Originally uploaded by rowanf.
Yesterday after breakfast I asked about hot springs. Hearing about the four choices from the expensive Tabacon and The Springs ($75 entry fee) to Baldi ($45 all day with one meal) or Ecotermales ($34 for 4 hours). I knew it was between the last two. Baldi has 21 pools and is very popular. The desk clerk said Ecotermales is small and quiet (6-7 pools). That sounded great to me, so I booked for the the 10-1 session there. I think I was the only non-Tico there. It was a series of pools and waterfalls set in the jungle with deck chairs for lounging alongside. I alternated between soaking, walking down trails thru the woods and lounging reading a mystery on my iphone. Very decadent.

I got back and uploaded my pictures and decided to check out the chocolateria I had seen from the taxi. Headed there I realizes I had found the "really good" restaurant the desk clerk had tried to send me to the night before. So I decided to have lunch. I keep forgetting that the pace of being served food here is really slow. Or maybe ther are some cultural signals I am missing. But I find the long pauses between courses and the general length of the exercise frustrating. I ordered a Caesar salad because it was the first place I had been that offered a simple salad. But the waiter evidently heard seafood salad as he brought me a giant plate of mariscos. It looked amazing and I was starving by then so I ate it. The seafood I have eaten so far has been amazing. But an hour later my main course still hadn't come. And really I was full from the mariscos. I had a Skype call at 3pm with David, so I flagged down the waiter and asked for my bill and to have it as take-away. I never did make it to the chocolate shop.

After my call, I tried to figure out what to do next. My last night here is Thursday and I don't need to be in Samara until Sunday. But it is Easter weekend. Perhaps not the best time to look for a hotel near the beach. I thought I might go to Nicoya, an inland town, but the hotel situation seems fairly limited. So I decided to rent a car on Friday. I am not looking forward to driving but with no destination it seems most flexible. I may be without wifi for a few days. I ended up walking to each of the local car renters as neither were answering their phones. One had an open sign and a locked door; the other was open. Thus Alamo is renting me a car. I wandered in and out of souvenir shops on my return to the hotel. The painted oz carts of my youth are not a big motif these days, it is all tropical animals and painted masks. A lot of the motifs look generic tropical and some look like rip-offs of Hawaii tourism. I didn't really want to buy anything, but it was depressing.

I ate my now cold but quite tasty crab stuffed snook, skyped with Kurt and Russell and went to bed at a reasonable hour. Which is good as the first deliveries at the super mercado next door are between 4 and 4:30 and that is close enough to morning that it wakes me. So I did my daily reading and played words and gardens until breakfast at 7. I am going to need a siesta, I think.
rowanf: (fox ranger)

Originally uploaded by rowanf.
Note from yesterday (handwritten in my notebook):

Still moving a bit slowly in the morning but I could eat. Didn't carry my phone, so no pix. I went back to the cache and lest swag. I really need to remember to check that it logged properly. Packing did not turn up my missing money. I am so scattered I totally don't blame anyone but myself.

The Interbus shuttle came to pick me up about 2:40pm and off we went to Arenal. Two ladies fom Michigan, Jenny and Sue had been at Villa Solas down the beach. They did way more activities than I did. We picked up a couple from LA, Rachael and Max, in Liberia. So we were five plus the driver, Edgardo. The roads are two lane and paved but in very bad repair. People swing around and pass like crazy,going around multiple cars sometimes. Edgardo followed too close for my tastes but that seems normal here. Eeeep! And th it started to rain. So here we are on bad mountain roads (with washouts from last year still visible because they got excess rain last year) crossing creeks in the road. At first I thought the bus had no springs, but we eventually got to smoother sections of road and it easn't as bad. But sitting in the back seat it was so bouncy that my pedometer thinks I walked over 7.5 miles and climbed 326 steps. Very bouncy and my body is rather sore.

Finally, in the dark (no daylight savings here) and rain we dropped the ladies off at a lovely resort and then the LA couple at a rather rundown place on a back street. So my hostel in a shopping arcade next to the taco joint at least seemed better than that. A definite change in class from hotel la Finisterra though. And no volcano viewing in the rain.

I checked in and asked about restaurants and was directed to Lava Rocks Cafe a few blocks away where I had a lovely sea bass and vegetables. I am having trouble getting used to the exchange rate... So many zeros. It would be easy to scam the unwary or inattentive I think.

But there is wifi and I chatted with Kurt and David and skyped with Russell. Still feeling very connected.
rowanf: (cigana rainha)

Precolumbian postcard
Originally uploaded by rowanf.
My card for today is the six of wands. In my usual decks the six of wands is triumph and acclaim, the main figure on horseback surrounded by a crowd. In this deck it is a solitary figure calmly raising a laurel wreath. It makes it feel much more an internal triumph than one of recognition by the world.

It asks me to feel good about what I have accomplished. And I do. I was a very good searcher. But, to some degree, intermediated searching is going the way of buggy whip making. I might be able to continue in a niche market like a low firm (nooooooooooo!) but I also have to acknowledge that my triumph has come and gone.

The question is how to move forward. What of my knowledge and skills have broader use? What do I want to do? Do I want a day job that leaves me mostly free to pursue my own interests? Or a vocational job that makes me feel like I am making a difference but eats my life? Part of me wants the latter. And yet I value my on interests and my other obligations and calls on my time.


So I slept all day yesterday after the dashes to the bathroom subsided. I had a fever I think. I am better this morning. The bath gel here smells like a banana smoothie. It is a very strange smell to get occasional whiffs of myself. This afternoon I take a bus up to the Arenal volcano park area. My hotel is supposed to have wifi, so I hope to still be connected. I am not sure what I am going to do this morning. Eat breakfast and see how that goes. Hit the cache again and leave the geocaching lanyard I meant to leave in it probably. Pack up and hope my money pouch shows up. Sit out by the pool and enjoy the sun. Maybe take a nap. I have already slept the day and night around but I am still tired.

The Fool

Apr. 2nd, 2012 08:43 am
rowanf: (Millie enlightened)

Originally uploaded by rowanf.
Today's card is The Fool. I like the picture a lot. The Fool has a fox with her rather than a dog. beginnings; trusting yourself and the universe as you set out on a new Path. That is a bit of a hard one for me right now. I feel a bit washed up. Unprepared for new Work.

The Fool encourages spontaneity and letting go of expectations. Gah. My friends know I am not spontaneous!

Eh, I have turista this morning, hard to muse about the future with stomach cramps and frequent dashes to the bathroom.
rowanf: (balloon fiesta)

Playa Hermosa boat
Originally uploaded by rowanf.
I brought with me the Shadowscapes tarot by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law. Today I drew my first card -- the seven of pentacles. How appropriate, rest after labour. In this deck the fruit looks like a strange tropical breadfruit. So, it is time to pause and access my Path. Knew that. The seven is not a card of endings, one stops to consider work well done in the knowledge that there is further work and learning ahead.

This morning I discovered that I have mislaid/lost my money pouch. All my cash ($350-400, probably, in dollars and colonnes. $50 in George's singles for tips.) I have my credit cards and visited an ATM for more Colonnes, but argh. I paid for my bar tab from it last night. I suppose I could have left it on e bar though the hotel staff haven't seen it.

So I got a taxi to the ATM and then he dropped me down at the beach. The crocs are perfect shoes for walking in the surf. I spent about a hour wandering and then sat at a picnic table in the shade and read _Santa Olivia_. I was approached by several tour operators asking me if I wanted to rent a boat. One named Adolfo was quite personable and if (a) I hadn't just lost all my money and (b) if I had been wearing a bathing suit I would have been very tempted to take a snorkeling trip. The water is very inviting.

So it is about 10am and they day is getting muy caliente. I am feeling a little headachy, so I may nap for awhile.
rowanf: (balloon fiesta)

Hotel la Finisterra
Originally uploaded by rowanf.
I had a nice visit with Paul and family in Dallas last night (including my great niece Abigail).

The flight to Costa Rica was uneventful. My seat mates and several other folks were on their way to a destination wedding so the energy was cheerful.

My taxi was there with a sign at the Airport. I have always wanted to be someone who had their name on a sign like that. LOL simple pleasures.

It is about 92F and I am going to put on my suit and go visit the pool. Pura Vida!
rowanf: (rowan silk wings)
Not being geeky today (yet), just capturing some links I sent to a friend.

Nicoya Peninsula

Playa Samara

The Spanish school I'm considering there

A restaurant I can't wait to try
watch them cook on youtube

And just in general things to visit around CR

Okay, I could link on forever -- Arenal volcano, other parks. Lots of YouTube videos. I'll stop now.

May 2015



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