Padres: Part 1

31 12 2010

So far it has be a great holiday season.  We got out for Christmas break on the 17th and Vanessa and I spent the next couple of  days preparing for my parents to arrive.  We had a whole list of things to do from getting christmas lights to buying fresh flowers; we accomplished them all with plenty of time to spare and then sat.  Well, I sat, or rather laid, awake waiting for them to arrive early on the 22nd.

Flowers waiting for Mom and Dad

I was nervous to say the least, I did not know what my parents reaction to Costa Rica would be.  I mean, this is the place that we live and their opinion has always meant an incredible amount to me.  I guess, lucky for me, their reaction was positive as they attempted to comprehend their surroundings.  In the first couple of days I would look at either one and I would see their minds race as their 5 senses were being accosted by the unfamiliar surroundings.  I, on the other hand, was trying to internalize as much as a could because it is not often that I get to see my parents so vulnerable, in a good way.  In a very short amount of time it became apparent that I would not be able to take it all in; I was just going to have to sit back and enjoy my parents bumble around, feel awkward and eventually, by the end of the trip, gain confidence and categorize as much as a I could in my head.

Mom and Dad’s plane arrived at 6:30 in the morning and Vanessa and I were waiting for them with a little scribbled “Welcome to Costa Rica- Carol and Chico Gonzalez” sign.  After the embraces and moments of quick check-overs to make sure that, 1)they survived their international flight and 2)they were making sure that we still had all our limbs after living in this foreign land, we rented a car and made our way back to the house, along the way we pointed out countless things, that I am sure, they don’t remember.  After they unpacked and Mom wandered around the house inspecting every cabinet and drawer, corner and crack, everyone took a nap because that afternoon Imelda (V and I’s Spanish teacher) was coming over to give Mom a Costa Rican cooking class!  With bellies full we called it an early night.

Empanada's in the making

The finished product

Time for a taste

Dinner time!

We woke up early the next day to head to Poas, a volcano about an hour or so away from our house.  Vanessa and I had been there once before (Poas Post) and thought that my parents would enjoy seeing it.  As we drove through the city and out into the country hills Mom enjoyed seeing the things that make Costa Rica so unique and enjoyable on a daily basis, like a cows…on the side of the road, or crossing so you can no longer drive.  The volcano was great the clouds stayed at bay, so the crater was viewable.  We also took a small side journey to see La Paz waterfall, which was worth it.  As the day wound down we started to shift our focus toward our trip to Manuel Antonio, which we would leave for in the morning.

Mom and Dad at Poas

Dad checking it out...hoping it wouldn't didn't

Mom Eating a Leaf- she wanted to be like me

Candid... enjoying the moment

This is what they do so they don't have to mow

La Paz

Our trip to Manuel Antinio was so overwhelming in so many amazing ways that it will have to be a separate post… here is a taste:

breathtaking sunset




22 12 2010

“My happiness is not the means to any end. It is the end. It is its own goal. It is its own purpose.”
Ayn Rand

There is something so wonderful in seeing Miguel climb.  We have often joked at how restless he gets when he isn’t climbing.  There was one year, we often refer to it as “the year when Miguel wasn’t climbing”, he was unhappy to say the least.  I felt as though I was watching him fill a hole climbing had left with any and every hobby he could think of.  I had to limit him to two hobbies a year because he was getting out of control.  A few hobbies I can remember him trying were: flying kites, harmonica, photography, mountain biking, road biking, and backpacking.  Clearly some hobbies were cooler and admittedly way more expensive than others!  When he started climbing again, all of those hobbies fell away and he was at peace again.

I am so happy that he is climbing now.  Weird hobbies aside, I think it’s amazing to see him dedicate himself and really stick with what he loves.  He goes to the climbing gym 2 times a week.  The gym is in San Jose and Miguel has to walk to the bus stop, ride the bus into town, walk to the gym and then do all of that on his return trip.  There’s also the language barrier.  Not many people speak English at the gym. But, with work, Miguel is slowly being accepted by all of the nice Tico’s at the climbing gym.

We have also taken a couple trips to a local climbing spot with a friend from work.  The place is called Cachi, and it’s only one wall of sport climbing, but it’s perfect to satisfy the urge to climb outside.  Also, when everything is dry, I think Miguel will take a trip up to Pico Blanco and check out some reported boulders.  Things are in the works… And I’m happy that we have options here.  I love climbing, but I’m not empty with out it.  Miguel on the other hand, needs it, and I’m thankful he doesn’t have to go without.

Left side of the wall at Cachi

Right side of the wall at Cachi

Route name and grade... The hardest one is called "Ojo del Tigre"

Recently there was a climbing competition at La Sabana (which is a big park in San Jose).  They erected a climbing wall in the middle of the park and had people all over from Central America come.  Miguel signed up and worked hard to get ready for it.  Competition was stiff, and Miguel did well.  I took a bunch of pictures of the comp and of La Sabana.  Next year look to see both of us competing.  🙂


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Hodgepodge Post containing a 5 picture glimpse of our town

18 12 2010

As it always seems to happen around this time of year things have been busy for us and that is my only excuse for the absence in posts.

Vanessa and I have officially finished the first semester of teaching here in Costa Rica.  The time has passed in a blink, not only with work but with everything.  I can’t believe that I have taken a semester of Spanish classes, or learned as many idiosyncrasies of Escazu as I have, or been fortunate enough to have the many of the experiences I have all packed into such a short period of time.  I also can’t believe that I have only gone surfing 4 times, I had big plans to become a professional surfer while down here.

Anyway, I am anxiously awaiting Wednesday, because my Mom and Dad arrive to spend Christmas with us!  I am sure there will be a full blog report on that trip so I will leave those details for another time.

Other things going on in our lives right now… I am competing in a climbing competition today.  If you have followed the blog for a while, you know that climbing is a big part of my life and every now and again I will be talked into competing.

Vanessa and I also had been trying to figure out what we were going to do after my parents visit because we still have over 2 weeks after they depart until we return to work.  After talking ourselves in circles and as usual waiting until the last minute we bought plane tickets to Panama City for January 4th.  We have a loose plan of what our 10 day trip down there will be like but we do know that we will be staying at this unique hostel:

We have been so busy lately that we have not been taking as many pictures as we should so I am going to post a couple that I took from around Escazu.  Here is  a little taste of our town…

cross at the graveyard


outside a house

not a word was spoken between them


these guys have a tough life

side streets

San Miguel Church-center of town

My apologies for such a hodgepodge post but now that we can relax again after our second quarter cycle there will be more quality posts to follow…to be followed by poor posts…and again by better ones…

A Costa Rican Thanksgiving

4 12 2010

pretty sun rays

Over the last couple of months Vanessa and I were embattled with the decision about what to do over Thanksgiving.  All of our friends around here seemed to be going their own ways and we could either tag along with them or do our own thing.  We procrastinated the decision long enough to make it easy on ourselves and ended up having to come up with our own plan.  The plan only came together on Tuesday of Thanksgiving week…we decided to head to Montezuma, a small town on the Nicoya Peninsula.  On the map it is to the left of San Jose (which is in the middle).

It is to the left of San Jose on the map

The adventure began Thursday morning when we caught the bus in San Jose, we arrived at the bus station around 5:30 and found ourselves at the back of the line.  This meant that when we got on, Vanessa got the last seat…I had to stand…lame.  The trip was broken into 3rds, the first part was a two hour trip to the coast, the second was a ferry ride to the peninsula and finally back on the bus for the final hour ride to Montezuma.  In total the trip would take about 5 and a half hours.  Lucky I only had to stand for 2!

Ferry ride

Upon arrival we found our hotel, El Sano Banano, right in the heart of the small town .  It was cool, the town has a lot of life to it and it was fun to be in the middle of it all.  Our room was pleasant enough and we quickly made plans for next couple of days.

The Hotel we stayed at

Swan on our bed

Friday involved Vanessa and I attempting to hike to a waterfall and stopping because it was raining.  When it cleared I decided to head back by myself and was pleased when I was able to swim in the lagoon of an 80 ft waterfall all by myself.  After a bit, I hiked a little farther up to two other waterfalls and played around in those for a while before meeting back up with Vanessa to go surfing and boogie boarding for the afternoon.  While surfing Vanessa experienced her favorite part of the trip…  we were both about chest deep in the ocean looking out at the incoming waves when from the top of a cresting wave jumps a HUGE sting ray.  It jumped out of the water a good couple of feet and then splashed back in!  It is hard to describe how cool it looked and how surprised we were to see it.  Vanessa just started yelling random words she was so excited!

V on the nice section of beach

As the sun worked its way down behind the palm trees we walked back on along the tragically dirty beach and had a fantastic dinner at the restaurant below our room.  Although the streets were packed with people and drums were thumping in the streets we called it an early night because we had scheduled a snorkeling trip for the following day.

Snorkeling was a bit disappointing as we were with a huge group of people and it seemed that no matter where you swam, you ran into someone.  However, we did see some cool tropical fish and I got to see an eel.  We had lunch on a nice little island (Isle de Tortuga).  What really made the trip worth it was when we headed back from the island to the main land our boat became surrounded by bottle nose dolphins!  At first there was only one and everyone was excited to see it jumping out of the water but soon it seemed that no matter where you looked there they were!  It was amazing for Vanessa and I, since neither of us had ever seen such a thing!  As the dolphins became distracted and swam to another boat the guide of our trip quickly pointed out to sea and there were a couple Pilot Whales coming to the surface for air!

Isle de Tortuga...well, close to it the actual island is in the background

the ONLY shot I was able to get of the whales...the rest are just blank water shots

The marine life sightings really capped of a great trip for Vanessa and I.  We both really missed everyone over the weekend but spending Thanksgiving surrounded by whales, sting rays and dolphins is the next best thing to family and friends…



waves coming in

For Dad!


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