Other Pages of Interest

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Costa Rica: Christmas in Paradise

The amazing view from our living room
At some point during the year, Jon and I proposed a group vacation to a central spot for Christmas - virtually everyone was on board - and a trip to Costa Rica was born!  We chose a house in Manuel Antonio, an area widely regarded as the most beautiful town to visit, and booked through a company called Escape Villas.  This company was great in responding to all of our pre-vacation questions and offered a concierge service that booked all of our excursions - something that would have been complicated to do from afar.

Manuel Antonio is most certainly beautiful, what we didn't totally realize is how incredibly FAR it is from just about everything.  Once we all arrived to the San Juan airport, due to construction, traffic and time of day, we still had a solid 4 hour drive to get to the house.  We probably could have flown into Quepos, a small city much closer to Manuel Antonio, but these flights are (no doubt) expensive and on really small airplanes - something that we didn't even want to attempt.  All in all, it wasn't a bad drive, it was just really, really long after a really, really long night of travel for everyone.

The house we booked had plenty of space, a great pool, enough bedrooms that no one was forced to share, and had an amazing view of the ocean.  We were in the jungle (if there are beachfront homes in Manuel Antonio I didn't see them) and had a front row view to the great wildlife that goes with it.

Like these little guys:

Who started out as a novelty act, we baited them with bananas and I laughed at Jon who didn't want us to encourage the animals.  Then the got closer and closer, and started entering the living room:

Going down...
And the food-giving shenanigans were over. These Capuchin (or White-Faced) monkeys are extremely common in Costa Rica, and are especially bold in the areas where dopey tourists leave out bananas, food and other items for them to claim.  We were also told of their tendencies to steal cell phones, sunglasses and sunscreen bottles, so we tried to keep everything locked up.  Apparently these monkeys can also eat the babies of other monkey species, so our thoughts of them came full circle throughout the week; excited to see them, baiting to get them closer, hiding things from their view, concern that they are too close, ending with mild fear that they would try to eat Gretchen.  Nothing happened, except some difficult clean-up spots when they left us presents on the floor, but it was an emotional roller-coaster week with these monos.  No one liked the monkeys more than Gretchen. At one point she spotted a monkey inside the house on the roof rafters, pointed and said "Mono!" while we all laughed and told her that yes, there are monos in the trees...little did we know that he was inside the house, and the only one who noticed was the littlest person there.

Then there is this little monkey:

Gretchen was showered with nothing but gifts and attention all week, and she was LOVING it!  She enjoyed breakfasts with Gran:

Lunches with Papa: aka Papa Mas, which he was coined by Gretchen during the trip.  We were trying to figure out how to differentiate between Poppa and Papa (Gretchen's two grandpas), when low and behold Papa Mas was born. Leave it to our clever girl, she straightened us all out.

She was in video-watching heaven with... well, with everyone:
Playing Minnie with Poppa
Watching Sapo Pepe with Aunt Kyra
And she enjoyed lots of pool time with the entire family:

View of the pool from the family room

Gretchen wasn't the only one who was spoiled during the week.  We hired a chef for the week that prepared one meal each day, and we were lucky enough to be given Glenda, the nicest and most talented chef I have ever met in person.  She brought her daughters Kristal and Tiffani throughout the week to help her, and the entire family was a joy to be around.  She did amazing things with food, unripened bananas, plantains, chicken, shrimp, beans, pork, you name it - she can make it.  We all owe a big chunk of our happiness during the week to this fantastic lady and her magic food hands.

I will write more about the tours, excursions and other fun, adventurous things that we did over the trip, but the underlying factor to the entire vacation is that Jon and I are so lucky to have such adaptable families that are willing and able to spend holidays together, which means that we get to spend it with them both.  A treat that not many people get to enjoy, and we are so grateful to them.

1 comment:

  1. I've been waiting for the blog post about Christmas in Costa Rica! Hilarious about the monkeys and it sounds like everything was awesome. Looking forward to more pics and stories!