To get you in the right mindset, below is a picture of one of the standard scenic sunsets.
For the 1st week of our trip, we overlapped with Julia's brother, Mike, and his wife Ashley, on their honeymoon. They appreciated the company at happy hour and on the various tours we did through Osman and Angie's travel company Tranquilo Tours and Travel.
Tour #1: A full day that included a stop at Catarina for the view and shopping, a canopy tour in the foothills of Mombacho Volcano, and finished off with lunch and swimming at Laguna de Apoyo.
Tour #2: Exploring the Flor de Caña factory and a history walk around León. We drank some really good rum and learned some interesting things about the history of the area.
Tour #3: Another full day that included a mandarin orange farm, cigar factory, boat around the islands outside of Granada, tour of Fortaleza El Coyotepe, and then viewing the lava of Masaya Volcano at night. Some things we have done a few times before but we still managed to find new experiences. We stopped at a roadside stand to buy some oranges and Osman wasn't impressed with the display, the guy told us we could pick our own straight from the trees in their backyard if we wanted. So we walked around their large farm filled with fruit trees of multiple types and found the good stuff. At the cigar factory, Julia's brother Mike got to roll his own cigar. On the boat tour, we saw some Capuchin monkeys that we hadn't seen before, and learned more since Osman was our guide. Then toured an old fort/prison up on a hill called Fortaleza El Coyotepe and learned about it's dark past. Finally, when the sun set, we waited in line to see the lava of Volcano Masaya at night, it was very impressive.
That first week went fairly quickly, and we soon settled into a routine. We visited the resort pool, we played with the kids, and often did both at the same time. I played a lot of golf thanks to an unlimited pass for the month. I proudly played 234 holes, or 26 rounds of 9. It was kind of my dream month. The lone break from our schedule was a big party for Kaiden's 5th birthday. The pictures below should tell the whole story.
Here are some other pictures of the kids and activities we did with them.
|(We messed around some toy lights and my camera settings, handwriting credit to Julia)|
Alright, that is enough about the nephews. We were lucky this trip to have 2 visitors during the month of February. First off was Julia's former coworker and now good friend, Kelsea, from Juneau Alaska. She was seeking some sunshine and the timing worked out perfectly since my brother Peter was to arrive a few days after her.
Here is a quick description of how the busy but awesome 10 days went down:
- Picked Kelsea up from the airport, hopped a chicken bus up to León, did the usual things (cathedral rooftop, checking out the churches, outdoor grills for dinner, strolling the central park, perusing the market), bused down to Granada, again did the usual things (boat tour of the islettas, climbing up the La Merced bell tower, exploring the central park, visited the cemetery, meandering through the market).
- After Granada, it was to the airport to pickup Peter, all of us back to the Gran Pacifica resort where we did the usual things (played golf, happy hour drinks, swimming in the ocean, dinner at Burrito Bandidos), tried some new adventures with breakfast and sweat lodge at the hostel Mind The Gap (where 3 times we sat in a small hut with steaming rocks for 10 min before running into the ocean to cool off), did a day-tour with Osman (Volcano Masaya, Catarina, Laguna de Apoyo).
- We left the resort and said goodbye to Kelsea, hopped a chicken bus up to León with Peter, did the usual things (see above), bused down to Granada, repeated the usual activities (see above but with a few exceptions), early morning taxi to airport where we said goodbye to Peter and caught a ride back to the resort with Osman.
With that, the tour guide portion of our trip ended. Below are a few pictures.
|(León Cathedral rooftop)|
|(Sweat lodge hut at Mind The Gap, man on the left is preparing the very hot stones)|
The day after Peter left, Julia's parents arrived for their regular 6 week visit. We moved into an apartment that one of the property owners built behind his house for our final 4 nights at the resort. Golf was played and drinks were had by the pool.
Aside from the regular stuff you have all heard about, we were lucky to be able to witness first hand the turtle release program that Angie and Osman have been a part of. To protect the turtle population from poachers, they have locals who monitor the beaches and alert Osman when they see a turtle coming ashore to lay her eggs. The eggs are then collected and buried under the sand in an enclosure, and roughly 45 days later, they begin to hatch. All of the babies are then released at sunset into the ocean to protect them from predators.
During our first few days here, we got to watch a mother lay her eggs at night and it really was a phenomenal sight.
We then saw the last step in the process a few days before we left, when one of the previous nests began to hatch and over 100 tiny turtles were released into the ocean.
|(In Liberia, looking or a hostel during a parade)|
Our flight back to the States left out of Liberia, Costa Rica, so our final few nights of the trip were spent lounging on beaches and paying a little bit more for food and lodging. It was good to slip back into the backpacker lifestyle for a few days, punctuated by catching a local bus at 6 AM to get us to the airport for a fraction of the cost that everyone else pays.
We arrived back in Oregon in early March and had a busy month, but I will wait and tell you more about it on the next post. The post will also describe how we got to our current temporary home in southern Alabama, so you won't want to miss that.