Monday: Vamos a la playa

I know exactly what time the rooster crows here in Monteverde. It’s 3:39am and I don’t like it one bit! This is not just a simple cock-a-doodle-do. This is the beginning of a 3 hour love song where the chorus repeats itself about every 15 seconds.  I will never view roosters the same way again, but I do understand why the most popular food dish in Costa Rica is called gallo pinto (the painted rooster).  Roosters rule the land here.  And here I thought we came to see monkeys and sloths.
After our delicious breakfast, we said goodbye to the Santa Elena Hostel Resort.  It was my least favorite lodging of the trip, but I will remember it fondly because of the kind owner and the cute mountside location.  Santa Elena is a magical little town in the clouds!
After breakfast, we stopped for horseback riding along a gorgeous hillside.  The scenery in Monteverde is more reminiscent of the Swiss Alps than anything I’ve ever experienced south of the border. In the mountains, the air was breezy and cool.  There is green everywhere you look and cows are plentiful.  Interestingly, our tour guide told us that Costa Rica attempted to take Argentina’s place as the steak capital of the world during Argentina’s financial crisis.  That didn’t work out for Costa Rica, but you can see evidence of this attempt in the number of cattle farms in the countryside (both active and vacant).
Molly wasn’t afraid of her horse at all!

Kellie looks like a pro!

We went in two groups. The trail was windy and hilly, but the horses were mostly tame.

There isn’t a picture that does justice to what this view is like in person.

This is the first time riders club!

After riding, the farmer’s wife invited us into her home for a freshly made cheese empanada (tasted like a grilled cheese-Yum!) and some “orange juice.”  One sip of this juice brought back memories of the orange drink we used to have after church services on Sunday mornings.  I instantly (pun intended) recognized it as being Tang!  I even spotted a box of Tang powder on top of the fridge. The kids loved it and I was just glad to have a way to keep hydrated.  

We took turns milking a cow after having our snack.  We also tried the cow’s fresh milk. Here is Megan having a sip.

Kellie tries it too (while Molly looks at it suspiciously).

She likes it! She really likes it!

This calf was only 3 days old.

This one was three weeks old.

Molly did a fine job milking the cow.

While we waited for the second group to return, we were invited to play a quick game of soccer with the young son named Franco who was 13 years old.  It was boys versus girls.  Girls won 2-1 with Molly scoring one of the goals for her team!

Molly and Franco.

We hopped back on the bus (our home away from home) to make our way to the coast.  We stopped at the equivalent of a truck stop/bus station and picked up some quick snacks and drinks.  We finally arrived at our hotel, the Hotel Balcon deal Mar, around 2pm.  We had a quick lunch of rice, fish nuggets, salad and vegetables. Our dessert was delicious arroz con leche or rice pudding!  Our room is right beside the pool which is nice.  We can see and hear the surf from our room. The area we are in, Jacó, is not very family-oriented. It is a huge surfing town and comes with a lot of night life.  We will be staying close to the hotel grounds while we are here.  The views can’t be beat!
This is our room.  The clothesline is hanging and ready for action. And no, that’s not underwear hanging in the picture.

The kids enjoyed some well-deserved pool and beach time this afternoon.  The sun was hidden behind clouds and the pool area is mostly covered with trees.  It was nice for them to be able to spend time outdoors getting to know each other better.  Home sickness is hitting a lot of them today, so a relaxing afternoon hit the spot.

The view of our hotel from the beach.

The beach is literally ten steps from our hotel.

The sand is black sand because it comes from volcanic rock. The shoreline is very rocky and the water is brownish blue.  It’s definitely not like the Gulf of Mexico, but it is so beautiful in its own way.
A quick selfie on the beach reveals that I seem to have acquired naturally curly hair. 

After swimming, most of us took a little siesta around 5pm. Our dinner was served at 7:30 and was an interesting mix of items. There was a tossed salad with tomatoes, onions and olives, a seafood consommé, barbecue pork, rice, cold pasta salad, chicken alfredo, sautéed veggies and a coconut flan for dessert.  The kids weren’t overly thrilled, but they ate what they recognized and many commented on how amazing the the plain rice was! Too funny.

Bedtime is 9pm so that we can be up and ready for our day trip to Manuel Antonio National Park.  I have wanted to go here for several years now and can’t wait to see if it lives up to my expectations.  I am hoping to see howler monkeys and sloths.  We will hike and swim for most of the day!

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