Naturally Marc and Debbie already seemed pretty at home as if they’d been there for years, chatting to the locals and making friends with the Rastas selling ganga and bread “Buy ya fresh bread, good for da head, so ya down’t get dead” a larger than life big momma chanted whilst propping Marc under arm.
We had a few days stay in a lovely wooden villa. It was surrounded by gorgeous lush gardens and was 30 paces to the beach.
|iPad firmly glued to Mum's hand!|
What is pretty special about this area is that it is against the law to build on the beach. Looking along the shoreline from the water it is just white sand into dense jungle. All the houses and villas are set back, hidden from view, keeping the area entirely unspoilt.
|Kyle experimenting with his new camera timer, 2.30s shutter exposure at 4am on the beach on his own ... a little drunk !|
The waves here were pretty big, so it was nice for Marc to have a friend to play in the sea with.
Needless to say they got nicely tumbled about resulting in Marc’s nose leaking seawater for the next 4 hours!
We had a mixture of Debbie’s lovely home cooking (mmmm…) and went out for some great meals too. We also fell nicely into the routine of pre dinner GnT’s most nights.
Stunning woodwork, an ENORMOUS bathroom and a great outdoor decking complete with BBQ and hot tub!
|Spot the fire in the background heating it up!|
Not just any old hot tub too…filled with fresh water and then heated by a fire with piping tunnelled into it for a few hours! Heaven! Our pre dinner and post dinner drinks were spent in there! Going into overheat mode and getting some mega headrushes. The three Stevos had a brain wave and started to plan their new entrepreneurial endeavour; economical hot tubs for the UK. They spent a good 30/40 minutes discussing the logistics, additional add-ons/accessories and details of their new company until they eventually Google’d it and realised that it has already been done! Doh!
We subsequently bought more of their meat to BBQ the following night, accompanied by their delicious ChimmiChurri sauce.
|Far from the rip tide this time!|
|Chilling in the bathroom|
|Peace and Love|
|Very merry Debbie!!|
|Kyle playing with his camera in the early hours again!|
We spent the late afternoon exploring the place and went down to the stables to say hello to the horses. They seemed all in pristine condition. We came across the fattest pig we had ever seen, dragging its tummy and trying to scratch itself on a tree! Hilarious!
|Who ate all the cream pies?|
Followed by a great stretch of dirt through the sugarcane plantation which we cantered up, opening up the horse power and letting them loose which was brilliant – I am still a bit hit and miss with the rhythm!! Bang, bang, bang!! I got some good tips from Debbie though. Kyle got on very well with his trusty stead, occasionally taking off like a cowboy into a canter just the two of them. Fun to see Marc enjoying being on a real horse instead of the rocking ones he tends to spend a lot of the year sat on.
|Our canter through the cane fields!|
Our table had an awesome view of the volcano and apparently we were very lucky to see the top of it; it is usually always covered in cloud.
Around 4pm it was time to separate… Kyle and his parents were to return to the Ranch for another night and then head onto the West coast whilst my parents and myself were to spend one more night in Arenal before going south to Monteverde cloud forest. Ok, it was only 3 nights but this was a big deal! We have spent every day and night together for the last 6 months! I couldn’t help but get all teary and pathetic!
|'Kisses from Costa Rica'|
It was also fun to share my passion for all things chocolate with mum- the person I blame for my massive sweet tooth! Lots of yummy tasters including chili hot chocolate which was delicious.
|Hard on the outside.. soft on the inside!!|
We spent the next few days chilling and relaxing.
|In true Stevo fashion both parents got carried away (typical all or nothing) after finding the gym area |
before breakfast one morning and ended up pulling muscles!!
|Can you spot our friend hanging from the tree?|
|Marc talking fishing!|
Unfortunately 5/6 hours and a lot of beers (Kyle mainly!) later still no fish.
We made a last ditch attempt by all getting involved and holding the rods...
We did see the biggest school of dolphins though - hundreds!! Pretty breathtaking.
They were diving and spinning out of the water, even the babies. It was wonderful to watch, lying on our tummies over the front of the boat, marvelling at how close they get. We also saw 2 turtles swimming on the surface!
So all in all not bad! A wildlife trip! That's why they call it fishing- not catching!
Here we go…after an hour and a half of enduring pretty constant screaming babies whilst we suffered from delicate tummies (we all seemed to had caught something..) we got to the border.
There was quite a bit of queuing involved, Kyle did a dodgy money changing deal through a fence, feeling a tad delicate, we walked with our bags quite a way in the heat of the day (Mum – you were right- perhaps a backpack would have been better for you), met some hassling characters along the way, tried to negotiate a taxi, it got very crowded on the Nicaraguan side, gave our Costa Rican change to a beggar woman who later returned back for more, nearly got ripped off to bring our bags into the country claiming we needed to pay $40 – (bollocks), Dad got trapped on the other side of the fence with Mum’s passport, Mum nearly got mugged, lots of shouting and then we leapt into a ‘taxi’ whose boot had to be roped down with our bags in and we drove off. Welcome to Nicaragua! This is traveling Mum and Dad!!!
Our hotel was lovely. Kyle and I could seriously get used to these luxurious bathrooms!! Our mouths dropped open!
Our guide spoke English but it was still difficult to understand him. He seemed to bang on about some guy called William Walker. Kyle asked if there was a statue of this man in the city. He looked at Kyle in a funny way saying definitely not…our subsequent research reveled that in the 1800’s this William Walker (American) invaded Granada, made himself president, re-instituted slavery, declared English the country’s official language, mortgaged the entire nation to fund personal borrowing and invaded Costa Rica, announcing his intention to control the whole of Central America…huh… not such a popular guy then…opps.. no.. no statue Kyle.
|Mum and I got a bit lost in the overflowing locals market – we had definitely drifted from the tourist track!|
Invariably, the tour ended in the shop – spoilt for choice! We bought a little pot and Mum got a few; this was only the beginning to Dad’s horror; over the next few days she was to purchase a good few more!!
We wondered the town; this is where the locals come to buy their plants; there were ‘garden centres’ galore. We also saw hammock shops and bamboo furniture shops.
Then as darkness was falling we all donned hard hats and entered a nearby bat cave with torches. Yikes!
|I promise I didn't know Kyle was taking this photo!|
|A little nervous on the roof...|
The cathedral was in the process of being repainted – there was quite a contrast!
Evening time in Leon
|A local bus - seriously|
|The resident tortoise|