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The Travel Diary of Ian Lebold  
Costa Rica - August, 2008

Chilli CrabFor Daddy's birthday we decided to take a trip to Costa Rica. We started our trip near the base of the Arenal Volcano at the Grupo Arenal Paraiso Hotel Resort and Spa. We had fantastic views of the volcano and at nighttime we could see lava and rocks tumbling down the side. During the day, I enjoyed the hot spring pools at the hotel. I played in the waterfalls, climbed the rocks under the falls, and slid down a slide into the arms of my Daddy and the warm water.

Mommy and Daddy each took a turn taking a ride on the Canopy Tours located right at our resort. Their guides made them feel safe and relaxed which created an unforgettable adventure. I got to watch each of them zoom by between tower two to tower three. After each on had thier turn, I went back into the hot springs to splash around.

We took a drive up to Lake Arenal and to the Arenal Observatory (which was closed when we got there; probably because of the pouring down rain). Chilli CrabAs a warning, The roads of Costa Rica are fairly primitive and very bumpy in remote areas, which makes my mom both anxious and nauseated. The month of August coincides with Costa Rica's raining season and although that may sound like a inconvenience, the benefits of seeing such lush, green plant life and beautiful flora out way the short-lived downpours of rain. Coming back from the Butterfly Pavilion, near the Arenal Observatory, we stopped to eat at Cabinitas El Castillo. Not only did they have good food, but their view of the volcano was FANTASTIC! We stayed until it got dark to watch the rock and lava tumble. I was entertained with picking up really big leaves and chasing Anthony, a seven year old boy I met at the restaurant. He didn't speak English, but then again neither did I. I'm not really talking yet, so it really didn't matter. I enjoyed his company all the same and we had fun playing in the courtyard.

For the next part of our vacation, we headed to the Double Tree Resort in Puntarenas. On the way, we stopped in the city of San Ramos. Little did we know what a treat we were in for; the city was in the middle of their week long fair in honor of Saint Ramos. We saw a chainsaw carving competition in progress, various arts and craft vendors, and of course lots of yummy food vendors. I enjoyed some rice and a delicious, fresh corn tortilla (I'm so glad I have enough teeth to start eating some of this food for myself). Everyone was very kind and friendly; as usaual, we felt very safe and welcomed.

Chilli CrabAfter having a bit of trouble finding our way out of San Ramos (Thoughout Costa Rica, the road signage leaves a lot to be desired) we were finally on our way to Puntarenas. The town itself, once a large, major fishing port, is run down with dilbadated buildings, graffiti, and trash all over the place. Luckily the Double Tree Resort was very clean and welcoming. I enjoyed the great pools and yummy food. There's nothing like floating around a pool sipping non-alcoholic pina coladas. ...AHHH... When the rain showers came, Mommy and Daddy enjoyed games of bingo, air hockey, and ping-pong. They even took a Spanish class. In the evenings the resort put on a very elaborate show with dancing and music; very entertaining! I even managed to stay up for half of it! Oh, did I mention the food? Our day started out with breakfast, followed by mid-morning snack out by the pool, followed by a huge lunch. Mid-afternoon snack was again served by the pool followed by a themed evening dinner. And just in case you didn't eat enough dessert at dinnertime, an additional dessert bar opened in the late evening. Don't expect to follow any diet plan while visitng this resort!

I really gobbled up the rice and beans served at breakfast and the delicious mix of mashed white potatoes and sweet potatoes. Daddy's favorite was the two inch thick slices of french toast fried up with what seemed to be a stick of butter per slice. Mommy enjoyed the lightly battered fish spritzed with lime juice. But my favorite part had to have been the foam pool party. They put bubbles in the pool! LOTS of bubbles! Daddy and I were so covered in bubbles, Mommy couldn't see us! I didn't quite understand why I was taking a bath in a swimming pool with my swimming trunks on with a whole bunch of other people, but it was really fun.

Chilli CrabFor the last part of our stay in Costa Rica, we visited the Papagayo Hilton Resort. This resort was a lot more laid back; not as many people. They had a great infinity pool and a clean beach with volcanic sand. I again had the difficult job of floating around in the pool in my canopy inner tube sucking on pineapple wedges.

When I was in the mood for a bit more adventure, Mommy and I would take walks along the beach, dig in the sand, and pick up seashells while Daddy snorkled (of course I had to taste the sand; Mommy just doesn't understand the importance of tasting the sand!). One afternoon Daddy even took me out for a ride in a sea kayak. I really like being out on the water!

We saw quite a bit of wildlife at the Papagayo Resort, such as a coatimundi, raccoons, iguanas, howler monkeys, and all kinds of birds. I like watching birds! Other activities I enjoyed included dancing to the band, participating in water areobics, and partnering up with Marisol, the activities coordinator, for some instruction in Latin dance.

On our way back to San Jose, we stopped at the restaurant by the Green Turtle Sovenier Shop. There I met a real parrot named Poncho. He came out of his cage and hopped all around for me! Overall, this

was a great trip! The people of Costa Rica are very friendly and the country is lush and beautiful! I highly recommend a visit, even during the rainy season.

 Town Chuch