Posted on Jan 4th, 2011 by Allison (Costa Rica, Photography, Travel)

OK, I’m a little late – but hey, I’m in Costa Rica :)

Day 2… New Year’s Eve
. We spent most the day at home relaxing. Except for Jen who cooked more authentic Costa Rican food for me to try. Here she is bringing me a plate of patacones – which are fried green plantains.

We dipped them in a black bean puree with Lizano sauce mixed in. Lizano is a staple condiment here – and I’m going to have to pick up a bottle to take home. Quite delicious.

We took some photos, read some books and blogs, meditated, listened to music, worked on Emily’s mermaid curtain craft.

My hair is a lions main needing to be tamed… the flat iron I brought is pretty much pointless though in this climate.

But do you like my new glasses?

Isn’t Brandon handsome?

I’m really liking his new beard.

We headed to town for a potential dinner out, but most everything was closed for the holiday.

The town was sure bustling, though. Looked like they had something big planned in the town center (park).

But we don’t really like crowds, so headed back home to enjoy the evening.

After a delicious burrito dinner, we gathered around on the floor to play our first game of Rory’s Story Cubes.

What a riot! I recommend this game for anyone who enjoys fun and creative play. Basic idea is you roll dice with pictures on them and make up stories based on what you roll. We were laughing ourselves silly, and only stopped because it was time for a movie… much to Marie’s chagrin, we opted for The Incredible Mr. Limpet. (She wanted to watch Robots)

Marie went to bed, but Emily wanted to stay up to watch the fireworks and ring in the new year with us. And ring it in we did. From the veranda, we have a panoramic view of a huge valley. It encompasses several cities – the largest of which is San Jose.

At midnight it began – and was an amazing spectacle. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many fireworks at one time in my entire life. Even though we were far away from the action, we were awed at the sheer number of sparkling explosions which lasted for a good 30+ minutes.

I shot some video and have edited it down to a little over a minute for you. Please note that this video is only of the San Jose portion (and only part of San Jose) – I didn’t have a wide enough angled lens to capture the entire valley. Enjoy!

How did you ring in the new year?

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Posted on Dec 31st, 2010 by Allison (Costa Rica, Family/Friends, Travel)

Ahhhh, Costa Rica.

I left this scene on Wednesday morning.

After a very full day of travel involving 6 hour layovers, conversations with interesting strangers (now friends), and very little sleep, I arrived at 6:30am CT on Thursday to this:

I’m here for a three week visit with my son, Brandon, and his family who have lived here for a year. I’ll have to do a little work while here, but I plan on enjoying a lot of vacation and relaxation time. If you’d like to know how and why they moved to Costa Rica, visit his blog.

Ashley & family will be coming down for a week vacation and be here the last 4 days of mine. Really looking forward to having all of us together again – and in such a beautiful place.

Brandon met me at the airport and we made our way through the lovely countryside to their home in Grecia. They actually live about 15 minutes outside of town on the side of a volcano.  The drive was lovely. I’ve arrived about a month after the end of the rainy season so it’s still pretty green, but not too hot. Though we did enjoy a light rainfall while in town late afternoon.

Here are Brandon & Emily on their front porch.

Marie is looking so much like her mom. I love her sun-kissed freckles.

After taking a long tour of the beautiful gardens (photos later) we all enjoyed a traditional Costa Rican breakfast - gallo pinto with eggs, fruit and juice.

Can I mention here how delightful it is to have someone cooking for me? I’m going to eat more nutritiously in the next three weeks than I have in a long time, I’m sure. And it’s so delicious!

Thanks, Jen – you’re a fabulous cook!

After the opening of the Christmas gifts, I took a much needed 3 hour nap in the guest cottage. I drifted off to sleep to lovely birdsong.

Speaking of birds… Costa Rica is known as a bird watcher’s paradise. I’ve seen quite a few interesting varieties – but was especially thrilled to have seen the beautiful and exotic Blue Crowned Motmot – on my first day here! Isn’t he gorgeous?

We headed into town to do a little shopping, stopped for an ice cream cone, and were treated to this beautiful purple sky as we headed back to the car.

The drive back up the mountain was very foggy – we could hardly see the road. I love fog, but it was a tad scary…

Brandon was disappointed that we wouldn’t be able to see the city lights from the veranda. But an hour later, the fog had all lifted, and this was the view (one direction).

These are the lights of San Jose. Simply stunning.

All in all, a fabulous first day. I was exhausted again by 7:30pm. But after a good night’s sleep, and enjoying the company, hospitality, food and incredible view – I think I can say I’m really going to enjoy this vacation.

As my final treat for you today, here is a video I shot just before I started writing this. Same veranda from where I took the city nights photo.

I really should learn to not talk while I’m shooting video. Next video you can look forward to a musical background.

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