The fourth of this month marked the longest I have ever lived away from home in my 41 years. Five months.
At home it is -30 with wind chill today. (Sorry guys.)
Other than the torrential rains of October, no one talks about the weather here.
But, as newbies to this part of the world, we are slowly discovering that Costa Rica does have its seasons. December, for example, is one of traffic jams, where the divided highways in and between towns clog every artery so badly you wish you had a horse instead, and once-empty restaurants can no longer accommodate you without a reservation.
January is windy season. The heat dries the earth, and the wind picks it up, swirling it into mini-dust storms that leave the eyes gritty and breath short.
And February. Well, it’s the beginning of intense heat. Sometimes welcome, sometimes stifling. The car thermometer reads somewhere between 34 and 37 degrees Celcius every day. For the first time in my life, I am booking getaways to escape the heat.
La Carolina Lodge
Average temperature: 23ºC
La Carolina Lodge is located off a rugged road near the town of Bijagua de Upala on the eastern slopes of Tenorio Volcano. There is a chance to do some longer day trips from here to Arenal and to go white-water rafting. We milk the cows in the morning, go horseback riding, swing in hammocks in the afternoon, and take a hike up to Rio Celeste to see the waterfall.
The La Carolina Lodge property is scattered with multiple cabin accommodations and a main cabin where people gather for homemade meals cooked in a wood-fire stove kitchen three times a day. We sit around a stone fireplace with a cup of freshly brewed Costa Rican coffee in the mornings, awaiting breakfast and watching the toucans eat bananas.
After breakfast, the kids jump into the river, then warm up in a rock-made hot tub heated by a wooden stove. Our cabin is one of the largest on the grounds, named “El Commisario,” Spanish for the “Commissioner.” It’s a perfect space for two families with six beds and three bathrooms, and the kids run with their friends, playing in the nearby treehouse until dark settles in each evening.
Average temperature: 22ºC
This might turn out to be one of my favourite spots in Costa Rica. Just when you think there can’t possibly be anything beyond the bumpy, gravel road up the side of the mountain, you come upon Santa Elena—a cute mountain town with a full-on community of residents, schools, restaurants, coffee shops and grocery stores.
Our accommodations at Monte Verde Inn feel like they are on top of the world, with a view of the Nicoya Gulf and a little, open-air restaurant onsite that serves delicious red wine and pizza—perfect after a day of exploring. The front desk clerk tells me the area was settled by Quakers, and that some of the original family members remain in the area. There are multiple hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, night hikes, and zip-lining outfitters to choose from. We don’t get a chance to visit the cloud forest this time around, giving us more than one reason to return!
Book I am reading
Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
It was not actually me who read this book, but my daughter read it to me over the course of the month while I stood in the kitchen making dinners, before bedtime, and in the car on the way to Nicaragua for a border run. I loved this story. Opal, the main character, is a loveable being, innocent and unafraid to voice the questions we all want to ask, but don’t. It’s funny and sad and true and triumphant in the end, and was also made into a comedy-drama film in 2005, starring Jeff Daniels, Anna-Sophia Robb & Dave Matthews.