Sunday, June 17, 2012

Costa Rica–Guanacaste, Rincon de la Vieja…Hotel Borinquen

It was my 35th birthday. Five years ago, I was on board a party barge, surrounded by my close friends and loved ones. I was growing a month old fetus in my belly, and she is now my spritely 4 year old Sugarbean. I dreamt of this vacation many times.

When the alarm set off, I laid in bed, stretching and feeling my body. Moments later, my phone rang. Per tradition, my Mother and Father’s phone call arrived precisely at 6:18AM. The sang a sleepy, but happy “Happy Birthday to you!” I showered, dressed, and crept down the hall to our sleeping beauties. They were nestled side-by-side, slumbering for the last few hours. I wiped a tear and kissed them both, whispering a about 20 “I love yous” in their resting and perfect ears.

Kent, our friend, was already at our house waiting to give us a ride. (Right, what a friend! To show up at our house before 7AM on a Saturday no less. We are truly blessed!) We hugged Carol and loaded up into the car to be whisked away to DFW.

I sat in the back of his car filled with such high nervous energy. But one by one, the birthday texts began to light up my phone. Then my sister called. All of my loved ones may not have been physically with me like they were five years ago, but they were present and accounted for. I asked Kent to turn up the music and I stared out the window to that place between dreams and memories, his music my gateway. I allowed anxiety to course through my veins, but it was quickly blanketed with all of those thoughts and well wishes.

The four hour plane ride was uneventful. I whiled away the time on Facebook responding to the ample birthday wishes. Once we were far enough from the States, I lost connectivity, then plugged into “The Vow” the movie for the rest of the flight. I had it on the background as I edited the newborn session from the week before.

When we arrived to Costa Rica it was very warm and incredibly humid. Customs was easy enough. The gal actually opened our eyes to a much easier, well-paved drive over. Our new plan was to take Nacional 1 down to Punta Arenas and catch a ferry over to Parquera. The trip should take about 4 hours.

When we left the immediate airport area, we weren’t assaulted by vendors and taxis. Yes, they were there, but it seemed they were already assigned to others who would be arriving. At the car rental, we were upgraded to a Nissan Hi-Trail 4-wheel drive, instead of the smaller Kia Sport. He emphasized the tires, letting us know they were very good and would be helpful!

This ended up being a very good thing. Our journey over to our hotel consisted of some paved roads and another several that were washed out paved roads, very bumpy, with potholes the size of tiny kiddie pools. During that trip, we saw 2 chickens, crossing the road, lots of people on bicycles, dogs, lizards, and a couple of vaqueros riding their horses. They share the road here! We drove along the mountainside, climbing up the volcano. I was white knuckled much of the way, clutching the map and nervously giggling, trying to calm my fears. No, there weren’t any guard rails, not that it would have mattered.

I conjured up enough guts to look out the window and I was rewarded with the greenest, most lush valley I’ve ever seen. There here heads of cattle and horses sprinkled here and there. It was absolutely breathtaking!

As the road curved and winded closer to the hotel, we saw signs for another resort adjacent to ours that was full of adventurous things. Horseback riding, ziplining, ATVs…all sorts of fun, all eco-friendly. Then, the road changed from paved to well-laid brick. We drove up to the reception, where they directed us to the parking area. Everything is vibrantly green, and birds and howler monkeys serenade us in the distance.

We were greeted with fruit juices made with strawberry, watermelon, and apple juice. (Yeah, I know, I actually drank watermelon juice and liked it!) Ricardo, a day-shift worker, shuttled us to our Junior Suite (actually, a fancy-fancy villa) 6 at the top of the resort! The room smells of cedar and has a sitting area, the master suite, and a bathroom the size of our bedroom! It had a two person jacuzzi tub and a walk-in shower the size of an apartment kitchen! Our villa overlooks the lush green valley and we can see the steam rising in the distance from the natural hot springs. Water trickles down the makeshift gutter from the freshly fallen downpour. It’s all so very natural and so, so, so clean!!

We walked down the steeper than steep paved hill to the bottom where the restaurant was located. It was a wide open space, intimately lit and we quickly became the only customers. At first, I thought it was because it was much too late for lunch (already nearing 4PM), but actually, there weren’t many people staying at the resort. It just lended itself to the exclusive “fanciness” of this stay. We ordered a mojito, a capirinha, hearts of palm salad, arroz de la abuela (chicken and rice, sofrito style), traditional Costa Rican meal of tenderloin, potatoes, with rice and beans. To start, they brought us a plate of cheese and fried cheese with a corn tortilla. That capirinha was tequila, vodka, and muddled limes. Not the greatest, but it would do!

Once we were finished eating, we called the carrito (golf cart) to take us back to the suite. We lingered for a bit, food drunk. Then, we got up, changed clothes, called the carrito and had it drive us down to the sauna, naturally heated pools, and mud bath. The sauna was a short walk from where we were dropped off, but it wasn’t it. Honestly, it looked quite menacing in the dark with the smoke billowing out of the wooden box. *skip* Then, we walked past the tranquil pool to the naturally heated pools. Before we took a soak, we went to the mud baths and covered ourselves with mud. We let it dry, then washed off in the adjacent outdoor showers. On our way to the shower, we saw the largest free-roaming toad I’ve ever seen in my life. Don mentioned a possibility of it being poisonous and I immediately kept clear of the toad. We then walked over to the heated pools and wow, were they hot!!! The one we got in was 96.8. When I was submerged from the chin down, a downpour began to dump on us. I just sat there grinning happily. My entire body was relaxed!

We lingered for a bit chatting with an older couple who couldn’t say enough great things about Memphis, B.B. King, and all things guitar. The dude was HAMMERED! But they were great conversationalists! Our bodies were jelly, but we walked over to the reception area and hitched a ride on a carrito back to the suite. We cleaned off and went to dinner. This time, Don had a sauvignon blanc, I stuck with water. We ate sea bass with tomato, olives, and capers with asparagus and mashed potatoes, grilled chicken with a blue cheese sauce, asparagus wrapped in bacon, and grilled vegetables. Our server brought out a tres leches cake with a blue cherry that had been soaked in blue curacao! It also had a candle on it and the waiter serenaded me for my birthday!

That evening, I soaked in the jacuzzi with a bath bomb before sleeping soundly without interruption for 9 hours straight! What a great birthday indeed!!

*if you would like to see pictures, I would suggest you follow me on twitter.com/biasia I’m posting images there via Instagram. You can also follow me there as HelloMrsBianca.

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