Saturday, January 31, 2009

Deep Six January with Costa Rica

We offer in the next several days a marvelous plan to deep six January. Spend it in Costa Rica!

This may not be practical for the working stiffs of the world, but for the retired it is an ideal way to avoid the practical northern terror of slipping on the ice and snow in your own front yard. Taking a tumble on a patch of ice that was only foggily apparent because of your tri-focals is embarrassing; better to strain something leaping off a zodiac to the beach or tripping on the walking root of a jungle tree. That is a badge of honor for the intrepid senior citizen.

So we offer you a summary of our mostly glorious Elderhostel to Costa Rica and Panama aboard Cruise West's intrepid little ship--the Pacific Explorer. Our journey started with a pleasant flight from Moline to San Jose via Atlanta. There was a bit of a snafu at the San Jose airport when our hotel transport was among the missing, but some frenzied negotiation with a taxi tout did manage to get us to the Casa Conde.

We were three days early for the start of our Elderhostel and intended to use the time to do some sightseeing in San Jose using the Casa Conde as our base. Other than the quixotic hot water supply and the occasional lapses of communication with the staff caused by our insufficient command of Spanish, our stay was delightful. Note we could complain that the staff didn't always seem to understand our English. But let's face it folks, that is one of the most often voiced and perhaps least justified tourist complaints in the world. Whose country is it and whose language difficulty is at the root of the problem? You do have to remember that even four year olds in foreign countries speak the native language quite well.

And let it be said that you could easily fall in love with the Casa Conde in spite of the tepid showers. As the following pictures show, it was a visual delight. The stairs were striking; the rooms were well appointed; the beds comfy, the pool gorgeous, and the food both delicious and reasonably priced. We took our every meal under the awning by the pool.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

We've Been Gone!

What can one say? We escaped from the Illinois Winter by taking a trip to the tropics. It was a boyhood dream of mine to travel the world and one book, read when I was eight years old, has always been the initial crystalizer of the dream. Richard Halliburton's Book of Marvels took you on a tour of the great wonders of the ancient and modern world and I read and reread it. A copy still sits in my bookcase today. One of those wonders was the Panama Canal and most wonderful was the fact that Halliburton declared himself a ship and swam through the canal in the 1930's. At thirty-six cents his remains the cheapest ever passage through the canal. The toll for our little boat was $22,000. Our entire route took us first to San Jose, Costa Rica. From there we traveled to the coast and boarded the Pacific Explorer. The ship took us down the Pacific coast (with stops at National Parks in Costa Rica and Panama) and finally to and through the Panama Canal. In the Carribean we made short visits to Portobello and the San Blas Islands before returning to Panama City for the flight home.

There will be more coming as some of the almost 2000 photos are tweaked and downloaded, but for now we are back home and trying to get caught up.