Saturday, May 29, 2010

Fiesta at Wendy’s

Naimah was invited to her first birthday party in Costa Rica last weekend at the Wendy’s in the outskirts of San José.

With her light skin and hair, Naimah was quite the fascination for the other little girls in her class from the first day of school last July. She has made some great friends in the past year and will truly miss them when she leaves.

(An aside: most of Naimah’s friends don’t speak any English so it is cute when they call me “Daddy” because they think that it is my name from hearing Naimah say it.)




Naimah with her closest friend, Melany.




Piñatas are such an integral part of birthday celebrations in Costa Rica that Wendy’s has large, retractable metal beams built solely for hanging piñatas.


Every child has a chance to whack the piñata.

The kids played musical sombrero instead of musical chairs.

Birthday cake is part of the celebration in Costa Rica and we felt right at home seeing the familiar face of Hannah Montana imprinted on the cake.

Monday, May 24, 2010


I took the kids to the Serpentario in Monteverde. Mélanie has a fear of snakes so she opted out of this visit.

DSC_0125[1]The Fer-de-lance is the most dangerous snake in Central and South America, and causes more human deaths than any other American reptile. It is the deadliest creature that one can encounter in Costa Rica. When I mentioned to our guide that a friend of ours in Atenas found a Fer-de-Lance in her bushes, he confirmed that this species of snake likes our small town. I passed on this information to Mélanie and it was clear from her expression that she was already mentally packing our bags.


In some regions of North America, the order of the bands of color on a snake distinguishes between the venomous coral snakes and the non-venomous mimics, inspiring folk rhymes such as:

Red touch yellow, kill a fellow.
Red touch black, venom lack.

Our guide explained to us that this old saying doesn`t apply to Costa Rica. Instead, to identify a venomous coral snake, in Spanish you would say RANA: Rojo, Amarillo, Negro, Amarillo (red, yellow, black, yellow). This acronym is easy to remember because “rana” is “frog” in Spanish.


On the subject of deadly snakes, our guide let Gabriel pet this one as it was strangling its lunch to death.

DSC_0120[1] The Serpentario does not only contain snakes. We also got to see some huge toads and colourful frogs.


DSC_0107[1] DSC_0103[1]

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Monteverde Cheese Factory

Naimah’s favourite meals: chicken with rice, and plain spaghetti noodles with sprinkled parmesan cheese. In Costa Rica, her favourite parmesan cheese comes from the Monteverde Cheese Factory. Monteverde cheese is acclaimed throughout Costa Rica and we felt it a must to take Naimah to the birthplace of her beloved “bally cheese”. (She has labelled it as such because in this humidity, the fine-grained parmesan ends up forming balls in the shaker).




Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve

We packed our bags and hit the road this weekend without having decided on a final destination. We drove a full hour and a half before heading to Monteverde.

The Preserve consists of 6 ecological zones, 90% of which are virgin forest. An extremely high biodiversity, consisting of over 2,500 plant species (including the most orchid species in a single place), 100 species of mammals, 400 bird species, 120 reptilian and amphibian species, and thousands of insects, has drawn scientists and tourists since.


The road to Monteverde is treacherous and some consider it among the worst in Costa Rica.


One’s buttocks are punished by the 17 kilometres of jarring, unrelenting bumps but the eyes are treated to some absolutely spectacular views all the way out to the Pacific Ocean.


In the cloud forest, we enjoyed the treetop suspension bridges which consisted of 3 kilometres of trails and eight bridges of various lengths ranging between 170 - 560 feet.




We also had to allow a little bit of time to play Tarzan.


Everything grows really big in the cloud forest. Naimah wanted to take some of these flowers home with her but we explained that they wouldn’t fit in the car.


And, we had to explain to this bug that tried to stowaway on Gabriel’s sneaker that she wasn’t allowed to come either.



(The fact that I know that the bug is female is a testament to our intensive insect exposure over the last year in Costa Rica.)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Centro Americano de Beach Volley

This weekend, Atenas hosted a Central American Volleyball tournament.



Participating countries:

  • Belize
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • El Salvador
  • Panama
  • Nicaragua
  • Costa Rica

The athletic prowess was impressive.




After hours, the kids put the sand to good use building castles and volcanoes.



Friday, May 7, 2010

Volcán Irazú

The Pacific Ring of Fire (or sometimes just the Ring of Fire) is an area where large numbers of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur in the basin of the Pacific Ocean. In a 40,000 km (25,000 mi) horseshoe shape, it is associated with a nearly continuous series of oceanic trenches, volcanic arcs, and volcanic belts and/or plate movements. The Ring of Fire has 452 volcanoes and is home to over 75% of the world's active and dormant volcanoes.



The Ring of Fire passes right beneath our house in Victoria, British Columbia and our current home in Costa Rica. In Atenas, we are very close to a few of the most active volcanoes in the country.


Two weekends ago, we visited Volcán Irazú.

The Irazú Volcano (Spanish: Volcán Irazú) is an active volcano in Costa Rica, situated in the Cordillera Central close to the city of Cartago. Its name could come from either the combination of "ara" (point) and "tzu" (Thunder) or a corruption of Iztarú, which was the name of an indigenous village on the flanks of the volcano. In Costa Rica it is known by the name of "El Coloso" (The Colossus) due to the catastrophes that it has provoked in the past.


Irazú is next to Volcán Turrialba, a volcano that has been in the press in the last few months due to its increased activity. As we approached Irazú, we were able to see the huge plumes of smoke coming from Turrialba.


On a clear day, it is possible to see both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans from the top of Irazú but we had some clouds that added an ominous effect to the craters.



The children especially enjoyed playing in one of the extinct craters.



It is not often that you see someone trying to make a snow angel in volcanic ash.