Thursday, August 09, 2018

Costa Rica Adventure - Day 2

[Composed 7/31/2018]

We awoke this morning to sunny skies and postcard quality views; I couldn't have asked for a better omen after yesterday's travel drama.

Priority #1 was to pick up food for our time in La Fortuna. Of course, La Fortuna has supermarkets, but we figured our best bet of finding kosher items was while we were in San Jose. We stopped at an Auto Mercado, which while being a modern supermarket, didn't have much in the way of heschered products. We had planned for this and our next stop was at the Grill + Kosher Deli. This turned out to effectively be a kosher butcher, and the friendly shop owner was glad to help us load up for the week.

Between picking up basics at the Auto Mercado, meat at the deli and the large suitcase of food we'd schlepped into the country, we counted ourselves as fully provisioned.

Speaking of that large suitcase, I'd pushed back on bringing some of the items, but after seeing the limited hechshered / low carb options at the Auto Mercado, I realized Shira was right to bring them along. Could we have gotten oatmeal in the Auto Mercado? Of course. Could we have gotten O-U, pareve, low sugar oatmeal? Nope.

With our mobile pantry secured, it was time to turn our attention to exploring San Jose.

I wanted the kids to see, hear, taste and smell how life could be different from their everyday. It seemed to me the easiest way to accomplish this was with a visit to the Central Market. While the market wasn't the most impressive space we've ever traipsed through, it certainly checked the boxes I had in mind. The narrow passage ways and wide variety of items for sale, from seafood to spices to shoes, was just the sort of experience I had in mind.

We picked up a kilo of Rambutan fruit and the kids bravely tried eating these alien looking creatures. Rambutan's are closely related to lychees and are just as tasty, so the kids were amply rewarded for their bravery.

The highlight of the market for the kids was a pet store we discovered. They enjoyed ogling all the birds and pleaded with us to buy one for them. Yeah, this wasn't going to happen. We explained that the only creatures we were caring for this trip were the three of them.

T. was the only one of us to purchase a souvenir in the market. She picked up a cute stick-horse which she promptly named snowflake.

After the market we made our way to Ravi, a fully vegetarian restaurant where we ordered half the items on the menu. It was a bit unexpected that our first real Costa Rican meal included spaghetti and a veggie burger, but hey, it got the job done and was quite tasty. It was surprisingly easy to find the restaurant: we opened up Google Maps and searched for vegetarian restaurants. It wasn't that long ago that international travel meant cutting the digital cord and relying on your wits and luck. Now, like the rest of our life, answers are just a Google search away.

After lunch we made our way back to our car and we started the drive to La Fortuna. We'd been cautioned about the roads in Costa Rica, but the stretch we were on today were quite nice. And like our restaurant searching experience earlier in the day, Google Maps Just Worked.

After a couple hour drive we found ourselves passing through the cute town of La Fortuna and shortly thereafter we stopped in front of a gated house that would be a our home for the next few days.

While we waited for the owner to let us in, we saw a couple of toucans fly by and perch on a distant tree. You'd have thought I'd struck gold: Kids, come quick! Check it out! Real jungle birds!

This was our first experience using Airbnb, so Shira and I weren't quite sure what to expect. The owner of the property gave us a fairly comprehensive introduction to the rules and features of the home. The photos on airbnb.com were pretty much spot on: J. and D. would get to share bunk beds and T. got her own room. The kitchen, dining room and living room were spacious and the enclosed backyard had a large area for hanging out. Finally, there was also a pool. There was no denying it: we had our own little villa and weren't paying villa prices.

I have to admit that I was a little overwhelmed by the rules that were presented, though they were probably standard house rental stuff. We were also given the name of a local individual we could call for any request we wanted. Shira put this to the test immediately by asking if someone could arrange to have milk and eggs delivered to the house. 30 minutes later, a guy on a motor bike showed up with our leche and huevos. So yeah, I can get over having to follow a few rules if it means having a personal assistant at the ready.

After a bit of negotiating to see who would have the top bunk, the kids were ready for bed and then were quickly asleep. Shira and I tried to spend some time hanging out in our fancy backyard, but we were too exhausted. It was definitely time to call it a night. If all went as planned, we'd be exploring the jungle in earnest tomorrow.

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