🌳 Costa Rica
We started 2019 in Monteverde with Tatyanna's friend Adrianna. Casper and I ended 2018 not with fireworks but zip-lining and a super mega Tarzan swing. After all four of us explored the cloud forest canopy in the morning, hiking across suspension bridges through the treetops at Selvatura Park.
On New Year's day, Adrianna and I took turns driving to La Fortuna for hot springs, sloths and views of the Arenal volcano. Sadly, one can't hike up Arenal. The string of eruptions starting with the massive eruption in 1968 indicate that the volcano is merely "resting" and thus considered an active volcano.
Watching sloths with Giovanni Bogarin in La Fortuna was a highlight. Just steps from the main road through town, Giovanni has created a remarkable ecosystem that attracts sloths, native birds and frogs. He turned what was once forest but had been converted into pasture/farm land, back into native habitat. His vision and endurance is paying off. Though still small, we saw more wildlife in the forest Bogarin restored than anywhere else in Costa Rica.
That evening we visited a commercial hot spring in La Fortuna. Hot water is guided into concrete pools of different temperatures. We received discount because we visited in the evening. There were still many Tico families picnicking on the lawn when we parked after dark. Lamp posts continued to provide light. The water's temperature was nice though not very hot. We relaxed, chatted and played for a couple of hours.
We experienced the diverse terrain and micro climates of Costa Rica on our drive to St Gerardo de Dota, the next day. From level pasture land, through pouring rain across densely forested mountains, traversing San Jose's urban sprawl up into the Talamanca Mountain range.
Along the way we stopped for excellent chocolate and lunch at Sibu Chocolate. And a few hours later for coffee at Dota Coffee, a cooperative in the mountains of the Santa Maria de Dota District, close to our final destination: St Gerardo de Dota.
Most of our route followed the Pan American Highway. Mainly a winding two lane road (one in each direction) through mountainous terrain. Not a quick road by North American highway standards, but a major artery nonetheless.
At an elevation of over 7,000ft (~2100m), St Gerardo de Dota is markedly cooler than much of Costa Rica. The nights are cool, while the day is pleasant in the shade and hot in the sun. We hiked and lounged for a day and half before returning to San Jose.
Adrianna took us to Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles a Basilica in Cartago. This Christian church houses La Negrita, the Black Virgin, Costa Rica's patron saint. It's eclectic mix of devotion, superstition, kitsch and history is fascinating.
Visiting a nearby market was no less fascinating. Adrianna introduced us to more native fruits while we looked around in wonder at the myriad of vendors operating out of small stalls.
Our hotel for the last 2 nights stood in modern contrast to all our Costarican accommodations with character. There was little that set this Holiday Inn apart from any other Holiday Inn. Now, without a car to our disposal, we stayed near the hotel. Ate at local restaurants, swam in the hotel pool, exercised in the hotel gym and lounged in our room.
🌧 Rainy California
We returned to a wet California. On the day of our return home, our weather station measured 3" of rain. These rains are taking a toll on our driveway. A lot of water that falls on the back half of our property flows down the driveway. I must change that for next winter.
✈ Booked flights
I booked flights to Europe in August to go climbing with Siemen and Marijn, while still had a tan from our Costa Rica adventures. It looked like prices might go up if I waited much longer. The flights were not cheap though. About twice as expensive as my last climbing trip in Europe. This time we're going a week earlier and that means peak flight prices.
We're now a family of Fitbits. Costco's Fitbit Charge 3 sale proved to be irresistible. Tatyanna got one because this model is waterproof and can track swimming (one of her favorite exercises). I got one for the improved display and longer battery life. And passed my Charge 2 on to Casper. We can now compete on steps in the weekly family & friends leaderboard. Let me know if you'd like to join the competition.
💻 Nerd side project
After years of using Growl to send myself automated notifications, I switched over to Pushover. Growl doesn't include mobile clients, but relies on 3rd party apps such as Prowl on iOS and Notify My Android (NMA) on Android. Unfortunately, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU, proved to be to too much for NMA. This made me look for an alternative that could deliver notifications to whatever device I might use at the time:
- my Macbook,
- my Linux workstation,
- one of my Android devices, i.e. phone or tablet, or
- my iPhone.
Pushover fits the bill perfectly, it has no recurring fees and supports all my use cases. Adopting my automated tasks from Growl to Pushover was easy too.
🎈 Celebrating Casper's 13th birthday
We ended the month with Casper's 13th birthday celebration. He brought cupcakes to school. As per tradition, we had sushi at Mobo Sushi where Casper received a Tempura Banana with ice cream for dessert on the house. He saw Spider-Man: Homecoming in the theater with his best friend, Kadin. And his now the proud owner of a Pixel 2 phone. He is over the moon with this big upgrade from his old phone.