Sunday, March 17, 2013

Doctors, Dentists, Spa - Oh My!!

assages, facial, dentist, female doctor, a day of sight seeing, and working on our trip to the states and Ecuador - that pretty much tells what we did this week!! Busy, busy and lots of new discoveries!

Monday was a day for pampering us! Mike and I each had a luxurious massage - mine an hour of relaxation and Mike an hour and a half of deep tissue. Then I had an hour and a half of rejuvenating facial.  We were both limp noodles when we saw each other again in the lobby and greased from head to toe!  I highly recommend Aura Maria Estetica y Spa, if you find yourself in Grecia!!

Tuesday Mike had another dentist appointment. He had his teeth whitened and imprints of his front teeth in preparation for the cap and veneer.  He was gone all morning but got back for lunch. I just lazed around and read my book. Ahhh, the pleasures of retirement! But I did do some laundry so I wasn't a total loss.  Out for a drink and a "bocas" (small portion appetizers) at Saprissa in the evening.

Wednesday and Thursday I had a touch of something in my tummy so really laid low and just read my book while sipping hot tea and waiting for it to pass. Mike took a walk to get out on Wednesday and he had another dentist appointment on Thursday.  During this appointment, his teeth were prepped  and a temporary crown placed on the front teeth.

We then had to run around most of the afternoon to get papers printed, notarized, and mailed to Spokane. Won't go into the whys but suffice it to say, it's not an easy process when you don't have a printer and needing to find a Notary that isn't busy at the precise moment you need them.  But we did it!  In Central America, to be a notary you MUST be an attorney. The cost to us for one notarization is $30 and we needed 3!!  Then the cost to mail to the states via DHL, Fed Exp, etc. was way to prohibitive for what we needed so we ended up mailing it Air Mail from the post office for $.80 and it should be there within a week.  Fingers crossed!!

I also had some great news in the middle of the week and a long time legal issue was resolved in MY favor!!  A cash infusion is always a good thing!!  Well, it was money I had spent but retrieved at no cost to me! There is justice sometimes.

Friday morning we were up by 5:30am to catch the 6:40am bus to Alajuela so we could meet our tour bus for our day trip to Poas Volcano, Doka Coffee Plantation and LaPaz Waterfall Gardens. After getting off the bus in Alajuela we headed off to find the Hotel Alajuela, which was supposed to be right off the City Square.  We walked around a whole city block and couldn't find it, so we stopped and asked this older gentleman who was selling lottery tickets on the street (very common here and in PA).  He not only told us where it was, he walked the whole block with us to point directly at it. What absolutely WONDERFULLY delightful people they are here!!

Well, it turned out we had walked right past it!!  We were expecting a larger, better marked place but instead we had been concentrating on the huge whole in the sidewalk right in front of it so we missed it completely!  Anyway, we got there and not 2 minutes later, the tour van showed up. We were delighted that it wasn't going to be a day in a huge bus with lots of tourists but instead a small personal van with only 8 of us!! A terrific opportunity to get to meet people from all over the world!!

Our first stop was the Doka Coffee Plantation for breakfast as well as the plantation tour.  We got to visit with Jim & Susan from Toronto, Canada but were actually British but had lived there for 42 years.  Jim is an animal nutritionist!!  The first person of that profession we have ever met.  And, Susan is a retired biochemistt specializing in animals.  A delightful couple with an abundance of knowledge that proved invaluable as the day progressed!!


From left to right: Premium, Medium and "Garbage" coffee beans unroasted. They laugh that the "garbage" is what is given to the local consumer for drinking, Medium goes to US & Canada, and Premium to Japan who then distributes them to Asia and Europe.



 


And, YES, the coffee was DIVINE!!!!  As a coffee drinker but not a coffee snob, I learned a whole lot about coffee I never knew.  Since Mike doesn't drink coffee - ever - he took my word for it as to how good it was.  He did enjoy the tour though as it was truly fascinating!!  Did you know that the DARKER more bitter roasted the coffee, the LESS caffeine it has??!  The lighter and less bitter, the MORE caffeine!  Who woulda thunk???  All of us coffee drinkers on the tour were astonished at this fact - especially Kevin, the young man from Hong Kong who works in Silicone Valley. He consumes allot of coffee for all nighters and, of course, thought the stronger and darker the coffee, the more caffeine. No wonder he had to drink so much more!! HA!

Our next stop was up the mountain to the Poas Volcano. As we climbed and climbed to an elevation of about 9,000 ft, we entered the clouds and rain.  The cloud level was light in areas and we did see the sun and blue sky peek through but the actual live crater never came into total view for us.  Mike and few of the others walked up even further to a crater with a lake.  I stayed behind hoping to catch a glimpse of the lower one.  It also gave me a chance to visit with Carol, who is an airline attendant with Frontier based out of Denver.  This was her first time in CR and she was enjoying herself!






Once our time was up at the volcano, we stopped at a tourist gift shop on the way down the mountain.  I found a beautiful folding purse with long strap hand made by the local CR indigenous people that I'm going to use when we go to Ecuador. I can wear it inside of my clothes so that my personal items aren't as accessible for the picking.

We arrived still in the beautiful jungle high up the mountain at the LaPaz Waterfall & Gardens location.  This magnificent place only opened in 2010 and then was closed due to damage and lack of roads from the earthquake.  It only reopened a year ago and are we lucky we got to see it!!

A stunning Aviary with all kinds of beautiful birds - owls, hawks, toucans, parrots, macaws, small beautiful colored birds of all kinds, etc.  A Butterfly Observatory - free flying gorgeous beauties of every kind!  We even got to see butterflies being "born".  They were landing all over us and letting us enjoy them up close and personal! Then off to see hummingbirds, snakes, monkeys, frogs, and big cats!  All of the cats and birds had been pets of people and then donated to the park for safe keeping.

Videos:  https://www.sugarsync.com/pf/D646513_67028128_6703012 (Butterfly)
https://www.sugarsync.com/pf/D646513_67028128_6703001 (Butterfly)
https://www.sugarsync.com/pf/D646513_67028128_6703044 (cat)




 


 







 



 




After an incredible buffet lunch at their restaurant, off we went for quite a hike to see 5 beautiful waterfalls!!  Pictures & video tell the story. https://www.sugarsync.com/pf/D646513_67028128_6703094 (Waterfall)






We arrived back in Alajuela in time to catch the 5:30pm bus and off we went home to park our weary bones for the evening.

On Saturday, I had an appointment with an OB-GYN for a female checkup, which I was 2 years negligent on.  The young doctor, Oscar, greeted me with doable English and with Mike's Spanish, we were able to communicate very well.  Since I have no issues to complain about, it was a matter of having my pap smear and breast exam done. 

What's so cool is that right there in the office he performs an internal sonogram of your uterus, ovaries, and bladder and it shows up on a TV screen for us all to see.  The only sonograms I've ever had done were from the outside through the body skin.  Quite a different story looking inside!  He was able to tell me immediately that all was quite normal and no issues found.  Yeah!! Mission accomplished!  I even got a copy of my "pictures" but not going to share those with you. LOL! Total cost for the complete exam including pap and sonogram was $90!!

I will be going back Friday for a breast 3D sonogram, which is now the best exam. Only if something is found do they do a mammogram to augment the sonogram.  Will report on that when I get those results immediately on Friday.  NO waiting!!

Last night we decided to go out and try El Lago, a bar/restaurant/event center on the edge of town.  We caught a cab and the cab driver was quite surprised when we told him where we wanted to go.  HaHa, for good reason!!  When we got there, I started down these beautiful wide stone steps with flickering lights only to walk right into the middle of a wedding reception.  Boy, did we get the looks as we certainly not belonging there!!

Ok, so regroup....where is the bar?  Follow ALL the very YOUNG people....nope, before we even got to the front door, we knew we were way out of place!!  Trying to look cool and knowing exactly what we were doing, we turned around and found a cab to take us back into town.

Dropped off at BRO right in the center of town where we had gone last week, we walked in to find that the place was packed in anticipation for the evenings live music. We found a table and were looking forward to hearing the band, which was 4 players and a female vocalist.  Unfortunately, we were disappointed from the get go. The venue is a very hard surface and difficult to perform in but they couldn't pull off even a bit of true talent - only loud and louder with nothing distinguishing - just noise.  So, alas, after finishing our drinks, we walked home.

Left at 8:15pm and home by 10:45pm.  We can both say that this is the most disappointing aspect of our life here in Grecia, since we both love good live music.  A good dance band would be a real plus!!

We have decided to go back to the beach in Tamarindo on the Pacific Coast for our last month.  The Gardenia cottages only one block from the beach and walkable everywhere in this "tourist" town. http://www.gardeniaretreat.com/1.html  As we had spent time there when we visited Donna & Randy last month, we know there's good vibes for us.  A nice way to end our stay in this beautiful country and go home with our better tans!!

This coming week brings more dentist visits for both of us and we want to take the bus to Sarchi, the CR woodworker craft area.  And, more and more knowledge about this country!  I will also be trying to write an article about our opinions and impressions of this country, as I've been asked to do this by the TicoTimes newspaper owner, Dan Chambers.  Wish me good luck on that because I'm definitely not a schooled writer.

Have a great week everyone and stay safe!!
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