After one week in Samara

20 January 2016
Yesterday was our 1 week here in CR. Today we are leaving Samara and heading to Jaco. My Army friend is picking us up at 5pm and driving us there. I think it’s about 3 hour drive. After spending a week in Samara we have witnessed a lot of interesting. Some good things, some great and some not so good at all. After our first night in San Jose city in an excellent hotel, my friend Jim picked us up and delivered us to his retirement town, Samara. The drive to Samara was a very long drive on a very narrow and winding road. The roads in this country are, so far, way below average. About halfway there Jim took us in to see the Crocodiles. We were glad he did. It gave us a chance to get out and stretch our legs and run for a bathroom break. So, below this bridge, in the middle of nowhere, were maybe 20 or so very large crocs swimming around in this lazy river. It was very cool to see and we took lots of pictures.
So we arrived at our first airbnb destination on the west side of beautiful Samara. We booked it online and Christine was our host. We were met with hugs and lots of great smiles. Christine is an excellent lady originally from Quebec and now retired here in CR. She runs a little bnb here. Her bnb is maybe 5 minutes from the town centre and 5 minutes from the beach. We walk everywhere other than the one day we rented bikes. Her bnb was in an excellent location. It didn’t have AC but we did have our own room with our own private bathroom and shower. The temps here in Samara have been averaging around 32 C. During the early mornings and evenings when we walked it was much cooler and bearable. You would think with temps at 32 and no AC it would be torturous but after the first day our bodies got use to it. We had a fan directly above our bed that did an excellent job.
Like I said, we stayed here for 8 days now. It has been very calming, peaceful, relaxing and expensive. If you buy anything from the street venders, they will charge you twice the price. The post office charges you twice the price for stamps. As soon as they know you’re an outsider all they see is money signs. In town the roads are bad to extremely bad. The sidewalks are beyond repair and we have never seen anyone working on any town projects. The streets are dirty and there is debris and garbage blowing around everywhere. The beaches are beautiful or they could be. The Samara beach is about 2 kms long and we walked it just about every day. They are very dirty compared to Cuba and México resorts. It seems that there is no one hired to clean up anything. And, the locals and visitors just throw their crap everywhere. It’s very sad. They have an over population of stray dogs. They are everywhere. They are not aggressive but just everywhere. Horses wander the streets and beaches unattended. It doesn’t seem to bother anyone either. The locals burn their garbage everywhere except in their own yards. Normally they burn stuff on the side of a road. There are no rules of the road here at all. ATVs race the streets, no helmets. 125cc bikes are everywhere and race the roads. Cars are way too fast and do not follow any rules. There is normally two police on their bikes patrolling the streets but they never stop anyone.
It’s not all bad and I am far from a negative person. The locals are relatively friendly. They will do anything for you. The weather is amazing and the water is warm and ready for surfers. The beaches are lined with beautiful sun bathers every day. The beer is cold and plentiful.

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Heading to Costa Rica

Ok, Tuesday morning the 12th Jan was an early morning.  On Monday we heard about this big winter storm coming to the Maritimes and that made us want to leave even sooner.  Bruce received a warning from AC in regards to a storm warning in Toronto and there may be flight delays… there wasn’t!

We set our alarm for 3am and ordered the Taxi for 3:30.  The cab arrived on time and we shut down our little Condo for a few months.  Thanks to Sherman & Charline for looking after it while we are away.

We got to the Airport in Moncton and everything was all on schedule.  We caught the early bird flight to Toronto.  We arrived in Toronto and waited around for our next flight.  It was snowing and windy when we landed and it didn’t look too good.  We relaxed and enjoyed a Tims breakfast.  Eventually the snow and wind stopped just prior to our flight departure and everything was on schedule.

Funny story; We went through security and boarded the plane enroute to Costa Rica.  Got to our seats and settled down for a long flight.  Bruce jumped up and said he couldn’t find his cell phone and he thought that he may have left it at the airport lobby.  So, off he goes going the wrong way, pushing his way off the plane as everyone was coming the opposite direction.  He told the flight attendant about his cell phone and she said, HURRY, we are just about loaded!  Bruce takes off running through the halls to the lobby and he gets to where he was sitting and there it was underneath the chairs.  He bent down and grabbed it and headed back to the 737 300 Aircraft that was now fully loaded and waiting for Mr Bruce!  He gets to his seat all out of breath and said, shit, I didn’t even check to see to see if that was my cell phone.  We both laughed.

While we were waiting to leave the Captain informs everyone that the plane needs to be de iced another 45 minutes later and the plane starts to head toward the runway. As the plane is about to move forward the wheels start to spin then off we go down the runway! Finally in the air for a long 5 hours. Some sleep, reading, listening to music, chatting and eating.

Arriving in San Jose, Costa Rica it was getting dark and its only 5:30 pm. Off the plane we go and heading towards immigration.  It was quick and painless, then heading to luggage that was a long wait, finally suitcase arrived on the carousel, then onto scanning of suitcase and any bags, then outside to a cool breeze and many taxi drivers asking to help.

Then we hear “Monty” it’s Bruce’s army buddy Jim Bartley. “The Bod” here to pick us up.

Then off we go thanks to GPS and Jim for driving us to our hotel the “Aloft” the streets are narrow and traffic coming in all directions.

At the hotel checked in room is beautiful, modern and clean. We then went for supper in the “Backyard” restaurant. Bruce had a traditional meal of rice & Chicken and I had a Margarita pizza. Both dishes were amazing. And a dessert of ice cream and strawberries. Bruce mentioned to our waitress that it was my Birthday. Then I received a dessert of Brownies & Ice cream with a candle. Amazing trip so far.

Back to our room and we crashed.

 

Dream

This is how it all began… while we were in Mexico for a very important family wedding. Ten wonderful days of sunshine with a few days of rain. We started talking about how wonderful it would be to live in a warm destination for the winter months and to get away from the cold and snow of Atlantic Canada. “It was just a dream”…
Well once we returned from Mexico and got back in the groove of work and things. We were finishing Christmas presents and shipping them out in the mail.
On December 17, 2015 Bruce and I were decorating our little Condo for Christmas. We had the tree up. It’s only 4.5′ so it didn’t take a long time to decorate. As I was putting a few other Christmas decorations out Bruce presented me with this note.

Hi sweetie,
I know we have been talking about this for a while. So, today I booked our flights to Costa Rica. We left for California on your birthday so I booked our flights for the 12th January 2016. I hope it’s not too soon.
Merry Christmas,
I Love You
Bruce
XOXO.

“Wow”, how exciting and are you serious! So the next day we both put our notices in at work that January 8, 2016 would be our last day of work.
Every day when I came home from work Bruce would have plans and places to stay. We were going to Airbnb it once again. He would show me the areas and our choices of places and by December 24th Costa Rica was booked completely, then onto Panama. Getting excited…..

Our trip south.

We decided just before Christmas 2015 that we wanted to visit Central America. So we narrowed it down to two Countries, Costa Rica and Panama. So we both put in our notice to terminate our jobs. I have an Army buddy in each of the two Countries. We fly from Moncton to Toronto and Toronto directly to San Jose, Costa Rica on the 12th Jan, Marlenes’ birthday. Some of the info below is either from them or from information that we’ve read.
We decided to try airbnb for the majority of the accommodations. However we are staying in some hotels.