Another day has dawned and a small group of us are up early,
waiting for our ride to Palo Verda National Park. Today’s journey is an hour and a half from
Tamarindo Beach but well worth it.
The boats moored at Tempisque River are reminiscent of the
jungle cruise at Disneyland and throughout the morning I expect big plastic
hippos to rise dramatically from the water to challenge us. Instead we see crocodiles, eyes barely visible
above the murky water, contemplating their lunch selections from among us. I wonder if they think we all taste like
The Tempisque River, at this point in its journey, is a mix
of salt and fresh water, with high tide coming every six hours, giving the
illusion that the river is running backwards.
Its keeps company with The Nile and The Amazon in this unique feature.
The grumpy looking white-faced monkey is the most
interactive of the animals we see today.
They move in groups through the trees, swinging low by us, even coming
onto neighboring boats (only because the tour guides are feeding them sugar
cane which is against the rules, as the monkeys will stop foraging and become
dependent). The boats keep the crocs
away from the shore so the monkeys feel secure enough to come down by the water’s
edge to dip their faces into the river.
Normally they dip their tails in then move to safety before sucking the
water from them. Howler monkeys populate this forest as well
and we see several families of them high in the trees.
My favorites are the long nosed bats. Small numbers of them line up on tree trunks,
trying to create the illusion that they are a bigger creature. When threatened they will shift themselves
creating a slithering snake effect.
Black and green Iguanas sun themselves, guarding the eggs
that they laid at the end of February.
Often they are hidden along tree branches and it’s only the eagle eye of
our boat captain that alerts us to their presents. Iguanas can “release” their tails once in
their life, usually escaping predators or during fights, and they grow back a
solid color, instead of stripped.
Graceful long legged white egrets are plentiful and we also
spot a few nocturnal birds hiding in the dark foliage, red eyes glowing.
(I did not take this picture)
Lunch is a typical Costa Rica meal back at the tour boat
cabana. Rice, beans, chicken, fresh corn
tortillas, squash with meat (what kind of meat we don’t know but we suspect
iguana), salad, another mystery meat, watermelon juice and to finish it off a
scoop of papaya ice cream.
Then back in the van for the ride back to the rest of our
girls to share our experiences of the day.
Carol, the owner of the house and organizer of this trip,
has promised us a beach full of perfect seashells.
We set out, in two white Toyota Fortrunners, headed for the
unknown but full of adventure. The roads
are mostly unpaved and dusty and remind me of my beloved Belize. Carol says in the wet season they are
By the time we get there the noon sun is blazing but we are
undeterred in our quest for shells, each of us with a “plan” for our
bounty. Heads down, shoulders offered up
to the sun gods, we shuffle down the wide expanse of flat beach. The mostly
white sand has an underlying layer of black sand that marks our footprints like
The hunting is good, and as our skin ripens to a crisp, our
plastic shopping bags become heavy and our tummies grow hungry.
(Karen found a shell that looks like Indian cave drawing)
We wander back to Lola’s and order cervezas,
smoothies and lunch.
Lola's, named after the owner’s pet pig, (who took daily
dips in the ocean) is a shady haven with long board wooden seats and tables
that sink into the sand. Pokey, Chicken
Satay, and huge salads are just a few of the offerings that we sampled.
What do you do when a friend calls and invites you to join
her and thirteen of her friends for a girls only house party in Tamarindo,
Costa Rica? Even though you don’t know
any of the other women attending, you say HELL YES!
Named for its indoor and outdoor waterfalls, Cascada Villa,
is a six bedroom oasis located on the beach, only a five minute walk from the
booming tourist town of Tamarindo. Just
an hour’s drive southeast of Liberia, Tamarindo had a dry tropical climate, unlike
the rain forests in other parts of the country.
(The outdoor master bedroom shower)
(View from the master shower)
The women are an eclectic mix, from an executive at Intel in Albuquerque, a
hotel owner in Silver City, NM and a medical marketing CEO from Dallas. Our ages range from 22 to over 70. The majority of the women are from the Silver
City, NM area and are mourning the loss of a husband, father, and friend who
died in December after a long illness.
The others of us are suffering from our own bereavements or major
emotional upheavals. We are looking for
a pause in the emotional storm that life has given us, a place to be surrounded
by love, friendship and healing.
When I travel with friends and family, our roles have
already been established. I am usually
the planner and organizer. Meeting thirteen new people at different stages in
their lives, with ingrained relationships already in place is challenging. Where do I fit in, especially when I am
trying not to do the thing that I
always do? After the last three months,
I need to back away and relax.
The first morning dawns and I find myself wanting to do
everything and nothing.
I settle for lunch with five others at a beach restaurant
called La Palapa .
We share a seafood
feast of lobster, red snapper, mussels, calamari and shrimp.
The conversation flows naturally as we bond
over a communal meal. Enrique, our
waiter, brings us complimentary shooters
of Guaro (Costa Rican Rum) and coconut cream.
We promptly name these “bra busters”, the
perfect partner for the “panty ripper” (Caribbean rum and pineapple juice) that
I am drinking.
(Enrique with Carol and Jana)
After another round of
complimentary shooters (and a BIG TIP for Enrique), we head back to the house
for an afternoon by the pool.
Already we are opening up to each other, trusting and
allowing that we are in the right place at the right time for the right
It’s a new and exciting time as my passion for travel
intersects with creating a new path for my life.
Even when we think we are open to a new world, it is hard to
step out of our comfort zone.I
took a big leap by leaving my warm cozy home at Screen Gems and settling in
Nashville this year.By
doing that I committed to building a new space for both my inner and outer
I did really well with the outer self.I love the house.I love Nashville.I love my neighborhood.I loved that part of my new life.
But I felt as if I faltered with the inner journey.I didn’t write much.I didn’t take any inward journeys.I had some ideas and I mentally batted
them around like beach balls.
Eventually they deflated.
Sometimes we have to be smacked right upside the head to
understand the direction we should be pointed.I got smacked!By Teresa at Sail Air Travel.
After my gig as a travel coordinator for “Water For
Elephants”, I had lunch with Teresa.
We, of course, talked about travel and I explained to her my
plan (that is a loose term) to create specialty groups.She knew then that we could form
a great partnership.
In the last few weeks I have been learning the reservation
system and trying to gleam all the knowledge I can from my fellow travel agents
at Sail Air.They are a warm,
wonderful, giving group and I feel blessed to be allowed to work with
I consider myself a veteran traveler but I had a lot to
learn.Secrets about traveling.
All of which I will share with you.
Keep an eye on this blog.There are a lot of exciting things happening in my world and
I want you all to be a part of it.
Yes, I am still working in production (working on a Taylor
Swift Special right now). My travel life is still being formed but I am
available and able to help you make all your travel arrangements!Please email me at
"Their music will lift up spirits and help
encourage visitors to come here and enjoy our world famous Southern
hospitality." -Governor Bob Riley of the State of Alabama
Brad Paisley and Bon Jovi are heading to the Gulf Shores
area of Alabama for free concerts promoting the Gulf Coast.Tickets are FREE when you make
hotel/condo reservations with selected vacation rentals.
Friday, October 15, 2010
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Sounds like a fun weekend trip to me! For all the information, check out their website:
The Sheraton Read House , located in the heart of downtown
Chattanooga, has a lively history, beautifully restored and/or maintained
architectural detail and a staff that will attend to your every need.
(photo by Jennifer Blair)
Built in 1926, this ten-story Georgian style Hotel underwent
a $12Million restoration in 2004, updating its amenities while maintaining its
historical charm.However, this
was not the first hotel to occupy this corner of land.
(Photo supplied by Sheraton Read House)
The first, The Crutchfield House,
opened in 1846 and was used as a hospital by the Union Army during occupation
in 1863.It survived the war
but burned to the ground in 1867.Another hotel was built a few years later, to be
torn down in 1926 to make way for the new improved Read House.
Visited by a variety of important people, such as Winston
Churchill, Ronald Regan and recently Robert Pattison (of “Twilight” fame), the
most infamous was Al Capone.Chattanooga’s location made an ideal overnight stop for the Feds
transporting Mr. Capone from Florida back to Chicago.Security bars were placed on the window in Room 311, where
they remained until the renovation in 2004.
As with any hotel with history, rumors of ghosts and
haunting abound.(The rumors
center around Room 311.)The staff
will deny any knowledge, as the hotel doesn’t want to advertise these things,
but stay long enough and you’ll experience your own.I certainly did.You can read more about the ghosts of the Read House in American Roads Travel Magazine.
(Photo by Jennifer Blair)
Placed on the National Register of Historical Places in the
1970’s, the Sheraton Read House is the perfect spot to center your Chattanooga
visit.The free electric
shuttle stops just a few steps away and will whisk you down Broadway to the
riverfront or the world famous (and most highly rated) Tennessee Aquarium.
After a day of exploring, settle back in at the Sheraton
Read House where the kids can swim in the pool, while the adults relax in the
hot tub.Porter Steakhouse is on
the premises, along with a Starbucks to accommodate your early morning and late
(Photo supplied by Sheraton Read House)
If you would like to visit Chattanooga or the Sheraton Read
House, please contact me and I can help make your travel plans thru Sailair Travel.