Sunday, February 10, 2019
So when we got home, we checked show times and tried to purchase tickets for that night -- opening night. They had options for 'DOB' and 'SUB', so I correctly guessed that 'SUB' meant that it was in English with Spanish subtitles. As I went through the checkout, the credit card was rejected -- which nearly always happens when we purchase online from Costa Rica despite having told our credit card companies that we would be in Costa Rica. But the website allowed us to reserve the tickets and pay at the theater, which we paid for with the same credit card that was rejected online.
We're not really 'mall people', but the Lincoln Plaza is a great, engaging and welcoming mall. The kids checked out the Lego store, Carson got a shirt at the CAT (tractor brand) store and we got some snacks from Auntie Annes and Cinnabon.
Employees at retail stores in Costa Rica actually seem to care -- the stores are cleaner, better organized, and the employees are more friendly and helpful than our experience at stores in the US.
Movie tickets were only $5 / adult and less for the kids. Much cheaper than in the US and the theater was quite a bit nicer than most US theaters.
Angela relaxed in this rocking chair outside the Lego store while the kids admired the overpriced toys. Lego's are expensive in the US, and nearly twice as expensive here.
There are a lot of these stand-alone McDonalds ice-cream stands. Here, Savannah is ordering and paying for an ice-cream cone on her own:
The busiest stores at the food court were the US stores, especially KFC and McDonalds.
The view from our original seats was pretty good, despite us being pretty high up.
Before the game, the referees ran back and forth and had a really fun choreographed routine.
The view from the box seats:
The college student area:
Tuesday, February 5, 2019
A 3 means that there is minor activity or an eruption warning. Volcán Rincon de la Vieja is a 3; we had visited it a couple of weeks ago and were able to see some of that activity.
The other volcano that is a 3 is Parque Nacional Volcán Poás. We went there today. It erupted in 2017 and again in Aug of 2018. It opened to visitors again recently, but is still fairly volatile. How can you pass that up?
The volcano is staffed with Red Cross personnel and many Red Cross vehicles to help in case of emergency. You are required to back into parking spots in case of a quick emergency evacuation. Hard hats must be worn near the volcano. There are reinforced concrete bunkers to take shelter in when escape is not possible. You are also limited to < 20 minutes near the volcano to reduce exposure to the toxic fumes it emits.
Doesn't that sound like a family friendly experience? I guess not, but it did sound exciting and educational to us.
We were able to go to the summit and look down into the fuming crater. That was pretty amazing. Clouds of fumes were continuously emanating from various fumaroles in the crater. We saw pictures of the crater before and after each of the eruptions over the last couple of years. Tons of rock and debris have been thrown from it, increasing its size dramatically. It is now the deepest active volcano crater in the world, about 900 feet deep, and it is about 1 mile wide.
They have highlighted damage caused by the recent eruptions. Chunks of the concrete were crushed or missing and even thick steel railings were significantly dented.
The volcano is very high, about 8900' elevation, giving you incredible views of San Jose on the drive and allowing you to look down on the clouds from the summit.
Several notes for those that plan on going:
Reservations are required -- no exceptions, but you can make reservations from some hotels or restaurants down the mountain from the volcano.
In addition to your entry tickets, you must pay for parking (2000 Colones).
The information about visiting the volcano online is strict and uninviting. You are required to create an account on a website to reserve a time to view the volcano. The website is flakey and randomly will give you incomprehensible errors. If you are fortunate enough to get to the checkout screen, it shows an 8 minute timer and presents you with a large page that you have to complete before the time runs out. It requires each visitors name and passport number, credit card information and billing info. Going as quickly as I could, I finished it with 50 seconds to spare.
Myth: you must arrive 10 minutes before your reservation and if you are more than 5 minutes late, you will forfeit your tickets (which are not cheap -- it was $55 USD for our family).
Actual: they were pretty flexible with timing. we arrived about 30 minutes early and we allowed to join the earlier tour. Some other people had arrived about 40 minutes late and it wasn't an issue.
Myth: it will be very cold since you are at such high elevation (approx 8900').
Actual: it was slightly chilly, but we took off our jackets and many people were comfortable in shorts.
Carson was looking at this stair that had been damaged in the last eruption:
This railing was also damaged by rock shooting out of the crater:
On the drive up, we saw this really ornate, traditional Costa Rican cart:
We hired a college student in Colombia that teaches us via Skype on the internet. We have been meeting with her twice per week. First, she teaches the kids a class. Then she has a class for Angela and me. It has been so helpful. Angela and I come with a list of questions and areas that we need help with and she coaches us through them.
Something as trivial as leaving a parking lot can sure be challenging!
We've enjoyed walking to them and giving them the attention they're craving.
Friday, February 1, 2019
On the drive to San Jose, we saw two Montezuma birds and two blue Morpho butterflies.
Our new house in San Jose, known as Casa los Cielos, was beautiful as we pulled up. We were stunned by the forested yard and the view of the city.
This dining table is one solid piece of wood about 12 feet x 4 feet. It is huge.
The master bedroom:
Several horses welcomed us to our new home. They were very friendly.
It actually gets pretty cold here at night, so the fireplace was warm and cozy.
There is a spectacular view of San Jose in the distance.
A large beetle (maybe 1.5") that was crossing the road to our house.
This moth was alive, but it let Savannah pick it up and hold it for a while.
Wednesday, January 30, 2019
Sunday, January 27, 2019
- eggs are not refrigerated in stores, they are stacked in cardboard crates wrapped in saran wrap.
- salt is granulated, (with fluoride and iodine) but the texture is different than in the US.
- jam and mayonnaise are in bags with a tube at the top to squeeze it out of.
- Peanut butter is in jars, some high-end (imported) jams are in jars.
- the only liquid milk available in stores is 2%; there is a lot of powdered milk on the shelf
- can't find heavy cream
- no half and half
- no butter without yellow food coloring added
- no cottage cheese
- the only good chocolate is imported Cadbury, Nestle or Hershey's
- also, there are armed guards walking around inside the grocery stores as you shop.
- dishwashers are a luxury here, they barely exist.
The small visitors center had a table with some specimens of animals and bugs: