Author Archives: Miss Lynne

From Iguanas to Sunsets

We slowed down on the organised trips on Wednesday and Thursday, by now we had a good understanding of the general area and where we wanted to go. We took a leisurely stroll down to the beach and I sat in the shade knitting while Rob read. There was a lovely gentle breeze coming off the sea.


After lunch we went looking for Iguanas, we have yet to see the really big green ones but these will do for now 


When we get back Rob will post his pictures which given the quality of the lens will be much better than my iPhone snaps

Another stroll around the property and we found a troop of Howler monkeys, mostly just lazing in the sun. 

But I was lucky enough to get this small video of a baby and it’s mama, how cute is this? 


In the afternoon we visited the Ara Project it is managed by a Brit, Tom is from Reading not far from where my daughter lives.

They are located in grounds owned and supported by the hotel and their mission is to rescue, breed and rehabilitate the native Scarlet Macaw and the even more at risk Green Macaw. They have successfully released many breeding pairs, it’s a long and complex process that is articulated on their website, link is above. Again only an iPhone snap but you get the idea.

That evening we walked to local restaurant about a  5 minute walk from the hotel. A great margarita (using fresh juice and not that chemical tasting mix you can buy) plus house special rice for me and red snapper for Rob. The rice had half a langoustine, shrimp, conch, calamari and  lobster. Rob’s fish was caught off the beach this morning, yum.

Thursday was pretty much a repeat of Wednesday with the main highlight being a hike up the mountain at 4.30 so we could catch the sunset. This is a view looking back at our cove from the top of the hill 


The sunset was well worth the hike but again Rob’s camera did it far more justice, but for now, here is my best shots 


Oh I nearly forgot, we also walked into the nearest village yesterday, it only consists of some 30 houses, church, school and soccer field. But again with some help from the hotel they are establishing themselves as an arts and crafts village, with the emphasis on either depicting local animals and scenes or using reclaimed materials. Sorry no pictures to share yet but all the buildings were also painted with elaborate murals.

Last but not least this is the most dangerous animal we have seen so far…..

We have been warned that to touch any of the hairy caterpillars will result is so much pain that in the words of our guide ” will even make a big man cry ” 

BBC… Breakfast, beach painting and critters

Leisurely start to the day, breakfast at 7 am. We had the typical fresh fruit plate but followed it with Costa Rica style hueveros rancheros. I now understand why people from this part of the world get so excited by our eggs. The eggs here are clearly fresh and have that beautiful orange yolk. We were also treated to a fly-by by numerous pairs of Macaws

At 10am I had signed up for beach painting, painting at the beach and not actually painting the beach, although I would probably have been better at that. I assumed we would be given instruction but no, I was given blank card, pencil and four paint brushes and let loose to do what I wanted.


I think the expression “don’t give up the day job ” adequately covers my artistic skills. We had lunch up at the hotel and I requested coconut water, the waiter said they only have it down the beach club and so I insisted that water would be fine. Clearly not good enough for him as 10 minutes later they had shuttled up a coconut from the club. It’s nice to be spoilt occasionally. 


At 2pm we attended a cookery demo and were shown how to make cerviche, we then plated it up and ate it, the sea bass was delicious.


As the tide was out we decided to walk around the headland and see if we could make it to the next beach, just around the corner there was a cut out that was too wide to jump but we enjoyed the walk and seeing the many types of crabs lurking in the polls.A little rest and relaxation back by the pool and then off for a 2 hour hike at 6pm (in the dark) with a guide looking for nocturnal animals. We saw so many different species it would be difficult to list them all, but here are the ones I remember,  Iguana,crickets millipeads, tarantula, small snake, fresh water shrimp, grey fox, kinkachu (looks like a cure possum) and there were two that I was able to photograph with my trustee iPhone, a scorpion using ultra violet light ( there is an enzyme in their shell that makes them glow) and a sugar cane toad that appeared to be doing yoga by the side of the pond.


Back to the hotel for a late dinner and after our main course they presented us with a complimentary tasting plate of the desserts, unfortunately Rob inhaled most of it before I could get my camera out 

Nature at its best

Sunrise is at 5 am here and included in the cost of the room is the choice of a number of organised activities. We decided to start the day with a bird watching hike. Our guide was very knowledgeable and we were able to see some 20 species of the local flocks, including Chacahalaca , Tanger, Pelican and Fly catchers. 

Back to the hotel for breakfast, it has open sided views of the infinity pool and beach below that instantly melts any stress away. On top of that the food is pretty great, fresh fruit, squeezed to order Juice and a range of plated hot food.


A nice walk down to the beach with a sighting of a huge grey Iguana, we were not quick enough to photograph it but here is a Google Image 


There is a beach club belonging to the Hotel on the shoreline so after a brief walk along the edge of the ocean we settled ourselves into a cabana and were brought drinks, lunch and great conversation by the waiters.



At 2 pm we went and joined our guide, Eduardo, to go in search of monkeys. The most common monkey in the region is the Howler monkey. They live in troops of between 2 and 40 and sound like a very deep dog howl. Thanks to the amazing telescope the guide carries we were able to find some but they were too far away for a decent picture, so again, thank you Google.


We were also able to see a small male Iguana sitting in the tree and the level of detail you could see with the telescope was impressive, shame that they cost about 3.5k because I would have been tempted to purchase one, the telescope not the Iguana!

We did see a lot of Coatimundi which are part of the racoon family, not too scared of people and we have seen them all over the grounds of the hotel.


After a relaxing chill out in our own little jacuzzi, we headed back to the restaurant for and early dinner as we had also signed up for the turtle hike 🙂


7pm, note that sunset is 5pm, we set out in the van with Eduardo and 4 other guests over to the next beach along, the trip itself was an adventure as we drove over the hillside on another deeply rutted dirt track. No lights except red ones were allowed on the beach but with the moonlight it was surprising how much you could actually see. The plan was to just walk back and forth along the shoreline until we saw the tell tale drag marks of the turtle as she exits the sea and heads up the beach to lay her eggs. One sweep of the beach was about 30 minutes and on our 3rd trip halfway along we were lucky enough to see a young turtle actually laying her eggs. We stayed with her till she finished and then watched her fill in the hole and head  back out to sea. On the way back to the van we were able to see another turtle just starting the dig out process prior to laying her eggs. As flash would have disturbed them, once more thank you Google.


Wow and this was just day 1 

Ready set go…..

Last Tuesday my nephew arrived from the UK to apprentice as farm hand. He did a great job and picked it up like a natural. Friday my sister and brother in law arrived to help as well, all so that Rob and I could have a holiday together.

Sunday morning we flew from Atlanta to Liberia in Costa Rica. We had a little bit of a wait at the airport for the next flight to come in but it was no issue, we were sat outside watching the world go by and enjoying the view of the mountains in the distance.

The shuttle trip to the hotel was about 2 1/2 hours which helps describe the standard of the roads as it was only 57 miles. We passed through many small villages and they all had the same set up, in the middle there was a soccer field and around the field was the necessities of life, a church, a school and a bar!

The last 6 miles of the journey was a dirt track that followed along the steep hills and valleys, there were deep ruts in the track from the recently ended rainy season. The hotel is fabulous, a small boutique hotel on the top of the hillside. 

All the rooms are individual bungalows and we were upgraded to a stunning one with great views and our own outside jacuzzi.

On our way to dinner, Rob remarked that this would be the perfect location for a honeymoon, then we both stopped and looked at each other and had a light bulb moment. We were married on December 29th 2007 but the next day I had to leave for the US to start my new job. Rob had to go through the spouse visa process and also pack up the house so he did not come over to the US to mid February. Then like all expats, most of our vacations have been to see family or family coming to see us. Although we did manage a few hiking trips in the RV. Of course, when we moved to Georgia  and took on the farm, we traveled like royalty (separately).

Last April my sister offered to come look after the farm for us so that we could get away together. THANK YOU, we are now officially on Honeymoon!

Salida – always fun

Last Friday I flew to Denver so that I could spend time with my Colorado friends. Jill collected me at the airport and our first stop was lunch with  Rinah Yeay!  Quick call in at Sally’s place to load some more fiber into the car then off to Salida. The trip across the mountains is beautiful, apart from the stunning Vistas of South Park (yes it’s a real place) we were also treated to herds of Yak and Vicuna  (small alpaca) as we drove through. We arrived at Salida just before 5pm and helped Sally to complete the booth set up. We finished just before 7 and headed over to Brookes Tavern for dinner by the side of the Arkansas river.

After dinner, we drove up to the fabulous mountain of home that belongs to friends of Jill. Luckily we remembered the route from last year as finding it in the dark is a bit of a challenge.

Morning brought beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and an early start to go finish off the rest of the booth


I did not have a booth this year as my yarn came back a little late, but I did take some mohair locks and some finished goods. Both of which sold quite well.

Lori Kirk from Cowgirl Yarns in Laramie stopped by to see Jill and we also had the pleasure of her company at dinner that night at the Twisted Cork. What a lovely lady, if ever you are in the area you should call in and say hi (but don’t forget to buy something)

Both Saturday and Sunday I had lunch at the local Vietnamese place, fabulous soup the first day and spring rolls with bubble tea the second. I was a reasonably good girl and only bought some yak and silk mix to spin with, a nostepin, shawl magnet and I won some gradient yarn in the silent auction.

Broke down the booth and packed up in record time on Sunday  and then off to dinner again at Brooks with Marney and her friend from Hawaii. Back to the house to get an early night, ready for the early start Monday and the drive back to Denver. Pit stop in Conifer to get lunch with Rinah and Sally and a little detour to Colorful Yarns in Centennial Park before flying back to Atlanta

Thanks again to Sally and Jill- love you both and I had a great time.

Life Death and the unknown 

While Alana and I were away enjoying ourselves, Mr Rob was having his own roller coaster ride at the farm.

First we had too many roosters in our last batch of eggs so all is not happy in the coop and some of the smaller chickens are being picked on. We lost one of them on Wednesday. So we need to get rid of at least 8 roosters. Although on a brighter note we hatched 8 more eggs and they are doing well, hopefully they are all girls.


Then Thursday he could hear a lot of commotion in the garden and went out just in time to see  a hawk fly off and then one of the ducks come staggering up the garden with a gash on her neck. He has treated it with vetricyn and she seems to be fine for now, so fingers crossed.

Last but not least one of our cats, Bobtail,had gone missing. We are hoping he will either just turn up again or that he has found another house that he prefers to ours.

Animals bring a lot of pleasure but also a lot of distress 

Day 5,6 and 7 – Universal Studios

First, let me start by talking about the Hotel, it was a pretty good package deal. Nice hotel, great room and a fab pool area that was open 10am to 11pm every day. The hotel, Loews Royal Pacific, is also on the Univeral Studio property so literally a 5-minute walk to the parks. The cost of the hotel  included entrance to the park for 3 days, express passes and early entrance to Harry Potter. I added on the dining pass which gave us lunch, souvenir mugs with unlimited refills and a snack every day. It was a great way to manage the spend and also made it easy for Alana to not worry about what she could and could not have.

Here are the views from our hotel room, love the water lilies

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Now let us talk about the food – have to say it was generally pretty poor. Hot dogs and beefburgers looked underwhelming. Pasta was not too bad and there was one shining light though and that was the fish and chip lunch at the Harry Potter restaurant. It was cooked to order and was really tasty.

Going to a theme park with an 8-year-old is very interesting, Alana is a complex mix of a daredevil and a scaredy cat. It was only the height restriction that kept her off 2 of the roller coasters but she just made the height limit on the dragon ride and so I was propelled at very fast speeds through a number of loops both upside down and sideways yeah!

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Yet some of the rides that were dark and had spiders meant my hand was clenched very tight.  Although I think we both decided that the Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb was both of our favorite ride in both parks. We made the mistake of thinking that we had picked the one water ride that would not get us very wet, well we got that wrong. We were both drenched right through. Did not help that we ended up in the front seat.

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Thank goodness the hotel was close so we were able to go back and get changed. We had the typical heavy thunderstorms every afternoon that we were there, but we managed to pick indoor rides so missed most of the heavy rain.

The Harry Potter area in both parks was very well done and the rides there were great. Alana bought a magic wand and they have places around the area where you stand and make a certain shape with the wand and it triggers things to happen, like water spouting or things moving in the shop windows. Very cool but also a great money maker. As you can imagine the wands came with a high price tag.

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I also learnt that Hello Kitty is not cool but Scooby Doo and Sideshow Bob are

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My little daredevil  tried her hand at rock climbing, she did really well. She is strong, agile and fearless.

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Most nights Alana went in the pool after the park and I was able to sit and read while keeping an eye on her. We were lucky enough to have poolside service so a nice cocktail helped relax me a little.

On the last night, we had an early dip in the pool then got ready and went out for dinner at City Walk.

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Long drive back to Atlanta tomorrow but all in all, it has been a great week.

 

 

 

Day 4 Orlando 

We left St Agustine mid morning after a quick stop at the mall to buy a new dress for the little one and some shorts for me. We made good time until we hit the outskirts of Orlando and then we were in the typical traffic that they always seem to have around the park area. Just after we arrived at the hotel there was a heavy downpour with thunder and lightening so we were very lucky to miss driving in it. The hotel is really nice and themed on a Hawaiian Island.  So they presented Alana with a lei at check-in.


Our room wasnt quite ready so we sat in the lounge and I taught Alana to play rummy. She of course had managed to pick it up quite quickly so we will be playing a lot more. It helps pass the time between adventures.


Not long to wait till the room was ready and of course Missy quickly picked the bed that she wanted


Once the rain stopped we went over to city walk which is the main dining and entertainment area. It was only about 5 mins walk away and we had a good look around so the we could plan for the future. In one of the stores it seems that zombie alpacas are all the rage these days!


We went off to play a round of crazy haunted golf and clearly there is something special about the 17th hole as Alana managed a hole in one again! She is really doing very well for a beginner and we had a good laugh. The course was very well done but more Scooby Doo horror than anything more sinister,


Time for dinner so we shared a pizza and then we walked around to the Portofino hotel so I could show her what fake Italy looks like. Before we walked back to our own hotel


When we got back to the hotel, the lagoon pool was still very busy so we had a mad dash upstairs so that Alana could get her swimming costume on and go play in the pool till 8.30 of course she managed to make friends with some girls her own age and had a lot of fun. We are off to the park at 7 tomorrow as we have early admission tickets for the wizarding world of Harry Potter,

Day 3 Rrrrrrrrrrrrr me hearties

Today was pirate day, after breakfast we went back into the town. Started the adventure off at the pirate museum which is reputed  to have more actual pirate memorabilia than any other location globally.The tour guide was dressed in authentic costume complete with long flowing hair and a Scottish accent, he was also very informative. They give the kids a treasure map and they have  to find 12 hidden drawers in the museum and write down the code word. Alana found all 12 and was able to pick her “treasure”

Off for an early lunch and then onto a game of mini golf. Alana managed a hole in one on the 17th, woo hoo 


We then made our way to the highlight of the day, a trip on a pirate ship. I had bought the coin waist band at the Renaissance festival some months ago and this seemed like the perfect opportunity for her to wear it.


We boarded the ship and got ready to set sail


Just before we left, Captain Hook and Blackbeard boarded the ship and stole our treasure.

Once we were at sea, Alana and the other children were taught how to sword fight.


This was followed by singing some sea shanties and some face painting.


Oh no look who is coming after us, it’s Captain Hook and Blackbeard in another boat and they are firing canons at us 

Luckily when they tried to board again the kids were ready for them and fought them off.

They were also able to regain the treasure chest and they all got a share of the booty.


Before we left the ship we had time for one last picture with the crew 

All in all it was a great day.

Only read on if you are not squeamish, I got bitten quite a few times on the legs by yellow flies (thank goodness they did not bite Alana) well they have reacted quite badly. Hopefully they will get better soon. Off to Orlando tomorrow.

Day 2 alligators and St Augustine

Early drive to the Okeefenokee  swamp Park near Waycross Georgia after a quick chat with Great Nanny Wales. We were some of the first people there and so we had a quick look at the nature center and then off to the boat ride through the swamp.

We saw lots of alligators from Babies through to full grown males.


The swamp itself was very interesting with all sorts of plants and wildlife. This plant digests bugs in its flutes.


There are also just a lot of really pretty water lilies and other water based plants. The guide recommended hiring a boat and doing the swamp from Fargo in April when all the plants are at their best.


Much to Alana’s amusement I nearly walked into the Web of a banana spider, and we saw a lot of other spiders, all about the size of Alana’s hand! 


After the boat ride we took a small train ride around the park, we stopped at a recreated pioneers homestead. There was a blacksmith there making knives out of railway ties


The engineer also allowed Alana to blow the whistle on the train.

Next came the talk at the nature center, the guide talked about the various snakes and turtles that they had there. Alana was allowed to hold Bumper a young male about a year old. These will grow as big as dinner plates over time and can live longer than a 100 years.


Before touching  the snake she had to wash her hands to make sure she did not smell like food!


We then went outside with the guide to see the black bear, they have 4, mum dad and two youngsters. They reckon there are about 7000 living wild in the swamp. This is dad, he is about 15 years old.


Once we finished at the park, we started our drive to St Agustine. After checking into the hotel Alana went into the pool and of course made friends with some other kids.

Off into the town for dinner and a walk along the shoreline, we also booked our adventure for tomorrow but you will have to wait to hear what that one is 😀