Well after a sharp jolt back down to earth last week, what with going back to work and getting clobbered with the snow (not to mention an approximate 50°C difference in temperature!), here I am back at work and eagerly looking forward to spring. Strangely enough I don't seem to have suffered from jet lag but I have to admit a temperature of -11°C on getting into my car for work on Wednesday was a bit of a shock to the system. Luckily, as I have said before, I have never minded the cold, but getting hammered with snow on Thursday and Friday was another thing altogether. Looking at my garden I would say we got about 10 inches of snow over the two days, with Friday morning bringing really heavy snow and then all of a sudden at lunchtime - pouff - it stopped and I was able to get home pretty easily! It's just weird. Now today the temperature has "soared" up to about 7°C so of course the snow is melting faster than you can put your moon boots away, but that's fine too. As I always say, snow is great in the mountains, but on the roads - nah, not so much.
On the bus this morning I picked up the free local paper (20 Minutes) and noticed a beautiful photo of people skating on the Lac de Joux in the Jura mountains near here. We used to go up there quite a bit when we lived in the Canton of Vaud (in Switzerland). It is a much smaller, shallower lake than Lake Geneva but very peaceful and very beautiful and this photo just leaped off the page at me - reminded me of a Breugel painting really - even if fewer people were skating than might have been expected because of the snow cover on the frozen lake. As I say, I saw these pictures in the newspaper but couldn't find who to accredit them to so sorry about that.
Anyway, back to Costa Rica (I wish). We arrived in San Jose quite late on the Saturday evening so were basically shown to our rooms and we all just jumped into bed to try to catch up with the time zone. There were only six of us in our group and we all ended up getting along famously. There was a younger couple who put us all to shame with their energy levels and enthusiasm, another single lady of a similar age to me, and two older lady friends who had known each other for over 40 years since their children were at school together and who had routinely travelled all over the world together (husbands notwithstanding) for the past however many years - and very nice they all were too.
On the first day we met our guide, Ron, who was great, and Gustavo, who was going to be our minibus driver for the duration - and again a really nice chap. Since we were setting off for our next hotel immediately, we stopped en route at the Doka Coffee Estate for a guided tour of the plantation. Now I know these things can get old but since I had never been to a coffee plantation it was interesting, for me at least. And guess what, they take some of their fabulous coffee beans and coat them in either white, milk or dark chocolate and they are sublime! Really good - but - and this would be a feature of CR - pretty expensive. I think US$16 for a small packet of chocolate-covered beans. I had been warned by my Costa Rican colleague that it is not cheap but I was a little shocked at the price of the souvenirs and to some extent the cost of the food. While the food was invariably very good everywhere we ate (in the little sodas - not big fancy restaurants), I found them to be only a little cheaper than Geneva prices, while the others - all living in Britain - found it to be more expensive than the UK).
On the way we stopped briefly in a couple of villages for the usual "church visits" and so on which included the little town of Sarchi, which is home to the world's biggest ox cart, a symbol of the traditional Costa Rican way of farming.
After that we were supposed to be visiting the Poas Volcano but since it had been "exhibiting all the signs of a stomach upset" rather recently we couldn't make it, so instead headed off to the Danaus Ecocentre - which is where I got to see my first sloth! Yipee! They put plantains out for the wildlife right at the entrance and the birds were just so magical, but me with my stupid ipad - I couldn't get much in the way of pictures as they were just too fast. Which makes me think, I don't like my big expensive camera because it is too heavy but many moons ago, on a flight back from the UK, I bought a small digital camera in the duty free so I must look that out for my next trip - as well as invest in a small pair of binoculars. You live and learn I guess. I shall be a real seasoned veteran by the time I'm 100!
We came quite close to a croc at Danaus (well it was just over the other side of a small lake) but I could only get a half-way decent photo of it through the telescope. I'm still trying to sort my photos out and am hoping my travelling companions will send me some of their photos because I am a little disappointed in mine. Still, for what it^s worth:
This is the best I could do with the sloth - he is lying on the branch on the lower left hand side looking away from us, but bugger me if a couple of our party didn't actually film a sloth crawling along the phone lines while we were out eating one evening. I mean, that really isn't fair is it. He was just doodling along the phone lines, reached up for a piece of fruit and doodled back off - to the thrill of everyone present. And to think I was only just round the corner!!!! (Can you hear the gnashing of teeth here?)
I will post about the rest of our trip in the next couple of days as I don't want to make this too long. Of course when I got back my weight was right up where it started sometime in January so now I am back on the old treadmill again. In fact, having recently discovered the blog "100 Healthy Days", I might try setting up a separate, private (for the moment) blog to try to do something similar in an effort to finally do something about my shape! Sitting on a beach in Costa Rica in a swimsuit really brought home to me that I need to do something about this (or risk being harpooned) and while for most other things in my life I am/have been pretty determined, for some reason so far I haven't been able to get to grips with my weight gain. Of course Sophie over at 100 HD is 30 years younger than me and gorgeous but hey, if I can make it past day three, who knows! Will give it some thought. Oh and Wendy, have a lovely time. Can't wait to hear all about your stay in Costa Rica when you get back (you lucky devil)!