Friday, January 29, 2016

Hiking trails above the Rio Dulce

Part of our crew boards the Tortugal Marina Launcha
A few others took their own dinghies
While we wait for our new fiberglass non skid deck to be completed, we have time for a few adventures. We joined a group of other Tortugal cruisers for a hike up above the Rio Dulce from Hacienda Tijax Resort ( The owner built this lovely trail which ends high up at the Shamen Tower through his hundreds of acres property. Our guide, Lucy, taught us about the rain forest environment and the rubber making process.
Clutching our walking sticks everyone lines up with
our guide Lucy Carlos
 on the left

Jim from "Emerald Seas" leads up the trail

Scott and I on the first of several long swinging
bridges over chasms

We walked through an old rain forest and
a secondary growth area

The trail is well maintained. It was built 13 years ago by
the owner of the Tijax Resort

A dam in the river has created a lovely pool for cooling off
mid way.

In the rubber plantation our guide described
the process for getting the rubber

The liquid rubber oozes out into metal buckets,
the pink color comes from antibiotics painted
onto the cut in the tree to protect it.

The plantation was really beautiful as you can see here

Our group poses at the Shamen Tower (not an old ruin but built to
take in the fabulous view).

Inside we hear about the construction

Heather's shadow strikes a pose 

Looking from the top of the tower over to the yachting area

While to the left you can see the bridge which spans the Rio Dulce near our Marina (not seen but just up the river around
the bend on the right.

Left to right: Renate & Jim "Emerald Seas", Coleen "Unplugged", Lizzie "Indian Summer", Deborah "Czech N' Mate", Rick & Marsha "She Wolf", Scott & I, Kim & Mike, Valerie "Zula" and Sally & Breck "Capraia"

and I strike the obligatory pose

While the sun goes down behind the distant hills

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Traveling Summary

Sean and Will came up for the weekend in the fall with a big group of friends for Will's birthday
 Our first trip this fall was down to Maryland to visit my sister Paula and then to Washington DC for a stay with James and Morgen. Scott came back by train and I stayed for a few more days with Paula, returning with the car.
We went down to visit my sister Paula and James & Morgen
Here's Morgen with her sister Claire (she had a baby girl
this January).

Will and his birthday cake
In between Sean and Will's wedding in August and Daniel's Bar Mitzvah in Costa Rica on January 9 we did a lot of traveling - some of it last minute.  Our planned trip in November to visit our two oldest children and their families was wonderful. We spent a week in Tulsa, OK with Josh, Michal and their 5 kids followed by a week with Zoe, George and their two over Thanksgiving. George cooked all weekend and we ate like kings. Time with our grandchildren is fantastic and never long enough.
Cookie, Maya and myself cooking up a storm in the kitchen

Holiday presentations at the University School - here Uzi's class

Cookie shows off her Hanukkah gingerbread house
which she made for the Philbrook Museum
Lights Festival exhibit

The annual Philbrook Museum Lights Festival evening

Cookie and I paint a peacock for Uzi's class project. Each child
 made the "eyes" of the feathers with their fists.

We had planned to come home to Vermont following this but just before leaving we had a call from our Marina in Guatemala. The deck replacement project scheduled for mid March and expected to last 10 weeks could be moved up to start in November if we wished. This meant we would not be there to supervise the whole project but would allow us a longer cruising period this season. We gave them the go ahead. This meant a second trip down to Guatemala in December to check on progress, make payments and decisions. So we flew out of  Boston after returning from California and then back again after 10 days on 12/15.
George carves up the perfect turkey

While Tommy and Zoe clean up

A family Thanksgiving crowd

We got in several hikes through the local preserves

And a trip down to Half Moon Bay

It allowed us a few days at home before jumping in the car to spend a weekend back in Boston for our annual Holiday Open House 12/20 - this year at Karen & Ted's home in Winchester. The whole gang showed up yet again. This party has been going on since 1970 and keeps our group of old friends in touch.  Then home again in time for hosting a neighborhood holiday party on 12/21. Sean and Will showed up for that with James and Morgen coming on the 23rd. When we all get together, planning, cooking and eating meals are our favorite activities. Especially Sean, James and myself. That and playing board games alternated with going for hikes when the weather permitted. Christmas Eve Scott and I sang in the choir at our tiny local church. Sean and Will came along while James and Morgen fixed our dinner; carmelized onion and white wine risotto with grilled lamb chops & steak with a green salad. Of course we had tons of Christmas cookies all week.
Christmas morning we all opened massive stockings and ate a huge blueberry walnut pancake breakfast with local cob smoked bacon and sausage. Larry and new girlfriend Christine joined us for a few days. Christine brought pies for dessert after the Roast Turkey dinner (I didn't get to make Thanksgiving this year so had to do it on Christmas). On Saturday we visited the Smiths in Middlebury for a wonderful dinner and on Sunday had dinner up in Waitsfield with the Silversteins. James and Morgen left on 12/29 and Sean & Will on the 31st. It was a wonderful week and hard to see it end.
We hadn't long now to clean up and get the house ready for the long winter. And of course we had the new trip to Costa Rica to plan and pack for. On 1/5 we flew tiny Cape Air to Boston followed by 1/6 to Guatemala City and then 1/8 to Costa Rica. Then back to Guatemala City on 1/13 and next day, the bus down to the Rio Dulce and Tortugal Marina. So here we are now and will be for at least three more weeks. The old teak deck has been removed, sanded down and new non skid fiberglass panels installed. The finishing work lies ahead. Due to fiberglass dust we have had to stay in a hotel room at the Marina but hopefully will be able to move aboard tomorrow. We've been living in hotel rooms too often these last months!
My handsome and tall grandson Nick, 12
On the deck at Tortugal Marina in Guatemala for coffee in the morning
With Tortugal's owner and our friend Daphne
The Silversteins, hosts Karen & Ted Martin and Tom Dunn
The breakfast table set with "crackers" on
Christmas morning
Sean & Will waiting for breakfast
Scott cooking up the pancakes
With our crowns on in the kitchen
Will does look like a King surrounded by
opened presents 
And there's a lot of them
Morgen and James
At Harvey & Gail Smiths with Colin & Leslie

Saturday, January 16, 2016

La Paz Waterfall Gardens

We spent most of a day at the La Paz Waterfall Gardens about 1.5 hours from San Jose and loved it. We hired a very knowledgeable guide, Raphael, had an early lunch and then started on our hike through the property. First we visited the bird sanctuary, then the butterflies, monkeys, cats, reptiles, orchids followed by a hike down the canyon with 4 different waterfalls. There were so many things to see and the animals, all rescued from illegal ownership, were in natural environments and seemed very well cared for. Our grandchildren, aged 4 to 13 loved the place and so did we. At the end there is a shuttle bus that brings your back to the starting point.
La Paz is on the way to Volcano National Park although we
took a different route.

And as yesterday we saw lots of cows

At a stop to take a break the girls decorated
the barb wire fence with flowers!

Maya and myself pose at the La Paz Gardens restaurant

Josh & Michal cuddle

Father and son look alikes

There were endless stairs up and down the valley. You had to
be in good shape for this hike.

The flowers were lovely everywhere

Everyone got a chance to hold the
Toucan - here Maya,

A spectacle owl spies on us

There were a lot of Scarlet Macaws. These beautiful
birds live up to 75 years in captivity and mate for life!

The butterfly conservatory was amazing - huge with
thousands of butterflies that landed on us everywhere.

Maya shows off one lovely one

And Daniel gets a kiss!

Orchids are just so amazing

Shira has a twin leopard

But Uzi bonding with the mountain lion

This is the traditional oxen cart beautifully decorated. It's
in front of a hacienda built without nails like it would have
been a hundred years ago.
Cookie pumps some water
Shira with a green pepper and our guide Raphael inside
the hacienda
We sampled cinnamon rice milk and coconut corn
pudding - traditional treats
Posing at our first of four waterfalls.
These walkways and staircases were built hanging on to the
steep walls of the canyon where a series of waterfalls drop
down thousands of feet.
Our handsome oldest son Josh
Looking up at the misty hills dense with vegetation
Uzi and Michal stand in the spray of another waterfall
Shira looking adorable, as usual
The waterfall looks smaller here but it is actually much taller. It's the perspective.