Costa Rica, day 3

This resort (Los Lagos) is exquisite. Tropical, remote, volcano in the background, fancy restaurant with food catering to U.S. tastes, lush gardens, frog garden, ant farm, butterfly sanctuary, crocodiles, caymans, zip lines, horseback riding, and the highlight: a water park with dozens of pools and slides into the cool (74°), warm, and hot water. It’s everything one might expect from a first world resort, with lots of fun surprises.

The restaurant is open air, as most are. Tropical wildlife watching is part of the dining experience. The night before, Lucas spent a long time peering under the table. We finally figured out that he knew there were crocs here. He relaxed after we told him they were in cages. At breakfast, we watched a bird snack on fresh fruit off another diners plate while he refilled at the buffet. Nobody told him who he shared with. We watched an iguana sunning himself within reach of a chair. Then we hit the pools again.

The pools are not chlorinated. This makes swimming for hours very enjoyable. The water is spring fed, and after passing through the pools, it drains into the fish ponds, where tilapia and a couple other fish featured on the menu swim. From the fish ponds, the water drains to the gator ponds, frog farm, and the many gardens before returning to the river. They don’t ‘use’ water here as much as they temporarily divert it. Many of the ponds are dry because this is the dry season. There are two seasons here: wet and dry.

Unlike the houses in C.R., the resort housing has large roof overhangs to defend against the hot midday and afternoon sun. Most Ticos don’t bother, they are used to the heat. When we left Maria’s house yesterday morning, we were in shorts and Maria wore jeans, sweater and boots. It was a “chilly” 75° F.

Here at the resort, hot water comes from thermal springs and a solar hot water heater (for the restaurant). All the buildings are made of concrete, for its imperviousness to moisture, and for modulating the diurnal temperature swings. The thermal mass absorbs midday heat and releases it at night. Hot water is a luxury in Costa Rica. Most Ticos don’t have hot water. They take cold showers, wash their hands in cold water, etc. Their sinks usually have only one handle. Since we are in the tropics, cold water isn’t very cold.

There is a large open pool with a swim up wet bar. There are several group sized retreats for parties to congregate. Further up the hill, the hot pools get progressively smaller and more intimate, with privacy walls and couple sized caves.

In a nod to Eco-consciousness, the rooms have a “green switch.” It’s not green in color, but when you enter the room, you place your key in a slot next to the door which turns on the electricity. When the key is removed, the power to the room shuts off.

Minivan + kids + interior lights = dead battery

Our family vehicle is a Honda Odyssey. The dome lights are toggle switches. Push the light, it’s on. Push again, it’s off. There’s no visible way to tell which position it’s in. If a child pushes the light and it gets left on, the next morning we have no minivan until after a date with Mr. Battery Charger. Since the kids were able to reach the dome lights, we’ve been vigilant. There are ways to be vigilant. We’ve tried:

  1. Exit the vehicle. Close all doors. Lock with the remote so interior lights turn off. Peer inside to see if any lights are on.
  2. Disable interior lights entirely with switch on dash.
  3. Re-enable interior lights, but forbid children from ever, ever, ever touching the light switches.

The third solution works most of the time. On Nov 3rd, I gave some neighbor kids a ride home from school. When they got out, one of them pushed the light switch to turn it off. The lights don’t turn off when the door is opened, so nothing happened. The child exited the van. Having trained my kids not to touch the switches, I didn’t perform #1. On Nov. 4th, we biked to school while Mrs. Odyssey and Mr. Charger hooked up.

On Nov. 5th, I found this post on the OdyClub site, detailing the LED bulbs another Honda owner ordered from China and installed in his Odyssey. I paid $28 for the following ten LED bulbs, shipped: (1) 51109, (4) #51002, (2) 35725, (1) 34641, and (1) #34608. When they arrived a couple weeks later, I installed them in about 15 minutes.

Last night, both kids were reading books on the ride home from swim classes. Both kids left their interior lights on. Both parents failed to notice. This morning, I opened the garage and saw the lights on. I smiled. When I got in, the van started. Mission accomplished.

Them’s Biting Words

After a morning of outdoor play, Lucas asked, “Daddy, may I have this snack?”
I glanced at the time, “Whoa, it’s after lunch already. You should be in here gnawing at my legs by now!”

Moments later, I’m in the kitchen making sandwiches and Lucas has lifted my pant leg and is gnawing.

It’s obvious whose sense of humor this child inherited.

A very nice half-rack

Under other circumstances, I’d have been much more excited to acquire this trophy.

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Unfortunately, I acquired this rack in one of the most expensive ways.

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Baked Alaska

Baked Alaska. Recipe via Epicurious.com. Note to self, use the small ramekins only. No reasonable person can eat one otherwise. But, it sure is fun trying!

Daddy, can I use your nail polish?

Kayla: Daddy, may I use your nail polish?
Me: Why don’t you use mommies?
Kayla: It doesn’t match.
Me: Uh, okay.

Now Kayla has one hand that is purple and one that is pink. The toes on her left foot are blaze orange and the toes on her right are cherry red. In my view, her toe colors exactly match the colors of polish and/or duct tape I use to mark my climbing gear. In her view, having blaze orange toes on the left foot and cherry red toes on the right is a perfect match.

Life Lessons

“Daddy, can I have some brown cake?”
“Brown cake, I inquired?”
“Yes, the one you brought home,” Lucas answered.
“Sure,” I answered, as I watched him grab one. Not wanting to miss out, Kayla came running and grabbed one too.
“Take a small bite,” I cautioned as they both took big bites, and proceeded to spit them out on the floor.
“Ewww, what is that?” they asked, between sputters.
“Coffee grounds from the expresso machine.”