I knew that I wanted to stay a night up near one of the volcanoes. From Tamarindo, Arenal and Monteverde are quite a hike, but Rincon de La Vieja is about 2 1/2 hours away so we went for it! We didnt have any trouble getting there. The part that was the "toughest" was the turnoff from the main road in Aguas Claras, BUT, it's marked with a sign that says "La Anita" to take a left onto a dirt road. Now the dirt road goes for a good 30 minutes because you have to drive slow, but trust me, you won't care because it's so darn beautiful!
Pablo and Ana are nicer than the nicest people you know TIMES 1,000. Seriously, I have never met two people more passionate about what they do. At ClubCorp we preach Warm Welcomes, Magic Moments and Fond Farewells and after meeting Ana and Pablo, it's inspired me to eat/sleep/breathe that a little more.
As soon as we arrived Pablo showed us around, took us to our room, and then asked us what we would like to eat for lunch before our horseback ride. I asked for a salad and Matt asked for Arroz con Pollo. We settled in, changed into our clothes for riding, and then headed back to the dining area. Our lunch was ready when we got there, and they even had fresh passion fruit juice for us. The food was out of this world! Matt loved the fried plantains so much that he asked me to learn how to make them. I called Pablo over and asked if his chef could teach me... what do you think his answer was.... OF COURSE! I'll get to that in a second, though. After lunch (which also included homemade Tres Leches cake with a shot of rum over it) we headed to a lodge down the road to go for our ride.
Edgar was out guide for the horseback riding. He didn't speak a lick of English, but it gave me a real opportunity to practice my Spanish because 99% of the people speak English. We mounted the horses and headed off to the unknown. It was a little rainy, the ground was a mushy, but the horses did ok. We trecked up and up and up until we reached the top where the clouds engulfed us (literally, we were in the freaking clouds!). Once we took some great photos we started our way back down the otherside of the mountain. It was so much fun/ scary. Our horses were sliding down the hills like they had on roller skates (YIKES) but when it got too dangers, we actually dismounted and walked them down. I am not going to lie, it was crazy, but we made it and we lived to blog about it ;) On the way down, I got a chance to talk with Edgar. He has 3 children, we passed his house along with many of his family member's houses, his whole family works with horses, and he thinks I am a good rider and that my husband is not (that was the gist of it) hahah.
After our ride, we paid the hotel, tipped Edgar, said hello and goodbye to our new friend Papi (Toucan that sleeps there everynight) and headed back to La Anita. Once we go there, we showered and got ready for dinner and my COOKING LESSON!
As I mentioned above, I wanted to learn to make these plantains, so Pablo set that up to do before dinner. He called us into the kitchen and the chef walked me through the process. It was really easy, and of course we got to enjoy the plantains before dinner. Pablo also let us sample his fresh roasted Cacoa beans (from the ranch) and this special spicy salsa (which will burn your mouth... in a good way). Dinner was fabulous and we stayed up talking with Pablo about the history of Costa Rica for hours!
Now let's talk about these cabins. The weather is nice and cool at night so you don't need A/C. There are no covers over the windows... just layers of screen to keep the bugs out. The wood in C.R. is beautiful and that is what all the cabins are made out of. They all come equipped with a bed, shelf space for your clothes, modern bathroom, hot water shower, hammock on the front porch, doors that lock and they have an alarm, small refridgerator stocked with beer and water (for purchase) and free Costa Rican coffee. They are set in a lush area of the ranch and are dripping with beautiful tropical flowers. Behind the cabin is a wooded area and from your deck you see the rest of the ranch. We saw some of the most interesting birds with vibrant colored feathers and they constantly sing to you as you are walking around the place. HEAVEN ON EARTH is a better name for this ranch :)
We slept like champs with the rain acting as a sleep aid as it poured on the metal roof. Seriously, I need a metal roof (my poor husband) and I need a ranch in the rainforest in Costa Rica ;)
When we woke up, we both grabbed our books, made some fresh coffee, and proceeded to the porch to read in the hammock. AWESOME. When we got hungry, we headed to the dining area. Ana, Pablo's wife, greeted us and had breakfast with us. I already love her and I only spent about an hour with her. She is the one who helps you with your reservations and she sets up all the activities. She is truly wonderful. Side note: Breakfast was delicious with their homemade jams, eggs, gallo pinto, coffee, and their homemade juices. Afterwards, we walked around the ranch a bit more and then decided to go ahead and pack up to make the drive back to Tamarindo. Honestly, I felt like I was going to cry when we were leaving (no really, I did) so it is my mission to go back very very soon! Ana and Pablo hugged us both goodbye and we headed out.
I couldnt just do a few pictures, I wanted to give you all a full slide show. These pictures are from the horseback ride, the ranch, the drive in, etc. Please enjoy ;)