Sunday, December 21, 2014

Panama Canal Cruise - Part Four - Costa Rica and Home

The only problem with cruises the short time you get to spend in a country.  You get a tiny taste or glimpse and that is so hard.  We always say we want to come back, but we sure can't go back to all these places.

I've wanted to go to Costa Rica for many years.  We arrived on the Caribbean side which is very lush mountains and we saw many rivers in our short drive from the port up to the hacienda we visited. The tour we chose to go on was to Hacienda Tayutic in Sitio de Mata.  We had a long day with a 2 hour drive to and from.  On the drive we were able to see the active Turrialba Volcano.

This is a working hacienda and we learned about growing and harvesting coffee beans, macadamia nuts and sugar cane.  Excellent demonstrations on how to make brown sugar and candy and it was fun to taste.

Bananas - they are bagged to protect them from bugs

In our 2 hour bus trip we saw several rivers and streams.

Sights on our bus ride

Cloudy Day, Rainy Season

 View from Hacienda.  This was so beautiful I didn't want to leave

 This is sugar cane.  In the fields are the Fer de Lance snake that is 
extremely poisonous. 

Very old coffee grinder that was used with oxen

Coffee Beans - hand picked.  Interesting site on 10 step process.

Showed us old processes for making sugar 

Feeding the sugar cane into the press as the oxen pull to make the press work

Boiling up the sugar syrup 

Old wooden trough and paddle to stir boiling hot syrup

 The mold has a brand letter at the bottom so you know which brown sugar you are purchasing. 

 The men are showing how they used to wrap brown sugar in sugar cane leaves.  
Good idea, nothing here was wasted.

Sugar with old wrappings, new packaging, candy they made, molded and alcohol.  The alcohol is their national drink Cacique Guaro - which is sugar cane liquor.  Has a neutral taste.

So many beautiful flowers.  I couldn't get pictures of many of them from the zooming bus.

Coffee beans, some red some green


Macadamia Nuts sorted by grade

Macadamia Nut tree bloom

Wild orchid - they are everywhere

Banana blossom and baby bananas

We had a nice typical Costa Rican lunch so had to try their beer.

Swallow next swinging in breeze from palm tree.

Picture of church as we're leaving.  I love this photo.

Bananas were almost everywhere along our two hour drive.

Got back to our room and our steward had made us this adorable monkey

My handsome escort

Our dress up night.  We are starting to feel the effects of our colds coming on.

Our surf & turf dinner.  I had a cold and could not even taste it.  A real shame.

Gotta love these chairs.  Quite an ornate area all put together. 

Specialty Restaurant - our first time trying one.  Beautiful china

Blue Glacier Martini and the best steak I ever tasted.  I forgot to take a picture of
it because I just ate it.  Big like Ruth Chris, perfect.

How romantic - lobster bisque

Creme brulee is my favorite dessert.  Little did I know I would get three types
Regular, coconut and chocolate.  Served beautifully.

Two at sea days headed home.  They tried to keep us entertained.  Ice carving.

Always fun trying to guess what they are making.  Cute fish

Build a boat sea day activity.  Passengers had several days to build a boat and then they had to
 test it to see if it would float.  Very clever builders.

We won these playing trivia with two other passengers - topic food.

Official Cruise photo

All good things must come to an end and home we came.  We got off the ship at 8:00 a.m. which was so early for us.  We were both sick as we drove home and I actually had to drive because John just couldn't.  But we arrived safely and then popped into bed for a huge nap.  A trip to the doctor for John to get antibiotics, and about 2 weeks later we started feeling better.  At least we got sick at the end of the trip and didn't miss any tours - nonrefundable.

What a great trip we had.  So many new things to see and experience.  I think my favorite place was Cartegena, but loved Curacao, Half Moon Cay and Costa Rica too.  Had two best food experiences:  The Dutch cheese meal I wrote about in past blog and my best ever steak at Pinnacle. Best experience for me was just going through the locks at the Canal.  It was so interesting.

The food in general on this ship was not our favorite, all good quality but something was just missing.  Neither of us gain weight which is unheard of, but in a way it was kind of cool to get home on the scale and say Wow, instead of Ugh.

I highly recommend this trip to anyone thinking about it. 

Now we're busy planning our next adventure which will be for our 40th anniversary and it is going to be a doozy.