Would You Live In A Haunted House?

The New York State Ghostbuster Law

We drove to Nyack to see the house on the right at the dead end street overlooking the Hudson River. It’s haunted. In 1991, a couple in contract to buy it, suddenly wanted their down payment returned when they learned the house had ghosts. They had to take the case to the New York Appellate Court which ruled in their favor. The case is known as Stambovsky v. Ackley And New York State laws now says that an owner has to disclose if a house is haunted. Not too many people know about the law or the house, except for real estate agents and law students.

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Our Visit to Laveta Place

A Mini Cooper convertible was parked in front of the house when we arrived, but it didn’t look like anyone was home so we took our picture in front and then walked across the street to a similar house that had a for rent sign. I walked up to knock on the front door but I could see through the window that the house was completely empty, except for a rocking chair. The wraparound porch has spectacular views of the Hudson River. We took our photo.

This empty house felt more haunted than the famous one. A former owner of the 1 Laveta Place home described the ghosts as two girls in 18th century hoop skirts and a small man in a red coat, which indicates a British soldier from that era.

No one was home in either of the houses at the end of this street when we visited, but it didn’t feel like we were alone. A case of nerves, maybe…? Or maybe not…

You might thing that buying a known haunted house would mean a discount. The house the law was written for is valued by Zillow.com at $2.2 million. The other house, the one in our Instagram post, is valued at $5.3 million. It’s much larger, modern and has a stone staircase leading to a tile and stone deck at the riverside!

Do you believe in ghosts?

A HuffPost/You.gov poll found that 43% of people in the United States believe in them. A Chapman University poll found 53% of their survey believe. The comments on my Instagram post were a mix. I imagine the four people who have bought the house in these past 28 years didn’t believe in ghosts, but they didn’t keep the house for very long. This is a house by the water and water is a portal for spirits. That’s why bridges are often rumored to be haunted.

This entire Hudson Valley is filled with rumors and stories of ghosts. From the porch in my photo, you can see the town of Sleepy Hollow, the setting in the famous Legend of Sleepy Hollow! written by Washington Irving in 1820. The famous haunted scene of the story is of the headless horseman on a bridge!.

Last Halloween, we visited Washington Irving’s home for a Halloween tour (Instagram post just above). If you had strong binoculars, you would be able to see the Nyack homes acrosss the river.

Spooky Photo

Are ghosts real? That’s for you to decide…

My grandmother always told me, “Don’t be afraid of the dead, be afraid of the living.”

I’ll leave you with this last photo taken during a visit to someone’s house. The window is too high for this to be a person in the window.

It sure looks like Coco is trying to alert us to something…. In this case, there was no one in the window! It’s just a shadow of a wooden post!


Sunday Stills is a great inspiration for new blog posts! I often come up with ideas I would never have thought about. Come join us!


Would You Stay In This Unusual Lighthouse Hotel:

Saugerties Lighthouse: This Hotel Is Like Nothing You’ve Ever Imagined!

Saugerties Lighthouse: This Hotel Is Like Nothing You’ve Ever Imagined!

Saugerties Lighthouse (built in 1869) to signal ships on the river that the town’s harbor was here. It’s now a hotel.

Before going sightseeing in town, check if the high tide will prevent you from returning to your hotel. On my Instagram post (further below), one person couldn’t believe the hotel would let you be stranded away from your room. He thought there must be a boat. Well, there isn’t. That’s why they suggest you pack your belongings in a small backpack. My Insta-friend shouldn’t feel bad for expecting a boat. I did too, and so did some other people we found along the trail.

Even in low tide, make sure you’re back before sunset when the trail closes. It’s the only way back unless you have your own boat to dock. You wouldn’t want to walk the half mile after dark anyway. It’s not the distance, it’s the terrain. You’ll walk through sand and over little wooden bridges and you’d have nothing but moonlight and your cell phone flashlight to guide you.

The tall grass in July along the trail to Saugerties Lighthouse hotel.

This is a trail that can flood at times so you really don’t know what you’ll find on the path. The soggy terrain has caused several big trees along the path to fall over and you see the bottom of the trees like a wall as you pass by. This is a sandbar with sediments from an 1888-89 channelization project. There are 100 species of flora here.

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I’m looking at the roots of a fallen tree!

Facts About The Hudson River

I told you this is a river. It’s the Hudson River, but it has tides. That’s because it’s not exactly a river. It’s a 153-mile estuary with currents in two directions and contains both salt and fresh water. The river has two high tides and two low tides in every 24 hour period.

Things To Do

So you already know you will be at the hotel between sunset and sunrise, and maybe during the day, depending on the tides. That’s why the lighthouse recommends you bring fishing tackle, swim wear, books, knitting… anything to stay occupied. They tell you to bring your favorite snacks and beverages, too.

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There’s a separate tiny island where you can eat or just relax. Btw, my husband almost never wants to appear in a photo


 

So You Still Want To Spend A Night At Saugerties?

You will have to book far in advance. The hotel has just two rooms and one shared bathroom, and it’s difficult to book. They recommend you get on an availability email list. When I checked at the end of July, the earliest reservation was for January 3rd. Here you go: www.saugertieslighthouse.com

The Appeal Of Saugerties:

The views are beautiful and the lighthouse is romantic. You are completely alone at night. Even the hotel staff may not always be present. There’s a little island deck alongside the lighthouse which is a wonderful place to eat or just sit and relax.

So, would you stay in a place like this?

Make you need a quiet place to relax under the moonlight and forget the world for a day or two. Or maybe you would feel trapped.

Day Trip To Saugerties

You can also visit Saugerties for the day. Bring your lunch and eat on the deck where my husband is sitting in the photo. You can call ahead for a tour on the weekend. It’s free, but with a suggested $5 contribution ($3 for children).

You won’t be able to see the lighthouse at night, unless you can rent a boat. Then you can get some awesome photos!

Let me know in the comments.


Sunday Stills is a fun weekly photo challenge, open to all bloggers!


If you feel like reading a little more, try this recent post:

The House By The Railroad, Or, Feelings Of Loneliness & Isolation

The House By The Railroad, Or, Feelings Of Loneliness & Isolation

Edward Hopper is a painter I discovered when I moved to the United States. His paintings are full of lonely scenes, even when there are people together, and somehow your imagination always fills in the story.

You probably have seen this one above. A late-night restaurant filled with lonely people. (Image is available to publish non-commercially)

Ursula, a friend of Edward Hopper’s sister, told us roughly how to find the “house by the railroad” in Haverstraw, NY, but it wasn’t easy (below I’ll tell you how we met Ursula).

Edward Hopper’s “House by the railroad” (Wikipedia image with permission to post non-commercially)

Is Artistic License The Same As Lying?

Edward Hopper didn’t paint the house as he saw it, we found out.

  1. Above, it looks like the house is on the level of the tracks.
  2. He cut off two bedrooms and removed part of the porch and a few windows.
  3. The NYC Museum of Modern Art says Hopper added deep afternoon shadows, but on the late afternoon we were there, the sun was on the other side of the house so he added a lot of his own to the painting.
  4. The NYC MoMA says he isolated this 1860 house and made it look difficult to access because of the train tracks, his way of showing how modernization was isolating us.

I took some liberties with my Instagram post, too. Below you can see how it really looks from the spot that Hopper painted it.

  1. The house in my Instagram post was taken from the corner of the property with a wide angle lens for my phone. I wanted the same exact angle as this photo just above. This eliminated the houses next door so I could isolate the house like Edward Hopper did.
  2. I added the house to this photo just above using the Enlight phone app. The photo already had a slight red shade so I made that a little deeper.
  3. I deepened the shadows just like Hopper did and also isolated the house even more by darkening the house behind it.
  4. The sun in my Instagram post is real.

I love how Hopper interpreted the house instead of just painting what he saw. He had a vision of what he wanted to convey. That’s what makes the painting special so I wanted my photo to look as much as possible like the house Hopper imagined.

Film director Alfred Hitchcock was also impressed by Hooper’s “House by the railroad” and modeled the Bates Motel in Psycho after this house. Hitchcock made his own interpretations on the house, adding the long stairs and changing the train tracks for a highway, which isolated Norman Bates in the movie.

Stepping Into History

We parked the car behind the house and I immediately walked up to the porch. As we were taking a few photos, out of nowhere a man’s voice asked, “So you’re Hopper fans?”

This house is large and has several apartments. One of the renters was just coming home. He invited us in and told us about his experiences living in this house.

Then he said he would introduce us to the owners and knocked on their door! Edwin and Lori Castillo have lived here for 40 years. Lori invited us into her beautifully renovated apartment on the second floor with a spiral staircase to the third floor.

Lori told us that the daughter of the original owner actually saw Edward Hopper from the window, sitting by the railroad station, painting away! Lori is very proud of her house’s fame and has a collection of articles written about it. She loves when people come to visit because she gets to share their passion about the house.

How Did We Meet Ursula?

The day began with no plans, just a drive to escape the city on a hot day. As we were approaching Nyack, NY, we saw a sign for the Edward Hopper museum just five minutes away. The museum has very little. All of the artist’s paintings are in museums or in private collections, but here you get a glimpse into his life.

Edward Hopper’s bedroom until he moved to NYC when he was 28.

His bedroom had a view of the Hudson River and the morning sun came right through the windows. When Hopper painted “House by the railroad” the population was only 4,400. Today it’s still a small town of just 7,000.

Ursula was friends with Edward Hopper’s sister.

On the porch we met Ursula, who grew up around the corner and knew Hopper’s sister well, but she never felt comfortable talking to the artist. He was very, very tall and stood with a slight hunch and was always grumpy.

Ursula remembered how the wisteria tree behind us in the photo used to reach all the way across the street. The current gardener, she said, doesn’t know how to cut this tree properly. She enjoys volunteering at the house and meeting people and sharing her stories with them.


Loneliness & Isolation In “Modern” Times

It’s interesting that Edward Hopper saw modern life in 1925 as so isolating when we see those as such simpler times, but loneliness is a human condition. I guess that’s why it’s more interesting to see the house by itself with the neighbors removed.

Did you catch this post?

How easily can I influence you?

Sunday Stills: Embrace (Plus, A Brief history of NYC That You Never Knew)

The NYC skyline

Welcome to Terri’s Photo Challenge: Sunday Stills! This weeks them is Embrace.

I embraced New York City, my home for the past 20 years! In this post I will tell you briefly an important story of NYC that you never knew!

 

At one time, New York City consisted only of Manhattan island. Brooklyn was its own city too, but it was much smaller than it is today. Queens was made of many separate towns.

The old railway tracks by the river

Ferries brought merchandise to the water fronts where the merchandise was transferred to trains.

So How And Why Did All Of The Towns And Cities Unite?

Brooklyn was incorporating many of the surrounding towns and growing fast. However, Chicago was growing very fast and was in a position of becoming the largest city in the United States. This meant that the largest corporations might move to Chicago, causing a collapse in New York City real estate prices.

The NYC skyline

The decision to incorporate into New York City was left to a vote by all of the surrounding towns and cities. The results were so close, but after millions of Brooklyn votes were counted, the yes vote won… by just 277! If Brooklyn hadn’t recently incorporated the neighboring towns of Bushwick and Williamsburg, the results would have been very different, since people in these two towns voted overwhelmingly in favor of becoming part of NYC. Some people stilll call this The Great Mistake of 1898! Only the town of Yonkers voted no, and it remains its own town, just north of the Bronx.

We went to the Long Island City waterfront on Friday night to take photos for this post 😉 Of course, Long Island City was its own city, although it’s now part of Queens.

The Bowery Boys do a fun podcast about New York City, full of interesting facts and highly entertaining stories!


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Tartines: Delicious, Healthy, Simple to Prepare

I had never even heard of a tartine before being seated in the restaurant Le Pain Quotidien last July. The restaurant had been highly recommended by two Insta-friends: Claudia, who visited one in Mexico City and Preethi, who visited one in Madrid. Preethi told us we could go to a right here in New York City!

You can read my review of Le Pain Quotidien

Le Pain Quotidien: Affordable Gourmet Dining in the Heart of Manhattan

The text-only menu left us wondering what these tartines were so we Googled images and wow, they looked delicious!

Lunch table at Le Pain Quotidien restaurant
The tartine I ordered is in the top-left corner of the photo.

The word tartine means “a piece of bread with a sweet or savory topping”. 75% of French people eat tartines for breakfast, but these are basically just a slice of baguette with butter and jelly spread on top. More complex tartines are eaten later in the day and this is where they become interesting. A tartine is simple to prepare, but the ingredients have to taste great together is the art.

Delicious! Healthy! Simple to prepare at home!


The tartine I prepared is pictured above, made with multigrain bread (toast it a little to make it firm enough to support the ingredients on top), prosciutto, home-made mozzarella, watercress, basil pesto and dried tomato pesto, and finally, avocado. I also sprinkled … Add balsamic oil and voila, your tartine is ready to serve!

My tartines were as delicious as they look, and they left my family asking when we would have them again!

The one pictured at the top of this post was similar but with a few variations. The store-bought chips have rosemary added and were fried in olive oil.

Preparation time: 10 minutes! What could be better!

Tartines On The Road Or At Your Table

A tartine is a perfect choice if you’re traveling in France since they are quick, they will fill you up and they won’t cost you a huge amount of money. In fact, these became popular in France for just that reason, according to Chez bonne femme. People everywhere need a quick bite to eat.

If you’re not traveling to France, prepare them at home. There are plenty of tartine recipes online, if you need help choosing the right ingredients. Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect. My tartine above was delicious, even though my Insta-friend Nancy pointed out that I should have add some balsamic oil. Next time…

Tip! Make yesterday’s leftovers look more beautiful today!

You will not be disappointed! If you make them, let me know how they came out…

Book Review: The Lost City Of The Monkey God

The rainforest in Tikal, Guatemala

The Lost City of the Monkey God, written by National Geographic correspondent Douglas Preston, is a story of exploration into an unexplored territory in Honduras, as a special team set out in search of a lost indigenous city. No one even knew if it really existed but everyone believed that no one would ever return if they did find it. It was believed to be somewhere deep in the densest part of the rain forest.

The rainforest in Tikal, Guatemala
The jungle in Tikal, Guatemala (my photo) is a few hundred miles from the reserve in Honduras. You have to be careful when you walk because there are still many stone platforms buried under the vegetation and it’s easy to trip over them.

For centuries, explorers had tried to find this lost city. The difference this time was a cutting-edge technology called LIDAR: laser pulses that measure a range of distance. The technology was so new that when it broke and they called the company, the engineer troubleshooted the equipment and decided that the motherboard had to be replaced. Only two existed in the world and cost $100,000. The engineer boarded a commercial plane to Honduras to hand deliver the part… only to have the airline lose his luggage!

Preston and the team encountered more than even they expected:

  • Venomous 5 to 6-foot fer-de-lance snakes that easily camouflage themselves on the ground and in trees. Some attack by falling out of trees.
  • Sandflies that bite hard and deposit parasites under your skin. In Venezuela, I saw similar parasites removed with a chewing tobacco called chimo, which was heated, applied to the skin and then torn off quickly.

Other threats were drug traffickers and jaguars.


“We were in a place that did not want us and where we did not belong”

| The author Douglas Preston says |


Malaria was not a problem since it is spread by mosquitos between humans, and there hadn’t been humans in this area for 500 years.

The book also looks at how disease caused this civilization to quickly vanish, a common theme in Central America. Cortez’ army of 500, which defeated over a million Aztecs, had a lot of help from small pox. Many times throughout the Caribbean and Central America, Spanish explorers and invaders discovered cities full of decomposing bodies.

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This photo (not mine) is under the creative commons license

The final sections of the book talk about the parasite Leishmaniasis, which affects the poorest billion people all over the world. The author was invaded by this parasite without hope of recovery.

Preston talks about the irony of how so many indigenous Americans died because they did not have any immunity against European diseases, and how a parasite from the Americas invaded him and everyone else on his team. Only the Honduran team member was able to fight off the parasite without any medical treatment.

Now, leishmaniasis is spreading into the United States and Europe. Due to global warming, the host sandflies have greater range.


I have always loved the magazine (which I read in Spanish growing up) but I never understood what went into some of these explorations.

Preston returned to the Honduran rain forest, this time with a National Geographic photographer. He asked his colleague why he came, having seen the dangers here. The photographer told him that his job was to capture these images, despite the dangers.


For a brief taste of this book, you can read Preston’s National Geographic article, which was breaking news at the time, published before his book had been written.


Of course, the book is much more enjoyable. You’ll hear the wild stories of danger, bravery and skill, you’ll learn that the first thing to do if your LIDAR technology dies on you…. is to unplug it and plug it back in! You’ll read about Harrison Ford’s conservation push in Honduras. You’ll start to piece together this group of indigenous people and understand their relationships to the Maya and other nearby groups.

If this type of book interests you, Preston’s style of reportage will not disappoint. Try the (non-affiliate) links below, or just Google: The Lost City of the Monkey God.


Audible.com

The Lost City of the Monkey God

Amazon.com

The Lost City of the Monkey God

You can read about my adventures in Tikal, the ancient Maya city in the Guatemalan rain forest, with this link below:

Tikal: The Ancient Maya City

Fun Day for Wine Lovers: Concha Y Toro Vineyard in Chile

The moment you begin researching your trip to Chile, you’ll come across different tours of the Concha Y Toro vineyard. This cloudy, cold July day did not look like a great day to tour fields of grapes, but they say a glass of wine warms the heart on days like these. We bundled up and got in the car for the one hour drive to Pirque, a town about one hour south of Santiago, Chile. My cousin Saverio, our Peruvian friend Cesar and our Chilean friend Manuel joined us on the Concha y Toro vineyard tour.

The entrance of Concha Y Toro vineyards

This was our Argentina and Chile trip, and turned into our wine-drinking trip as well, as we experimented with a variety of Argentine wines and Chilean wines and came home with new favorites.

Viña Concha Y Toro was founded in 1883 by Don Melchor and is now Latin America’s leading producer of wine. Each section of the field is divided by types of grapes. These vines are grafted here specifically for the tour, allowing visitors to see each type while the guide explains them to the group. Sure it’s touristy, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun.

By this time we were cold. Fortunately, the tastings began!

Wine tasting at Concha Y Toro in Chile
There are plenty of chances to taste Concha Y Toro’s wines on the tour here in Santiago, Chile

There are plenty of chances to taste Concha Y Toro’s wines on the tour here in Pirque, Chile.

The guide instructed us to hold the wine glass by the stem. Your body heat will change the taste of the wine. Swish the wine in the glass to provoke the aroma and to oxygenate and soften the wine before your first sip.

Manuel tasting wine
Our Chilean friend Manuel: 😮 “Hold the glass by the stem!” 😜😆

Hold onto your glasses, we were told. There would be many more tastings and the glasses would be ours at the end of the tour. We also had our elegant bright orange Concha Y Toro boxes to transport the glasses. They made it to NYC without breaking.

The Chilean flag and the wine cellar below
Below me is the Casillero del Diablo (The devil’s cellar)!

We were about to head into Concha Y Toro’s cold, dark caverns.

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Wine develops more slowly in this purple glow and low temperature. Once your eyes adjust, you can see the rows of wine barrels along the narrow passageways. The guide told us interesting stories about Don Melchor and Concha Y Toro’s history, as well as explaining the different processes involved in producing wine.

Don Melchor’s
The highest quality wines are stored in Don Melchor’s private wine cellar.

We ate dinner at Concha Y Toro’s restaurant, where we could enjoy a bottle of one of their house wines. The restaurant is expensive but if you go all the way to Chile and you take this tour, you may want to save enough Chilean pesos since this is a very good restaurant. Anyway, it not that expensive.

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Saverio (left) and Cesar

My cousin Saverio and our friend Cesar chose the wine for us: Camenere 2013. We enjoyed the meal and the conversation. Saverio introduced us to several reasonably-priced restaurants and different excellent wines, all close to his Santiago apartment. Alone in Argentina, we tried the Argentine equivalents. Our favorite ended up being an Argentine Malbec from Viña La Linda.

Cultural Observations

Tigre, our waiter in Buenos Aires
With Tigre, our waiter in Chiquilín, a steak house in Buenos Aires (behind me is a portrait of Carlos Gardel, who made tango popular)

Tigre, our friendly waiter in Buenos Aires, became serious when we mentioned a Chilean Malbec that we liked and quickly brought us an Argentine Malbec. The rivalry is strong between the two countries. Cesar’s observation was that Ecuadorians want to be like Peruvians and Chileans want to be like Argentinians.


We met Cesar and Manuel on this trip so this enjoyable tour made conversation easy. The wine tasting made it even easier. Manuel taught us a lot about Chilean culture. He is from the south and taught us about his experiences there. Cesar a geologist, like my cousin Saverio. Cesar can speak to you intelligently on such a range of subjects and he’s very cultured.

The Concha Y Toro visit, including dinner, lasted 3 hours. I recommend this fun tour if you’re in Santiago, Chile. If you’re booking a tour from your hotel, ask about the tastings. Many of these tours provide you with just one glass of wine. If there are several of you, you might be better off splitting a taxi and purchasing the tour at Concha Y Toro. The one-hour ride will cost you under $40. An Uber will cost even less.

Aixa’s Reading Recommendation: Road Trip in Chile

Road Trip In Chile: Visiting The Three Homes of Pablo Neruda

¡Órale! Gourmet Taqueria Close To NYC

In the mood for Mexican food while in New Jersey, Yelp led us to Órale Mexican Kitchen. There were several taquerias with great reviews but the photos made Órale the first choice.

Note: if you are in Manhattan, Jersey City is a two-minute ride under the river on the PATH train ($2.75). It leaves from Oculus Center, by One World Trade.

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We parked and passed another taqueria and thought, if Órale looks disappointing, we can check out this one, but right away we had a good feeling from the artwork on the restaurant facade. Inside the place was buzzing with activity. The restaurant walls are brick and filled with colorful and fun Mexican death-themed graffiti art.

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The restaurant pays attention to detail along every wall and in every corner. Beautiful, sculptured melted wax.

I always like to wash my hands after touching the menu and before touching any food. These people didn’t forget any attention to detail in the bathroom.

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The waiter brought us tortilla chips and guacamole, but also three of their own sauces, in bottles. Two were spicy (very!) and one not so much.


 

CrIspy Halibut, Maggi, Lime, Naked Guacamole, Chipotle Aioli, Corn Tortillas

I was very happy with the presentation of these beautiful crispy halibut tacos (with maggie, lime, guacamole and chipotle aioli) but these five savory, gourmet tacos cost $23! You won’t be dining here every day, but it’s a wonderful treat… sometimes… and it doesn’t lower my opinion of the restaurant. If you come on a Tuesday and are willing to pay in cash, they charge half price!

My husband ordered the carnitas tacos: Braised crisp pork belly, marinated red onions, salsa verde and cilantro, at $17! The place to save money would be the delicious desserts. They are expensive, too, but they are huge!

Órale Mexican Kitchen isn’t cheap, but it’s special. I can prepare an ordinary meal myself. I love to cook, though, so I always try to taste every ingredient used and then copy the recipe. I’ll be making the chipotle salsa and I’ll let you know how it comes out! 😉 But apart from that, I prefer to dine out less frequently but in better places.

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The New Jersey tram (light rail) system connects several nearby New Jersey cities.

While you are in Jersey City, enjoy the stunning New York City skyline at the riverfront, just a 10-minute walk from Órale Mexican Kitchen. As you walk there, you’ll pass the tram (really, light rail) that connects several New Jersey towns. The difference between a tram and a light rail is the speed. You find trams within a city.

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We will be going back, and probably soon. On the last Sunday of every month, you can enjoy mariachi music. Choose a favorite before you go (Qué Bonita Es Mi Tierra, Cuando Salga La Luna) and be ready to request it!

Are you prepared for the worst???

What would happen if your wallet and your phone were stolen while you were traveling?

Costa Rica With Caravan Tours, part 2

The Nicaraguan border

Rio Frío Cruise to Nicaragua, War and… Relaxation

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It was early in the morning and we were headed to Los Chiles, a border town close to Nicaragua where we boarded a river boat on the Rio Frío (the Cold River).

Bats along the bank of the Rio Frió
Long-nosed bats along the bank of the Rio Frió

Rolando pointed out howler monkeys and spider monkeys in the trees, caiman in the river, many different types of birds, iguana and other animals.

Google Maps Almost Caused A War…

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In 2010, when Nicaragua saw that Google maps placed a disputed territory in Nicaragua, they declared this to be Nicaraguan territory.

Costa Rica’s deputy foreign minister complained to Google and the map was adjusted, but Nicaragua left 50 soldiers in the disputed area, holding onto the claim. Costa Rica has no military,

The disagreement dates all the way back to a succession vote in some border towns back in 1824.

Costa Rica moved the fight to the U.N. Security Council and a decision was just reached in February 2018, returning the territory to Costa Rica.

Interesting!

When our bus passed a baseball field, Rolando said this was for Nicaraguan migrant workers, since Costa Ricans don’t play baseball.


The Nicaraguan border
We made it to the Nicaraguan border. There were no soldiers waiting to capture us!

Volcanic Hot Springs

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We ate lunch in Los Chiles, the border town on the Costa Rican side, and then headed back to the hotel to shower and take a five-minute bus ride to the volcanic hot springs at the base of Arenal Volcano to soothe our tired muscles from all the running around we were doing. I don’t have photos (except this one right above) since it’s not practical to wade through hot sulphuric water with a camera raised in one hand so it doesn’t get wet, but these springs were built right in volcanic rock! There are acres and acres of springs to relax in.

The Hanging Bridges of Arenal National Park

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Early the next morning, Rolando brought us to walk the hanging bridges at the upper level of the rainforest canopy. There are hills so you’re still walking on ground, but there are parts where you cross through the canopy on hanging bridges.

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A naturalist park guide takes you through and he’s an expert at spotting the snakes, birds and groups of biting ants (don’t wear open-toe shoes!). He also explained the vegetation and the climate to us.

Guanacaste Marriott Resort

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By day 6, it already felt like a long, busy trip and everyone appreciated the stay at the 5-star Marriott, with its infinity pool, private beach, luxurious buffets and an open bar for three hours in the afternoon!

Varied Climate

Costa Rica is a small country but has a varied climate. We had been in higher altitudes where it’s cooler and more humid. If you live in these areas, you’ll find moss on the clothing in your closet.


Now we were on Costa Rica’s west coast, which is dryer and much hotter. On the bus, Rolando pointed out the drastic change in landscape. We arrived in Guanacaste, full of resorts with its perfect beach weather.


 

Manuel Antonio National Park

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The last stop was Manuel Antonio National Park. Our hotel had a rooftop bar with a view of the rainforest and the ocean behind it! Each room also had a view of the rainforest and again, we were able to hear all of the animals at night, as well as see some monkeys from your hotel room window.

Rolando had to take an elderly gentleman to the nearest hospital, over two hours away. The man was dehydrated. Rolando warned us from the beginning:

  1. Eat yogurt every morning to help you with digestion
  2. Drink lots of water to avoid dehydration

Caravan provides you with a fresh bottle of water every two days with unlimited refills of filtered water from a dispenser on the bus.

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The next morning, Rolando brought everyone into Manuel Antonio National Park for a sunrise tour, but we opted out. We took a taxi into Quepos, the nearby coastal city. The two things we lacked on this wonderful tour was time alone, and the opportunity to explore on our own and meet new people.

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We dined alone, too. We took a taxi to El Avion (the airplane) restaurant for a sunset dinner. The restaurant is built around an old Fairchild C-123 cargo plane that President Reagan’s military used in their secret Iran-Contra operations, where the United States sold arms to Iran. The money was used to fund operations against the Contras, the paramilitary group fighting the Sandinistas. This plane was shot down over Nicaragua. Years later, the restaurant owners bought it, shipped it to Costa Rica for their restaurant.

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The fuselage is a bar. Walk through the fuselage and you enter onto a large patio restaurant with a breathtaking view of the ocean!

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Don’t worry about the geckos on the ceiling. They eat insects.

I have written about the highlights, but we saw much more, including sloths and iguanas. Whereas Guatemala was all about the Maya, as you can tell, Costa Rica is all about wildlife.

What Makes Caravan Such A Good Deal?

Our traveling companions ranged in age between 4 to 80 and everyone got along well.

Although we prefer traveling on our own, it’s not as affordable as a Costa Rica package tour like this one from Caravan. Airport pickup, all meals included, beautiful hotels, all day tours paid for, all you can drink at open bars at two hotels, and a highly-skilled tour guide for a 9 day tour at $1,195 during peak travel season is what they promise and exactly what you get!

Did you read part 1?

Costa Rica With Caravan Tours