Costa Rica Part 3 – Ziplining

One of the things we wanted to try while in Playa del Coco was a zip lining tour. We came across two main options within a reasonable distance of town  – Congo Canopy and Diamante Adventure Park. Both looked great, and by no means am I saying that one is better than the other, but they do seem to be very different experiences, so choose accordingly!

The Diamante zip line tour seems fantastic for those with a need for speed and adrenaline. It includes superman jump, a free fall, really loooooooooong zip lines… cool stuff, but not for us. Instead, we opted for the “family friendly” original zip line canopy tour at Congo Canopy, with 11 cables and 3 hanging bridges, and we were more than happy with our decision.

We were there first thing in the morning, so we were able to go as a group of 3. Private tour!

The classic “before” shot

We had two guides with us, who were super nice, and also hilarious. It only took us a few minutes to get used to their jokes and remain nonchalant when they came flying towards us hollering as though they couldn’t stop. Or offered a high five just as they were about to take off down the zip line…and then held on as though you were to be yanked right off the platform. They were fun!

The guide on the left has zip ties poking out of his helmet like porcupine quills. Before we started he explained that each one was for a client who died, and that he planned to add 3 more today.

We also had a photographer zipping (hahaha) around with us. Since we couldn’t bring cameras we thought it would be worthwhile to pay for their photo service, and with three of us it made a lot more sense to pay for a CD with a bunch of pics instead of just one each. So all of the pics in this post were taken by the Congo Canopy photographer (who was also a super nice guy).


You can see in the above pics that we have one gloved hand resting on the cable behind us as we cruise down the line. One of the things we liked about this particular zip line tour was that, because the cables were not extremely long and fast, we were able to have a bit more control. For example, we controlled our speed by braking with that back hand as we approached each platform.

As I mentioned above, there were also a few hanging bridges to cross.

No zip ties added yet


One of the cables had the option of going upside down!

The only unfortunate thing with this one was that we didn’t know if we had to pull ourselves upright before reaching the end. Not knowing, I started to, but the guides called out not to. Which was fine, except that my parents were watching from the far end and thought that I had tried and failed. Given that, my Dad decided not to go upside down, although he did briefly go hands-free!

We also had the option on one cable of going superman style. This one was with a guide, who took care of the braking.


What happened next is possibly the best memory of the entire trip for my Dad and I. See, my Mom was an enthusiastic participant and was having a great time, and was also completely content to go last every time and to forego the superman flight. Well, on the next cable, our guide motioned to Mom to come over first and started setting up the harness and cable…about halfway through it dawned on her that he was actually setting her up for the superman! But too late now, off she went, and is glad she did (I think)!

Although we went in the morning so it wasn’t AS hot as it could have been, quite frankly it was never not hot. The tour was nicely set up with some water along the way. We took a break for some water and pictures on the highest platform.

Another great thing about this tour was the wildlife that we saw! I could be wrong, but I suspect one wouldn’t have as many interesting sightings on the zip line tours focused more on adrenaline.

Howler monkey howling!

The elusive Costa Rican black and white bird

And finally, the after shot.

Survivors

It was a fantastic morning. The site also offers other activities – horseback riding, a small animal sanctuary, ATV tours, and river float trips. We had a few minutes after zip lining and checked out the animal sanctuary, which was worthwhile as an add-on, but wouldn’t be worth it if that was all you were going to see (it’s neat, just quite small, there is another I’ll recommend later that is a primary destination). Definitely a spot worth checking out if you’re spending time in the area.

Costa Rica Part 2 – Sea Bird Sailing Excursions

We arrived in Playa del Coco on a Friday afternoon, and took that afternoon to wander around and get settled in. For Saturday, we wanted to plan something that didn’t require any driving around and, of course, I wanted to get out on (and in) the water. A trip with Sea Bird Sailing Excursions fit the bill perfectly.

We opted for the morning sail and snorkel tour. After breakfast we strolled down to the meeting spot on the beach, and hopped in a dinghy which took us out to the sailboat.

On the boat with us were two families, the captain, Sabastian, and a couple of crew members. There wasn’t a lot of wind, so we motored along, out of the bay and past some rocky islands. Even with the sails down it was just so nice to be cruising along on the Pacific Ocean with the warm sun and breeze.

Basically, I was ready to move aboard.

We were very well taken care of on the boat, with plenty of water, fresh juices, and sliced watermelon and pineapple. After an hour or so we anchored next to a larger island, got geared up, and hopped in for some snorkelling.

This was the first test of my new YI lite action cam and its underwater case, and I’m pleased to report that it works just fine! That said, many of these underwater pics were taken by a snorkelling crew member and sent to us afterwards.

We swam around for some time (I have little sense of time went snorkelling or diving). We saw lots of brightly coloured fish, sea urchins, and the outline of a ray hiding in the sand (the picture is a lot better than what I actually saw!).

Back on board, the crew hoisted the sails and we sailed back towards the beach. Motoring was nice, but true sailing was spectacular! No pictures of the wildlife seen on the return trip, but we had a small pod of dolphins go leaping by, and then a sea turtle swam right up to the boat and poked its head out to look at us! Incredible.

We moved from the bow to the cockpit after the sea turtle visit to get a bit of shade.

This was our captain. He lives on a sailboat and is sailing to the Galapagos in a few months.

I am exceedingly jealous.

It was the perfect activity for our first full day in Costa Rica, and I would definitely recommend checking out Sea Bird Sailing Excursions is you’re ever visiting the area!

Costa Rica Part 1 – the Overview

As I sit here on the couch, staring at the snow, it seems like a good time to start recapping my recent trip to Costa Rica with my parents. It was a great trip packed with fun things, so will be covered in a series of blog posts. This first post will be a basic overview of where we went, where we stayed, what we ate, etc.

As soon as our flights were booked (maybe even before), I was online googling scuba diving in Costa Rica. I quickly narrowed things down to Playa del Coco (El Coco), on the Papagayo Gulf on the Pacific side, where there are a lot of nearby dive spots and a high concentration of dive shops. So, we set up our trip to start in El Coco for about 6 days, then head to Monteverde in the Cloud Forest, followed by a trip to the Arenal Volcano, and then back to Liberia (near Playa del Coco) to fly home. Now, this plan changed later, but we did start in El Coco and visit Monteverde.

I loved Playa del Coco. LOVED. It was hot, but with the ocean right there, that was fine by me.

We stayed in an Air B&B condo that was a 5 minute walk from the beach.

It was also a 3 minute walk from a daily iced coffee at my favourite little coffee shop.

The nearby beach was great for morning runs, daily swims, and evening strolls.

In Monteverde we enjoyed a small bed and breakfast place overlooking the Cloud Forest.

We ended up back in El Coco at the end of our trip, and stayed in a small hotel with a nice pool and shady hammocks.

I’m by no means a foodie, but did make some effort to document some of our meals.

We enjoyed a few nice dinners at beachfront restaurants, piña coladas and sunsets included.

We also ate at some sodas – small, local restaurants. The fruit juices available almost everywhere were delicious!

And of course we picked up some street meat to eat on the beach.

And enjoyed a few sweet treats along the way.

So there you go. General itinerary, accommodations, and eats. Next up will be the good stuff like sailing, zip lining and, most importantly, scuba diving!

Into the Woods for March Break

As a teacher, I’m lucky to get a week off every March. Well, really, as a supply teacher I can (and do) take time off pretty much whenever I want…but this is a forced week off where I don’t have to consider the lost income!

We spent the week in a not unusual manner – camping. It was still very much winter here in northern Ontario, so it was a full on winter trip – snowshoes, toboggans, and tent with a wood stove.

Conor drags the longer, heavier toboggan. I drag the shorter, uglier, orange one. I will also point out that, although lighter, it does not glide nearly as well! Obviously this is the sole reason that I’m slower. Obviously.

Jack carried his food in his Jack Pack. He was always really excited to put it on…

We were out from Saturday to Saturday, so 7 nights spent in the tent. I love this tent. Get the fire going and it is incredibly warm and cozy. Yes, the set up is quite involved, but there’s no way I could do winter trips of any length without this haven of warmth.

Cooking happens on the wood stove.

I might like the tent, but Jack adores the tent, and gets inside as soon as possible every afternoon.

He has his own spot, but he likes to encroach in the human zone sometimes for a cuddle. As the trip progresses he gets increasingly tired, and starts to crawl into our laps a bit more to collapse. He’s adorable.

Morning cuddles were a thing too.

We were hoping to do a loop, but got stymied by some non existent portage trails. We took one layover day, on which we went for an unencumbered, exploratory snowshoe wander.

We had great weather for tripping. Temperatures were pretty much perfect. Travel on the lakes wasn’t effortless, but was pretty good. Travel through the woods was actually really tough – the snow was deep, rotting, and baseless. Fortunately we spent most of our time on lakes and waterways, not traveling between them.

My kindle is essential tripping equipment for me. I may not have any impressive physical abilities, but my reading speed and stamina are top notch, and an ereader is the only way I can carry adequate reading material.

I also did at least a few minutes of Spanish review every day!

All in all, it was another great trip. For me, for now at least, it was a nice length. Conor aspires to longer and more challenging winter trips, but I find traveling in the winter a lot more intimidating and challenging than summer expeditions. Jack sides with Conor though.

#Clearthelist March 2018 Language Goals

Having recently picked up Spanish studies again (not that I have gotten very far before), I decided it’s time to join the #clearthelist monthly language goals link up hosted by Eurolinguiste and Lindsay Does Languages. This month will be short and sweet!

Spanish

Apart from working my way independently through a couple of book lessons last summer and doing some Duolingo now and then, I’m pretty much a rank beginner. Goals for this month are:

1. Squeeze in 8 Skype lessons before heading to Costa Rica (!) on March 30, including reviewing the material before and after

2. Complete enough Duolingo to keep up my streak on days I have internet access

3. Bring study and vocab notes on our March Break 9 day camping trip and study a bit each day

4. Listen to at least 4 Spanish podcasts

French

I am a much more advanced French speaker (better be, seeing as I teach it), but there’s always room for improvement. Focusing on Spanish though, so setting the bar low here.

1. Listen to CBC radio en Français

2. Read something

Et c’est tout!

Weekend in the Woods

This past weekend we celebrated the beginning of March with a 2 night winter camping trip. The conditions were awesome – warm, sunny days, and a skiff of snow on crusty lakes.

It was the perfect weekend for our friend Jerry’s introduction to winter camping. We went north of town to Lake Superior Park, where we hauled our stuff about an hour into a small lake.

We set up the hot tent, as per usual.

This time, however, we also set up Jerry’s teepee, or guest house, as it were. We all hung out in the hot tent, but Jerry slept in there while Conor and I took the teepee.

Saturday was mostly spent setting up, with a quick snowshoe and ski tour in the afternoon. We took a pretty relaxed approach to life on Sunday, starting things off with a Pancake Fiesta.

Full of pancakes, we headed off for a tour de lakes. It was a gorgeous day, to the point that we sit in the sun jacket-less and mitt-less, while taking a break for some tea and a snack.

Back in camp, I hung out in the tent while Conor and Jerry played around with ice fishing and paddle carving. Not too shabby!

Monday morning we packed up and retraced our steps back to the car, ready for 4 days of work before heading off again for March Break 🙂

The Journey Begins

Hello! Bonjour! Hola! And welcome to my new blog. Previously I blogged (sporadically) at kimplaysoutside.wordpress.com. It was primarily a journal of wilderness trips and still exists, should you ever feel the need to check it out.

However, with a goal of changing direction, Adventures in Life and Language has begun. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that I’m expanding, rather than changing, directions. You see, like many people (I think), I have a bit of a compulsion to define myself. Which sounds okay…until it turns more into label myself. Or stick myself in little boxes. To think that I need to be this OR that, when really, one can be both!

I found myself waffling between feeling that I should pursue, in work and pleasure, either a wilderness/outdoor education bent, or a language/culture bent.

Um, silly.

Thus, this blog is a meshing of the different facets that make me, me.

So here we go.

My name is Kim. I am an outdoor enthusiast, passionate about short term and long term wilderness adventures, from an afternoon ski to a multi week paddling trip.

I love the ocean, and am learning to scuba dive.

I also love learning and teaching languages. I speak English and French fluently, and am learning Spanish. In high school I studied French (well, that one started in Kindergarten), Spanish, and Russian. The highlight of my high school career was hands down a trip to Russia! I currently work as a French Immersion elementary teacher, and have also taught adult French classes.

I love to read a wide range of books. I love to knit. I love dogs. I love to drink tea.

The focus of this blog will be…not having a specific focus? I plan to continue sharing wilderness trip reports and related info. I’ll have posts about non-wilderness travel. I will share progress reports, resources, and tips related to my own Spanish journey. I’ll share French language resources and tips – both those I create and those created by others.

So I suppose this blog could end up appealing to a wide range of readers…or no one at all! Time will tell but, in the meantime, I’m glad you’re here.

Winter camping this past weekend. I read my Spanish notes in the tent.

Our dog. His name is Jack. And he is hungry (actually, this is rarely true, as he doesn’t particularly like eating, but things like matching pancake mix seem increasingly hilarious with each day spent camping).