After entering The Golden Period almost two weeks ago, I boarded a flight bound for Costa Rica early on the morning of Thanksgiving. I knew Costa Rica was going to be a great time since good friends (the bride and groom, Autumn and Clint) and my parents were going.
On Thursday night, I had a room booked at Villa Pacande. As they suggested on their website, I took an Orange cab (for $4, not $22 like the driver tried to tell me) to my hotel. 30 minutes later I ended up at the Hotel Pacande and quickly negotiated for another cab to the Villa Pacande. 30 minutes later, I was swinging in a hammock on my room's balcony. As you can see from the picture on the right, it was a pretty nice room. I enjoyed the sunset, tipped back a few cold ones and waited for my friends to arrive at 11. After they arrived, we stayed up until the wee hours of the morning and had a fun time sharing old memories.
On Friday, we boarded a private bus that transported us from the Villa to Hotel Esperanza. It was pretty nerve-racking watching our driver navigate the narrow roads at high speed for 5 hours. We safely arrived in Playa Carrillo on Friday afternoon and soon after walked 10 minutes to the local beach. As we were walking there, my parents showed up in their rental car (they'd been in Panama for the week). Soon after, we saw some monkeys in trees then ran for the beach and splashed around in the waves of the Pacific. We entered darkness to a beautiful sunset that evening.
On Saturday, I woke up early (6:30), went on a run with my mom (very hot when the wind disappeared), had a dip in the pool and enjoyed a delicious breakfast from Dennis, the host of Hotel Esperanza. I should probably talk about the hotel a bit since that was one of the best parts. Hotel Esperanza is owned by an American (Dennis) from Florida and he and his right-hand man (Erwin) provided some of the best service I've ever seen at a hotel. The hotel had 7 rooms, and our wedding party took up 6 of them. The bride and groom occupied one, I had one, the maid of honor (Angie) had one and the other 3 were occupied by parents (mine + parents of the bride and groom). We had the place all to ourselves and it was simply magnificent.
After breakfast, we headed down to Jesse's Gym for some surfing lessons. We were told to come back at 2:30 when the tide was good. We walked down the beach to Samara and had some lunch while we waited. After lunch, 5 of us got surfing lessons and had a blast. I'm definitely hooked on surfing now and hope to get some more practice in when I make trips out to LA this winter.
Sunday was the wedding day and we started things off by taking a horseback ride in the pouring rain. It was a warm rain, so the ride itself wasn't bad. The lack of views at the top of the mountain wasn't too great though.
For the wedding ceremony, all the guys traveled down to the local beach and built an altar. The ceremony was a couple hours later and we had a ball toasting, eating and dancing the night away. At the end of the night, after everyone else had crashed, Angie and I walked down to the beach with a bottle of wine and enjoyed a spectacular site: 15-20 boats that were glowing in the distance off the shore. Sure, it could've been the booze, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't.
On Monday morning, people started to head their different directions. Clint's parents were staying another week, so they rented a car and headed north. Clint and Autumn jumped on a bus to enjoy their honeymoon in many different parts of Costa Rica. Autumn's parents hopped on a shuttle to San Jose to catch a flight back home. The rest of us (my parents, Angie and I) stayed at Hotel Esparanza for one more night. Angie and I got massages, napped by the pool and enjoyed one last walk on the beach. Tuesday was spent driving back to San Jose. We dropped Angie off at Hotel Pacande and boarded a plane for Panama City.
After arriving in Panama City, we rented a car and drove to Ivan's Bed and Breakfast (highly recommended) for the night. On Wednesday morning, we toured the Miraflores Locks (part of the Panama Canal) and drove to our friends' house in El Valle. In El Valle, we talked, read, relaxed and watched it rain. A lot. It was a nice way to wind down the trip before flying back last Friday.
My favorite part of this vacation was enjoying the beautiful beaches with really cool people. Good friends are always fun to party with, especially when they bring along other good friends. I love destination weddings and I'm pumped to enjoy two more in 2009: one in West Palm Beach and one in Cancun.
It's a strange feeling being back in the snow after surfing last week. Hopefully I'll get over it soon. Skiing last weekend was good therapy. 5 more days before the end of the year and I should be fully recovered.
For more pictures from this trip, see my Costa Rica 2008 set on Flickr.