For the first time since we got home from our big roadtrip, I feel as though I actually have something to talk about in the weekly update! Pheeeee-ew. A relief for all and sundry.
We spent last weekend in Costa Rica because my current visa requires me to leave the country every 12 months (thanks America). It probably sounds a touch more glamorous than it really was, as we’d had a huge week last week (featuring reduced sleeping times and variable routine that left us a bit worn out) and necessitated a great deal of travel. We were up at 0300 on Friday to get up to OKC for our flight to Atlanta where we had a painful short layover, rushing through the airport to our flight to Costa Rica. Once we’d battled our way through the aeons waiting in line, we at least had a fairly amusing experience with Costa Rican customs: he dealt with James fairly quickly and brusquely before telling him to shortly to “go and wait over there,” while he chatted to me… But as soon as James was gone, he was all laughs and good humour: a mystery!
Still not sure what happened there, but it gave James and I few good laughs, which we needed to sustain us on our long 5 km slog to the hotel. Let me affirm what you’re all already thinking: it was really not one of our better decisions. I wasn’t wearing appropriate walking attire and showed up at the hotel soaked in sweat, sore and blistered, only to be told that we were leaving for the market tour in about 5 minutes. I was crabby: definitely not one of my more charitable moments. Nonetheless, with a change of shirt and shoes, we headed to the markets: after living in Lawton, it was both mind-boggling and stunning to be exposed to the incredible array of fresh fruit, vegetables, meats, fish and crafts that such a market possesses. We were ridiculously envious!
The hotel owners—a husband and wife couple (Bernie and Nhi) who have lived in Costa Rica for about 15 years after moving from California when George W. Bush got elected—seemed quite nice, but we were a little less than thrilled when they decided to stop off at the mechanic’s on the way back to the hotel in search of a missing piece. We were sitting there, falling asleep (mostly me) for probably close to an hour. Not optimal after a long day of travel! Still, that night (and the night following), we partook in the 3-course chef’s dinner that Nhi made: it was brilliant. Fresh produce is something that just can’t be beaten and we loved the chance to have fresh seafood. We also had fruit platters for breakfast during our stay which were fantastic as well: it was interesting to try some different tropical fruits and vegetables.
We spent Saturday being driven around by a local who took us to Irazú Volcano and then later to the Lankester Botanic Gardens. We have now seen a volcano!
I managed to doze off every time we were in the car, but still caught some decent views of the scenery (and more than we would have liked of the cities!), as well as learning how to say ‘cow’ in Spanish…. So on the basis of that, I’m pretty much ready to survive in any and all Spanish-speaking countries now. The Lankester Botanic Gardens were small, but had an impressive array of orchids as well as a pretty Japanese garden.. and a bridge!
By the time we finished up there we were starving, and went in search of some food. Our lunch the previous day had been ten different kinds of suboptimal, so we put our culinary requirements in Eric’s hands and he took us to a random restaurant for lunch which was delightful. There were the usual issues with ordering, and it was a relief to have Eric there to help us out. Not surprisingly, all we wanted to do after eating was crash out and have an afternoon nap, but unfortunately (and for no real discernible reason except detours and getting caught up in doing other things) it was not to be.
Possibly one of the best bits of the trip was that the hotel also had two beautiful German Shepherds. The dog is the photo below (which doesn’t quite do him justice) is of one of them, a massive beast called Bandit. We have never ever met a dog so intensely competitive before: if we had bothered to try, I think he would play fetch for hours, and his reaction time was a little terrifying. He would make a brilliant K-9, military or some other form of working dog, in view of his ability to apply himself to a task, but what was most amusing was that whenever he couldn’t find the ball, he would fetch small rocks and drop them next to us for us to throw. If we didn’t respond quickly enough for whatever reason, he would pick it up from the ground and drop it again, just to make his point. At one stage, he placed a rock on my leg, then on the arm of James’s chair to really drive home that he was impatient to play. All in all, a fantastic dog! I was very tempted to kidnap him, but as we didn’t bring suitcases, that would have been even more challenging than one might have thought. Sadly, Bandit had to stay where he was.
We were glad not to have to get up early on Sunday, but were at the airport by about 1030 or so and suffered through the usual check-in dramas to board our flight at 12-ish. It was a long trip home, thankfully punctuated by dinner (and cake!) in Atlanta. I finished my second book for the weekend on our flights, which takes me up to 22 for 2017… Not quite the 100 of 2015, but already past last year’s 18. All the books! Anyway, we arrived back in Lawton at about midnight and had a 5am start the next day, which was a bit of a rude shock to the system, but we were straight back into the grind, which accounts for why we’ve been a little sluggish this week.
I spent Monday with my grandma’s Anzac Biscuit recipe in hand, making roughly 150 of them for the next day’s ANZAC Dawn Service. Luckily they turned out huge and chewy and generally delightful. James was smart enough to say they were much better than Lauren’s (the Aussie next door), and they seemed relatively well-received.
Anzac Day was, of course, very different for us over here. Eugene had put together a program with James, and we had a number of American officers come along for a dawn service. Sadly, the lighting set-up meant that the podium where we had to read from was almost completely dark and we were reduced to using a glow-stick to try and read. Despite those challenges, it was a lovely morning. James’s address was delivered perfectly; he chose a beautiful quote and spoke brilliantly while I had the chance to get up and read In Flanders Fields, which was a really nice way to contribute to the day. Maybe next year I’ll read my own Anzac Day poem (though, let’s be honest, In Flanders Fields is pretty incredible). There ended up being a truckload of biscuits left, but luckily James had a cultural brief to deliver to his Brigade on Wednesday, and managed to take those along to get devoured by the masses. Phew!! I’m not quite sure what we would have done with 100-odd Anzac biscuits: even at a high-rate of daily consumption, that’s still a LOT of biscuits. [Disclaimer: I kept some biscuits for us and we are actually ploughing through them at a concerning rate.]
It’s been a week for dogs! One of my good friends and her husband discovered some starving, tick-infested abandoned dogs near their house about a week ago and rescued them. They’re currently fostering Captain and Daisy until they’re well enough to be re-homed and James and I had the chance to go and collect them from the vet yesterday afternoon. As you can see, we had a pretty rollicking good time… Are we ready for our own pet yet?
On the somewhat-less-thrilling side of things, I’ve been paddling my way through the ever-growing murky waters of university work, but enjoying the slog. I’m finally reaching a point where I’m a little bit more up with the times, which is handy because May is chock-a-block full of varying assessments (now that I’ve publicly said that, I’m pretty much doomed). I was thrilled to find out that the assignments I submitted on our road trip (one of which was 50% of my mark for that subject) scored me decent marks, as I was concerned that they hadn’t received my undivided attention at the time! Now I can focus on getting the next bunch together and submitted.
As for the care of our physical selves (not just my somewhat strained mental self) James is currently programming for me whilst also handling about 12 sessions a week himself. Of course, on the programming front he is, needless to say, doing an excellent job… though at times I wonder if he’s trying to kill me. I’m still kicking though, so hopefully I’ll continue to survive his best efforts to develop me into a stronger, more balanced and well-rounded human: we will see!
Pretty excited about doing a whole lot of nothing this weekend (except for some training and maybe some of the inescapable university assignments) and catching up on some rest! Have a wonderful weekend people everywhere.