My Christmas Haul- Gifts from Canada to Costa Rica

I would highly suggest that if you are backpacking for 5 mos, you invite your family to come visit you after 1 month.

Not only because you miss them terribly…but because you have 4 weeks to send them a never ending list of items to bring you from home!

Many of the things that I asked to have brought for me, I could easily have gone without. (okay, honesty check, pretty much all of them!)

So here it goes, in particular order. My magical Christmas Haul!

A terrible picture of my Christmas Haul!

A terrible picture of my Christmas Haul!

  • Natural Peanut Butter- It was a sad sad day when my little jar of almond butter from home ran out. I even sunk so low to Skippy it up a couple days, just to get my fix. I’m so happy to be able to replace the plastic chemical crap with my wholesome peanut butter once again.
  • Protein powder- I tend not to eat a lot of meat, and I have found a couple days where I’m feeling pretty low in the protein department. Especially at breakfast. These little packs will be perfect to add to my oats in the morning to give them a little more staying power.
  • Quinoa- It’s sooo expensive here (or at least everywhere I’ve looked) and since Shaun and I are getting pretty sick of rice and beans,  it will be a great alternative for a while. Plus, it’s another protein booster.
  • Books- I had so many books set aside for this trip, but knew it would be silly to bring them all down all at once. So I split them in two, and had my Mom bring the rest down. It’s a good thing to, because the last book I snagged from our hostel was a sci-fi gem about DNA altering organ transplants. Blargh. Sarah even sent me an e-reader! Life is good!
  • Christmas Crap- Glitter spray, candy cane tights, garland, earrings, and my light of Christmas tree. I have no shame.
  • Flip Flops- I brought my old crappy pair with me, and had my Mom bring the new pair I bought back home. It’s a good thing too, because mine were on their last legs!
  • A Sarong- A last minute addition to the list, but Shaun and I have been wanting to spend more time on the beach, so this will be perfect to lay in the sand without getting our towels dirty.
  • Travel Hot Rollers- Hurray!!! Got these as a gift before I left, and knew I would want to get girly for Christmas. They worked amazing!
  • Christmas Cards- Holy unexpected! Both Shaun and I’s families sent down a bunch of Christmas Cards. It was so nice to spend time together Christmas Day opening them all up and reading them on the beach!
  • Tupperware- We realized early on that having a couple pieces of tupperware would be helpful in the hostels, but the thought of buying some down here when we have a gigantic drawer full at home seemed lame. So my brother stepped up to the plate, and brought us a Christmas assortment!
  • Gum- yea yea, I’m addicted…and let me tell you it was fabulous having my favourite Canadian kinds to munch on over Christmas!
  • Wrapping Paper- To wrap our Christmas gift exchange prezzies!

So there ya go! Some of the stuff ended up getting sent back with my mom (the Chrismas stuff, hot rollers etc). I also sent back some bathing suit bottoms that I didn’t like and therefore hadn’t worn, as well as my big ole hoodie that I just couldn’t give up when we went to the airport. It will be so nice to not have to lug that around the entire time!

Regardless of the swag, my real Christmas haul was sharing it with my family. They were the best gift of all! Hard to believe I won’t see them for 4 mos now!

Tell me about your Christmas? Did you get any memorable presents?

Pura Vida!


Follow me on Twitter: @caketress

Fishing in Playa Flamingo, Costa Rica

Day three of a guest posting blitz!

Today the lovely Miss Whitney recounts her tales of fishing the open waters in Playa Flamingo.

This isn’t any fish tale here, we have photo evidence to prove it!

The boys!

The boys!

Well as always, our vacation fishing trip started off like any other, waking up at the crack of dawn, feeling dehydrated and asking the question, is this really worth it? Well friends…you bet it was. Once reaching our destination at flamingo beach, by shuttle, we were water taxied out to the Lady Angelica were our captain and deckhand for the day greeted us with smiles. As usual, the boat was hot, and the swells were not, but after travelling approximately 20 miles out, BOOYA, we snagged our first fish of the day, a black tuna.

Fish with a black fin tuna

Fish with a black fin tuna

The black tuna were a popular commodity that day, as myself, uni, smitty and bradley all had the luxury of catching a few each. They were hitting our lines all over the place, which lead to the rare but exciting triple header and quadroople header tacs. However, as fun as it was to get fish on the line and get our reel hands going, they are not good to eat, and a typical catch and release type of fish. Besides, we were out there for the MOTHER LOAD fish.

Luckily, all of sudden, boom, there it was. A flash of silver striking our bait, floating on the top of the ocean, and we knew we had something good. It was Uni’s turn at the rod and he did us proud, in about 20 mins, he had reeled us in a 35 lb mahi mahi.

Uni and the catch of the day!!!

Uni and the catch of the day!!!

Needless to say we know what’s for dinner, and amazingly what was going to be a delicious sushi snack on the boat ride, thanks to Joseph the deckhand.

Fresh sushi on the boat!

Fresh sushi on the boat!

The rest of the boat ride was typical of most, we drank the boat dry of beer, had a few naps, and all proceeded to get too much sun and a few burns to show it. However, all in all, a successful day, and a continued motivation to fish while on vacation.

So there you have it! A grand fish tale!

Do you have any fish stories you would care to share?

Pura Vida!


Follow me on Twitter: @caketress

Black Turtle Tour in Costa Rica

I wanted to do something special with my Mom while she was here over Christmas, and after a little bit of investigating decided that a turtle tour would be perfect. I also thought it would be fabulous to have her tell you all about it! So without further ado…here is my mom!

(PS: She would like it known that she wanted this blog post to be called “Moonlight Magic”)


There we were, my daughter & I perched on a curb waiting for a shuttle to take us to see Black Turtles, otherwise known as Pacific Green Turtles, on a remote beach, in the dark…maybe. Well it was going to be an adventure to be sure. Bring it on.

We drove out of the town of Tamarindo where we are staying, into increasingly more sparsely populated  areas down super dusty roads that brought back memories of trips down farm roads on the prairies in the dry heat of the summer. Best not to be following too close behind any dust kickers ahead. Also good not to be watching the condition of the road ahead and the unpredictability of where it might be headed. Looking out the side windows exposed a glimpse of everyday family life as we drove past houses that are completely exposed to the outdoors, families sitting around fires, on porch stoops lit by Christmas trees just outside the front door, neighbours meeting in common spaces and Christmas lights of every colour, some flashing, some steady, some random scattered, but all delightfully festive. A bonus Chrismas light tour.

The beach that we finally arrived at was one of four. Our guide informed us that we were going to go to the next beach over which involved an amazing hike across a mountain trail in the dark. It was a single file hike on a narrow path on the edge of a slope of unknown height…yes it was very, very dark. We were advised to keep the light of our small flashlights on the path and not ‘into the hole’…translation…don’t look over the edge. It was a great trek rising higher and higher, concentrating on not tripping over the number of obstacles in the way and hearing the sound of pounding surf recede into the distance and get replaced by the sometimes deafening sound of the jungle.

We finally got to the next beach and all lights were extinguished to disturb the turtles as little as possible. As our eyes got accustomed to the moonlight, the stars began to flood the skies and the white foam of the crashing waves became more and more dramatic. It was moonlight magic.

We then hiked down the beach, to where a large turtle had dug herself into a huge hole in the sand and then dug a second hole into which she had begun laying her eggs. We watched as she lay some eggs then retreated a distance away to let her finish while our guide gave us more information about what is known and what is unknown about these particular turtles. We then went back to watch her cover her eggs before we left so that she wouldn’t see us when she turned around to head back to the ocean. I can’t even begin to describe how humbling it is to be able to witness such an event. An experience that absolutely makes me know why we refer to the ‘wonders of nature’.

Thanks Kate. You are my wonder of nature…xoxoxooooo to infinity and back.

How to break your surfboard in half (and how to fix it)

Yes, the unthinkable happened. The only bright side is that it prompted our dear friend Shaun to write another post…
I may not know surfing...but I think it's supposed to be in one piece.

I may not know surfing…but I think it’s supposed to be in one piece.

Well today is a day I would rather forget. I hardly got any sleep last night thinking about my surf the next morning. I was going to be all over the lefts and was so excited. Consequently I got a terrible sleep, but whatever, I checked the beach first thing and it looked good. Winds were even slightly offshore. I went out at low tide when it is supposed to be quite good at Santa Teresa.
It wasn’t all that crowded either and I was stoked. I got a couple smaller waves right away. It was a nice little warm up. It seemed the smaller ones had better shape to them and you had to be quite selective with the bigger waves as they would often close out.
I was sitting in a sparce line up as a set came in, and I wasn’t in the best spot. I tried to paddle over to the peak before it arrived, but ended up just teatering for awhile. I finally gave up as it seemed too late and about to close out. Unfortunately I dragged too far in I was in a bad spot for the other set waves. I paddled like mad and tried to get under the next wave. There was a guy dropping in, so I had to head towards the impact area to try and stay out of his way.My duck dive wasn’t so successful.


After a short bounce around, I feverishly tried to get back my tombstoning board to get under the next wave. Just as I got it, the next wave was about to break and I just dove under. I came up and quickly grabbed my board, or half my board. The other half caught the wave and made it to shore. It was devastating and so demoralizing. In a few weeks I’d grown attached to that board and was, although getting my ass kicked at times, loving the waves at Santa Teresa.

Its been big since the day I arrived and I have to paddle way more but its nice to surf decent waves… I’m from Canada so my expectations are low… Anyways, I slogged my way to the beach where a local kindly was holding the rest of my board with a huge grin. He apologetically gave it back and I did the big walk of pity back up the beach and to the hostel.
While walking back I kept thinking the board was a little too big anyways. It would have been good for the following week in Grande and Tamarindo though. I was less bummed thinking of the prospect of getting a smaller board.
When I got back the hostel owner had a look and figured I could easily

Walk of Shame

Walk of Shame

get it fixed. I checked out the used boards at almost all the shops in town, and it was slim pickings, Tamarindo had better options. However, it turns out there is a board shaper in town. Denis of Denga Surf Shop had a look and figured he could fix it since it was a clean break. He said it will be a lot stiffer afterwards but something tells me that with my surfing, I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. I figure I can use it in the upcoming weeks with the smaller surf. After that I can either sell it or keep it.

On a side note, Denga Surf Shop builds there own boards and has a lot to choose from. It’s a nice shop. I think its about 20 days to get a board custom made. The new boards that he has in stock are going for about $400 to $450 which is a wicked deal compared to the used boards here that people are trying sell for $250 plus. If you are in Santa Teresa and buying a board make sure you check out Denga. I don’t recommend buying a new board if you are travelling around because it will get thrashed (or snapped), but they have some good options if you’re here long term.
This day may have sucked, and I may have bought a case of beer and nearly have it downed, but I’m in Costa Rica surfing nearly every day, and I’m here with the love of my life. Things are pretty damn good. Pura f’in vida eh! and go nucks go… 7 straight.
So there you have it! We cut it pretty close with the board repair. We ended up heading a couple days after it broke, and left the board in Santa Teresa to be fixed. The board was going to be sent in a cab when it was done. We sat outside our hotel for hours waiting, Shaun’s knuckles getting whiter and whiter. We were leaving for the 5 hour drive back to Tamarindo early the next day so it was now or never. I watched Shaun got more and more stressed out, calling the board shop, and our previous hostel to try and track it down. Thankfully, around 7:45pm the cab pulled up. I think we both felt equal relief!
The finished product, and one happy camper!

The finished product, and one happy camper!


Follow me on Twitter: @caketress

Exploring Montezuma, Costa Rica Part 1

With excitement of Christmas coming to an end, I thought I would catch everyone up on a couple things before everyone got here… Enjoy!

What a day!

I feel like we lived three days in the past 12 hours, Montezuma just has so much to offer

If you’ve read my Must Sees post, you know I’m a gal who loves her waterfalls, and Montezuma has one that they are known for! Shaun, and I planned on getting up bright and early (not uncommon for us), and hiking out to see it. We ended up dilly-dallying, and left the hostel around 7:45.

The trail head was about a 5-10 minute walk from our hostel, just at the bridge you go over to enter Montezuma. There is lots of parking, and often guides waiting to try and sell you on a tour. Luckily, being early has it’s advantages, and no one was there to bother us.

That being said, Shaun, and I only planned on going to to the lower waterfall. There are two other levels to the Montezuma waterfall, and apparently the trails can be a little dicey, and hard to find. It’s highly suggested that if you are going on the big adventure, to hire a guide.

The sign at the trailhead should probably be taken seriously.

The sign at the trailhead should probably be taken seriously.

The hike, is just that, a hike. You’ll climb rocks, navigate through tree roots, and even cross a river. It’s highly advisable to wear water shoes or running shoes, or something with a little more grip, as the rocks can get slippery.

The path is marked with yellow paint, so just keep your eyes out. It’s pretty self explanatory. It reminded me a lot of the harder parts of the Mt. Finlayson climb, in Victoria!

This doesn't even begin to do it justice!

This doesn’t even begin to do it justice!

Iphone is broken so we are learning master the selfie on an old school camera

Iphone is broken so we are learning master the selfie on an old school camera

After about 15 to 20 minutes of hiking, we made it. Piece of Cake! And let me tell you, it was GORGEOUS. My biggest suggestion is to get there early. We got there around 8:15, and had the place to ourselves for about 20 minutes or so. After that, it just got busier, and busier. Having those moments to enjoy it all to ourselves was such a beautiful way to start the morning, and a moment that seems rare given the popularity of the attraction.

We stayed for over an hour, taking pictures, and watching a group of people dive off the cliffs. Oh, that’s another thing. If you are looking at this majestic waterfall, and the first thing you think of is, “oh man, how great would it be to jump off that thing” think again. No one has ever jumped and survived. The fall looks straight down, but when you look at it from the side, you realize it juts out juts out quite far. If you are looking for places to jump in, just watch the locals. They know the places that are deep enough, and sage enough to jump in from.

A guy pre-belly flop

A guy pre-belly flopside,

After a short time, we started the hike back. We had brought plastic bags to put our shoes in, but had managed to navigate the slippery river rocks without getting them wet…that is, until Kate, the clutsy wonder, misjudged a step, and plunged both feet into the river. Sigh….of course. Luckily Shaun was there to catch me. No harm done, just bruised my pride. Despite walking home in squishy shoes, it was a morning full of memories that will stay with me for a lifetime.

We did a lot more exploring that day, but I’m going to break it up into two posts. Mainly because I think we are going back to keep exploring mid January. So I’m going to have even more to talk about!!

My early morning zen moment.

My early morning zen moment.

What’s the most amazing waterfall you’ve ever seen?

Pura Vida!


Follow me on Twitter: @caketress.

Our Costa Rican Christmas (photo album)








It’s been a whirlwind few days here in Costa Rica! So here is a whole shwack of photo’s for you to enjoy!

Back to our regularly scheduled programs tomorrow!!


learning that “rompope” or costa rican egg nog, comes pre-spiked


Christmas even tuna steaks bought fresh that day.


Christmas even dinner!


Post Christmas morning run dip


Christmas morning massages with a coconut chaser!


Opening Christmas cards on the beach


Carving our little Christmas ham


Christmas Dinner

P1010222 P1010271 - Copy P1010295 P1010297 P1010323 P1010372 P1010390

I hope that everyone had a fabulous holiday!!

much love!

Pura Vida