When you visit Costa Rica, be sure to bring your wallet. And a debit card. God made Costa Rica breathtaking; she didn't make it free. And before you return home to report on your visit, arm yourself with every synonym for fabulous, breathtaking, amazing, magical, unbelievable and incredible you can find. You'll need them.

Hal's mom, Joni, and his Aunt Sally have been here for a week.
[FLICKR PHOTOS] We visited every tourist destination within an hour's drive that caught our eye: the Rainforest Aerial Tram, the Café Britt tour, the La Paz Waterfall Gardens (which also includes it's own Hummingbird Area and Butterfly House), and a weekend at the Viña Romantica. Nothing too expensive on its own (except the Aerial Tram); all worth every cent. We oohed and aaahed so much our jaws ache.

Joni and Sally went to the Butterfly Farm on their own and that was their favorite attraction. Hal and the boys and I will go one day, but we've been to George and Sam's magical  Key West Butterfly Conservatory… Could anyone do it better? I can't imagine.

My favorite by far was the La Paz Waterfall Gardens [FLICKR PHOTOS]. A local told us "not to bother paying to go in. You can drive past the park, down the road and see the biggest waterfall for free." We did that and the view was so enticing, the walkways we could see inside the park so perilously close to the falls, that we drove back and couldn't slap down our $25pp fast enough!

Thank goodness we didn't miss this! There's a swell hummingbird garden where you can see hummingbirds up close and personal. Hal got this swell photo, but lots more of feeders just as the hummingbird flew away. Hummingbirds are FAST. [FLICKR PHOTOS] Their colors are amazing, and the garden was swarmed. It seems we have basically created a Hummingbird McDonalds.  There were feeders everywhere filled with vials of sugar water. Are we creating a generation of hummingbirds that can't feed themselves in the wild? Will they be obese? I'm a little concerned.

The La Paz butterfly house, billed as the largest conservatory in the world, is exceptionally ho hum. Old and empty, I was not impressed. There is a gigantic building going up right beside the old one which we presume will be the new butterfly house. With butterflies in it.

But the main attraction here, the waterfalls, are STUNNING. The owners have created an amazing walkway that takes you up close and personal. We (the boys and Hal and I) found it thrilling. Isn't that funny? Who knew getting soaking wet from a real live waterfall – five, actually – could make a body so happy??? But there you have it. We were all giggling and soaking wet and just awed by the power of all that water flowing over all those mountains for all those thousands of years. Or at least since the last earthquake. Can't wait to go again.

The other place we will definitely go again is the Viña Romantica. Perched on a hillside (ok, everything is perched on a hillside) with only three rooms, it is a perfect little getaway with fantastic pizza. Costa Rica is not known for its pizza. We have two teenagers – good pizza is important. Renee, the owner and chef, is a pizza expert. She makes her own crust, breads, fantastic soups and bruschetta, and has a good wine selection (so says Hal, my designated drinker). We'll be back.

We made two other real finds this weekend: one is the farmer's market in Alajuela.  It's a market as big as the Big Pine Flea Market, brimming with luscious fruits and vegetables, local herbal medicines, flip-flops, chickens, cheeses, and all SO inexpensive. A kilo of tomatoes is 100 colonnes. That's 20cents to us gringos. We feel like our lives are on hold till we can get there this Saturday morning to shop!

Briens_bamboo_farmThe other find is a bamboo farm waaaaaay out in the woods  near the Aerial Tram. The owner, Brian, makes furniture out of bamboo that he grows right there. Totally awesome. We are furniture shopping for our new rental home and his beds, lamps, benches are very reasonably priced and lovely to behold! He had some bamboo stuff there, too, but I'm not buying any stuff. I've sworn off. At least for today.

Rainforest Aerial Tram was quite the ride, literally 120' off the ground, gliding silently among the treetops. Amazing. My regret is that we were there at 1pm… so most of the wildlife, birds, snakes and butterflies were enjoying a siesta. Next time we go, we'll be on the first tram at 6:30am! If you are going to go all the way out there and spend $55pp, why not get up early for the show?

Being in Costa Rica is like being on a movie set for Jurassic Park. You expect dinosaurs to come crashing thru the trees any minute. The scenery, driving thru the barrios, the rainforest, the green, the mountains, driving thru the clouds, the fact Brian CAN grow bamboo like this… it is all totally inspired. God had fun making Costa Rica. And we haven't even been to the beach yet! Everyone says not to buy property until you've seen all of Costa Rica because you want to live everywhere you go. True for us!!!

Joni and Sally left today. They are a hoot! In their 70's and ready for anything, they were excellent first guests. Showing them our new little habitat made us feel like locals – we're gettin' the hang of this 3rd world country stuff! Trying to make do without Triscuits and natural peanut butter, but look what we are getting in return. Seems a fair trade. Hasta mañana. Miss you guys, more soon – xoxoso'b

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